Things have not been as good as they might on the domestic harmony front ever since the accursèd boar broke into and laid waste the Wife’s tobacco patch. This was one of that class of cataclysm that is deemed, for some unfathomable reason, to be my fault. I managed to save a few of the plants though, and they are hanging now, attractively arrayed, beneath the tin roof on the patio. It’s a shame; the tobacco harvest would have been good.

The tomatoes on the other hand have been poor this year – all sorts of blemishes and diseases and absolutely no flavour… and a summer without tomatoes is no summer at all. I shall let you into a secret: the gazpacho that featured in the picture that headed my last article came from a box. The first time that I have been reduced to such a scurvy shift in twenty five years… and the worst thing about it is that it was delicious. And when I think of the hours that I spend every week in the summer gathering fresh vegetables and herbs and then pounding the daylights out of them in the pestle and mortar… well, one wonders. It was cheap, too.

There’s usually some sort of compensation though, and this year it was cucumbers. We had a prodigious crop, cucumbers coming out of our ear’oles. But there’s only so much you can do with a cucumber: tzatziki, cucumber soup, cucumber stir-fry, cucumber sorbet… As summer drew to a close we never wanted to see another cucumber, but still they came, like beached green zeppelins all over the vegetable patch.

We flew to England last week for a family affair in the West Country. We checked our bag in; it weighed twenty two kilos.

‘You’ll have to pay extra,’ said the girl on the desk.

‘What’s in the bag?’ I asked the Wife; packing is her department.

‘Cucumbers,’ she said.

‘Cucumbers?!’ I cried, aghast. ‘Why on earth are we taking cucumbers on a plane?’

‘Presents for people; it’s a good way of getting rid of them.’

‘Will you be paying the extra at all? It’s fifty Euros,’ said the girl, getting a little tetchy now, as there was a big queue behind us.

‘Not bloody likely!’ I said. ‘Fifty Euros for a couple of kilos of cucumbers? I’ll put them in the hand baggage.’

‘Cucumbers are not allowed in the cabin,’ said the girl, getting officious.

This of course is absurd. Whoever heard of anyone hijacking a plane with a cucumber? But it wasn’t her fault and besides, she had a nice smile, so I offered them to her.

‘We’re not allowed to accept gifts from passengers.’

I wasn’t going to dump them in the bin, so I tried Starbucks and the other purveyors of vile coffee. Predictably enough they were not interested; after all, what would a coffee-shop want with a cucumber?

I wandered the concourse for a time in search of a home for the fruit (yes, fruit) but to no avail. A man at an airport brandishing cucumbers seems to invite only suspicion and, indeed, contumely.



10 Responses to “WAYS WITH A CUCUMBER”

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  1. Comment by Jay Blewes — October 17, 2011 at 11:06 am   Reply

    The chickens love a cucumber. We too (in ‘dank’ Galicia) have a cucumber glut, so I break them and lob them into the chicken run. Failing that, there’s always pickling. Yes, the Gazpacho from a carton is wonderful and instant!

  2. Comment by Judy Donnelly — November 9, 2011 at 12:44 am   Reply

    I had a similar experience with a jar of lemon butter that I tried to take on a plane from Sydney to Melbourne.
    I wasn’t going to bring down a plane with a jar of lemon butter, which I had lovingly made for my daughter from organic home grown lemons and our free-range eggs. But it had to go in the bin, in spite of my pleas and assurances that it was 100% organic and couldn’t hurt a soul.

  3. Comment by phil — November 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm   Reply

    Very funny and just typical of the bureaucratic hog wash we have to endure these days. Can’t wait to read driving over lemons my son is getting it for me for xmas. When I’ve read the book I cant wait to see the new film. I don’t know you but have read many stories, I hope your winter is not to harsh. Best wishes to you both. Phil from England

  4. Comment by Brita Bevis — November 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm   Reply

    Hi Chris… Without wanting to sound like I’m toadying – I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed reading your books. I only discovered you recently, and am currently reading ‘A Parrot in a Pepper Tree’. Not sure if I’ll read your boat story, as I’m not much into water adventures. But I do hope you’ll write some more books about your home in Andalusia? I spend quite a bit of time in Nerja… an area I have grown to love – although far removed from your home in the ‘campo’. I wasn’t going to write, as I bet you get fed up with admirers (haven’t forgotten your comments about the chap who turned up at your home with a book for you to sign! lol) but I just wanted to say, carry on writing your books – and all the best for the future! Brita

  5. Comment by babs — January 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm   Reply

    Ha! I had a similar experience smuggling several kilos of mighty parsnip out of England for our Xmas dinner in France. I cried when they were confiscated! And the bloody customs people didn’t even know what they were! Now you can get them in any organic shop and I’m seeing more and more of them snuggled up next to the rutabaga on market stalls. A sign of the austere times?

  6. Comment by Joy — January 16, 2012 at 1:30 pm   Reply

    Hi Chris.I’d just like to echo Brita’s comments above. I too have only just discovered Driving Over Lemons and have finished Parrot, just starting Blossom. I was bereft at the thought that after Blossom, there’s no more books but then I discovered you’ve got into the 21st Century and got a website! I live in Cornwall and belong to a Spanish Club run by Francisco from Tenerife, he and I are both your age. We all learn a lot about Spain (nothing like you are experiencing though!) and I have lent Lemons to his wife, who’s English. My husband, Tony, and I often travel to Llanca in Catalunya for a few weeks at a time, together with our dog. I’m so glad I’m going to be able to catch up on things in your world after I finish Blossom as I don’t want to be left hanging about what happens to you all! All the very best, Joy

  7. Comment by Gordon Smith — January 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm   Reply

    We had a similar potential problem coming home (from Almunecar) recently. We had all the luggage carefully packed (or rather, ‘The Wife’ did!) She had packed a load of food into the handluggage ‘cos it was fragile and anyway, the suitcases were full.
    Checkin didn’t check – it wasn’t really their business anyway – but at the scanners, she was pulled over for closer inspection. In there were tomatoes, cheeses, those green peppers you only seem to be able to get in Spain and all the other tasty stuff you can’t get in Ulverston (tomatoes??). She was allowed through because none of the food had been opened. How about that then?
    Serves you right for travelling Ryan Air!
    Saying that, we had unopened tins of olive oil confiscated at Corfu. Apparently, we would have been ok if we could produce a receipt showing it had been bought that day. Explain that one….
    Anyway, we’ll be back in Almunecar in May and look forward to our foray into the hills. I’ve still to do your walk into the blue sierra (D O Lemons) behind Bubion (?) Your directions will be welcome..

  8. Comment by Patrik Schumann — August 13, 2012 at 7:19 pm   Reply

    Hola Chris,

    Despite occasional monsoon teasers, we continue dessicating under prolonged extreme drought here in New Mexico. For now I am keeping our large collection of fruit varieties and other edibles alive, though water quality is declining gradually as well. When myriad plants and young baby allow, I wander the web over to Alpujarras to ponder how to connect with like-minded folks and whether we can migrate there. Ciao, Patrik

  9. Comment by Martin — September 12, 2012 at 1:18 am   Reply

    I have just retired and have read driving over lemons I hope you made a good deal with your publisher I have just ordered 3 more of your books .I have done a little writing myself and love your style of looking at what is no doubt a very hard life .I read your book in the back garden in the sun its not spain but as near as i will get .please keep up the writing as us town dwellers need the sun on our backs even if it is just from the pages of your books thanks Martin

  10. Comment by Paul Grimes. — September 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm   Reply

    Just finished your book 3 ways to capsize a boat..Relly enjoyed

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