Judging from the amount of homemade jam, pickles and chutneys that I now have stored in the larder, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I was some sort of Domestic Goddess like Nigella Lawson (I wish) or Martha Stewart. In the past few weeks we’ve been inundated with gifts of cherries, plums and apricots. Not just the odd bag full but crates and crates of the beauties. Up until last month, I’d never made a pot of jam in my life but rather than let kilos and kilos of good fruit go to waste, I decided to try my hand at making jam and chutney. The first batch of plum jam was an unmitigated disaster. Unlike the real Domestic Goddesses, Martha and Nigella, mine set like concrete and all 12 jars had to be tossed straight in to the bin. Determined not to let the culinary failure put me off, I swiftly set about making batch number 2. Batch number 2 was, even though I say so my self, a howling success. Plain plum jam, spiced plum jam, spiced plum chutney, plum compote – every permutation of plum jam that you can think of. Ditto the apricots.
It’s very touching the little things that turn up on our doorstep here. I often come back home to find bunches of herbs, flowers or packets of handmade soap, left anonymously by kind souls. It’s these little things that make living here so special and out of the ordinary. And it is partly because of this that Pete and I started up our art school in the village sooner than we had planned. Blown away by the kindness and generosity of our new neighbours, we wanted to help our little community here by giving something back to them. In early March we started giving free art classes to the children in the village. Despite the language barrier we have managed to make some great work with them and they seem to really love it. Classes run for 2 hours every Friday and we work on all sorts of projects with them. The lesson is taught in Spanish and English with a little art history thrown in for good measure. The mothers are now keen for us to give over one evening a week to teach them – our little dream of having an art school in Las Pilas is really starting to take shape. The next stage is to find a studio space large enough so that we can host residential art courses but first we have to do some more work on the house.
New windows are being made for the front of the house so the room that we’ve been using as a temporary studio has had to be abandoned while the work is being done. With no more jam to make, or studio to make a mess in, I needed an outlet for my creative juices. This is how I discovered the joys of drawing on an ipad. It takes a bit of practice and I am still trying to master it. These pictures are ones that I’ve made over the past week. The one titled ‘Road from Venta Velero’ I drew this morning. Midday in the height of an Andalucian summer is probably not the best time to do ‘plein air’ drawing. After 20 minutes the ipad was so hot that I feared that it might burst in to flames so I had to abandon my landscape drawing mission and head back home.