Sunday, 24 June 2012


last weekend I picked some elderflowers from the hedgerows around the allotment and started off some elderflower cordial.

I found this recipe a couple of years ago on the Internet from someone called Gavin.

Pour 2.5 pints of boiling water over 20 flower heads, 3.5 lbs sugar, 2tsp citric acid and a sliced lemon, stir until sugar is dissolved and cover.  stir twice daily for 5 days, strain and bottle  -simple!
Or so I thought, but thinking I was being very clever I added the flowers that I had strained from the champagne to the cordial and it began to ferment -whoops!  I had to pour boiling water on to kill of the yeast which diluted the cordial.  it is not as sweet as normal but I think it could be even better.

Champagne update:

The bottles are beginning to feel harder which means that it is fermenting, should be ready next week!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012


I noticed last week that the hedgerows are full of Elderflowers and it is time to make the wine and cordial.  AND the Elderflower Champagne, I tried it last year and it was an absolute disasaster, the bottles exploded in the garage and covered everything in a sticky glass fragment mess.  I was NOT popular.
I had followed the Quick Elderflower Champagne recipie in Sarah Ravens book, Food for Friends and Family, normaly the recipies in this book are very good.  However this one says to add dried yeast and I think that it was too much and also to store in glass wire top bottle.
This year I searched for a new recipie and found Elderflower Champagne at the Farm in my Pocket blog.  The recpie has no added yeast and suggests using plastic coke bottles.  The build up of gas can be released by unscrewing the lid a little bit.
I now have 3 large coke bottles of Elderflower Champagne starting to brew, after one day I can see little bubbles around the top.

Lets hope that it works this time!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Audley End House

I visited Audley End House, in Saffron Walden, Essex yesterday.  I went on an outing with the Horticultural Society.  The coach left at 9.30 a.m. up the A12 and then onto Braintree, turning off into Stansted Airport, people around me said "oh I haven't bought my passport".  But this turned out to be a short cut through to Newport and then Stansted Mountfidgit, both very old villages and arriving just after 10.30.
We walked up the drive way admiring the views across the park and headed straight for the cafe for a cup of coffee.
Then onto the Service Wing, with the kitchen, pantry, laundry and dairy
 flat irons to be heated on the stove
 Some very deep sinks for washing the clothes
 A mangle
 The dry linen hanging up high to air
The butter pats in the dairy.

 This is the parterre garden at the back of the house. There are no pictures from inside the house, as you are not allowed to take them.  Lots to see including a painting by Holbein and Canaletto.

We then visited the organic walled kitchen garden, I read that the walls were heated by pipes from a boiler which helped to keep the frost off the peach trees and made them fruit earlier.
I also noticed that my broad beans were doing better than theirs however the peas looked much stronger!

We had a sandwich for lunch in the cafe by the playground and then visited the stables.  The groom gave a talk and demonstration about riding side saddle.

 We finished the day with a ride on the miniature railway.  Hmmmm......

Saturday, 9 June 2012



0 (zero) Daily Mail Newspapers left at the shop this afternoon.  Why don't they get plenty?

1 Lizard spotted on the plot

2 wheels on my bike, managed to get up the hill both ways to the allotment and back.  Also 2 eggs laid by my hens.

3 (and a half) hours spent working on the allotment

4 mushrooms picked 

5 beautiful red strawberries picked

41 first early new potatoes dug up and eaten

1200,000.000 (12 million) Phasmarhabditis hermaphroditia or nematodes watered into the allotment, greenhouse and garden.  No more slugs???