2 Mountain Mumbles from Jen 2
Saturday 1st November
November has blown in with high winds and driving rain. The poor folks on
holiday have had a really bad week. A few days ago we had a very heavy
snowfall, up to six inches [sorry I am still Imperial] and it looked as
though winter had arrived but today just looks like an ordinary English day. I have been busy again doing Preserves and have found a great recipe for
Spiced Apple Mincemeat. (see below) With the glut of apples around at the moment it is a
good time to make it in time for Christmas as it needs to stand for at least
a month before eating. And I think to let the brandy soak right through
those bits of fruit. Yum!
This morning I had a phone call from my friend Netta. We usually e.mail each
other but there are times when one of us just has the need to talk.It was so
good to hear her. She too is making something with Sloes, Hips and
Apples. Probably eye of toad and hair of newt as well but we won’t go into
My eldest daughter Emma has booked to come for Christmas with our sixteen
year old grandson Jack which is great. As they live in Guernsey it is always
a nightmare getting flights to join up unless you pay huge prices.Becky and
Jordan [younger daughter and other grandson] are coming down at the
beginning of December to help celebrate one of those “Big” Anniversaries but
can’t come down for Christmas.
Hopefully there will be plenty of snow for them both to have a good time. One of the nicest things to try up here is to go Husky sledding if fitness
and exercise are not your thing. The company called “Huskies Forever” run
trips down in the Matamale Forest. Great fun and is an experience not to be
I was in Font Romeu the other day and found a lovely little shop on the
Avenue Joffre.It is called “Interior du Charm” Lovely to look round and lots
of Christmas pressie ideas. The owner also speaks good English and is
delightfully helpful. Husbands can go to the coffee shop across the
road which is also a semi Deli and restaurant and has a wide range of
cheeses to taste and buy…..Scrummy.
I think that today the dogs Lotti and Oscar can have a day of rest and will
stay in where it is warm and dry because that is where I will be
staying.There is really no point in us all getting wet.
Til the next time
[(Spiced Apple Mincemeat
This recipe is great for little mince pies at Christmas or any time in a
larger tart with a lattice top.
Makes about four pounds)]
3 Ingredients. 3
1 1/2 lbs tart apples. Peeled cored and chopped up into very small pieces
4ozs ready to eat dried apricots…..chopped coarsely
2 lbs of “luxury” dried mixed fruit. [ I used some candied fruits as well]
4ozs of chopped blanched almonds
6ozs shredded suet
8ozs Muscovado sugar…..brown cane seems to work well.
1 orange…..grated and squeezed
1 lemon……grated and squeezed
1 teaspoon of ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. [fresh is lovely]
4fl. ozs Brandy or orange juice. [depending on your taste]
You need one large non-metallic bowl.
Place all dried fruit, apples,apricots
almonds, sugar and suet in the bowl and mix well until everything is
Add the orange and lemon juice and rind.Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and brandy
and again mix well.
Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to stand in a cool place for
2 days, stirring every so often if only to sniff at the heady concoction you
have soaking away.
After 2 days spoon the mincemeat into cooled sterilized jars being careful
not to leave any air gaps in the jar.
Cover with a firm lid and store in a cool dark place for at least a month.
It will last for up to a year but once open use within 4 weeks stored in the
NB if the mincemeat seems a little dry when opened just add a little more
brandy or orange juice stirring gently.
Sunday 9th November
It has been a really odd week this week.The weather has been warm some days
and heaving it down with snow on others.It’s the problem of the vest or not
The mountain tops are all wonderfully covered in snow . My log man Vincent
was saying that a friend of his has been skiing at Puigmal at the end of
last week. So things are looking hopeful.
Mike has been away for five days unfortunately for an ex colleagues funeral.
It’s at time like this that you realize the distance from the UK and how
much he would have liked to have spent more time with his
friend. Fortunately Alan had managed to visit here before his illness. Mike also took the opportunity to visit his family in Yorkshire. His Mum is
now 87 and goes Salsa line dancing as she felt that ordinary line dancing
was a bit dull and boring. She had a small eye op. last week which has slowed
her down bit but I’m sure by this time next week her feet will be flying
round the dance for as usual.
I have been making more mincemeat, mainly because it’s so easy and smells
wonderful. I don’t eat the stuff myself but it certainly gives you a feeling
of satisfaction when it is all in the jars and ready for Christmas.
I stripped the woodburner down today to give it a really good clean. I have
always used the “proper spray” to clean but without great success. Today I
took the doors off and used Cilit Bang. Fantastic. I don’t know why I haven’t
tried it before.
Snow is forecast for later this week. Paul always gives me the word from
Christophe at the Chalet du Ski who gets his information from goodness knows
who but he is always right. I’ll keep you skiers posted on that
Apparently the Mayor wants the resort open this month. I don’t know
who his informant is but he must know more than he is letting on. The ghastly publicity has not gone out on the posters yet. The brochures are
all printed and so are the posters but nothing has been done with them. I
think they have decided to go with last years publicity for the Brits thank
goodness. I had spoken to a few people and had said they were offensive
hopefully someone has taken note.
This week may bring up some brighter bit of news. My friend Jo from down the
valley came home yesterday from visiting her family, hopefully we will catch
up for a coffee and a gossip later this week
I’m now going to put some nice Matamale potatoes in the oven to bake for
Mikes return and throw another log on the fire.
Wednesday 12th November
Hi there everyone down there in the flatlands and elsewhere.
We woke up this morning to find it snowing heavily. It had been forecast for
Thursday and Friday but it has arrived a day early. A good base layer on the
tops has already formed and I think skiers of all types could be in for a
good winter. This time last year every day was mild and sunny and this year
has been much colder with some very hard frosts at night. Which is good as
it keeps the ground cold and more reseptive to the fresh snow. Now that my logs have arrived I am a very happy person and can face
I will keep you all informed of weather conditions as time goes on. One small word of warning. Do not come up into the mountains without
snowchains. The police WILL and do turn you back.
