Tag Archives: apple

Damaged Drives and A Wintery Pause

It’s been an odd week — I can’t say otherwise. I had a catastrophic hard drive failure on one of my MacBook Pro computers, so I spent an entire week getting things sorted out.

We have no authorized Apple stores anywhere near where we live in rural France and I didn’t fancy trying to ship off a computer when it was 3 weeks until Christmas. As it was, I was rather staggered when I spoke to one authorised Apple repair place outside of Paris and they quoted €99 for the diagnosis, over €500 for the new hard drive installation, and up to €1,000 to recover the information on the hard drive. I had called them on Skype and Mark heard the entire conversation. After I hung up, I turned to him saying, “If I have to spend that much money, I might as well wait until the after-Christmas sales and buy a new one!”

Through sheer stubbornness and bizarre optimism, I managed to clone the hard drive on the working computer, wipe and reformat the damaged hard drive on the dead one, load the cloned information over onto the wiped drive, and get the damaged one up and running again. I have no idea how long that drive will last, but trust me, it will get backed up every single day if new information goes onto it!

My really, REALLY amazing bit of handiwork though was recovering all of Mark’s ‘lost’ photos from Barcelona. I kept downloading test versions of expensive software programs that claimed to be able to ‘find’ images on digital camera drives even if they had been deleted. Day after day I tried program after program with no success until finally, amazingly, one of them showed me ALL of the photos on the SD cards. I was stunned since the computer said that they were empty, yet the software was clearly showing me the photos. And yes — I now have all 761 of Mark’s Barcelona images on both computers and on a back-up drive as well. Whew! It was an exhausting week of highs and lows that ended splendidly.

The rest of my photo essays from Salvadore Dali’s Museum in Figueres, Spain will be up soon. But this past weekend was spent doing things with the darling Mark since it was his birthday.

Gifts were presented on Sunday morning and then after a nice lunch in a nearby cafe, we took a drive in the countryside up into the Midi-Pyrenees mountains where Mark is currently working on a large barn-conversion-into-residence project. I knew that there was snow and ice up there since he had already gotten stuck in a ditch once this past week, had a ride inside the cab of the snowplow, and then he and the snowplow driver pulled him out of the ditch. But little did I know that he had a bit of an ‘adventure’ in mind for me.

Mark at barn-conversion-into-residence job site in the Midi-Pyrenees of France

We drove through Massat and then Mark turned onto a one lane road that had multiple hairpin turns and which wound higher and higher up that mountain range. I was getting white-knuckled by this time since there were no guard rails along the road, no place to pull off if there was any kind of difficulty, and it was a huge plunge if you went off the side of the road anywhere!

Snow covered mountains of the Midi-Pyrenees in December 2012


Up and up we went and then the worst-case-scenario arrived in the form of an old blue van which was going down the one lane road as we were trying to go up. We each backed up a bit to see if there was any room to pass one another, and just as the blue van got stuck in the ice at the edge of the road, Mark continued to back up DOWN that road and he began to move toward one of those sharp curves. It wasn’t my finest hour — I admit that freely — but I suddenly shouted, “Stop! I am getting out!” I was shaking all over from fright and the mental image of us plunging off the side of the road at that curve.

Mark walked up the road, helped the people in the van get out of the ice and back on their way down the one lane road, and somehow without shearing off our side mirror and with the woman driving whilst the two men shoved at the side and back to keep the van on the road and not plunging off the right side, they managed to pass with a whisker’s distance between the two vehicles.

Back in our own vehicle and with a bit of ice and mud being flung into the air, we spun our way out of the very narrow ditch we were parked in. I was close to tears and Mark realised that, given the road conditions, perhaps it hadn’t been such a good idea after all. But I was calm again by the time that we got to the top — another 5 minutes of white-knuckle driving time — and the photos above show the view from the top. This is where Mark has been working every day for the last several months and I had to admit that it was quite a special place to go to work each day.

You may or may not be able to see the small black shapes in the deep shadows. Apparently a small herd of Pyrenees horses arrived this past week and they are being wintered in that paddock next to the construction site.

I’ll be returning to more posts from Barcelona and Figueres in the coming days — so come back soon!

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Cheerful Chutney in Normandy, France

Several of you have written and asked for the recipe for the apple chutney after seeing the photos of the organic apples yesterday and watching the video that I took of Mark operating the mechanical apple peeler.

Organic apples in Normandy, France


Book of Preserves from the Women's Institute in the UK

I got this recipe from The Book of Preserves by the Women’s Institute in the UK.

Recipe for apple chutney

I won’t exaggerate, but it takes a lot of apples, raisins and/or dates, and chopped onions along with a hefty amount of spices to make a mere 3-4 fat jam sized jars of the finished product. So if you have plenty of large pans or kettles for simmering, you could double or triple the recipe and make a lot more of this in one go. As it was, we only had two large pans to work with. So we were doing one large pan of apple compote (simply chopped apples, no sugar, no spices, simmered for 4 hours until it looks like applesauce and is all natural!) and one pan of chutney.

This recipe produces 2 500 ml (18 fluid ounce) jars of chutney and it goes really well with cheese and meat and sandwiches. We ate some the other night with a chicken quiche. Yum!

Here’s the recipe.

250 g (9 oz) onions, chopped
1 kg (2 lb & 4 oz) cooking apples, cored and chopped
125 g (4-1/2 oz) sultanas, raisins, or chopped dates
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon salt
350 g (12 oz) granulated sugar
700 ml (1-1/4 pints) malt vinegar

1. Put all ingredients into a large pan. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring often, until the sugar has completely dissolved.

2. Simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring from time to time to stop the chutney sticking to the pan.

3. After the shortest cooking time, start checking if the chutney is ready by dragging a channel through the mixture with a wooden spoon so that the bottom of the pan is visible. If the channel immediately fills with liquid, the chutney is not ready. Cook for a further 15 minutes and then check again. The chutney is ready when the channel does not fill and the mixture is very thick.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand briefly. Carefully pour the chutney into hot sterilised jars and seal. Allow the chutney to cool completely before labelling and storing in a cool, dark cupboard. Store for at least 2 months before eating.


©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.