So January is well under way, in fact to be really honest January is nearly at an end. It has been a wet and windy month with seven storms sweeping across the country in fairly quick succession. Storm Georgina follows Fionn, Eleanor, Dylan, Caroline, Brian and Aileen. But two things have happened this month that I look forward to, the first was a large brown envelope coming through the letter box and landing on the door mat, our delivery of vegetable seeds, this year for the first time a few packets of flower seeds tucked in among the vegetable packets. Its funny how time changes us, at one point not a flower would be allowed to take up an inch of my vegetable patch, then came the odd exemption purely to help with aphid control, and now well, they just look good and I like the idea of sitting there drinking my coffee and watching the bees and butterflys that inquisitively call upon them, and allow me time to just be still, even the idea of picking a few for a vase on the table is gaining appeal.
Another one of these changes in my life was growing up and not understanding why anyone would allow Stilton / blue cheese to pass their lips, and staring at my dad with disbelief when he would sit back in his chair with a plate of pickled onions and that dreaded stinking cheese quite happily munching away. And then somewhere along the road discovering for myself the joy of this sweetly pungent cheese as it melts in the mouth, to then be cast out from that enjoyment for the past four years as every time I ate my beloved Stilton a headache was soon to follow. well this Christmas I took the plunge again and tested the water and happy Christmas to all as no headache from the Stilton did appear, so to my relief an old friend has returned. (I must be strict and eat in moderation as not to lose this friend again).
Marmalade, I am a person that likes familiarity, things set in time that flow round each season giving me a sense of grounding and connection with the earth, and one of those things is Marmalade making, it doesn’t really matter if we still have six jars left in the larder from last year’s batch ( as we did this year ) its the process, the connection, the smell, that fills the house as the Seville oranges simmer away on the stove, the gathering together of a mixed bag of jam jars to ladle the wonderful translucent orange mixture into, the anticipation of waiting to see if it sets just how we like it, the labeling of the jars ‘Marmalade’, ‘Whisky marmalade’ and this year we have added ‘Rum marmalade’, and finally the sense of achievement and security as the jars are stacked in the larder, thirty jars to be used throughout the year, on toast, to glaze a ham, a spoonful in a fruit cake and some to be given out as gifts. I must confess at this point that it is my wonderful wife that does the bulk of the work, with me abely in a support roll.
Follow link below to Cornwallnan for recipe.
So with January rolling towards it’s close, the year ahead looks good, a polytunnel to set up at the allotment so we can extend our growing season, a shed to be built with a gas burner in so we can pick cook and eat and why wouldn’t we as our allotment site looks out over the sea.
Then there is all the equipment I have gathered over the years, and areas that I have dabbled in, it is time for all that kit to be dusted off and pressed in to service, the sausage mincer and suffer, a burger press that is already used on a regular basis by my wife who makes the best burgers ever, the cheese press and moulds, yogurt making to be revived, my wine and beer making bits, including eight demi johns rescued from a skip. My belief is that you can not have too much wine waiting to be drunk, so by extension you can not have too many demi johns fermenting away with the gentle rhythmic sound of their air bubbles working their way up the air locks, creating a symphony of of taste and flavours. A cider press waiting for the next lot of apples to be turned into apple juice and cider, candle moulds to make candles, wifey wants to have a go at dipping candles this year, a paper press for paper making and just this Christmas added to the above some art pads paints and pencils to draw and paint with. I have never been good at art and see no reason why that has changed, but since living in Cornwall in some small way I want to try and capture the changing seasons. Will it be any good I don’t no, but I do Know that if I enjoy the process then on one level or another it will be good.
I am a fortunate in that I am surrounded by my family, five children and their partners, five grand children, some extended family and some dam good friends, that allow me to play in all these areas and encourage me and at times have even risked tasting my home made wine, and a wife that is a skilled and gifted cook, always there to dive in and give anything a go.
So the year ahead looks busy, but busy in a good way, a fun way, a year where each day is a blank page and the first thing to try and write on that page each day is laughter.