There are a lot of blogs out there where people show off what they've made, and then there's Country Living Magazine, which I get because my mother bought me a subscription to it. The Country Living lifestyle is definitely not mine: the houses on show are filled with beautiful finds from little junk shops and gorgeous French markets; mine is filled with dog hair, books, and a few beautiful finds fighting a losing battle to be seen. Most of the women in Country Living seem to have created marvellously lucrative careers for themselves in next to no time having decided to flee the city, rather than trugging on as I do making a profit but not exactly a bountiful living.
And they also do crafts, these women. I'm usually immune to this lifestyle sort of thing. I am like the women in that old Harry Enfield skit: I know my limits. So, I'm still quite mystified by what exactly it was that took me over last weekend.
In the garden, my roses are out. I adore my roses: I have a complete and utter passion for the many petalled sort with the sort of scent that haunts you, and as they are generally plants which can cope with my laissez-faire approach to gardening, they don't do at all badly in my garden.
In what I think must be something to do with my severely practical grandmother, I like things to be useful, and I do like to feel I've made the best of things. If' there's something to be eaten, or jammed, I like to feel I've eaten it. Or jammed it. Or whatever. Thus far, I've just contented myself with smelling the roses, but last weekend I decided I was going Do Something with them. I started off spreading petals all over the landing windowsill to dry - an innocuous thing I managed quite successfully. Then I decided I would crystallise rose petals.
and here I am, crystallising rose petals.
and I have to say it went surprisingly well, though I got very bored very quickly, and decided I'd move on to making rose syrup. I picked heaps of roses, carefully trimmed them, steeped them in water in double boiler; changed the rose petals three times, heated the mixture up three times, squeezed the petals, added sugar, heated it up, and voila, syrup. I was so, so proud of myself. I lifted up the jar and noticed it had a hefty crack in it. Ooh, I thought, better put that in another jar, at which point the jar exploded. Thank goodness for padded bras is all I can say. Syrup was everywhere. My OH hearing my shrieks, came and did the majority of work de-stickying the kitchen, while I sighed and moaned about the waste of all that effort as I swabbed the floor. A scant teaspoon was all I managed to save. It was ambrosial.
I told my running friends about this the next day, both of whom gave me "are you surprised looks?" Goodness alone knows what possessed me, but I thought I'd try again. I am very fond indeed of rose creams, and thought if I managed to make the syrup again without incident I could try some cooking. Cooking I usually get thereabouts right. Ha. Picked the roses, trimmed them, put everything on the double boiler and trotted off to work. Completely and utterly forgot to turn the flame off under the double boiler, completely and utterly forgot that I'd even started anything in the kitchen, and came down 4 hours later wondering what on earth the very odd smell was.