Confession time. Today I had a very mundane day doing household chores, never my favourite activity. But…….I created a small diversion by starting to make rhubarb gin. Which is what bored housewives in Coulsdon do. You will find a recipe on the internet, but I would suggest that you reduce the mount of sugar by half, otherwise it is very syrupy: you may of course like very sweet liqueurs but I prefer them less sweet. It will stay in the kilner jar for a month. As you can see, it is a very delicate pink. When you strain the gin off from the fruit, you are left with some rather alcoholic rhubarb. You can liven up Sunday lunch by serving boozy rhubarb crumble and custard.
When it is ready, you can make a very refreshing version of the standard gin and tonic, which is the rhubarb gin according to taste, in a large goblet with chunks of ice, and elderflower tonic water over it. Delicious summer time tipple. I have to say I was introduced to this delight by my niece Emily, in a pub in Aberdour, when I was visiting her in Edinburgh, which now seems a century ago. Aberdour Castle below
Another domestic task which I am not fond of, is ironing. But then I thought how amazingly simple it is with an electric steam iron, compared to my grandmother’s ironing regime. She had what she called her ironing blanket, which she spread over the dining table. I think it was just thick material to protect the table. She had 2 flat irons which were placed on the gas burners to heat up. She had a raggy old piece of cloth to seize the handle of the iron, red hot, all being metal, would turn it surface up, and spit on it, to see if it sizzled: if so, it was hot enough. The two irons were placed on the burner in rotation. If she needed to put the iron down to fetch another garment, she placed it on what she called the asbestos. I don’t know if it really was asbestos but most likely.
I ventured out to do a supermarket shop. I am seriously beginning to wonder how much longer people will be happy to stick to the 2m rule while queueing, and social distancing all round the shop, and another long wait at the checkout, observing 2m spacing. I personally go to the shops as little as possible, and load up when I do, so if it takes an hour every other week, it’s not so harsh. But I could feel customers getting fractious and tempers are wearing thin. I have to say the staff were very patient: I guess they have a great deal of experience with tricky characters.
I wore a very simple bangle, very narrow inlaid with mother of pearl. Of unknown origin. But as I was house and garden today, I didn’t want one of my nice bangles to fall off into the compost. I went back to the little garden centre for a few more plants, but they really are now almost down to nothing. She said they had even had to buy in extras from another grower. Usually they grow everything sell on site, but are now cleaned out. Good news for them of course, after a very inauspicious start to the season.