Tuesday, July 5, 2011

All plummed out!

Yes I do mean 'plummed' not 'plumbed'! Chris' sister Mary and her husband Bill came to visit us for the day on Saturday and they live a good bit higher up a mountain than us, where they have a finca with a lot of land that has many variety of fruit trees growing on it. That morning they stripped their plum tree and brought us a big basket of dark red plums. They were very ripe and delicious to eat, but out of defference to our digestive systems I knew I needed to do something else with most of them. Jam was the obvious course of action. I was busy yesterday so this morning I sorted the fruit out. As you can see from the photo, after just two days, some had already started to turn. But I sorted out four kilos of good fruit. I was using a recipe where you peel and chop the fruit so I did that first (Hence I now have very brown hands!). It took a while and we ate quite a few along the way, so I added some more to keep the weight up. Before long the pan was bubbling away and by early afternoon I was ready for a bottling session. Here are some of the finished product. It looks as though it is clear with all the fruit at the top, but it isn't really. It is just the way the sunlight has crept round to the back window and is reflecting off the jars and I thought it looked such a lovely colour. I like these dumpy shaped jars. A local supermarket sells marmalade in them and a friend has been saving them up for me.

While the fruit was simmering for the jam I could see the rest of the plums were deteriorating before my eyes, so I peeled and halved the rest of them and gently stewed them, so as soon as they are cold enough, I will make a crumble with some of them and pack the rest away in boxes in the freezer, ready for another day.

Just before I started on the plums, Chris announced he was going down to Mojacar, and always ready for a trip out, I went with him. We were going to the ferreteria, or hardware shop, to look for some fly deterrents. Flies are, unfortunately, a part of our life out here, but this year they do seem to be particularly numerous. They can really spoil an afternoon sitting outside. Chris is pretty nifty with a fly swat and ends up with a circle of dead bodies around him, but I miss more than I hit. I think it partly depends on the strength and direction of the wind, how many there are, but on a bad day they can get very tiresome. So we now have a new, more powerful lamp/zapper like you see in a butcher's shop, which we will hang on the porch when we are sitting there. They are not a complete solution but they do help, and our old one hasn't worked for quite a while. We also get a few flies indoors, mainly because the cats have discovered how to move aside the corners of the mosquito nets to get out. They have a way in and out, in the back door so they don't need to do this, and it is very annoying. But during these very hot months (it is above 30º every day, and the thermometer down at the beach was showing 32º at 9.30 this morning!) we like to have as many doors and windows open as we can to encourage a breeze through the house. So today we bought a fly screen to go across the front door. This is made up of a light-weight metal link chain, and although it looks quite open, flies don't come through it. A friend of mine has them at all her doors and windows without mosquito screens and she swears by them. They are bought as a metal strip with holes punched along one side to go at the top, and big bag of chain, and you have to assemble it yourself. So once the jam was bottled, Chris stood on a stool hooking the chain into the top strip (I don't reach up very well) and I sat at the bottom with a pair of pliers breaking the chain at the right length each time. Would you believe there are seventy lengths of chain in a standard door width screen. But it looks nice now it s done. So now we can have the front door open. It is right next to Chris' office door so no-one can get in without us knowing. We can see what is going on outside and it lets quite a lot of light in, but, unless someone stands just inside it posing (!), the people outside can't really see into the house.

Last night I put a load of washing in the machine so I could hang it out when I got up, and first thing I stripped the bed and put the linen in the machine. When I got back from Mojacar, the first load was dry so I brought that in and hung the sheets out. So my last task for today was to get the sheets in off the line and make the bed up again. Mum must be turning in her grave to see me take sheets off the line and put them straight on to the bed, but after an afternoon in our sun, they certainly don't need to go in the airing cupboard, (if I had one), and in this weather they don't get ironed either! So that's three good jobs done in one day; a record for the summer! I usually only manage one thing a day July -September so I've done really well. I think I've earned a dip in the pool but I'm not sure I've got enough energy left for it.


  1. the jam looks very yummy :)
    love hannah xx

  2. I'll make sure I keep some for when you visit Hannah. Love Grandma x

  3. Thanks so much for visiting my blog and your lovely comments :)

    Your plum jam looks amazing! :)

    My mum used to make lots of preserves and there really is nothing like the home-made stuff!




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