Jamming

I am making christmas presents this year – a combination of wanting to get out of the overly commercialised christmas rat race and wanting to give something I could afford and which had some meaning or personality in it.

And so I have been jamming.

First of all I went foraging. So. Much. Fun. and so calming, if you are stressed and need some time out go on a long walk and pick things and put them in bags and carry them around with you and you will feel such a sense of fulfilment and calm.

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These are my blackberries picked and washed. I froze and defrosted them so I wasn’t against the clock trying to make them into jam but I would probably say fresh is best.

so 500g of these:

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Windfall apples. Loads of these around, quite a lot of people put them in bags in front of their house for you to help yourself to. Peel and core 500g of them

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Put all together in a big heavy based pan with approx 100ml of water ( I added more but this might have been my jammy downfall)

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simmer on a medium heat until everything is mush and then add your sugar (1kg) and mix it in until its dissolved

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Bring this to the boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes and then test on a cold saucer. Put a splodge on, wait a minute for it to cool and then push it with your finger. If it wrinkles it has set.

I always have trouble with the set because I don’t it to be too runny so my jam comes out a bit over done but still yummy and still spreadable.

spoon into pre sterilised jam jars and leave to cool

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Not the most studenty gift but with a few other bits – maybe some scones and clotted cream in a tin – its a lovely present.

Animal Farm Book Review – Recognising the animal inside

Last week our book club read and discussed George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. Written as an animal version of the Russian Revolution, the book follows the journey of a group of farmyard animals with varying intelligence and skill and their break from the exploitative grasp of the farmer Mr Jones, to their own utopian existence. The book ends rather sadly with the power corrupt pigs exploiting the animals in much the same way as Mr Jones exploited them before, critiquing this model of a self sufficient and equal society. In our book club we discussed whether this model of society would ever work with some members saying it is inherently flawed due to human nature. I am inclined to disagree but this is beside the point. It is not the dampened ending of the story which disheartens me.

Amongst our discussions of whether ‘Beasts of England’ is a musical masterpiece (it is) and the devastating scene of Boxer’s frantic stamping getting quieter as he is driven away (a haunting image) Russell Brand and his recent resurgence in the public eye, this time as a political figure, arose. The demise of the farm was due to the inability of the animals to question the pigs. Their political apathy led to a dictatorship, which once they were in, they had no tools with which to get themselves out. The story highlights the danger of a naive working class echoing Marxist sentiments of class consciousness. The inability of the animals to question the authority blinded them to the possibility they were not working for their own interests.

The sheep especially are the fools of the story – constantly bleating their single understanding of the ethos of the society which surrounds them, with no other knowledge of the laws which they are shaping themselves around. Their single awareness consists of “ Four legs good, two legs bad” which they convert without a thought when asked.  And so it is no wonder that these idiots were exploited. Without knowing what they were entitled to, how could they know when it was taken away.

Russell Brand’s video is another mantra our nation of sheep will bleat. We will talk about political apathy. We will talk about the vote. We will say we are the 99%. We ride out these headlines, singing their tune with no real understanding of the riddle of laws and regulations which we bend and twist around. ‘We are the exploited.’ But how? Why? At the last election people around me were placing votes on how eloquent a speaker the candidate was; “Oh we’ll need someone who can give a good speech.” But doesn’t squealer give a great speech? Is that really what we need?

 

What saddened me most about Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ is that I too am in fact a sheep. I know very little of the laws of this country and yet I am more than happy to jump on the bandwagon of Government slating with no real idea of what I am actually talking about.   Unfortunately as this nation of sheep it is just as likely we are being as exploited as poor Boxer and Clover and we wouldn’t even recognise it.

Animal farm is often interpreted and spoken about purely in regard to the rise of soviet Russia. However its problems and issues of power corruption are still very relevant today and by turning the mirror on ourselves instead of blaming everyone and everything around us, we can equip ourselves to do something about it.

The Value of Money

This term has been concerned with anthropological study of economic processes.

My summer was  fairly hectic and after some spondangerous flights to various places my bank balance found itself wearing pretty thin.
I love this video by Alan Watts

 I want to break the cycle of having to work 80% of my time doing things I don’t enjoy in order to spend a measly 20% of my time doing something which actually makes me happy and fufilled.
When you really look at money, should it be an object in our path? who made money into a God that we spend all our time worrying about it? Is the effort of removing this weight too great a feat to consider or are we so used to its familiar weight around our neck, forcing us to stare ever more at the ground that we couldn’t even consider the possibility that above us lies an infinity of sky.

Kite Tail.

This summer I had wonderful adventures and saw beautiful things.

One of the things I loved about Cairo was its alleys and side streets.

Hanging across them from building to building were vines of bunting made out of small scraps of material in all different colours, fluttering amongst the dust of the city.

 

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Back at home I want to make my own raggedy vines

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I tied odds and ends and strips of lace onto brown twine and strung it across the kitchen but I think this bunting is happiest with sun shining through it.

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This is it all wrapped up until another windy day.

Why I will always wear a poppy

In recent years people have shifted restlessly beneath the sea of red poppies displayed during this season of remembrance. Whether it is ideology of war, the unnecessary deaths or political puppetry which goes on behind closed doors which makes them squirm, the initial murmur against the flower has snowballed into a loud and audible voice.

But could it be possible that people are missing the point of the poppy entirely.

The poppy isn’t for us. It isn’t to make a political point, to share a religious belief, to demonstrate an economic position. It isn’t to do with our opinions, our personal grievances. It doesn’t look to excuse or to place blame or to find a reason in the midst of the chaos and bloodshed.

The poppy isn’t ours, the poppy belongs to them.

If we stepped outside the small world which we think we are the centre of, we would see the quiet generation of grieving men and women standing in smart coats on a cold day to remember. Strip away the bravado of sacrifice and patriotism and you are left with a loss, a death. Not some twisted and dark thing but a grievance. Soon the faces they grieve for will be lost to us. The small red flower is all we can offer as compensation.

And while people can shout against the horrors of war, if we want a reason to remember them, they were the ones that fought to end war too. I don’t think its fair to trial the fallen when they can’t answer. This clamour of voices wanting to be heard is drowning out the simplicity of the gesture.

I choose to wear a poppy lest I forget. There is nothing else behind the flower pinned onto my lapel.

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