So until the next time
Friday 14th November
“I’m dreaming of a White Christmas just like the ones we used to know.” It has arrived with a vengeance. *SNOW* Approximately six inches have fallen
and it has turned bitterly cold. The icicles are hanging at about twelve
inches and are really solid.
The village is hoping to open the slopes on the 22nd November. The
snowmaking machines are all on and some work has started up on the top to
keep everything stabilised.
Looking out of the window this morning I thought just how good double
glazing is. We tend to take it for granted now but if I cast my mind back
into the dark and distant past of my childhood I remember the glass being
frozen on the inside and being able to scratch a pattern on the window with
my fingernail. Kids these days don’t know there born. I also remember having
to put on my school shirt which was so cold it froze the cockles of my
heart. Then we bought a Baxi All Night Burner. Now that was posh, it stayed
on all night and was still warm in the morning. Mum used to put tea leaves
and potatoes peelings on it last thing at night to “keep it in” That was the
breakthrough in having a warmer shirt. Central heating was a thing of the
future and we just got on with it.
I remember visiting my Grandparents in Newcastle upon Tyne and Grandma had a
gas fire in the bedroom.
As a treat it was lit half an hour before bedtime. Now that was Very Posh.
The trouble was it smelt awful and made a nasty popping sound. Thinking
back I’m surprised that I’m around to type this.
I’ll keep on updating all the skiers, snowshoers etc with how things are
progressing.The cross-country paths are covered now so it shouldn’t be too
long before they are ready to go.
Don’t forget your snowchains
Wednesday 19th November
Now that all the pickles and chutneys are done, the Christmas cakes are made
and the Christmas puds are all wrapped up I am at a bit of a loss what to do
with my self.
Watching Hugh Fearnley-what’s-his-name, he seems to have pigs
and things and I have now got my eye on the piece of land at the bottom of
the garden. It is already fenced off and ripe for chickens and the odd pig.
so I am now wondering how to go about renting it. My problems would start
when the animals would have to be dispatched and I would therefore end up
running a care pen for aged chucks.
I’m still thinking of the little white
pom pom headed birds I saw in Fuilla a few weeks ago, they were so pretty
and I know very well that they would end up as house chucks rather than
There is a lady who lives in the old village [as I do] and
she has a number of scrawny old birds that I think are well past their sell
by date and they run in and out of the house. I think she has fallen into
the trap of them being pets. Although there are tough folks around here who
buy a couple of pigs or a turkey or two, a while back they had a tiny
little goat with a bell. She was lovely and used to jump on the wall behind
our house when you walked down the road.I got quite fond of her but she
didn’t last long and vanished along with the pigs and the turkeys.
over of animals is remarkable but I bet you anything their freezer is full.
Only last week I was chatting to my neighbour who was working in his garage
and came out to shake hands only to offer me his elbow. Thinking he had cut
himself as his hands were covered in blood I offered my sympathies only to
be shown the carcass of Bambi’s mother strung up by her back legs at the
back the garage.
Living up here is certainly different to living in a town. And the
traditions are carried on without fail. And maybe if more of us had stuck to
our traditions we would be much more self sufficient now than having to
rely on a supermarket for our food.
Truly I’m only a very pale green but I can see day after day the benefits of
being a slightly darker shade and growing my own with more empathy to the
The village is opening on Friday 22nd as the slopes are well covered and
well pisted. I am now sure about the cross country areas but will try and
keep you all up to date.
Don’t forget you can book your skis and boots from the [Chalet du Ski-> http://www.anglophone-direct.com/Ski-Les-Angles?] and
speak to Christophe, Jerome or Paul [my son] who will be only too happy to
help you out.
Thursday 27th November
Vests and long johns to the ready. I think this must be the coldest November we have had for a long time. Usually the snow melts quite quickly in the courtyard and even though it is only a light cover down here in the village it has stayed and is quite solid.
I have tried to get the Programmes for “WHAT’S HAPPENING” up here but they haven’t come in to the Tourist office yet. Most of the resorts have torchlight descents,fireworks and hot chocolate and Vin Chaud on Christmas Eve around 6pm. Santa arrives on a snowboard in Les Angles and try as I may I have never see him land in his sleigh, he just sort of appears. He then takes his sleigh through to the old village then to the castle and hands out gifts to ALL the children. Sweeties are thrown by helpers into the crowd.
I will try and let you know the exact time nearer the date.
All through the season there are fireworks in Les Angles on a Thursday evening at 9pm.
Even though it has been very cold I have been out walking Oscar and Lottie I tend to go down to the forests by Lac Matamale. The tracks round there are lovely and when they are covered in snow they are just exquisite. The day before yesterday I went down and it had been snowing gently throughout the day but I appeared to be the only one daft enough to go out, as my footsteps were the only ones to be seen.I plodded along quietly with the dogs, Lottie being the older one tends to walk by my side but Oscar being just ten months is full of energy and runs round in circles spraying snow in all directions. He hasn’t quite worked out what it is. But whatever it is he loves it.
Things in jars seem to have taken over my life for some time now and I have just finished making marmalade. I haven’t made it since I made it with my Mum years ago. The smell was just the same. It’s funny how smells bring back memories of times gone by. And I was reminded of Mum’s kitchen years ago when I was a child.
The smell of good leather reminds of my Grandpa as he was a boot and shoe maker in Hexham. When I was a child he used to pay me sixpence to “do” the window for him. I am quite sure he would have to re-do it when I had gone
So with the shutters shut tight and the log fire burning in the grate I will close now
More Mumbles another day