A little walk up the hill …

The summer this year has been unbelievably crappy. Not that spring was any better. But this year, it seems as if we have skipped spring to go straight into autumn mode. My babies on the balcony are suffering: not a single ripe tomato in sight even though we are already reaching the end of August … and my aubergine plants have not grown big nor have they matured enough to sprout a single bloom! But more about my poor babies in another entry.

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Rather … given such a gloomy and very autumn-like weather that we are having today (as can be seen on the picture above), I prefer to share something that reminds me that we are, in fact, still in summer.

It was on the little walking excursion that the hubby and I did last week, on one of the few evenings when the day was nice and warm. Unfortunately, the nice day was marred by some rain showers towards the end of the walk. But in spite of the spoiler towards the end of our little walk, it was still a very nice outing … with unexpected ‘bounty’ at the end of it.

The following are some shots that I took … several of which are of the nice houses up the hill (in Epalinges, a commune just above Lausanne) that, unfortunately, I can only dream about having as my own!

SAM_9121AThe first house that caught my interest. It has a beautiful view with a large sloping garden that has lots of possibilities!

SAM_9124.ABut as we walked further uphill …

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… there was this house which enjoys an even better view. Although it looked like one big house … it is actually comprised of several separate units.

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Its strategic location ensures that it has a superb view of Lake Geneva. (There is another shot of the house further down the entry which shows the view of the lake and mountains which can be seen from this house.)

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Another interesting looking house, a semi-detached this time. This style used to be in l’esprit du temps (in simple English … very trendy lah!) only a few years ago. But it has since fallen out of favour.

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The wooden construction, the potager garden at the back of the house … plus the lake view from the balcony and the terrace in front: this house easily became my favourite during the walk!

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Hubby leading the way … while I was busy snapping photos of the houses and gardens that I saw along the way.

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Somehow, the front porch of this house reminded me of a house that I had seen in an old Malay film which I could not remember the title of … nor the storyline!

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The streets were clean and there were not that many cars … so that it was hard not to notice that the air felt a whole lot fresher up here than down the hill.

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I walked towards this house (a few minutes further up from the previous picture) … only because we heard the sound of cow bells coming from this side of the street. I could not resist checking it out …

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… and, true enough, there were 3 of them on this small field … staring fixedly at me when I tried to snap their photos! :-)

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The view that greeted the cows as they were grazing in the field that evening. Lucky cows!!

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Walking past a house with a big flower garden …

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… with a partial lake view as we left the cows grazing peacefully.

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I really love the area. The houses were all very nice, the streets were clean with very little traffic … and the lake view is definitely a bonus!

I was ready to go home by this time … but the hubby insisted that there was not much further to go from where he wanted to show me something.

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He had been to this old church on the hill a few times before on his runs …

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… and so he was keen to bring me here so that I could see the view from this standpoint. Unfortunately, because of the rain clouds … the picture turned out a little dark. (Just click on the picture to get a better look at the view.)

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Nonetheless, I have to agree with the hubby that the view from the old church was really beautiful …

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… and there was basically nothing to obstruct the panoramic view (with France across the lake).

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Looking at the view from this side (Alpes vaudoises and Valais in sight), however, it reminded me that given our lousy summer weather … we should not be surprised to see autumn come knocking on our door sooner than we would have expected! The leaves are already starting to change colours!

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The greyness of the rain clouds and the golden hue of the evening sun made such a beautiful contrast as we made our way home more than an hour later.

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The same house that we had passed by on our way up earlier and which overlooks a wide expanse of Lake Geneva (or Lac Léman in French) as it was bathed in the glow of the evening sun.

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And … in addition, we spotted not just one … but two sets of rainbow (although you might not be able to see the second one on the outer ring very clearly) that were arching over the house. So beautiful …

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As an icing on the cake … I also spotted these beauties from across the road … as we were walking. Even though we had not brought anything with us to put these sweet brambles (they were sweeter than the ones that I picked from the woods just two weeks earlier) …

Blackberries

… we could not let these free stuff go to waste. The cap of the thermos flask that the hubby had carried with him to put his tea .. and his palm … served as containers just as well! hehehe … :-D

Other entries on Epalinges:

Plum tree … no more …

History is repeating itself … when it comes to plum trees (and me) … it would seem.

I discovered my first plum tree in the neighbourhood exactly three years ago (in August) … only to see it cut down with the rest of the apple trees that grew in the same area several months later. I was quite heartbroken when that happened … for both the plum tree and especially for the apple trees.

And last Friday … the same thing happened with the second plum tree that I had discovered only three weeks ago.

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This orphan plum tree which I had decided to adopt and which had brought so much joy to me (and the hubby) for the past few weeks was no more … arrgghhh!!

It was still there on Friday morning … but by Saturday morning …

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… this was the scene that greeted me when I looked across the balcony … to the spot where my ‘adopted’ plum tree used to stand beside the metal fence. It is gone … and not a single trace to show that it had been there! :-(

Haizzzz … what a sad day it was when the hubby and I saw what had happened to the plum tree. Fortunately, we got to enjoy our second moment of pleasure, as we had managed to go on a second round of plums’ picking just a few days earlier.

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It would have been difficult to pick the plums a second time … if not for the long (but very heavy) ladder that the hubby had spotted a few days earlier lying discarded not far from the plum tree.

SAM_9037.BThis was because although there were still plenty of plums to be picked … most of them were hanging on the higher branches.

