The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Presents from Fuerteventura


The Chicken Lady, S and Rollo returned on Wednesday night from a long holiday in Fuerteventura . They dropped by this evening, deeply tanned and soaked with sun and long break laziness. I’d returned late from work so the cottage was freezing. We’ve got used to the no central heating chill but they were still adjusting thermostats. After an hour of strong cocktails, dabbling with extremely hot chilli infused Indian snacks and cranking up the wood burning stove to full power, things eventually heated up to a temperature where jackets could be unzipped.

They brought us presents. The name Avecrem made me suspect that she we giving me a sort of patent face cream in block form. I was relieved to discover that it is in fact superb fish stock cubes. I was delighted.

This was partnered by Pimenton Picante – smoked paprika. A real boon to any kitchen that enjoys the mellow spiciness of life. Our tin had just started to run dry. There is a dinky little pack of soft local sea salt. A large slab of local goat’s cheese and chorizo completed the circle. Lovely foodie treats. Thank you.

It’s so good to welcome great friends back. All travellers have tales and we sat back to feast on theirs. They had met up with their Italian friends Marco and Gepp – the guys that they love so much that they named their guinea fowl after them.

Whilst we battled with storms and sub zero temperatures they had swum in the sea and dusted sand off their paperbacks. I missed my friends but didn’t envy them. I love an English autumn and the onset of winter, with the clocks going back and the prospect of eating game once more.

I also enjoy the haphazard hikes in the weather. Bright warm sunshine one day with blue skies the next, bringing a hard yet delicate frost that dazzles.

This afternoon I stood in another’s secluded garden and watched two squirrels tumbling through a tree washed with yellowing winter leaves. I wasn’t sure whether this was a love dance or a protective territorial rite until one squirrel eventually wafted across the tree tops and disappeared. The other checked his route carefully and finally relaxed and nibbled some nuts from the bird feeder next door. Freddie, my Labrador companion, sat still beside my thigh. We were both absorbed, watching the theatre in the crisp autumn sunshine.

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