When we purchased Chestnut Brae in November last year, we were unaware that its garden had in years gone by been part of the Open Garden Scheme. It was rather overgrown when we bought it and we spent many weeks weeding and pruning and were delighted to find that the skeleton of a garden lay underneath. By mid December the roses began to bloom and lovely European plants came into flower. John had flown to Europe to work so he missed the flowering display. The colours were gorgeous – pinks, blues and purples and reminded me of photos I had seen of Monet’s Garden. I emailed John and said to him – Oh my goodness, we have a Monet’s garden here. So we decided to keep and build on that theme in future work we do in the garden.My plan at that time, was to visit France and Italy in October 2014 in time for Chestnut Season in Europe in order to study how chestnuts were harvested in Europe and to study what chestnut products are made in France and Italy to get ideas for what we could make with our chestnuts back home.Now that time has arrived and we had finished working in Belgium and with a day to spare and being within driving distance on the real Monet’s Garden decided it was too good an opportunity to pass up. We had to go and see the garden, even though it was out of season for the garden. Even out of season it was lovely. But even more inspiring was Monet’s approach to gardening. Planting as though he were painting the garden, in order to paint the garden. His thinking and approach to planting schemes were very inspiring and I could hardly wait to get home and start re-arranging the planting we had done. From Monet’s Garden we flew to Corsica to begin our study tour of chestnuts. A Swiss friend had told us that his father took his family to Corsica every year because they loved it so much and in Corsica everything was made from chestnuts. So we thought Corsica would be a good place to study adding value to chestnuts.Our friend was right, there were chestnut products that we had never thought of making sitting on the shelfs of artisan producer shops in almost every town. We had booked our accommodation in the mountains at Casa Capellini and Pierre-Francoise (our host at the B&B ) once he knew we had come to study chestnut products took us to his father's place so we could taste test his father’s chestnut ice cream. It was absolutely divine .Then he took us to meet a chestnut grower near his home. Turned out the grower is the president of the chestnut growers association in Corsica and he took us through his chestnut flour production and his chestnut orchard. His orchard is the same size as ours - so it was perfect to compare. They do things quite differently, so we are going to test out some his harvesting techniques. We have seen so many different chestnut products and different techniques for growing and harvesting chestnuts that we will be very busy deciding which products might work in WA and then experimenting in making them. Before I left home, knowing we would do some trekking in Corsica, I grabbed the bag containing my hiking boots from the cupboard containing my shoes, and threw the bag in my suitcase.
The other day we decided to go and climb a mountain in a national park. I pulled out the hiking boots and found they were a second pair of John's boots - size 11. Darn! What were John's boots doing on my shoe rack?
I had no choice but to put on his boots as it was Sunday and all the shops were closed and go and climb the mountain.
The scenery was beautiful and very rugged. Climbing the mountain in boots that fitted would have been a challenge, but climbing the mountain in boots 3 sizes too large, increased the stumble factor and made the climb even more ... interesting.And totally worthwhile.We bought some sheep cheese from a shepherd in his hut on the mountain.Before heading back to Corte for dinner before returning to our B&B.