I had been planning to make elderflower Vodka for weeks, since I saw the first Elderflower umbels begin to flower. I bought Vodka and waited for a lovely summers day to go out and gather some elderflowers. In came the rain, and the gales, and cold weather, Brrr, not going out in this!
Yesterday I noticed that most of the elderflowers were already finished and decided today would have to be the day, or it was all over for another year, and no elderflower vodka. This morning it was sunny and still, a perfect day, and I only needed to walk a short way from my door to find a small elderflower bush with a shady side which was less advanced than I’d seen out and about yesterday. Ten or so Umbels picked and back to my suntrap back garden.
So what else do I need? a Lemon, and a bottle of Vodka, 100g of sugar, and a glass jar.
I gently removed the flower heads from the stems, Elderflowers aren’t toxic but the wood and stems are, I don’t think I would poison anyone if I’d left the stems on but you just never know. I de-stem the flowers over a plate so I can check for foreign bodies or small creatures, which can be encouraged away or squashed according to preference. I encouraged some small creatures to depart, the ones who wouldn’t go got squashed.
On top of the flowers went the zest of a lemon, and a 100 grams of sugar, and a 75cl bottle of Vodka, (it should have been a Ltr but I only had a 75cl bottle) So only 75 cls of Elderflower vodka this year.
On top of the flowers I put 3 layers of greaseproof paper and the lemon slices, this is to hold the flowers under the vodka to stop them going brown and colouring the vodka.
I found the recipe at wild at heart foods, thanks and credit where it’s due.
note to self… next time cut the paper to fit the jar, 3 or 4 layers slightly offset, each tucked down the side of the jar slightly will hold the flowers down better. Some of the lemon slices can go under the paper, all of them is too many. I have made elderflower liqueur before, see :- Elderflower liqueur
We have lately enjoyed a little Holiday in The Lake District; myself, my Dearest and the 13 year old took a self catering break at Fallbarrow on the bank of Lake Windermere at Bowness.
After the recent heat wave I was trepidatious, the last 4 summers we have holidayed in the Lake District in August and the last 4 summers it has rained… and rained… and rained. Naturally I had very low expectations of this Holiday, so when the forecast was for rain, was I surprised? Not at all! Thankfully, it rained mostly through the night, we enjoyed our holiday in sunshine and warmth. Except for Wednesday; that day it rained … and rained… We made the mistake of walking into Bowness during a short lull in the weather, by the time we returned we were soaked to the undergarments, rain ran through my hair off my head and down my neck, my new showerproof jacket proved showerproof does not cut it. In the Lakes you need serious wet weather gear, even in August.
One thing I did manage to do was a little retail therapy, you wouldn’t expect bargains in the Lake District, it can be a very expensive tourist trap if you don’t know where to shop, thankfully I do.
You do get a better class of Charity shop in the Lakes, clothing is often a good buy, many good labels not seen in your average charity shop, but being rather chubby at the moment, well a lot chubby actually, I’m trying to avoid admitting what size I am by not buying clothes. The new jacket was a “girl can’t help it “ moment. You should see the lining! A watermelon pink jacket with royal blue and watermelon satin lining, I just had to. (and it was in the sale)
So Thanks to the British Heart Foundation in Bowness I bought two lovely wine glasses, not very old, not crystal but only £2.50 for a pair, bargain. I like to have nice things, but I have a problem with Glassware, My Dearest is the dishwasher in our household, and is pathologically incapable of being careful with glassware, consequently glasses don’t last long in our house. I don’t think I have any without chips in the rims. I could just buy cheap and cheerful and not worry about it, but life’s too short to put up with cheap and ugly when you don’t have to. I’m always on the lookout for nice glasses and don’t mind buying odd ones, after all a set of 6 can very easily become a solitary one with my Beloved at the sink.
In Keswick the following Day Oxfam rendered two unused, hand embroidered pillowcases, with raised Stumpwork, too good to be used for sleeping on; I think I may cut them up to make something else out of, not sure what yet, but they are fine quality cotton, £2 each, you can’t buy polycotton supermarket basics for that price. I also bought two lovely handkerchiefs, yuk you may be thinking, but these are not for blowing one’s nose on, these are for ladies to delicately dab moist eyes with, one is of fine cotton with hand made Tatting applied to the edge, it is fairly basic tatted lace edging but pretty and cost me a £1. The other is even finer Victorian linen, with Whitework embroidery. It wasn’t priced, I happily paid 49p.
