"We collect wild fruit as we cruise around and make preserves to sell from the boat... jams, jellies, chutneys, marmalades, cordials, vinegars! Our business is based around foraging, but it's not a slave to it. For instance you can't find citrus fruit in the hedgerows! We use what we find. To sell our stock we bring the boat to festivals, and whenever there's a gathering of boats there's usually people wanting to buy. And of course people order online from our website www.wildsidepreserves.co.uk. We do this together in the summer and in winter I do my other paid job.
The business is mostly my wife's work. It all started after she had a big accident about five years ago. Helen's injuries meant she couldn't do her academic work anymore, and during her recovery she would sit in the bow of our narrowboat making jam as occupational therapy. Well, there's only so much jam you can eat, and only so much you can give away - so that's when she had the idea of starting a business to sell it.
In our first season we started selling from a table at the back of our boat. Then we got the butty boat to keep all the stock in. People say what a great name the 'Jam Butty' boat, and I can tell you the name came before the boat! It's an interesting old boat with a section that's a 1980s reproduction Josher, and another that's a genuine old Birmingham coal boat.
This year, just as we were about to set off at the start of the season, Helen was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was caught early, so our fingers are crossed that she'll be back working again soon, but she's too poorly to be here today. Sadly because of Helen's chemo we can't do any of the extended cruising we'd planned. This year I can only attend local venues.
To help out while Helen is poorly I've learnt how to make jams! I'm busy making chutney at the moment, and because it takes about three months to mature, I think I'm probably making stock for next year.
Now don't ask me which is my favourite jam, it's so hard to say, and it changes every time someone asks me! OK, today my favourite is Damson and ginger tea jam."
Andy, The Jam Butty, Pelsall, Wyrley & Essington Canal