Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Wendy’s Diary 29th November – 5 jars of jam and a wedding!

Another quiet few weeks have passed by for me, still on crutches but I managed to offload the wheelchair a couple of weeks ago. Whilst I can’t walk too far on the crutches, the wheelchair had become a bit of a luxury and with having to pay a weekly rental I was happy to say goodbye to it. I had the “big” screw removed from my ankle yesterday so am hoping that I will be able to start walking before long and I will be getting some physio starting soon.

My French has continued to improve and the need to break a leg to learn a new language has become a frequently used phrase.

In early November we were delighted to attend to wedding of our friends Julie and Chris in Plymouth.  We had a full on 3 days of visiting friends and collecting supplies (John had ordered a new wind generator and anchor chain). It was a mad rush of seeing people, we weren’t anywhere for long enough, but it was lovely to see people for the short time that we did. The wedding was lovely, it was fabulous to see the happy couple looking radiant.  

We started the weekend staying with some French friends in Le Bono, and they had invited some other friends from La Route de L’Amitie to dinner so we had a lovely evening before driving up to Roscoff for the ferry. We stayed with the soon to be weds on the first night and boaty friends Richard and Chris the second night in the UK.

As part of my meticulous planning I booked the car in for an MOT, 10 -11am on the Friday morning. Then came the phone call to say it had failed and the spare part would arrive on Monday – when we were sailing back to France on the Saturday. After an anxious phone call, the garage confirmed that they would be able to get the part and have the car fixed for the end of the day. One problem solved, another created. How to get to the wedding in the afternoon?? My dear friend Jane ran us around doing everything else we had planned to do, fed us a Full English brunch and delivered us to the wedding.

Another very kind friend Richard took us from the church to the reception, then back to Saltash after the wedding, waited whilst John collected our car key which had been delivered back to Jane, then took him to the garage to collect the repaired car before travelling back over the bridge to his own home, much closer to the wedding venue than Saltash! We really do have some very kind friends and it was a blessing that when we needed help there was no problem in getting it.

We had a heavily laden car and were rather tired by the time we got on the ferry on the Saturday evening. I had booked the ferry a few weeks earlier, before I knew whether my leg would be out of plaster, so as a precaution booked a wheelchair accessible cabin. On the way over, this meant we were the first car to board the ferry and the first car off again. We weren’t first on the way back, but there were so few cars anyway it hardly mattered. The cabin was a lovely size, with plenty of room for the wheelchair and a shower with a seat – bliss. I did use the wheelchair on the ferry, mainly because I was afraid of falling over if I was on crutches.

A week later we were off to Audierne for the weekend for a dinner laid on for the volunteers who make La Route happen. It is the biggest sailing event in Europe that is run by volunteers, anything bigger and several smaller have professionally paid staff, caterers etc and the whole thing becomes much more expensive. So to thank the volunteers and evening of food, drink and entertainment is put on, and we had a very enjoyable evening meeting up with old friends.

Back in October, when One of Annie and Philippe’s friends came to stay, she noticed the tree in the garden and pointed out that “Les Anglaise” make jam with the little apples that grow on it. Then when Hannah visited, she confirmed it was a crab apple tree and she had the recipe for the jam, which was duly emailed. So Annie and I decided we would give it a go. Annie had made jam before, but never with crab apples, I have just never made jam before.

We spent an enjoyable couple of hours in the garden picking the apples, there were so many of them that you couldn’t tell any were missing by the time we had filled two colanders. Bibiche (means something like fluffy) the cat joined us in the garden and I took great amusement in throwing the fallen apples around the garden for him to chase. When we had picked enough, we sat and drank a cup of tea in the garden, enjoying the November sunshine. It has been a remarkably warm autumn here, with the weather being ok for tee shirts in the sunshine right through to last week.  
Two bowls of crab apples ready for the kitchen

Bibiche keeping an eye on me!

We sat in the kitchen preparing hundreds of the little apples for cooking, cutting out the blossom heads and checking for bruises before putting them in the pan. One bit of information missing from the recipe was the quantity of water to add to the apples and I put in plenty to be on the safe side. This was where it got entertaining. The instructions said that once cooked, put the apples in a jelly bag and leave overnight to drain. We did as instructed and within 5 minutes, the liquid had drained through – neither of us knew what to do, neither of us had the language skills to express “I haven’t a clue” in each other’s language never mind suggest what may be wrong or what to do now! So we laughed and laughed until our ribs hurt, it seemed the best thing to do under the circumstances. In the end we left it overnight anyway, just in case a bit more liquid should choose to dribble out.

Two days later, Annie added sugar to the liquid and produced 5 jars of jam. After a very apprehensive first tasting, we all agreed it was lovely and well worth all the hard work and laughter that went into making it. Even better, having recently returned from the UK with a fridge full of goodies, we were able to have a clotted cream tea, home-made scones (one of my specialities) with crab apple jelly instead of strawberry jam – if you have never had it I thoroughly recommend it. In the last couple of weeks we have nearly finished the second jar, and so impressed with ourselves, gave one to a friend as a thank you for inviting us round for dinner.

As I sit typing this, watching the wind and rain lash down for a change, there are still quite a lot of apples clinging to the tree, and I reckon that later this week we will be making another batch of jelly with them. 

John finding a bit of time to fix the car headlights
John continues to work long hours, often more than 30 hours contact time in a week, so by the time he has done his lesson planning the weeks fly by with little time for anything else. However it is the work that has enabled us to buy the new wind generator, and pay for my medical bills (hoping to get a refund soon), so the salary is welcome. After Christmas his hours should reduce significantly and we are looking forward to spending more time together.

Oh, and the boat - she is sitting quite happily in Pornichet Marina, proudly sporting her new wind generator. If you want to know what it is, how it works or how much power it produces, Wendy's diary is not the place to be looking!

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