Today was an interesting day. Yesterday, Meg took a bit of a tumble in the garden whilst she was helping to bring the washing in off the clothes line. I ascertained that no bones were broken or things displaced so I sat her down and gve her a banana and a cup of hot, sweet tea to cope with any potential shock. She was insistent that she wanted to attend church in about half an hour’s time so this we did. However, this morning, Meg took a bit of extra bedrest and I kept her warm with a bit of electric blanket and dosed her up on ibuprofin to deal with any inflammation. She has some slightly sore ribs and pulled muscles but is basically OK. Once I made sure that she was warm and comfortable, I shot off down to the park and was fortunate to coincide with both of my regular park buddies. I had taken a flask of coffee and I drank this quickly as well as giving my park friends a quick update on what was happening to Meg (coupled with a bad joke) and then got home within three quarters of an hour. Then I cooked a lightning lunch with some beef that I had had cooked and saved half in the freezer so I managed to turn out a ‘normal’ Sunday lunch fairly quickly.
I had allocated this afternoon to bottling my damson gin and this went all quite smoothly once I got my production line all set up. First, though, I had the tedious part done which is pricking each fruit with a special old-fashioned can opener I use for the purpose and I managed to get all of this done before lunch. I sterilised the Kilner jars with baby sterilising solution and then dolloped 450 grams of damsons into each jar, complemented it with 350 grams of sugar and then filled up with 0.75 litre of gin – this combination of ingredients happens to exactly fill a 1.5 litre Kilner jar excellently. The I give each a quick stir, an equally quick shake and finally I invert the whole jar to help the sugar, gin and damsons to adequately mix. I store the completed jars in some cheap plastic washing up bowls which I keep in the agrage to assist with light leakages that sometimes occurs when the jars are inverted. After a day or so, I will turn the jars the right way up and then give each a shake which I will repeat at weekly interevals. This means that the damson gin will be ready for bottling just before Christmas. I see from my record book that I bottled 550 pricked damsons last year on 18th September and this year is an almost an exact repeat of last year. I have bottled 560 damsons this year which has produced 7.35 litres of damson gin altogether which should give me 30 miniature sized bottles once I have persuaded friends and cafes to donate any of those little bottles that come into their possession.
Today is the day before the formal funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth and I will tune in at varous points of the day tomorrow, if only to listen to the music and observe the reactions of the crowd and the congregation. By reading Sky News, I have just learned as well that the crown, which now rests on her coffin, is made of gold and set with 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls and four rubies. It contains jewels including the Black Prince’s Ruby, the Stuart Sapphire and the Cullinan II diamond. St Edward’s Sapphire, set in the centre of the topmost cross, is said to have been worn in a ring by St Edward the Confessor and discovered in his tomb in 1163. At 8.00pm his evening, there is to a minute’s silence across the whole of the country. I must say that I would not like to be that part of the diplomatic service and funeral organisers who will have to work out who is seated next to whom. Also, the transport arrangements are going to be ‘original’ given that practically every head of state apart from Jo Biden who will travel in ‘The Beast’ (heavily armoured vehicle) will have to rub shoulders with each other on a fleet of buses. At least by the end of tomorrow, all of this will be over and we can get back to normal life and politics. The government has been promising a welter of announcements including a financial statement scheduled for next Friday which is being deliberately not being called a ‘budget’ I suspect to avoid the scrutiny of the Office for Budget Responsibility which would otherwise give a formal forecast of public finances. This represents a break from all budgets since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 and displays an unfortunate authoritarian tendency to not expose the projected financial plans to a proper independent scrutiny.