I must apologise for the long radio silence. It’s been very busy in the kitchen of late here at Jeannie’s Kitchen Garden.
I’ve also been busy out and about.
December saw me at three local fairs, the Cumbria Life Christmas Fair at Rheged, the Hunter Hall School Christmas Fayre and the Askham Hall Christmas Market. All three were great fun, they were all really well attended and the preserves went down very well. I had help from local friends, Vickie and Jane, the Fairs were so busy I couldn’t have managed without their assistance. I invested in a smart little iZettle card reader, it’s amazing how many people just don’t carry cash any more.
The local stockists are keeping me occupied too. We made a delivery not two weeks ago to the Olive Tree Deli in Biggar and then got a call from them last week, wanting further supplies of the Festive Fig and Plum Chutney and Purely Pink Grapefruit Marmalade which we delivered on Monday en route to Glasgow to deliver a consignment to an old friend.
Abbey Coffee Shop in Shap have been selling lots of preserves too, as have the Askham Stores, the Bampton Teashop, Morland Village Store, not to forget J&J Graham in Penrith who are really championing us in their lovely shop in the Market Square.
Christmas hurtles towards us with alarming speed. The hype starts so early, one would think everyone would have the thing buttoned up by the end of October. Am I the only one who has not got beyond the Ds in their contacts list for Christmas cards? The food shops are choc a bloc with shoppers stockpiling as if there was a siege coming (I shall not start on Brexit here). The lists of presents are frantically being ticked off, the internet must be buzzing very loudly but the Post Offices still have long queues too as old-fashioned folk (like me) post parcels to all parts of the globe.
Once the shopping is done, the presents sorted, the Christmas foods prepared and stored, the tree battled with and the wonky fairy lights replaced with modern ones which actually work, things start to take shape for Christmas itself and there is a palpable sense of relief. Light the special candles. Pop the cork, I say. Here’s to the Lady with the Baby. Give the dogs an extra Gravybone, it’s Christmas for goodness’ sake.
Since ancient times there have been midwinter festivals. Festivals of light to illuminate the dark, deep midwinter and the religious celebrations of the birth of Christ. All of which, without too many commercial trappings, are welcome.
Olivia, who runs the Bampton Teashop and Post Office, is a talented photographer. She took this photo of the Old Chapel early one morning in January of this year. The lit window is our kitchen and, when Olivia clicked the shutter, I was in the kitchen making marmalade. The scent of the bubbling oranges filled the house. Making marmalade in winter must be one of the nicest antidotes to the wintry weather outside.
No snow here yet, good news, although we hear it may be on the way. The other good news is that the lovely Seville Oranges from Ave Maria’s orange groves are on their way.
I can’t wait.