I don't think I've had much to do with jelly making since my mother waved a dark green box of Rowntree's at me, the one with the picture of a big pile of fruit on it, and allowed me to separate out the gorgeously malleable cubes of jelly and stir in the boiling water. Equally it could have been Melba's Jelly, Viota Jelly Crystals (with the empty box designed to be an alphabet cube afterwards) and of course Chivers, the same as on my Dinky Trojan Van. But Rowntree's was the one I remember, another much-loved classic name now slowly disappearing from our pantry shelves. I don't know what prompted the bout of jelly making this morning- someone eating it on television I expect or more probably an airbrushed ad. in a 1950's Good Housekeeping magazine. Of course I've hung about for weeks trying to buy a metal mould, copper preferably, but could only find plastic, and none in the traditional almost architectural and archetypal shape so necessary for the Unmitigated Dessert. Then the Mother of My Children took pity and said "Oh for goodness sake" and brought round a carrier bag full of metal moulds. Youngest Son separated the Hartley's Jelly cubes (not sure if a raspberry had actually taken part in their manufacture) and stirred in the boiling water, gently carrying his own little rabbit mould to the 'fridge. What should also be heartening for Hartley's is just how quickly their bright pink box was incorporated into the castle being built in the living room.
I am a writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012) and Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012)