You wouldn’t be blamed for looking at this picture and thinking that Iron Man had got a job working for Torpoint Council or a window cleaning round on a bungalow estate.
You would be quite wrong though.
What you are seeing here is a prize winner in search of his next batch of sloes in his home village of Crafthole, Cornwall.
Last year saw the first production of his Sloe Gin which was to be entered into the Annual Village Flower Show competition for the much coveted prize of ‘Winner’.
Sloes were picked from a place called Wacker Quay in South East Cornwall. Over the course of several months they were lovingly transformed into a very delicious Sloe Gin.
There has been much vying amongst us and the in-laws for prizes in this highly esteemed show and this year the gloves were well and truly off.
Iron Man’s first ever production of Sloe Gin scooped the prize of 3rd place fighting off
at least two many other contenders in Category 74 – Best Alcoholic/Non-Alcoholic Drink.
His Sloe Gin was declared to be well balanced with good presentation, clarity and colour.
This year the triumph of hope will give way to experience as Iron Man takes up the mantle again to produce a drink, not only to rival but, to exceed the excellence of the previous bouquet.
And so we set off. This time we went armed with step ladders and a walking stick loaned from the family home. The Kid decided she would sit this one out.
Experience has taught us that the sloes that are unpicked are generally high up and in places that are difficult to reach. Last year saw me whacked in the face several times with a branch every time Iron Man let it go without warning.
Forewarned is forearmed as far as I am concerned and the walking stick was to enable us to lower the branches to enable easy access. We see this as progress if we are to take next years competition seriously.
The fact that the stick also had a name and address on would also help speed up my rescue should I be knocked out with a branch whilst standing on the ladder.
This year he was hoping for a new area from which to pick the sloes but we were a little late in the season and whilst we managed to find a couple, they were in the main poor quality.
So back to Wacker we went where once again the sloes were growing abundantly. We set to work and filled our bags, boots and my hair.
Once again, I was gainfully employed as the trusty assistant whilst Iron Man showed his expertise in the area by using words like ‘plucking!’? instead of picking. What a show-off!!
The aim was to get more this time around and I think we achieved this.
And so for the preparation.
A gentle rinse so as not to remove the ‘bloom’.
All of the sloes need to be pierced several times which is quite laborious.
They are then placed into a large container where they will do their thing over the course of the next few months. A layer of sloes a layer of sugar until they are all in.
The cap of the bottle is released every couple of days which lets off a big hiss as part of the fermentation process.
And then we wait. A little taste every so often adds to the fun. Chefs perks and all that!
Next August will see the second entry of the Wacker Sloe Gin proudly placed among all the other wonderful entries in the hope for the ultimate prize.
Will he do it? Will he beat his own personal best?
Will the journey from London to Cornwall bear fruit?
Of course, the fun is in the participation and we have had some real laughs along the way.
Have you had a similar prize winning speciality?