We took a stand at the Exhibition « Food in Sud » in Marseille where we were able to introduce our Vierge Extra Bio olive oil to a large number of chefs and they used our oil in their demonstrations and competitions, which they call “battles”. We especially appreciated the support given us by Gaël Soler, Président National of Gargantua, an organisation which runs competitions between French chefs all over France, and who used our oil in the chefs’ Regional Final. See the article on us in your favourite magazine « l’Agriculteur Provençal » in their edition of Friday 12 February... At the end of 2015 we installed our new olive mill which sets us up for this New Year’s season and harvest. Happy New Year to you all! We were lucky with the weather during this harvest, but there was never enough time in the day between learning how to use our new mill and the race to pick all our olives before the wild boar ate them. The problem was that the oak trees failed to produce acorns this year so the pigs took to eating olives, something the locals say has never happened before. Well, they did this year, ripping branches off our trees; nearly 200 were badly... Our new olive press came from the OMT S.p.a factory in Florence. We just got it installed in time for our harvest – though actually a few days later than we would have preferred from the point of view of the best time to pick the olives, and do that before the wild pigs ate our olives. But there was a huge amount of work to do in the hangar and workshop to get it ready to receive the... Works continue on, or rather inside, the agricultural barn but we have now finished our new gym. It’s a small “Salle de Sport” but has some excellent top quality professional Technogym fitness equipment, for us and for our gîte guests. Ideal after a long day working among the olives, or by the... A lot of producers have very few olives this season, the second bad year in a row which will make life very hard for some, and we heard that this is probably due to two or three weeks of very hot weather during the flowering period which roasted the small olive flowers before they could set to fruit. And it’s true we have very few olives on our Aglandau trees, but fortunately different varieties flower at different times and later at higher altitude (we are at 300 metres ASL), and some of our trees are protected by the cliffs from the drying Mistral wind. So in fact it looks like we may have a decent harvest with our Bouteillans, Cayet Roux and Brun varieties, which we are busy protecting with an organic treatment of clay powder which distracts the olive fruit fly and stops her laying eggs in the fruit, (see photos), which of course allows us to produce organic olive oil. Before the treatment of clay powder… After the treatment… And more in the area we call the Feu Bas…... Spring is a fantastic time of year, even though it is a little cooler than normal and the bees are frantically busy collecting pollen. Gerry felt she had to see what was happening in the hives, and found the Provençal bees, so-called because they are quite mild and laid back, had pretty much filled all but one frame in their hive, and the Formula One bees, so-called because they are very energetic and rather aggressive, had filled everything. She put some more half frames on top of the Formula Ones and stepped back! She also found that the frames were temptingly heavy with... After a really grim winter when it rained like in Wales all December, January and February, this spring is turning out to be lovely weather, not as warm as it could be but it’s wonderfully sunny and clear. Here the purple flowers are on the Judas Tree (Cercis Siliquastrum). Bees love these... After several years of training at “Degustation” sessions with the Var olive growers association, we were invited to be part of the Olive Oil tasting juries at two recent Concours, at Draguingan, which Gerry went to last month, and at the annual Brignoles Agricultural Fair, which Mark went to last week. This was a first time for us both, and, frankly, we were worried we knew enough! Actually, it was most enjoyable, we acquitted ourselves with élan (!), there was lots of chat about olives, we knew several people and a long morning’s tasting ended, as always at such venues in France, with a quite decent lunch! Next year, we shall present some of our own oil to these Concours in the Var. In the photo are the dark brown sample bottles from each olive oil producer, the blue flasks in which each oil is put to warm up, the little white spoons for the tastings, the white cups for spitting into (!), and small bits of bread and green apple to eat between... Driving to the village, we both separately saw this very pretty bird flitting about near the Virgin statue on the high corner which overlooks the village. (see the Wikipedia entry Bird, an Eurasian Hoopoe).