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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The Remains of 2014 – Guston

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Here are a couple of jumpers that were finished around Christmastime. The first is Guston by Anne Budd, which was intended to be for The Boy’s birthday, and officially it was, but it didn’t make it off the needles until shortly before Christmas. The cold season here has only really started since I’ve been back after Christmas anyway, so no harm done. Continue reading “The Remains of 2014 – Guston”

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”

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.”

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”

Spicy Roasted Squash Soup

I’m still clinging to the squash season, there are two of my autumn squash hoard left, sitting outside my window keeping cool (well, pretty cold now, actually.)

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Since the snow’s set in (although just a light dusting by Swiss standards, it would be enough to constitute a fall of a good 20% in the British economy…) it’s great to have something easy to warm up at lunchtime, and this does the job nicely for me. You can add extra tabasco for more of a kick, but this is just right for my taste buds. Continue reading “Spicy Roasted Squash Soup”

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”