In Edinburgh from the top of Arthur’s Seat, on the longest day of the year, the sun doesn’t quite set. It just about dips under the horizon in the west, zips around to the east, and pops up again 2 hours later. One Midsummer’s night in the early 90s, a few of us clambered up the basalt outcrop in the middle of the city, and did Tai Chi at the summit. It was spectacular, and I don’t think I have ever felt energy like it.
The middle of Germany is not quite the land of the midnight sun, but in Europe, everywhere north of Paris has at least a couple of days at the height of summer with no actual “night”. We had plenty of twilight, it even gets properly dark, but the sun doesn’t get far enough below the horizon to be officially called astronomical night.
To subscribe, just add your email for free, or upgrade for 5 euros a month to show your support!
The last day of “no night” in this particular Saxon forest was July 15th. Today, less than two months later, we have nearly 7 hours of the stuff. When winter comes, it comes quickly.
First, though, is harvest time.
Harvest time means drying and pickling everything which can be dried and pickled, making tomato sauces, jams and chutneys, and filling every glass I can fill to see the winter out. And the spring. There’s not a lot to eat in spring either!
So today, I’m going to my pickle on. Last night, I chopped and soaked cucumbers in a weak brine: we do this to get the water out, and the space where the water was can be filled with the tangy preservative goodness of vinegar.
Actually, live update. I’m going to go and pop them in jars now. This newsletter would benefit greatly from a photo of some cucumbers suspended in flavoured vinegar.
And then, tomatoes. Alongside potatoes and beans, one of the points of the tricorn pirate hat of winter eating satisfaction. I’ve already picked and potted 28 kilos of tomatoes. It looks like there will be even more from the second harvest, and when that is all done, hopefully another 20 kg of green tomatoes, from which I shall be making the famous Barracks Green Slime. Sadly, there is little else to put in them. The chillies in the polytunnel are quite many in number, but they steadfastly refuse to turn red. I did try one last week though, and they definitely have some whooop to them, but all the courgettes failed (got eaten) and the aubergines are really taking their time. I have some onions. And a round bajillion carrots.
Oh, and I mustn’t forget. I got a super big box from the nice lady in the post van this week. Some most excellent friends of mine are moving away from Germany, and they sent me their entire DVD collection. In Birthday Month, this is a highly approved of action. If you would like to send me all your old books or DVDs, to donate to the barracks library or cinema collection, please do. If you want to send me someone else’s books, that’s fine as well. Get in touch for details of how to get them here.
Other than that, a huge thank you to my paid subscribers, and to everyone who has donated to the piggie fund. I haven’t really been pushing it, because it feels weird to do so what with all that financial crisis stuff going on, but if you are able to help out with the price of the piggies (which is pretty damn astronomical, and just about the only cost of the barracks these days), then please do. The link is here and it really is the best way to help ensure the success of the barracks, the forward march with the project, to give the piggies some love, or heck, even to give the pirate some love. Every tenner is a a warm hug in the solitude. Thank you, from the bottom of my boots.
And so, the job list for the week:
Dry spinach in heroic quantities. It could work, right? It might be nice?
Bottle a good 20 or so pots of tomato sauces and maybe some ketchup
Write the Manifesto of the Happy Doomer.
On that last one, you may have noticed a surge of press interest in the goings on of the weird Englishman and his pigs. The next step is the Manifesto. I’ve spoken to some of you about it before, and had a crack at writing it at least a dozen times over the last four years, and now it is time. Time to get down to some proper thinking. I see lots of long walks in the forest in front of me.
I’m excited and seriously intimidated. It has to be good, and it has to be the complete focus of my week. Please remind me to eat from time to time.
Thanks to the Hoyles for their newsletter last week. They are all back home safe and sound, and back into the regular programme of school and rambunctiousness.
Much piratey love, and until next time.
Your Ben (Pirate)
You can harvest most chili peppers when they are green or just turning. String them up and hang to dry. They turn color as they dry
I know the feeling - September is also my birthday month!
I love this time of year...except my eyes go crazy at the market and I usually end up buying too much...and that lands me in the same general area as you - pickling and tomato sauces... Let me know if you need or want any chili peppers - our plants went crazy this year and the peppers are generally much spicier. Jalapeno peppers and little (very spicy) pepperoncini are the bumper crop leaders...
Thanks for putting our your weekly newsletter - always a highlight on Monday morning...or whenever I have a chance to read it!
Don't forget to eat!