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Bramble jelly

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I’m not a huge fan of blackberries in their original state, but now bramble jelly, that’s a whole different story.

I’ve been promising myself a jar of homemade bramble jelly for years but I’ve never quite made the time to do it. In my new day walking existence I’m finding myself doing so many things which I didn’t have the time, the energy, or just simply the daylight to do during my years of living in the twilight zone as a nightworker, and picking blackberries is just one of the new smiles I’ve found recently.

I’m very fussy about which blackberries I collect, let’s face it, from me you’d expect nothing less, I won’t pick them from the side of the road, I know many, many cars have gone over to unleaded fuel and I’m sure the miniscule amount of lead which you would consume from a serving of bramble jelly made from blackberries picked from the roadside would be no where near enough to enter the brain and cause learning difficulties, but when my girls were little, we “did things” rather than “had things” and one of the things I did was protect them from excess lead by not picking blackberries by a road.

We had this one park we used to go to with Little Sister and her three little ones. It was quite a walk away but that was all part of the fun. We would pack a picnic and go to the park. Then we’d play and eat our picnic, once the food had all been eaten, we’d fill the various food boxes with blackberries and take them home to make jam. I’m not quite sure how the blackberries mutated, but this park became known to us as the strawberry jam park.

Any way, no surprise, but my mind has wandered again. Apart from not picking blackberries from the side of the road, I also avoid train lines, I don’t pick from floor level as you never know quite what’s been brushing past them, and if at all possible a downpour the night before seems to make them so much juicier. So you see, to pick blackberries while working nights I would have had to make a special plan to go on one of my awake days and I needed so much sleep that awake days were very few and far between.

However, during the blackberrying months I wander, walk or plod past the perfect blackberries on my way home from each shift so I just have to pick at my leisure. Now even for me, it would be not quite the norm to take a blackberrying bucket to work but I’ve found the perfect solution. I’ve popped a few little freezer bags into my handbag so that I can pick a little bag full as the mood takes me.  The best thing about picking this way is I take the little collection of berries home with me and drop them straight in the freezer. A day or so later, I’ll pick another small bag full and freeze then too. In this way I can collect berries all through blackberry season and make lots of jam at the end.

Of course if you can’t make you own bramble jelly you can always buy a jar instead. I’ve bought many a jar from many different places but the one which I find comes closest to my homemade taste is from a supermarket where “Every little helps”.  I’ve been wondering if blackberries grown by the seaside, weathered by the salty sea air are going to taste different.

I’m guessing you know that bramble jelly is blackberry jam, but made from just the juice of the blackberries, but do you know how to make it?  I use my mum’s old jam recipe, first I boil up my blackberries in a large pan and simmer until they’re all mushy, then I strain the berries overnight in a nylon stocking or similar purpose bought such item. One important point here, just collect the drips given to you here. Don’t try to squeeze an extra few drops from the berries, any squeezing or scraping of the straining bag might well produce a little more juice, but it will give you cloudy jam. In a nice fresh pan, put one pint of juice to one pound of sugar, then simmer until setting point and put into jars – simple.

Incidentally, one pound of sugar and one pound of fruit works wonderfully for most jams too .

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An ordinary Tuesday

          “Just another Tuesday”… This is the comment Middle Daughter put on Facebook when she posted a few photos of Lions and tigers (but no bears) after our day out at Longleat together.

76. Tiger watching.

          I mentioned Longleat at the very end of my post “Delayed”  where I travelled down to Oxford on a Monday via train, stayed over with Eldest Daughter and then Youngest Daughter drove us all (Mum-in-law included) to, and around, Longleat on the Tuesday before I caught the train home from (oh, I forget now, but it was near Longleat and it began with a W).

          There are, as you would expect, a lot more photos sitting in the files from our day out and I’ll filter them through a few at a time, but this is my favourite …  of a tiger, taken through a closed car window (obviously even for me).

          It worked really well as a day out and I’m sure we’ve not seen the end of Longleat, or, come to think of it, a couple of other places which fit into the map somewhere between Oxford and Weymouth.

          More from before: Lions and more from “Longleat“.

Rabbiting

          I was rabbit sitting for Middle Daughter a couple of weekends ago. The little furry friends were exceptionally pleased to see me – the way to a rabbit’s heart is definitely via it’s stomach.

          Middle Daughter is very keen when it comes to the rabbit’s upkeep, reaping the rewards by having her rabbits, Finx in particular, living well into the little known territory of elderly rabbits at the vets.  Finx is as far as we know, the only survivor of the original litter from the pair of “female” rabbits belonging to Youngest Daughter – remember “Rabbitt” ?

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          A family photo from “Fluff bombs“, at a time which seems now to be long, long ago … 

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          When Middle Daughter moved house and Finx moved from being an indoor rabbit to living in a hutch in the garden, Middle got  her a “Husbunny”  from the rescue centre for company.

          This is Finx now, on the right and Tango on the left.

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          Remember “Pepper” ? … and “Alice” too ?  

2013-04-22. Alice & Pepper.

          Pepper came to live with Alice in our garden.  Middle persuaded me that Alice needed a companion and we already knew of Pepper who was bored and lonely as a kitchen rabbit so he came to live with Alice.  Everything in my garden was rosy until one weekend while I was away, Alice died.  Alice had so conditioned Pepper that I belonged to her and he wasn’t to approach without permission from her first that he wouldn’t come to me for consoling, he just sat at the back of the garden waiting for Alice to come home and very much afraid that he would die too, we re-homed him with Finx and Tango. 

2. Three friends.

          Everything went well for the first few months, we followed the rules of rabbit etiquette and introduced them into no man’s land… in their case… the bath, and eventually had all three bunnies living in the same hutch.

          That is until one day, Tango, who has a very much less than strong digestive system, had to spend a couple of nights stay over at the vets and Pepper made a move on Finx.  From the moment Tango came home he and Pepper fought over the one female, and over who was higher up in the “pecking order”. 

          I would like to say they fought like cat and dog, but at least that would have been easier to detect, they fought like rabbits, quite nastily when no one was looking and being rabbits, and being a prey animal, they hid their injuries and just carried on as nothing was wrong when being watched.  Of course, Middle Daughter noticed pretty early on that something was wrong and after both boy bunnies were taken to the vet for inspection they were separated. 

          Tango still sulked for a bit, but not for long and he and Finx settled back into the twosome relationship as it was before… And Pepper ?

          Well Middle Daughter is such a softie that she set Pepper up in his own empire on the other side of her garden and found him a partner at the rescue centre too… Doris.

          Here’s Pepper on the right with his female friend, Doris on the left.

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          All is well in the garden again, and everything is once again rosy.  Well, almost everything…

          My instructions for the weekend were written down in detail, I prefer it that way because then I don’t have to worry about remembering everything, and Middle Daughter doesn’t have to worry while she’s away that I’ll forget something.

          “Lola“, their cat is also used to me sitting for the weekend and knows that the first thing I do when I go in is consult the list which has been left on the table.  I’m now not allowed to read the book until I’ve played with Lola first… and how could I possibly resist.

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          More from before: a few of the “Furry Friends” who are part of the family.