Autumn Elders

Now, I tend to get excited about the elder trees in late spring, when their dusty, creamy flowers promise oodles of flavour to add to gin, vodka or cordial to name but a few. I have to admit that I didn’t even know that the berries were anything special, or even edible. I was brought up to be wary of berries that you weren’t 100% sure about, and although I loved eating sloes in front of school friends who were convinced that they were poisonous (along with pulling the flowers off dead nettles and chasing some of my more gullible class-mates), my knowledge of autumn’s berries didn’t extend much further than that.

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Continue reading “Autumn Elders”

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Where I went: West Dean

My Easter break was an extended one – the Friday after Easter was the start of a bi-annual 9-day violin restoration course, which I’d been hoping to attend for some time, and not only because of the fantastic learning environment that everyone who comes back from it talks about. What they also talk about is the almost magical bubble that you disappear into, and the waking-from-dreamland state you find yourself having to deal with at the end of it.

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A Short Interlude

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A short interlude in England. Just four days. For a family occasion, as someone said to me, these days we all seem to meet up only for weddings and funerals. Unfortunately this was the latter, but keeping up with family is always a pleasure.

In amongst the preparations and faffing, we all managed to get out for a walk in the Sunday afternoon sun. At this time of year, afternoon sunlight (if you can get it) is lovely and hazy, wonderful for taking photos. Continue reading “A Short Interlude”

Chick chick chick chick chicken (lay a little egg for me)

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Our family has always had a bit of a thing about chickens. At least I think it has. Anyway, we’ve always had chickens, and at some point, when we were looking for a present (particularly for my mother,) we’d go with anything chicken-themed. Continue reading “Chick chick chick chick chicken (lay a little egg for me)”

We went a-foraging

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Autumn is my favourite season. I know I’ve said that before, and I’ve said it about other seasons. But autumn is absolutely my favourite. It’s the time when you can see nature at work around you, busy with the last push of productivity before winter sets in. It’s a great time to get out and nick gather or forage the wonderful goodies that nature puts out there for us. It seems that, for most people, foraging doesn’t really go beyond picking a few blackberries out of the hedges by the footpaths. But if you spent most of your childhood Octobers being dragged around the hedges looking for sloes and crab apples, you’ll be aware of how much more is out there. And I’m sure I only know a fraction of what’s available for the hard-core forager. Continue reading “We went a-foraging”

Villa Garzoni once more

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Autumn has set in again. As if we ever had a proper summer. Ha!
My kitchen smells of hot food cooking, my fingers smell of the cumin that I have been pounding in the mortar with the pestle (or was it in the pestle with the mortar?) There’s a bag of apples on the floor to be dealt with, jars of stewed plums in the cupboard, a bowl of stolen foraged hazelnuts on the table, and I’ve already dealt with the first excess of squash. My to-knit list is underway and growing, and all thoughts of light sleeveless tops to sew have been replaced with more sensible three-quarter to full length sleeved thoughts.

It seems to be a good time to remember that, although the summer never quite reached Switzerland, we did seek further south, and found her, living it up in Italy. Continue reading “Villa Garzoni once more”

Respect your Elders: Two Ideas for How.

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It’s just about the middle of the elderflower season here. Since any blossom is only out for a short time, the differences in timing across the country is quite stark. For example at the weekend we took a wander up the hill (these are Swiss hills, you understand, not little English mounds,) to a village that is 530 ft higher than the city, and their lilac was still in full bloom, whereas ours was more than a month ago. And my boyfriend’s parents had the peak of their elderflower season a good few weeks ago, and their village is a good 700 or so feet closer to sea level than I am.

But I digress. Every year, I see the flowers on the elder trees and bushes and I think “oh I must make some elderflower cordial / champagne / gin / vodka.” I love foraging, the idea of making scrumptious things from natural ingredients Continue reading “Respect your Elders: Two Ideas for How.”

A Weekend Walk and Wildflowers

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Since the sky is distributing rain like it’s going out of fashion, here’s a reminder for myself that good weather does occur sometimes. At the weekend we took a tram up to a village a couple of miles away and walked back. In something that looked like a war memorial garden (but obviously wasn’t) we took some pictures of my china-blue top. I’ll put them up in a few days. Continue reading “A Weekend Walk and Wildflowers”

Middle Spring

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Welcome back to the blog after my unofficial Easter break. There’s been a massive leap in the progression of spring in the 10 days that I was away. The leaves are no longer pretending that they’re just peering blearily out of the buds, and the blossom is prolific. Continue reading “Middle Spring”

The Best of Autumn

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So, autumn is sliding inevitably into winter. There are still leaves on the trees that I can see from my window as I type, the now-bare trees at the edges of the garden have protected the trees in the middle, but a few more strong winds and they’ll all be left standing with just their bark on a carpet of un-mown grass and fallen leaves. The leaves on the road don’t get much of a chance, they’re scarcely left a day before the Swiss de-clutter brigade is out to tidy them away. Heaven knows where they take them. Continue reading “The Best of Autumn”