Yes, once again it is mince pie time. I wasn't sure I could make them this year as the mincemeat is proving hard to get. I have managed to buy a jar here and a jar there, and have accumulated about half of what I need. Iceland have promised to keep me 15 jars when their order arrives, but I have phoned every day this week and they still haven't got it in. But today I decided to make a start on them. So the table was again raised up on bricks as it is too low for me to work at for long, the pastry was made and rested, the equippment was out, the oven heated up, and I got stuck in. After the first five dozen I stopped to make our lunch and the oven went off. It was completely dead! Everything else was working so for once the problem wasn't our somewhat erratic power supply. The fuse wasn't tripped, so we were stumped. When it had cooled down, Chris lifted the oven out of it's housing to check the wiring but nothing seemed to be amiss. He waggled a few bits around and put it back in place, and hey presto! it was working again. I quickly baked some more pies in case it went off again. There is obviously a loose connection somewhere that needs attention, but for today, it was okay. So the first twelve dozen pies are done, though I did share two dozen between the workmen who were here this morning, as they were so complimentary about the ones I gave them with their mid-morning tea! So I can blame them if I run out of mincemeat before I have fulfilled my orders!
Why did we have workmen here this morning? Well we have finally got our fly-free room at the side of the house. Anyone who has visited us during the warmest months will know that flies and wasps can really spoil the time we spend sitting outside, and they were really bothering us as we are outside for most of the time. We particularly like to eat our meals outside. We sat out in the sun to eat lunch today and it is December! So we decided to have an area from the back porch across to the start of the pump house, covered with netting. It is similar to the mosquito nets that we have at the windows but much stronger, and it is stretched between steel pillars, and guaranteed to withstand winds up to 140 km/h. So on Monday, Chris and I cleared the area of chairs and tables, and moved the potted plants away. We also cut back the little purple tree and temporarily moved some of the plants from the tiny square of garden we have by the back fence. The men were here all day yesterday and again this morning and they have done a terrific job. The area is more spacious than we had expected and we can easily fit our table below the steps, and we will be treating ourselves to a couple of more comfortable chairs for the porch. The dogs will only be in there if we are, so these ones won't get chewed! The net is silver grey and the frame is white so it is all nice and light, and we will still feel we are sitting outside without the nuisance of the bugs. It will be great for me on a summer evening as I am a magnet for anything that bites, so I don't sit out very often, and now I can. The animals are a bit confused, especially the dogs who are used to sitting on the porch in the evenings, but we do let them in most evenings as long as they settle down. At first Foxy bounced off the net a couple of times, running around as she usually does, and so did one of the cats, but they will soon get used to it. It has caused a little stir in the village. I went to the post office this morning and three of our Spanish friends stopped to ask me about the new building. You can't do much here without everyone knowing, but they are not just being nosey; they genuinely like to know about everything and they are so friendly that you don't mind them asking.
Now I must get back to the kitchen. Ben arrives on Saturday and I have a 'To do' list as long as my arm, which isn't getting crossed off very quickly, so tonight I decided to make some more of my Hot chilli and ginger jam. It is very popular and sells well in the village, and I need some to take to the art and craft sale coming up next weekend. More of that in a later post. Keep checking back here though. I had a lovely day out yesterday with my sewing group and I shall be writing a post about that very soon, and I have some lovely photos to go with it.