One of the many advantages of living for most of your life in fairly remote places is that you rarely have to dress up. In my case that’s a great advantage, as I really don’t do dressy. With my legs I’m happiest in jeans, and with my feet high heels are out of the question. All this means that I don’t have much use for jewellery, other than my rings, of course.
This is fine by me, but a little while ago it posed a problem for my dear mother-in-law. She is a generous person, who enjoys giving presents, and at a local craft fair she spotted some pretty crystal pendants which she knew would be much appreciated by her other two daughters-in-law. Sadly for her, pretty pendants, whether crystal or not, don’t go very well with jeans and sneakers, so she sensibly didn’t buy one for me. Instead she gave me the money and asked me to get myself a little treat.
Usually, as she well knows, a treat for me takes the form of yet another book or CD, but this time I knew just what I wanted. Not something to wear or read or listen to, but something to use, something which would make one of my interests easier and more successful.
Instead of a pendant, however pretty, I wanted a proper preserving-pan – a beautiful, heavy-bottomed, stainless-steel maslin pan - for the jams and preserves I've always loved making. For years I’d made do with either a pressure-cooker (too narrow) or my old, cheap, aluminium preserving-pan (too flimsy) which had been all I could afford at the time.
But now, at last, I had the real thing and I was thrilled. No more boiling-over because the pan was too small. No more burnt-on jam because the base was too thin. There was no stopping me and I went mad – filling the store cupboard with more jams and jellies than the two of us could hope to eat in years – so many that I had to start giving them away, to stop us both expanding to the approximate size and shape of barrage balloons.
Thankfully we’re all different and my idea of a treat probably isn’t yours. Nevertheless my little treat gives and will go on giving me enormous pleasure and satisfaction. OK, I can’t wear it, and other people will probably never see it, but every time I take my pan out of the cupboard and set to work, and the kitchen fills with the tantalising aroma of freshly-made jam, I think of my dear mother-in-law and realise yet again what a very lucky woman I am.
You’ll have to excuse me now – I have some marmalade to make. It’s a bit of a treat.