The latest ManxSki blog from Chris Callow

Cookery Course Awards. Below: All's green in the garden

Cookery Course Awards. Below: All's green in the garden

69: The Stuff of life

Great excitement in the Manxski Chalet; the lower garden having been licked into some sort of order, attention has turned to the ‘potager’, a 2 metre square kitchen plot clearly neglected for many a year. Now the Callows are not entire novices in the world of horticulture; well-coached by the Boss’s Grandfather we managed to produce annual runner-bean crops in our previous Island life and regularly pulled rhubarb – neither exactly labour intensive! Back in St Siggy there was some soil-turning as a preliminary, which Mrs C threw herself into with her customary vigour, then off to the Garden Centres for seedlings, canes and all the other paraphernalia. So, to date, 2 rows of lettuce thriving alongside 2 of leeks – thus far all very authentically Savoyard accordingly to the covert glances thrown over neighbours walls. But for some reason the French do not favour runner-beans nor early season spinach so Granjan was sent foraging to B&Q and seeds were brought out by special delivery; next the neighbours were intrigued as a bamboo frame rose held together by my patent string lashings, and now we scan the earth daily waiting for beanstalks to emerge...

Culinary Guru Herve was delighted to see the pots of herbs and salad leaves when he arrived for the June Cookery Courses. We were thrilled to welcome back all four ladies from the class of 2011 and ran into a second week with some fresh faces on a repeat Level 1 Course. This is a wonderful time of year; I have the triple bonus of some new techniques and advice for us, a week off cooking and some wonderful meals & company, lunch and evening. The only down-side was a perceptible thickening of the waist-line, but there’s the rest of the summer to work that off, and maybe some more gentle digging...

The hot-tub saw nightly use and on one auspicious occasion a blazing meteor was seen by us all falling towards Chamonix. It was however insufficiently warm for the swimming pool; fortunately, given that my failure properly to winterise the pool meant that the pump needed replacing, and pool technicians are rare birds in this neck of the woods. All is now well! Philippe has been and worked his wonders and the new pump is now purring away, the pool-bottom has been lovingly vacuumed and under the summer-cover the temperature is climbing daily.

With our first summer guests expected in a week or so, thoughts have turned to replenishing the shelves; with year-round operation we can no longer rely on an annual trip home with the minibus to stock up on home products. A fellow-Brit introduced the Boss to one of the burgeoning number of enterprises offering UK shopping to expatriates. The idea looked beguilingly simple; you sign up with any of the major UK supermarkets offering home-shopping, order on-line with delivery to the exporter’s warehouse, and for a value-based fee he brings the consignment out for you. So we scroll through the supermarket website putting together a trial order, trying to concentrate on what is clearly cheaper or only available in the UK with the odd treat also thrown in. The order placed we await delivery day.... Great excitement! The Boss is summonsed to the rendezvous point. No, half-wit, she tells me, they do not deliver – she has to meet the lorry in a lay-by near Morzine. I have to say this is starting to sound like something out of the Italian Job. So off she speeds and at the lay-by there sits the delivery lorry surrounded by a large number of consignees in minibuses, none of whom were talking to each other. Our payment was made and our goods collected, and home she triumphantly came – until the list was checked – half the order missing! Not our fault, claimed the shipper, speak to Asda. Not our problem, said the retail giant cheerfully, everything ordered was signed for.. The Boss, feeling with some reason that this might end up at her door took charge and with a few deft calls secured a credit to our account and a refund of commission. Will we try it again? The jury’s still out.



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