Scottish Island Escapes
a character interview
Fenella is the mother to three grown-up sons, Magnus, Jakob, and Carl. Those of you who have read Free Hugs & Old-Fashioned Kisses will be well-acquainted with her middle son, Jakob. Prepare to meet Carl next in A Winter Haven.
Fenella is a part-time primary school teacher and a full-time dog owner.
A Pocketful of Plums
Fenella reminisces about one September when her boys were younger.
I’ve always loved September. For me, it’s not about the fading summer but the promise of good things ahead. The subtle shift in the seasons gets more noticeable; the darkness comes earlier, the wind bites a little harder and, best of all, the harvest starts to yield.
Our bungalow is situated on the east side of the island, just a brisk bike ride through the woods from the Glen Lodge Hotel. When my boys were young, they were on their bikes every day, tearing through the mucky paths in search of adventure. I liked the peace, but, oh my goodness, the mud when they came back. Well, I’m sure you can guess my reasons for not buying a cream carpet until they’d all flown the nest.
One time, they arrived back – at tea-time, of course – and I came into the hallway to the usual pile of coats, jumpers and filthy boots. ‘Get back out here and pick these up!’ I yelled. Three sulky faces loped out of the bedrooms, with much sighing, and tidied up the mess. Now call it mother’s intuition, a sixth sense, or whatever you like, but I had an urge to check their pockets. This wasn’t normal, goodness no! My boys’ pockets were something I usually steered well clear of. But, lo-and-behold, what should I find in every pocket but at least six plums. With a screwed-up face, I removed them all.
My mind did a quick tick over all the possible outcomes if I hadn’t checked. Starting with the plums falling out on the school bus, then being sat on during class, or worst of all (and most likely), being forgotten about until they were nothing but mush! Even now, I can’t bear to imagine the smell.
Anyway, those plums were quickly dispatched into one of my favourite recipes. A good old plum and apple crumble. But there were too many. And despite the boys’ love of picking them, they didn’t seem to share the love of eating them. Well, maybe they had a point. After being squished in a pocket, the plums would only be fit for human consumption after being cooked at a very high temperature or sterilised in alcohol. Hmm! Suddenly, I got thinking. Sterilised in alcohol! If I did that, surely they’d be fine. And, what was more, I could reap the benefits. That, ladies, was the day I discovered how to make plum gin!
Now, before you get too excited, it takes three months to infuse the gin. But remember what happens three months from now! You could be serving your very own creation at your Christmas parties this year, and even better, you can still use the plums! Rest assured, they’ll be well and truly prepped after three months of soaking; perfect tipsy plums for your Christmas puddings!
Wishing you happy making and baking!
Cheers from Fenella
You can catch up with Fenella and the goings-on at The Glen
Lodge Hotel in A Winter Haven.
(disclaimer: This is purely a work of fiction, but please try the recipes!)