Unfortunately, the ground was not flat and with the thick shrubs growing underneath the tree as well as the metal fence near the tree it was difficult to find a proper place to put the ladder in a secure position. In the end, we had to lean the ladder against the metal fence. It was not the best position (as the fence was a little shaky) … but not even a shaky ladder was going to stop us from picking our plums!!

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But, of course, I could not let the hubby have all the fun at picking the plums. So after having reassured the hubby that I would be safe enough up the ladder … I, too, got my turn to do some of my own plum pickings. :-)

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Our plum harvest on that day … not as much as our first picking but it still added up to nearly 5 kg!

When we went home happily with our harvest that day … little did we know that it would be our last picking from the tree. But with the development that is going on in the area … we knew that many of the orphan fruit trees in the area were living on borrowed time. It was just a matter of time before they would have to give way for the construction of the new residential complex in the area.

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My ‘adopted’ plum tree … after it had been felled … with the ladder (jutting out from a hole in the ground) that we had used to do our second plucking.

This plum tree is the third fruit trees that I had ‘found’ and then ‘lost’ this spring and summer … and, unfortunately, I know that it will not be the last. :-(

Links to related entries:

 

 

Balcony potager in August … Indian pennywort …

I had been wanting to write and to share photos of my Indian pennywort for quite some time now … but I could not find the motivation to complete the entry and get it published even though I had started on it months ago.

But after I had realised how my Indian pennywort was thriving in the wet and slightly chilly summer weather here in Lausanne upon my return from Singapore two weeks ago … I felt that I simply had to make an effort to do so.

My first attempt at trying to grow Indian pennywort (or pegaga in my own mother tongue) started nearly two years ago. The desire to try and grow this herb on our balcony was sparked after I stumbled upon articles enumerating the health benefits of eating (or drinking) this salad herbs, which then brought back to memory how I used to pick the pegaga leaves that grew wild at my grandparent’s home in Malacca when I was still very young, … and of how I enjoyed eating them as ‘urap‘ (a kind of salad mixed with grated coconut).

I tried looking for the herb when I went to Singapore for homevisit two years ago but I failed to find any. Not to be deterred, I asked around if any of my gardening buddies had any of the herb or its seeds to share with me, but they did not. So I then surfed the Internet hoping to buy the seeds online. I managed to find a seller located in Spain who was selling the seeds on ebay and promptly ordered the seeds. But I had to wait for more than 2 months before I finally received my seeds as the first batch which the seller claimed to have sent failed to reach me.

So last year, I tried to grow the pennywort seeds. I had read that it is harder to grow from seeds than from runners … but as I was not able to lay my hands on the herb itself, I just had to try growing the seeds instead. Well, I tried twice … but both times the seeds failed to germinate even though I waited a long time.

Disheartened but still determined to grow some Indian pennywort … earlier this year when I went back for homevisit, I made it a point to try and search for the herb again. And this time I was luckier. I found the herbs by chance at two different markets that I visited to get my dried and frozen foodstuff to bring home … finally!! :-)

To raise my chances of bringing them home alive … I planted the first bunch that was bought at least a few weeks earlier in a pot and kept the other that was bought a week before my departure in the fridge … while waiting for the time I could fly home with my precious finds.

SAM_4874.BThis was the first bunch (A) that was planted in a pot. I uprooted the survivors just before leaving and wrapped them in wet newspapers.

SAM_4878BAnd this was the other bunch (B) that had been kept in the fridge. Both were handcarried in a freezer bag to ensure their survival. Once home, I quickly planted them into pots.

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Four days after planting, the runner plants from the first bunch (A) were doing reasonably well.

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However, the same could not be said of those from the second bunch (B). They looked as if they were finding it a struggle to stay alive. Poor babies! :-(

Pots of pegaga

One and a half months later, the As in the black pot continued to grow well. As for the Bs in the brown pot … only a few of the runners survived and the survivors were growing very slowly.

Pennyworts

My two pots of Indian pennyworts, a.k.a pegaga … two weeks later. The ones in the brown pot had finally started to take off … albeit slowly. By June (about 3 months after I had planted the runners), I was finally able to pick a few leaves from the ones growing in the black pot. My first harvest of balcony-grown pegagas … finally! :-)

However, when I suddenly had to leave my babies to go back to Singapore to see to an important matter at the end of June … the survival of the Indian pennyworts during my absence became a concern to me. I did not want to lose them after having gone through a lot of trouble to try and get them. But apart from hoping that the ‘water guy’ would try his best to take care of my babies … there was not much that I could do.

Happily enough … my two pots of Indian pennyworts survived my absence rather well … thanks to the wet July weather while I was away.

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The ones in the black pot were growing out of the pot and had even set roots in the container below it … which means that I now have 3 pots of Indian pennyworts growing on our balcony.

PegagaBut the unexpected surprise came from the ones growing in this brown pot. They looked so green and were simply thriving in this little corner of the balcony just outside our living room.

DSCN2211.BAnd just look at the size of the leaves …  they are quite large, are they not? I had never expected the leaves of this variety of Indian pennyworts (called pegaga kampung in my native language) to grow this big because the ones that I normally saw back in Singapore/Malaysia are much, much smaller.

But hey … I am not complaining. If this is the outcome of all the trouble that I had to go through to get this precious herb salad … then I reckon that it was more than worth the effort! :)

Indian pennyworts

Almost five months later .. the two pots of Indian pennyworts or pegaga (which have given birth to another pot) … spotting a reversal of fortune. Whereas the ones in the black pot on top (A) are now looking a little straggly … the ones in the brown pot below (B) are now looking so lush and healthy!

Hmmm … nature’s imitation of our human lives … do you not think so? ;-)

Previous entries on balcony potager in August: