Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Oh, my...

Throwback to 1984

Well, I'll be a monkeys uncle.

Bear is my second wife, but I had the privilege of contact with my first wife who'd
moved with my first daughter and her boyfriend to Havant. Heck of a long trip from Sheffield
by national coaches I can tell you.

So, having travelled hundreds of miles to spend time with my daughter (Note:- I had been granted custody) to collect her?

I was abused, shouted at, by the social worker, in front of my daughter, and the social worker complained she would call the police unless she could hear what I said to my then, 4 year old daughter. Which she did, and I showed them the court order, so they said - Yep, in his favour.


Roll forward many year later. I made a freedom of information request for the mandatory records.

No record of any such record, and no such social worker ever existed, ever. The court record does have a record of my being granted custody (that never happened)

May I be blunt? Oh, bastard... :(

A least..

"At least" said Bear "You didn't say 'I told you so'. But then, you never do."

No. No sense in doing that.

I'd met someone, an unexpected visitor, and after a shaking of hands, and no more than a minutes chat, I knew where he was at, where he was coming from, and worse, where it was going to. It wasn't good. Bear was in the kitchen making coffee, so I excused myself and asked Bear to quickly jot down some notes for me.

He's highly intelligent, highly motivated, well qualified and seemed to know his stuff.

Then I returned and, gently as could, dropped a few hints and tried to steer him a direction based entirely on my - I dunno what to call it. It's as real to me as though I'd heard it. "Hang on" he kept saying "How do you know that?". Poor chap went quite pale.

I don't know. I never have. When they leave, I have a personal check box system I go through to make sure I've not picked up info from someone or someone else - which is good business practise after all. I rarely need to.

Not been wrong yet. That gut sense? Can I call it that? has served me well for many years, and I've enough confidence to go with it.

About Mmm.. 15 % are not-so-good. This poor chap chose to ignore me. He's on Jobseekers now, and refuses to talk to me. Can't say I blame him :(

More, some of his friends have phoned to tell me I was supposed to help him and I'll "Never work again". Ah, y'see, that's where they're wrong......

Monday, 26 September 2011


You'd think think after... er.... 26 years of marriage? I would have learned never, ever get into a conversation with The Bear about weight loss.

Bear's just been for a regular medical, and came bouncing in full of beans because she's lost 4 lb in weight, and her blood pressure was 119/60. Spot on.

Since she now knew her weight according the doctors scales, she brought the scales from the bathroom down and weighed herself again on those. We had suspected ours 'weighed over'. Correct, by 2 lbs.

Pleased as punch, she insisted I weighed myself - I've been dieting for weeks - and I'd lost 16 lbs english - 1 stone 2 lbs in the same period she'd lost 4lb.

It went downhill from there. This led to a discussion about Body Mass Index. I'm 10 years older than The Bear, and exactly a foot taller. My BMI is 26.2 at present. Bear's is 32.6.

It works like this.....

  • Underweight = <18.5
  • Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
  • Overweight = 25–29.9
  • Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
So she says, "Cool, I only need to lose a couple of points down to about 30".

I guess if you've read my blogs you've realised I have a compulsive logical streak. Which can be good?

Any reasonable person would have smiled and said "Yes'm" and found an excuse to be busy. Oh, no. Not me. I was reminded what Bears REALLY do in the woods. Fell Giant Redwoods with their teeth.


To be fair, as my GP explained to me awhile back, BMI is being phased out in the UK. It led to inequalities, such as Firemen, Policemen, Rugby players and weight training athletes being suspended from their work and ordered to lose weight because they were classed by BMI as overweight.

It's being replaced by a method that measures limb, tummy and height measurements, tum being the important one. Called Body Fat Measurement (BFM) it finds out how much of your body is fat.

A Rugby player can have a BMI of 35 (see table above) but have a healthy BFM of 15-18% or less.

Bear hasn't been checked for that. Mine is 22%. Way to go yet :)


Blabbering idiot that I am, I said something nice. I said, "Bear if I wanted to marry some skinny little thing, I would have done? Wouldn't I? I married a Bear with all the right bumps in the right places?"


"What? What?"



Bear is complaining I don't publish #Beartales on Twitter any more. (@wheelieslug) She says it was really funny. So, looking at her carefully over my reading glasses, I said "Oh, beloved, may your knicker drawer never be infested by the fleas of a thousand camels, you do know that #Beartales is you, don't you?"

"Yes dear" she replied, looking at me as though I was somewhat dim. "But I like it". I think

I'll have to have a lie down......

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Jams again

I don't have a family and pets. I have yo-yo's. In, out, in, out... I really should learn to use a lasso, no'kiddin'.

My fridge and freezer are full of fruit - Damsons, more Damsons, Apples (various) Plums, pears, grapes plus stuff 14 year old (don't call me TOTS!) brings home.

Thanks Jamie Oliver. Not.


I have a super-efficient frost free fridge freezer, so the stuff in there will last over winter, if necessary. The downside is that the fridge keeps itself frost-free by keeping the air cold and dry. That means I have to make regular fridge checks for stuff like grapes and veg that don't have the moisture dried out of them.

Soft fruits such as grapes, plums and Damsons can end up like a grand-dads bum. Before I get a storm of protest, I'm reliably informed I may well be a Great-grandfather. As for the carrots - I'll keep my imaginative descriptions to myself. Ahum.


So what to do with the wrinkle's? Quick and easy is Jam. And yup, that includes veg too. Carrot jam is surprisingly nice, particularly if you throw in a handful of raisins. G'won, give it a shot.

Equal amounts of fruit to sugar. Jam needs pectin to set. You can get that from apples, lemon zest, lemon juice, damsons amongst others. You can buy pectin or Jam Sugar from a supermarket, but to me that defeats the object - the idea is to save money.

Put a saucer in the fridge. Put a jar and lid in the oven at about gas mark 1 - approx 100/120 C.

Boil the fruit in a couple of spoonfuls of water until it becomes watery and perhaps beat it to death with a potato masher :) Add your sugar and lemon juice. Boil it up until it comes to a froth. Turn it down. After about ten minuets, keep an eye on the side of the pan. Is it sticking?

Grab the saucer from the fridge. Put a spoonful on the saucer, and let it to cool. If you can shove it with your finger, and it's slow to spring back, it's set.

If you want to cheat, drop a couple of jelly cubes in it.

But that assumes you don't mind jam being a bit runny :)

When you're happy with it, pour it into the HOT jar and screw the lid on. Leave to cool.

The one I've made up from left-overs in the fridge today made about a pound of jam, and it ended up being slightly runny with big jammy lumps in it. Ok, it's not like a supermarket jam, but Bear says it's gorgeous.

I can't I'm diabetic. But if Paddington Bear says it's cool, hey, who's going to argue?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Open all hours

An owner of a local shop popped by for a chat today - he delivers, free of charge to anyone within 2 miles as long as the order is over £10.

That's what his advertising says.

In reality he keeps an eye on the elderly, ill and disabled, and makes sure they have everything they need. He makes sure they have food in, and that if they have difficulty cooking, someone can do it for them. If he can't provide, he knows a-man-who-can.

In his freezer in the back of his shop, he keeps a secret stash of ready-meals that his wife and daughters cook, that he likes to surprise people with for free. He's quite famous for walking into a home and saying cheekily "C'mon missus, where's that cooker, lets get this this crap warmed up!" in a rather silly sounding broad Yorkshire accent.

When I was ill not long back, when he saw The Bear was a bit fed up when she went to his 6am 'till 10:30 shop, he shoved one into her hand, telling her " 'Ere you are Old Bear, that'll put some lead in 'is pencil". It's only when she got home and looked at the receipt she realised he had scribbled on the bottom "No charge for the pickmeup xx"

Pick me up? It nearly blew my bloomin' head off...... :)

At Christmas, he pops in a bottle of white wine in for "his ladies" and "something a bit stronger" for "his gentlemen"

Amrik ("call me Mick") has done handsomely having a business model like that. So has his daughter Meeka ("call her Mick too!") a couple of miles away, and his other daughter Nina runs her businesses the same way.

"Nowt t'do with business" he insists firmly. "It's our way. Family first. If I didn't do it, who would they have?"

Last Christmas the local Tenants and Residents Association (TARA) decided to provide enough for the over 65's from their funds from contributions to ensure they had food for Christmas dinner. A chicken, tinned fruit and condensed milk, sunflower oil, tinned salmon and soups, tinned potatoes and carrots, gravy cubes and Christmas pud, tinned ham, that sorta thing.

They held a meeting to discuss it, and a buffet was provided by a local English owned Chinese takeaway business. For that buffet, they were presented with a bill for £1,500 pounds. For less than 50 people, and £500 over budget. When they refused to pay the extra £500, the proprietor complained loudly to the local council yelled at TARA meetings and made all sorts of dire threats. His shop is now closed. Boycotted, if you like :)

'Mick' on the other hand, provided everything for the over 65's at wholesale cost, no profit to him. As long as someone else did the delivery. But on Christmas Eve he was out on his rounds, checking his "Ladies and Gentlemen" had everything they needed.

And he was open Christmas Day.


Now, an Asda has opened 15 minutes away, as The Bear wombles. Next door to my daughters school, and 5 mins from my sons home. (The pupils are banned). Heck is it cheap. And ye small gods, it's open 24 hours.

We've used a Tesco Express, 10 mins. away by bus now and again. Across the road from the doctors, and convenient for milk, salad stuff and Oxo's.


I was explaining that to Amrik (Mick) perhaps with a tinge of conscience. He explained.

"I own that bit of land at the bottom - the pub that was demolished after a riot 25 years ago? I'm waiting for planning permission to come through. There'll be houses, flats and shops."

"I own the gym, dance studio, furniture shop, pet shop, fishing tackle shop and I've done a deal with the chippy"

"Don't think the big supermarkets can do what we do. If I was worried about competition, I wouldn't do it."

He's got a point. The Big Boy competition spends millions on it's advertising, appealing to petrol buying, car driving customers. Yet their a tiny proportion of the population. More, their a proportion of the population who spend more on petrol getting to a supplier than they'll spend over a week. Daft. The lost legs generation.

The size of the car park of the local new Asda is bigger than the store. Crazy.

Take a walk to a local shop. Stop, chat, and you'll be surprised how much you'll save.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

So then....

What's all this fiddlin' and grumping and fruits and pickling stuff got to do with being a stroke survivor?

'Cause thanks to lots of love and and an internet connection I found life after stroke.

It's no way been entirely positive - I kid you not. When the ol' bod stopped doing as it was told, and I spent a long time struggling with a brain - and I have to admit - a mind, that frustratingly battled through a fog to to do the simplest of things.

Worse, I remembered how I USED to be very clearly. That made me very very angry. Which helps. Well, ok. That didn't make me very popular. But it was right for me. Probably the best thing I've ever done for myself. I've always been driven to some extent, and had the attitude of "Don't let the buggers get you down".

I deliberately changed the direction of my life. I was loved, and I still am, but my focus was outside myself. I was secondary to me. Being forced into a position where I had to work on me changed my perspective.

I realised I was important, if only to myself, ultimately. And that's a Good Thing.

I went on to achieve little goals one at a time. To me, that's made my new found self worth justified.

Does that make any sense?

While I think about it...

Should you try your hand at making chutney, be warned that because you're cooking with hot vinegar, it will pong, and the smell is really pervasive so you'll need a window open.

The vinegars should be 5% vol. Anything stronger will drown all the other ingredients. Any weaker and it won't preserve.

Spoon or pour the hot chutney into hot jars.

You can quite happily add gin, vodka, whisky, or bourbon for flavour, but the long cooking time will drive off the alcohol so it won't help with preservation. Stirring a couple of tablespoons into each jar when the chutney has cooled is the way around that.

Don't use brass, copper or aluminium pans. The acid in the vinegar and fruit will dissolve some of the metal and taste very unpleasant. I found stainless steel just fine.

Mega-tips. It's fine to re-use old, clean jars. You can buy waxed disks to help prevent jam or chutney touching the lid. I've used greaseproof paper successfully.

Age it. Chutney really should be thought of as a long term preserve. The taste improves wonderfully if its stored in a cool dark place for 3 months.

Chutneys last - officially - for a year. Bear is still using a batch of chutney, piccalilli and pickled onions I made 3 years ago with no ill effects.

Have to admit I'm not that brave :)

Monday, 19 September 2011

Preserves part1

Having the same problem as Jamie - Sorta. My three year old apple tree hasn't borne any fruit yet, but neighbours trees have.

I think Yorkshire generosity works in strange ways. We like a deal, and we hate waste, but give freely. The end result is I've been given loads of apples, on the condition Bear bakes a big apple pie or two, or I make some chutney. I'm cool with that. Then the 'middle man' who gets the fruit for me wants his pies and chutney too :) That's fine too.

But on the other hand, he tells me, the neighbours are grumbling their so overburdened with fruit on their bushes and trees they don't know what to do with it. But they don't want to give it away because they're worried about being taken advantage of.


So I've said, look. Don't let it go to waste. The Americans have this thing called 'yard sales'. It's an excellent concept. Just let friends know that your selling fruit off, at the same as/or less than supermarket prices, put it in boxes, weigh it out in pounds or kilos, and stand outside your house and sell it.

More, you can turn it into jams, jellies, and chutneys and make a nice profit. Of course, you need to spend money on vinegar, sugar, raisins and spices. But if people like it, you can cost it up, add 20% profit, and provide people with something local that'll be very nice for Christmas

I'm, at heart, a freegan, a forager. I like to know where our food comes from, and since it's a big part of the budget, it's a cheap or free. So make chutney!


A good chutney can last 3 years. Surprisingly long isn't it?

So you have veg and or fruit that getting a bit past it's use by date. Those carrots that are getting a bit soft, the cauliflower that looks a bit yellow? Bruised and soft apples or pears?

The Basics of a good chutney. Use:-

A third by proportion to the fruit you have of onions.
A third by proportion to the fruit you have of dates or raisens/mixed fruit or a combination therof
A half of the weight of the fruit in sugar.
A third by volume of a vinegar to the fruit. It's easier if you think in ml and grams.
So if you have 300 grams of fruit and/or veg, use 100 ml of any vinegar - preferably at least 5% vinegar (it'll tell you on the botttle or jar) It can be red or white wine vinegar, malt or cider, or good old chip shop as long as it's 5% or greater.
Spices, salt and pepper to taste, but generally half a teaspoon to each 1.5kilo/3lb 5oz of fruit or veg

Try turmeric, mustard seed or powder or from a jar , chillies or chilli powder, chopped garlic and mixed spice. Experiment! Note :- Mustard when heated mellows considerably.


Chuck it into a pan, and cook until you can draw a line across the surface or the bottom of the pan until the fluid only fills the gap very slowly. About and hour and a half.

Avoid Brass or Aluminium pans. The acids will 'pull' a metallic taste into the chutney.


Jars should be sterilised in a preheated oven for half an hour at Gas Mark 1, about 125 C, or straight from the dishwasher. Top them up to the very top, and put vinegar proof lids on. I make my own greaseproof caps, and screw a sterilized lid on.

This kind of chutney should be left in a cool dark cupboard or fridge for three months for maximum flavour. In other words - make it now for Christmas.

For presents or personal use, a Kilner jar is excellent, but if it's for resale, the expense isn't justified.

Catchya :)

Friday, 16 September 2011

Gee Wiz

I'll update this post with pictures when things have become less busy.

Apple Corer-Peeler-Slicer arrived today. Victorian invention. Very useful when you have a lot to do. Since a lot of it is wing-nuts, with a simple adjustment it can do a peel but not core thing, which is cool. Took me approx 4 seconds to do an apple or a tatty. No electricity required. Well worth the £18 I paid for it.


Sigh. Lass next door this morning complained to Bear that the dog barked. And that we were banging about. And that Tots and her mate were screeching. So I checked the date. As fellas do.

We've been in this semi for 12 years. The disadvantage of living in a semi-detached is that you get to hear stuff you'd prefer not to. It's just a fact of life. So in those 12 years we've had three neighbours who have had to move on for various reasons.

We don't complain. Never have. We're used to it. Not this monkey. Dogs Bark. Kids make noise. Fact of life. So she's going to complain to somebody or other. Her hubby's a nice bloke, he works on meals on wheels during the day, and Pizza deliveries at night.

They went for a pub meal earlier. So now I have for the umpteenth time Grease hammering through my wall. And doubtless going to start yet another hate campaign on Facebook.

Meh, it's childish.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Sorry, but something has gone a bit doo-lally with blogspot at the time of writing - I'm actually using Firefox and Chrome on two screens (I wouldn't use internet explorer unless you paid me :) )

Friends Connect doesn't seem to be working and Elizabeth's page seems to be down? Can't find her blog?

Andy Hill from Talk Stroke has started a Blog at http://andyhill242.blogspot.com/ More the merrier.

Even if you aren't a stroke survivor, There's no reason why you couldn't read and reply on Talk Stroke. I could ask you to help raise funds for The Stroke Association UK, and there's a lot you could do -for instance, sell SA UK Cristmas cards, or their raffle.

But important as it is to raise funds, and the vast range of charities that ask for help - and heck knows there are so many worthy causes that are scrabbling for a slice of an ever decreasing cake. People can't afford to donate directly y'see.

However, it's much more important that there is unbiased opinion, practical, useful and imaginative advice.

More, there's the the forgotten few. The Carer's who are ordinary people who are thrust unexpectedly into becoming extraordinary people, poorly supported, untrained, unnoticed and challenged.

We've all had different and extensive life experiences we can share?

Please sign up to Talk Stroke and be a friend.

Be back later. Lots of Love, Dray xx

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Monday, 12 September 2011


Errr.... I've gone totally blank...something about furry routers. Ummm?

I've had a very busy evening. Here's me sit sat waiting for a nice storm. Meh. according to my anomem.., er, wind thingy, we had in Sheffield about 16 mph winds and the odd gust of 30 mph, with a bit of drizzle for an hour this morning. Since then, boring. Roll on winter.

Houseful. Must be something to do with the full moon tonight.

It isn't usual that I get Tots and her mates, son, daughters partner, Bear, and a mate around. Bit of bother trying to keep track of all the conversations.

Then in the middle of all that Sigma the Dog found a stray in season balding lady Yorkshire Terrier mate a third of his size in the garden, so he went all howling "I want out". Poor little beggar is still all hormones, bless.

Then Bear went in the bath, and I'm in trouble for shouting "Thar She Blows!" Left me all in a tiz, it did.

Do you ever get those days when you feel y'just aren't going to win?

My mate Dazman has got a job as a call centre worker after a very long period of unemployment. Well, after his training period is over he's got to travel way out into the wilds and find buses, and pay for them to get to work well before 6am. But it's fantastic. It's an opportunity. Well done that man :)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Bit urgent really.

A 14 year old neighbour has been threatened on facebook, and his parents have been given an incident number but told by the Police there's nothing they can do can do. I'm sure that's not right.

Can anyone offer me any advice please?

Liquorice All sorts

RLS has got me thinking about my garden.

Bear and Tots (I'm told I have to tell you she's 14) planted some potatoes some months back. They forayed out into the veg patch, dug up a few, and found they were a decent size, but still green.

Green is not good. The green is an accumulative poison. Green potato skins killed thousands during the Irish potato famine Don't know what to do with those :(

But, my Butterfly Bush (Davidii Budli) has gone Zoink! so I can't see my front path from here. Going to have to prune that before Rog (Father in Law) The Destroyer Of Trees claps eyes on it.


Tom, my widower neighbour, popped by with 5 sticks of Liquorice root. Blimey, there's a blast from the days of Temperance bars, hot Vimto and Sarsaparilla

Told us he was takin' the mick of a 6 year old neighbours lad, who was playing with a lass. "That your girlfriend is it?" "No. She's a mate" says the 6 year old. "But I know who yours is!"

"Eh? Who's that then?" "It's Grumpy Bear?" "Who?" said Tom. "Well, you always say 'I'm off to The Bears', not to Drays"

Out of the mouths of..... Heh :) Grumpy Bear. He'll go far, will that young man, he will. Chuckle!


I'm off to allow myself to get upset about 9/11 again. For a lot of reasons, it wasn't that far away for me.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Enemy Within.

The Watchers.

The Watchers are a group of (usually) anonymous people who have worked for the civil service in one way or another over the years who look after their own. The term 'civil service' covers a wide variety of disciplines.

We have a funding drive running at the moment for service and ex-servicemen who are suffering from post traumatic stress as a result of their service. If you can give just a little one off donation, it will be greatly appreciated.

How can an anonymous group raise funds? You just found out :)

My interest is that I was once a government employee who became a substance abuse councillor.

I heartedly recommend you read the Telegraph article. Cheers xx

Friday, 9 September 2011

Jack & Jill

Sorry for the delay, and thanks for the concern.

Two days later....

Well, I did it. I walked the walk :)

It was quite comical really. There's yours truly studiously concentrating on his feet.

What's that old joke about "how does a centipede with a wooden leg sound? 99 thump, 99 thump". Yep, that's it.

Bear hung on grimly to my 'bad' side, which was unfortunate, as she's totally deaf in the ear nearest me. "How Yer Doing?" Fine. "What?" "FINE!" "No Need To Shout!". Dunno why she was shouting too. My hearings fine.

"Look Ahead, Not At Your Feet Dray!" "What?" "Oh shut up you idiot" Heheh :) Had to stop to get my breath back while having a fit of giggles. Handy those BT Boxes.

The unfortunate thing about living in a city that has as many hills as Rome, is that we seem to live on all of them. It's not that far *really*. End of the road, down a 45 degree angle, across a main road, then flat for about the same difference.

It didn't help it was bang in the middle of the school run, and peeps beeped their horns, and shouted stuff like "Weebles Wobble but they don't fall down" and "Oy! Ooh let thee aout!" Chuffs.

I love 'em really. Double Chuffs for not offering us a lift :)

Anyways, we got there. I was propped against a trolly (bliss!) in the 'old mens area' Humph. While Bear did her Thing. Had a nice chat in his 80's who's 68 year old wife was doing the rounds. "I can do everything I need to do" he chuckled. "Just very, well, y'know?" No. No I don't :)

By the way, if I may be so bold, if you've ever wondered how stroke survivors handle THAT? It's easy. Start as though one intends to finish, go make a cup of tea, and a plate of egg and chips, come back later, sorted. Honest. Really....


The trip back up that hill was horrendous. I have no intention of doing that soon. Yeah, a taxi would have taken 5 mins and cost about a fiver. But being stubborn, I was determined to try. It was awful. But I did it. I found I had an inner strength. I'm not going to joke about that.

I post infrequently on Twitter as @wheelieslug

*Edit:- André has a Watcher....Dray edit. Indeed I do, and I'm very grateful, but too much info there guys, so it's shifted. Love you all lots. I promise to be good in future. Honest xx :)

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Walkin' the walk....

I'm off with the Bear to the local Lidl. Walking the walk. This promises to be interesting.

For those that don't know, I find walking difficult, to say the least. Update when I get back guys...

Monday, 5 September 2011

If you'll forgive me...

While it's in my head, and before I lose it.

I know I make life a little awkward  by using the pseudonym "Wheelie". That began when I had a stalker for many years, who after over a year seems to have sugared off. As I'm putting my head above the parapet, slowly, I don't mind telling you that I'm a Yorkshireman called André. Nickname, Dray.

