27 September 2006

Crab Apple Jelly

Every year you said it wasn't worth the trouble
you'd better things to do with your time
and it made you furious when the jars
were sold at the church fete
for less than the cost of the sugar.

And every year you drove into the lanes
around Calverton to search
for the wild trees whose apples
looked as red and as sweet as cherries,
and tasted sourer than gooseberries.

You cooked them in the wide copper pan
Grandma brought with her from Wigan,
smashing them against the sides
with a long wooden spoon to split
the skins, straining the pulp

through an old muslin nappy.
It hung for days, tied with string
to the kitchen steps, dripping
into a bowl on the floor
brown-stained, horrible,

a head in a bag, a pouch
of sourness, of all that went wrong
in that house of women. The last drops
you wrung out with your hands;
then, closing doors and windows

to shut out the clamouring wasps,
you boiled up the juice with sugar,
dribbling the syrup onto a cold plate
until it set to a glaze,
filling the heated jars.

When the jars were cool
you held one up to the light
to see if the jelly had cleared.
Oh Mummy, it was as clear and shining
as stained glass and the colour of fire.

Vicki Feaver

26 September 2006

Ben on the Tracks

A picture from outside the shed looking inside the shed and then outside the shed again and looking behind the shed all at the same time. Photoshop can go swivel. Good job the kettles boiling after all that effort!
'Yak Yak blether blah blah blah ya de ya de yah da....if only dad would shut up gardening could be fun'.

On the tracks at the Brandywine crossing in BC.

11 September 2006

External Auditors

The external auditors arrived on Saturday, (from Cobden Cobden & Cobden in Chesterfield), heavily disguised as Gravy Grandma and Grandad Beard. Ben worked really hard tidying up for the plot inspection in the hope of a glowing report or maybe rising up the allotment league tables a bit.

‘Wait’, you say, ‘they don’t have allotment league tables!’ ‘Ha’, sais Clodhopper, ‘just watch…..New Labour isn’t finished (quite) yet.’

Auditor 1 recoils nervously at her first sight of a Mangold. ‘Is that thing loaded’?

Auditor 2 swiftly whips out a 4 litre box of Cabernet Sauvignon…’We must stay tonight and eat this mangold to be on the safe side’.
‘To be on the safe side of what’?

The External Auditors are made to pick their own dinner….. spuds there beans there beets there leeks there and lettuce there getonwithit, whichtheydo. They then dissapear to go and watch Watford play Bolton (big mistake – Bolton win with a last minute penalty)……so we head on home to cook the pickings and drink the wine.

Cathy cooks THE most fabulous allotment meal and the Auditors visibly cheer up.

Then it is our turn to dissapear to play for a dance leaving the Auditors to read bedtime stories to Ben which they do nightnightsleeptight.

The roasted mangold is SO
delicious we wonder why it is only grown as a fodder crop….seems ridiculous but I bet no one has seen one in a shop….have you? Don’t take my word for it……can heartily recommend you grow some next season and try it out and not just for hurling either!

We get back from the dance after the witching hour and the auditors have become so cheerful they go to bed.

08 September 2006

Love in the Mist

Love in the Mist snuggled up behind the greenhouse...as you do.

These Abysinnian Gladiators guard the greenhouse and deter all would be tomato thieves.

07 September 2006

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbours Onions

The hell I shalln't! Just look at those beauties. They make ours look like adolescent pimples.
Cathy's been collecting seeds to save from various crops and here she is filling a basket with main crop desire. I did a spring clean of the shed and contemplated my navel which is getting bigger than it should be really.