Sunday, 19 July 2009

Jam and dreams

There's been rather a lot of jam making here this week. I popped round to a friend's last week, and as he wasn't in, I started poking around in the garden. The garden is tiny, probably about a third of the size of mine even, but it had so much fruit growing in it! You can see the timber framed greenhouse he's build, not a light undertaking... But it's got grapes, melons and pineapples growing in it - not a bad haul for a tiny city garden. 

After checking it was ok, we went back and raided the fruit. My friend is too busy to pick it apparently - what a shame! We got about 3lbs of gooseberries, and there were plenty more left on the bush. We also picked about 1lb of tayberries, but sadly most of them had already withered on the bush. 

Well, tayberry jam is most gorgeous indeed, rich and flowery tasting, and a beautiful deep red. Gooseberry jam is also gorgeous, although not as good a colour. We also experimented with making gooseberry fool yesterday, which was a little tart for my liking, but a lovely mix of flavours. Perhaps I should have followed a recipe? I never was much of a one for instructions... :) 

Anyway, my friend did get two pots of jam from his fruit, which were delivered to his house in exchange for him fixing my bike :) So now we all have jam, and I have a working set of wheels, and everyone's happy. 

My own garden isn't half as productive as my friend's, which just goes to prove that effort in at the beginning gives results later... I went for the bung-it-in-when-you-get-chance method, he went for an all out effort at the start. Anyway, each of my five broad bean plants currently has one pod of beans on! 

We picked this one the other day, rather too early, but we were quite excited, as with anything new that grows in the garden. We're leaving the rest to mature a bit further. 

I noticed while I was out that there's a lot of ant and aphid activity on my cardoom. I bought this last year after reading about their electric blue flowers - I've never actually seen the flowers. Mine is in a pot, and it's the only plant in the garden which is absolutely covered in aphids, and ants, which are presumably eating the aphids. Very bizarre - the plant itself seems reasonably health, and has a couple of flowers starting to grow, so I assume they're not doing too much damage. The whole thing had me rather puzzled. Can anyone shed any light? There's so much to learn about this gardening business... 

Other than gardening and jam, it's been a week of dashing about and lots of different things. The new Harry Potter film, a bit of work, a lot of PhD, and a good silly splash around down the water slides at the swimming pool with an old school friend. 

There was also a long drive to see my new nephew and his two big brothers (and most of the rest of the family too, of course). On the way back, I was awfully tired, and went on a bit of a detour to find somewhere sensible to have a nap (oh, the joys of owning a van!) I found myself tracing an old route I used to cycle a few years ago, over the Staffordshire Moorlands. This is a vastly underrated, gorgeous part of the country - and long may it stay like that. This picture doesn't do it justice at all.

Anyway, driving along my old cycling route made me think about how much I used to enjoy cycling, and how much fitter I used to be than I am now... So I came home, and now my bike's fixed, I'm looking forward to pootling about on it. It's just rather hilly round here, so I need to face up to the fact that I won't be going very fast just yet! 

My mum said the other day that she's going to start cycling more too - so here it is, in writing - have you started yet mum?? :) 


  1. Reading you comment about me saying I would cyle more reminded me that I hadn't so I went to friends on my bike instead of the car as planned. Thanks. Mum xx

  2. Well done Mum! Shall I keep reminding you??

    I too went for a very soggy, very adventurous, very enjoyable bike ride, and had a great time :) More cycling, I say!