Wheelie is just fine and valid. I'm a reluctant occasional wheelchair user. Doubles as my computer chair.

About the post below.

Heritage Hedgerows. 

If there's a chance that your home was built before the 1930's in the UK, you may have a hawthorn bush or hedge. There's an excellent chance that hedge may have been there for hundreds of years before, and was treated with respect by the house builders. 

Hawthorne is a fiddly and awkward fruit to use because it's small, and has a hard seed. If you're patient, and like to purée a jam, it's nice mid-sweet jam. Personally (and this applies to Roe fruit too)  boil it with cored and peeled crab apples for about 25 mins until it's a mush. Shove the resulting paste through a fine sieve,  into a grease-proofed and buttered tray, and put in the bottom of an oven on a little-less-than slow cook heat (about 60 C, for a few hours - up to 24 hours. :) You'll end up with a fruit 'Leather' that will keep in a dry place for about 2 years.

Cut into thin strips, and give it to the kids as sweets. 

This won't apply to kids. Hawthorne is a natural, very mild, blood thinner. If, like me, you use medication, check with your GP.


Elderberry - heck, can I overload you with recipes from wine from berries to crisped flowers in batter. Low calorie :)

However, it has a much longer history as a device, yup, device, planted near doors and gateways to ward off evil spirits. It was the technology of the time. Well, we're here now. Must be good.....
Talk about an Autumn bounty!

I've been gifted 10 lbs Blackberries, 12 lbs of Apples, 5 1bs of Hawthorn berries, and I've totally lost track of the amount of Damsons and Plums - and they all just keep coming.

I'll have to honest, and tell you it's left me all of a kerfuffle.  My first reaction is one of gratitude.Gosh, who wouldn't be?


We don't live near countryside. It's a grey estate enlivened by the characters of the people that live here, a goodly and godly mix of young couples with kids and some who've lived here for 40 or more years. It's lucky enough to have a field nearby that only exists because it was too steep to build on.

That's supposed to be managed by The Wildlife Trust as a wild flower 'meadow' that's only fruitful in an obscure kind of way to those who know what to look for. But the older residents have planted apples and pears, blackcurrants and blackberries, Roe and Elderberry, and there's the odd patch of ancient Hawthorn boundary.

The local council started to modernise and redevelop much of the area. So out went some of those ancient Haws, hedgerows and trees - and in went samey walls and railing combo's. Thank the stars, at least for the outside, a few streets away they ran out of money.

That is just fine by me. The young parents taking their kids to and from school, have been taking carrier bags too, and showing them just how much is there for free. The older people have had such a glut, their inviting local children into their gardens to pick whatever they want.

Absolute magic. Knowledge I'd feared was going to peter out is saved, and another generation of purple faced, sticky fingered children from five to twenty are going to have birthright to pass to their children. Phew. That was close! :)


Trouble with young kids though, is they can overdo it. Parents get fed up of 'purple' and sticky offspring, towels and furniture, Milk of Magnesia and 'Uffin' Chuffin' Jamie Oliver, and as Brillo Pads and children don't mix, well, usually......

Do you see where I'm going here? "Oo's t'bloke who does Branston and Apple pies and Stuff?"

Uhuh. 5 lb's Apples to the Pickles Bloke is a noble sacrifice. "Ee'does a nice Berry Jam". Indeed. "I've 'eard 'is Plums in Brandy and Sherry is 'smaart". Quite. "Dunt 'ee do Tomato Ketchup too?" 

Apple Pies. Home made Toffee. Cinder toffee (gorgeous), The list goes on. Since it would be immoral to charge, they have little to barter - my second reaction of 'What The Heck Am I Supposed to Do With All That' is easy. Christmas Chutney.

And I'm sorry, those of you who read this who have contributed. My Bear and I are Unanimous on this.  

Long John Silver here (See, I did hear that!) will give in return one Bear Sized (read :- Desperate Dan) Apple and whatever pie, and an honest to goodness 1826 Christmas cake. Deal?

Chatcya! Dray.