It’s been blowing a hooley the last couple of days: a strong, steady, surprisingly warm northerly. The perfect weather for making marmalade. But, before that, the annual ritual of clearing last autumn’s drifts of leaves from the driveway. I always wait for a strong northerly, then scoop up the leaves with the snow-shovel and fling them into the air. As if by magic, they fly out through the gate and head off across Russell’s fields towards Birmingham and beyond. I wonder if they’ve reached Africa yet.
We spent all afternoon making two batches of marmalade. As always, there was the big debate about whether we should use the (frankly rubbish) old trick of dropping a small blob of the molten mixture on to a cold plate to see if it would set. I, being me, prefer the scientific approach of boiling the marmalade to exactly 105°C, as measured with our preserve-making thermometer. Which means I’ll be to blame if the damn stuff doesn’t set. But it does look very promising, cooling down in all those jars.