"I could burn all that wood for you" said one, "Dig 'em all up and start again" said another and "I saw a rat the size of cat run through there the other day" (I don't think this was advice as much as a test to see whether I was really the kind of person to have an allotment). Like most advice that I have been given by this gang of boys with a wealth of knowledge, I have left them be. I chop them a bit in the spring, try my best to prevent them from becoming too over grown and have had more raspberries than I could ever pick every year. I let the birds help themselves, I drop plenty and today I even had a lovely grown up friend to help me (I tend to find my younger helpers eat as many as they pick) but we still left with pounds of fruit still hanging from the stems.
Now that I am a member of the Jubilee WI it would have been a crime against the Women's Institute to let these go to waste, especially when there are ladies out there who have never made jam. Jam making is pretty much second nature to me now. You boil fruit and sugar in a pan, job done. The amount of sugar and the size of the pan is always dependent on the amount of raspberries I have the time to pick.
Today my wonderful helper Michelle and I picked about 2 1/2 lbs in 30 minutes and then as a reward for coming to help, Michelle got to take her pick of other goodies to take home.
Sadly Michelle had to go before the jam making began but that didn't stop her from getting started on a crocheted jam jar covers.
The jam apprentices arrived from a busy morning of school runs and assembles so we had a spot of allotment soup before we got down to the serious jam making.
The very talented seamstress and knitting and stitching circle group leader was in charge of the possibly unnecessary but essentially excellent fun crushing of the raspberries with the sugar. (WI apron recommended).
And here it is the very first Jubilee WI Jam going into the jars.
These are of course limited edition and incredibly special so we need a VIP jam taster. Not only was I lucky enough to have the president of our Jubilee WI as an apprentice but there was a teeny tiny tot, the future generation of WI jam makers, happy to get jammy chops and place her little sticky hand prints possibly too close to my husband's prized Blu-Ray player.
I hope that this little lady follows in the footsteps of her wonderful mother and continues the tradition of passing homemaking skills from one generation to the next and that in 80 years time she is standing in front of a room of young women saying..."I was 14 months old when I went to my first WI jam making lunch and I have never ever brought a jar of jam..."
Thank you for your help Michelle, Sophie, Claire and especially Jayne.