There are some parts of life here that I expected – like preaching sermons and going to PCC meetings. Other parts I would never have anticipated: like appearing in a pantomime last January, and now making damson jam. They never told me about that at theological college!
There’s a tree in the garden which didn’t do much last year, but this year is almost dripping with damsons. After I’d given about a dozen bags away, I looked at the tree and realised that there were almost as many still there.
This required thinking the unthinkable: how to make jam! So that’s what I did last week – about 5kg of it.
The master-stroke (in my mind, anyway) was buying a chef’s thermometer, and I was mighty glad of it. Recipes talk about how to tell whether the jam is able to set, by putting a bit on a saucer and seeing whether it wrinkles – but how much wrinkling is sufficient??? Much more reliable is to see whether it gets hotter than 104.5C, which is the setting point. There are times when the geeky approach is definitely the right one!
Much as I enjoy traveling to seeing rare birds in distant places, it’s also fun seeing them close by. For about four weeks, a black redstart was seen on Leckhampton Hill, about a mile from my mother’s house in Cheltenham. I finally caught up with it last weekend – which was fortunate, because it disappeared within a day or so.
Despite being easily seen around some disused barns, it was always flighty, rarely being in one place for long. Still, I was able to get a couple of shots that show why it gets its name – a black bird with a red tail. Well – as the male is black, this is probably a female with its grey colouring.
YesterdayI had the honour of being made a godfather to Dave & Carolyn Kania’s son Noah. It was great to be back at Trinity Cheltenham for the dedication in the morning – followed by a lovely afternoon with the Kania family in Longlevens. Noah is already quite a character – as the photos below show!