2016 Spring Trip – Day 12

YAY, I am feeling very pleased with myself – 21 large jars plus 12 sample jars (the size you get in hotels) of Mermelada Volcanica produced and bottled before 10 a.m. What is more, 13 of those jars are half litre jars, much bigger than my usual 12 sided jars. I had been up since 04.05 of course but I didn’t start the jam making until after 06.00 for fear of waking Garrath with the noise. The waiting time was pleasantly filled with a Facebook Messenger chat with Annette in Costa Rica.

The jam is a lovely colour, has achieved a good set and it tastes deeeeeelicious. Unfortunately, because we are flying, I won’t be able to take any back to the UK with me which is a shame because it is magic with cheese and charcuterie and a very useful cooking ingredient. All that was left to do was for Garrath to produce the labels and this he dutifully did later in the day.

I am never sure just how hot each batch will be because it is entirely dependent on what variety of chillies the gardener grows for me. One year he grew some tiny ones and the batch was so hot that I had to calm it down with loads of sweet peppers. Even then it was rocket fuel. The year after a slightly milder variety of chilli was grown so the jam was milder. That year Keith commented, with obvious regret, that it wasn’t as hot as the previous year’s batch.

That is a total of 39 large jars plus 12 sample jars this time. It is not my largest production here by a long way, but it is not bad and I am pleased. No doubt the neighbours and the gardeners will be pleased too when I uphold the tradition of giving them some jars on the understanding that they return the jars when empty. That is why we are often greeted by neighbours bearing empty jars and expectant faces when we arrive.

Each recipient has their favourite. Marie and Pascual like jams. Robert & Marijke adore Kumquat chutney. Keith likes Mermelada Volcanica as do the gardeners. Audrey prefers jams. Julian and his Peruvian wife like Mermelada Volcanica, the hotter the better. Distribution will probably be done on Sunday, the day before we fly back.

Jam production was followed by ablutions, breakfast and preparing to go out to lunch with our German friends, Ula and Jürgen. Jürgen is a cancer patient too and equally determined not to be defined or confined by the disease. The relationship with Ula goes back a long long way with me. My parents were friends with her parents and many years ago I was friends with her brother Hans and his wife Elvira. Hans no longer comes to Spain. He has heart problems, Elvira won’t drive or fly and the 2000 mile drive is too much for him now. It is a shame because he is wonderful company.

We had a splendid, relaxed lunch with Ula and Jürgen at Las Barcas at Calpé port. It could have been spoiled by some noisy Spanish school children parking themselves on the beach immediately adjacent to the restaurant, had it not been for the owner of the restaurant telling the teacher to quiet them down and us moving to the table furthest from them. That made conversation audible and as always, easy. The Paella was lovely and the kitchen took the trouble to make a special one just for me. All was consumed with abandoned gusto because this time I took the precaution of wearing a black outfit that doesn’t show splashes.

After lunch we had a series of sofa siestas, Garrath with his head nodding, me with my feet up. We understand the Spanish siesta now. They give the body permission to devote 100% of available energy to digesting huge lunches!

We returned to a semblance of consciousness at around 17.45, just in time to get down to The Chicken Shack for wine and beer o’clock. That is where we are now, drinking, relaxing, people watching and earwigging. To Garrath’s right and my left an English couple are adding irrefutable evidence to support Eleanor Roosevelt’s statement,

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Needless to say the couple in question are not discussing either issues or events. I am trying to think of a way of capturing a sneaky candid shot of them, or maybe I’ll do a sketch. She is easy, a sphere with a disapproving expression wearing a festoon blind. He is not so easy. Maybe a foggy grey blob will suffice. It is a good thing that I don’t have to portray minds in my sketches. Procreate doesn’t have a pen tip that is small enough!

Garrath said I could write a comedy about the man alone. His level of conversation and banal, embarrassing posturing made watching paint dry an exciting alternative. It never ceases to amaze me that people with minds as small as theirs manage to dress in the morning!

Oh dear, they have gone now. My next objects of research for sketches and verses will probably be the enormous French foursome who keep asking people to take photos of them while they are shovelling spaghetti, pizza and bread down their necks. Jeez, I hope that camera has a very, very wide angle lens!