Today I was both cursing and loving rural north Oxfordshire. She gave of herself but she withheld something too.

We have been travelling along the Oxford canal both marveling at its relative remoteness, and enjoying it.IMG_6806 That remoteness though managed to thwart our plans for a productive working day. We got up bright and early, settled down at our computers but, horror of horrors, there was absolutely no connectivity.

Trusty Three had failed us. There was not even one bar of connectivity, not via Three, nor via Vodafone, nor via Lebara. We have three sim cards precisely so that we have guaranteed access to the internet and, therefore, the freedom to work. Well, in this instance, we HAD to get online, we had a Skype call scheduled so we had no option but to up stakes and push on along the canal. We put our modem in the hope that that a little way along the canal the ‘NO SERVICE’ words would disappear and we would be connected again. Didn’t happen.

So we carried on through a series of locks with me cursing rural north Oxfordshire in no uncertain terms. Until something caught my eye. I stopped cursing and bent over the unassuming plant that I’d spotted in the shadows next to the lock. Was it? Surely not. It couldn’t be! But it was: not one but a cluster of of blackcurrant bushes, their  stems groaning with fruit.

Suddenly I lost interest in the modem and was scrambling to pick as many of the blackcurrants as possible in the time it took for the lock to fill with water behind me. Thoughts of connectivity, or its lack, fled my mind. Now my focus was on cooking.  Would I make blackcurrant cordial, blackcurrant jelly or bake with the blackcurrants?


Last week I bought blackcurrants, strawberries and tayberries from the Cultivate Veg Van in Jericho in Oxford. At the time I had had fleeting thoughts that it would be nice to find berries growing along the canal. I made a blackcurrant and marscapone sauce which we spooned over the strawberries and tayberries. You’ll find the recipe here on Scarlet Bennett’s creative challenge blog.

Once we were back in the land of connectivity and had moored I took my place in the galley, Richard asked, surprised, “Aren’t you working?” “No,” I said firmly, “I’m cooking.”

All thoughts of a productive day working were out the window. Over the next hour or two, I transformed the blackcurrants into a deep, dark and delicious jelly– and marvelled at the infinite charms of rural north Oxfordshire.


As usual I made the jelly according to Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s always reliable recipe. Thank you, Hugh!