I have a small plot in the garden which is stuffed with fruit bushes...Blackcurrents, Red-Currants, Gooseberries and Blueberries...the Blueberries never come to much though. There was a huge patch of Strawberry plants but Himself strimmed them all away...

Anyway...I went out this morning armed with bowls in a basket and picked as many as I could of everything...warding off wasps intent on getting there first and having the cats determined to trip me up and knock the bowls over...they will rub their chins on the edge of the bowls...which was why I put them into a flat basket.

Now I'm faced with pounds and pounds of ripe Gooseberries to top and tail...and I'll 'fess up that I find it incredibly boring...especially when some go squidgy in your fingers and some fall on the floor and a dog squashes it before you can snatch it back...Bobby stood on an errant Blackcurrant and it looked for all the world like a squashed tick...I kept peering at it for ages before I got a grip and wiped it up with a bit of kitchen paper...

The Redcurrants are so easy...they simply fall off the stems and can go straight into the freezer...the Blackcurrants are horrid though...some come off easily enough and others hang fast to the stems and have to be pried off with a fork...and there'll always be bits of stalk I miss which will end up on somebodys bread or scone.

After I'd picked the fruit I did some on-line shopping...because I'm going to start making wine again and need demi-johns and suchlike and lo and behold there is a firm in Ireland which supplies everything you could possibly want and more besides...actually I was gob-smacked to discover a firm so close to home that charges Euros and delivers within 48 hours and doesn't create a song and dance because we don't have a postcode...'cos they don't have a postcode either seeing as how they are Irish as well.

Where was I...ah yes...had to stop for a minute 'cos Himself wanted me to look at something on his Facebook page...and he keeps muttering just under his breath so all I can hear is ...mutter...mutter...mutter. And Eilis has started to shout because she wants her tea ...

We used to make gallons of wine once...some was grand and some was foul. The best we ever made was a Wheat Whiskey which was probably 90% proof...that didn't last long. Probably one of the worst was Elderflower which smelt exactly like cat's pee when it was fermenting and tasted like it after it was bottled...

I like seeing the demi-johns standing on the windowsill with the wine popping out of the airlocks...especially when it's a dark coloured wine and the sun shines through the glass. It looks terribly sort of self-sufficent somehow... like having rows of jam
and pickles on a larder shelf. Now I like making jam...I like it bubbling away,

wafting delicous smells all over the cottage and beyond into the street...but I can't be doing with making pickles and chutneys...the boiling vinegar makes my eyes water and chopping up ginger and onions and allspice has me in floods of tears...sniffing and sneezing and fudging about in pockets for tissues...pouring hot water over Tomatoes to loosen the skin is the pits...and if a recipe calls for ground up Raisins I eat most of them before they get as far as the mixer.

Then there are all the spices which are supposed to be absolutely essential that you only need a pinch of, so the rest of the packet sits on a shelf gathering dust and losing its potency and by the time I used to make more chutney the following year I'd have to throw all the old packets away and start again...so now I just buy a jar of Branstons instead.