The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Marmalade Dayzzzz


Photo: A pile of Min Pins

Photo: A pile of Min Pins

This past two weeks or so I have been caught up in a fever that hits the UK from mid January to the end of February. The great marmalade making bonanza. I was determined to develop a new range of recipes for the gate side stand  – from dark and chunky to light and dainty. I have come up with two new easy recipes. I’ve also made a few discoveries and now feel much more competent when it comes to making marmalade.

In fact I think that I was probably up a bit too long each day, falling asleep the instant my head touched the pillow. Only to be woken by the laptop gently sliding off the bed.
So this morning I returned to bed after a hearty breakfast and slept all day, waking after dark under a pile of bickering Min Pins and nightclothes (they adore sleeping on my clothes).

So that is why I have not been responding to comments. Please accept my apologies – I’m looking forward to tackling them tomorrow.

For a bit of feel-good warmth I’m going to relate what happened to us on the gate side stand over the last couple of days.
Yesterday I went out to check the stand at midday and was delighted to discover that the gaps menat that someone had obviously bought three jars of preserves. The jars are small – just 220ml. This means most are priced at £1. I rushed upstairs to tell Danny. Having worked on a London market stall for ten years in my 30’s, I know that January is the worst month for my type of stand. So any sale is a bonus.

At the end of the day I unlocked the cash box like a latter day Silas Marner and found just 2p along with the change that is always in there so that coins don’t have a hollow, hopeless drop. Within the next few seconds I whizzed through a range of emotions, from shock and rage to grief. Of course we will lose a jar from an unmanned stall every now and then, but to take three and just leave 2p really hurt.

Eventually I calmed down. I had a strong sense of who had done this and an equally deep belief that she would return and repay the money once her husband had tasted the preserves. He would want more.

And this morning I spotted a lady with the same hair and car colour as my suspect. She examined the stand for ages. I didn’t put 2 and 2 together until I stepped out to restock after she had gone.

She had bought three jars and left the money for six!

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  1. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a web site for the gateside stand! With a webcam (not for security, just for fun)and a list of what’s on display / sale today.
    My geeky heart leaps at the thought 🙂

  2. Angela Connolly

    Yes I know that feeling !!!! When you see from a distance that you have sold something, you feel a little jump in your heart,great!! Then you check the money box, and you sort of stare at the few pence in your hand in disbeleif that the money is not there?
    I share a ‘Stall’ with my neighbour, we sell eggs, jams, plants, tomatoes, chutneys, jellies all manner of veg, and herb plants, elderflower cordial, rose-petal cordial, and elderflower ‘champagne’ (until a bottle blew its cork off on the poor lady who bought it, on her way home in the car!) We sell sacks of potatoes, horse and chicken manure and can deliver by pony and trap, if its within a reasonable distance, as they are too heavy to carry, and most of our customers are walking past.(No Car)
    What we decided to do was have a writing pad and pen on ‘The Stall’. Also a message stuck on the back of the stall, asking politely, that if anyone should want to take goods, but have no money on them now, and pay later- for the goods, that was fine but to please write what
    you took, how much is was priced at, and when are you likely to pay, plus leave your phone number. Guess what? It works a treat, we have had ‘The Stall’ for 4 years now, and just the odd thing taken and not paid for. Most people have even left a tip because of the late payment !!!
    Plus the paper and pad is great if anyone wants to order something or leave a comment on the produce, and any good ideas to improve !!!

  3. Karen - An Artist's Garden

    So glad your gateside stall is going well.

    I sell a few things from outside the house in the summer, with an honesty box, and I have NEVER got the right amount of cash, its always short, perhaps it will be different this year!

  4. She shouldn’t have done it in the first place. After all it is dishonesty and had she not liked them what would have happened?
    But nevertheless, she did right in the end. But why do people need to test the water so..?
    Hope you are feeling better. Not a good year for you last year. Me neither. And this year has begun badly too. But hey ho.
    I love the idea of your gateside stand. And I am sure you will get far more honest people than not. I still think honesty prevails.
    Good luck with it all..

  5. Funny that. I had a week where at the end my faith in humanity was restored. I left my purse on a petrol pump on Monday whilst under the weather with a bug. On my return it had disappeared and I assumed it was stolen, so cancelled everything. This belief persisted until Thursday when I got a call from a different police station from the one I had visited, to tell me my purse had been handed in, INCLUDING THE CASH that was in it!!!! I was thrilled and my faith in humanity had been restored. 🙂

  6. petoskystone

    ah–disturbing The Min Pin with a camera! 😉 mmm-marmalade. i find so many are too sweet-almost cloying- for my taste. i am still on the hunt for 3 decent chutney recipes-one sweet, two savory (for light & dark meats). there seems to be too much emphasis on sweet & additives & not showcasing the main ingredients.

  7. Oh, I’m so glad your faith in humanity was restored. What a lovely story, thanks.
    I wish I lived close – I’d use your stall, no doubts at all! It sounds just wonderful.

    Fiona, I was iterested in your raspberry vinegar recipe and have some frozen raspberries – do you think they would be OK? They’re not home grown, but they do taste OK.

  8. What ups and downs in only a day, and how good that it all worked out well. I love hearing about your little sales stall, and can only imagine the tasty preserves and marmalade you are creating. I’m making marmalade here too. Orange, and grapefruit so far, and I’ve got Meyer lemon yet to do tonight, and kumquat in the works for tomorrow…Marmalade is my favorite and I wish you all the luck in your venture!

  9. That’s very reassuring! Glad the stall is going well.
    Good to hear you are making marmalade. I made another batch using some of my Rangpur limes not so long ago, it is delicious.
    Best wishes

  10. Hello Fiona

    Hope you are now feeling much restored after your rest. Sometimes we just have to give in and do what our bodies ask of us – although it may well go against the grain and your way of doing things. I can sympathise as I too have to listen every so often or everything ends up going to pot.

    I am pleased that your faith in human nature has been restored and that your visitor came back and made recompense. She obviously loved your preserves very much. Keep up the good work – I think its a smashing idea having a little stall. I love your site

    Take care



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