Whortleberries – actual thing

I’m so sorry not to have posted in so long! I was so tired out from shearing the day before yesterday and then yesterday itself I had a bug and was incredibly tired. Anyway enough excuses, to make it up to you (as well as my awesome content) here‘s a link to one of the best songs ever sung.

So yesterday (despite not working up the energy to post) I did do something, namely try to distill lanolin from some wool. I googled it a little bit and worked out that really all you had to do was boil it with a tsp or so of salt, it seemed fairly foolproof. Here’s the wool boiling (and stinking up the kitchen as it did so):

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Of course, as with anything that looks foolproof it wasn’t. All I ended up with was some dirty water, kind of sums up yesterday really. So today I decided to be more productive and so first thing, or after I woke up at 11 o’clock at least, I made some meringues and put them in the bottom oven of the aga.

2 egg whites

115g sugar

(optional) vanilla essence

  1. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and rocky.
  2. Add half the sugar and beat until stiff and rocky.
  3. Fold in the rest of the sugar and (if you want) the vanilla essence.
  4. Either pipe or use teaspoons to put in mounds on a tray covered in grease-proof paper.
  5. Bake in the bottom oven of an aga (or at gas mark 1/4 – 1/2 if you aren’t lucky enough to have one).
  6. Remove and allow to cool when dry. Eat immediately or store in an airtight container.

Next I grabbed a book, a thermos of tea and a couple of sandwiches. I ate and read the above while sat twelve feet up my favorite tree. Yes I have a favorite tree. I’m a hippy at heart.

I gave up on the reading soon after my lunch was finished when the neighbours child started to play the saxophone. They live half a mile away across the valley but somehow I could still hear. Very clearly. Oh and did I mention that she’s only just started learning? Seriously though, honey, it’s great that you’re learning a musical instrument but do you totally and absolutely have to do it so loudly?

Anyway so I then decided to leave the house (evidently the moment I stepped outside the ‘music stopped) and went off to meet up with a friend to go swimming. Sure he lives about four miles away but he’s the closest person my age so we hang out a lot, even if it means walking two miles to see each other. Say what you like about living somewhere remote but it really means that friendships are absolute, either you put the effort in to see each other or you don’t.

We met at a lovely little curve in the river dart with a sandy island next to a nice granite bridge. Unfortunately because it’s by a road it’s always a little packed in the summer. But as it’s a weekday and most kids aren’t on holiday yet we got pretty lucky and only had some oldies and a couple of families of hippies (says the girl with a favorite tree).

I got there first and when he arrived he said he’d been in the river a couple of days ago and it had been quite warm. I don’t think he was lying but, let’s just say I have a lot less trust for him now. It was freezing (unpadded bikini top – yay). Still we had a good time and when we got out we laid ourselves out on a couple of big towels and sunned for what must have been about an hour. It was pretty uneventful except for when one of the hippy women behind him just up and removed her top and I had to tell him not to turn around.

I’m pretty okay with nudity (you kind of have to be in my house, my mother has no boundaries and my dad sleeps in and walks to the bathroom in the buff – try getting that image out of your head) but right next to a road, with loads of strangers around and on a patch of river that isn’t one of those unofficial but acknowledged by everyone nudist spots? Kind of risqué. Anyways, each to their own.

When we were both dry (and the sun went in) we parted ways and started walking home. I got most of the way up the biggest hill when I had to stop for a breather (it’s a really big hill). I happened to look to my left and lo and behold the whortleberries were ripe. You’ll forgive me if I’m spelling that wrong, they’re kind of a hidden gem in the foodie world and there’s loads of variant localized spellings that google chrome’s spell-check refuses to recognize. They’re also known as billberries, blaeberries, hurtleberries, huckleberries, winberries and fraughans. See what I mean?

They’re basically a smaller, sweeter, wild version of the cultivated blueberry. It only ever seems to be locals and the odd walker who knows about them although I have no idea why as they taste absolutely delicious. Here’s all the ones I picked (it doesn’t look like much but they are pretty small!):

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After this I walked home and when I got in, got my meringues out of the oven:

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Looking pretty good right. This ones already in the recipe book but hopefully I’ll be trying out some Pavlova with them and my whortleberries (plus some cream the milk-lady will be delivering tomorrow).

I hope this nice long post made up for me missing the past two. Loveyoubye.

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