Next I bought two fat quarters of blue quilting fabric with snowflakes and sparkly bits for a £1 each, two cotton reels for 50p each and a beautiful Victorian doily with the most exquisite fine crochet lace for £2, It needs starch and a good press but it is really pretty. All were found at a Vintage fair we stumbled upon in Coniston, and then round the corner in the Post Office I found a bag of cotton reels being sold at 40p each; mostly Orange. As we have already established I don’t DO orange I bought the only green, and one orange still in it’s wrapper, and then regretted not buying them all, I’d run out of cash and the ATM was out too.
And finally from Age UK in Windermere, a plate, I’m not sure what kind of plate it is, probably from a mid Victorian fruit set; it is about 9” wide and hand painted, the little sprigs of flowers are transfer printed, but then hand coloured, the cobalt blue and the gilding is hand painted, there’s no maker’s mark. She’s rather rubbed and past her prime but I think she’s lovely in a faded kind of way and well worth £3 for such a venerable old lady. She will look lovely on the table piled with summer fruits.
So as I was saying, my Dearest and I had come to the conclusion that if we were to get any fun out of the coming weekend we had to put fun first. It was going to be sunny on Saturday and Sunday , but then pour with rain all day Monday, (typical Whitsuntide Bank Holiday then!), and probably Tuesday as well since I’d booked a day’s leave to take my Dad to a hospital appointment.
Saturday was to be fun day. I called my sister and planned to take her with us but she had better things to do, which is OK. Getting My Dearest out of bed, dressed, medicated and ablutions performed before lunchtime is always a challenge at the weekend, so we set off for the Lake District by 12.00, picnic packed and fuel tank filled. We took my little precious, my Mazda MX5, top down, hats firmly attached to heads and, in my case at least, sun block applied.
There is an easy walk I’m very fond of from Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge, it’s not more than 2 and a half miles and flat most of the way and yet it passes from Lakeland village to babbling brook and marshy ground, from ancient Beech wood, to open meadows full of wild flowers and sheep, a Lake with distant views of the Langdales, and then more Beech wood with cascading waterfalls, and finally to a very nice café with retail therapy opportunity for the very long of pocket.
I poked round in the shop, admiring the pretty things I had neither wherewithal nor intention to buy, while my Dearest considered whether there was anything on the menu he might eat, there rarely is in these expensive and rarefied places, he won’t eat anything he can’t pronounce.
Then we wandered down to the bridge itself, sat on a slate bench under a majestic mature Beech tree whose leaves were all newly opened and as perfect as they could be, and unpacked our picnic.
Then walked back the way we had come, there are other walks which can be taken from Skelwith Bridge, and perhaps next time we’ll trek back another way but I wanted more time in that Bluebell wood, and to enjoy the wild flowers en route.
We called in at Ambleside on our way home for coffee, I scored two more 100% cotton checked shirts in the Oxfam charity shop, £2 each, bargain. We returned home tired and someone a little sun burned, but having had a Day Out.
How do you photograph a quilt properly without a quilt stand? One might well ask! It’s a conundrum we were faced with on Saturday. Having decided that I needed to have good, well lit, clear photos of my quilts and having tried to take photos in the house, on the bed, I decided that I needed to take the quilts outside and hang them properly, in daylight.
But hang them on what? After a very frustrating morning trying various Heath Robinson contraptions we settled on a pair of step ladders, each with an extending arm (wooden pole) gaffer taped in place and drilled to take a cable tie, supporting two pieces of wooden dowel (broom handle), joined by a piece of plastic water pipe. This particular solution took one trip to B&Q and several trips to raid Dad’s garage and cost in total, not counting the shoe leather or diesel, the princely sum of £2.09. Compared to £150 to import a quilt stand from the USA, that’s a bargain.
OK so the hanging pole sagged a bit in the middle, I think if I needed to do this again I’d need a metal tube to join the dowels, or alternatively borrow a quilt stand…..hmm if only I had planned that in advance.
The weather forecast was for sunshine, so thankfully it barely rained at all, only one quilt was rained on, Shhhh don’t tell my Mother it was one of her’s…(see “Golden wedding quilt”), we were exhausted by the end of the day, up and down the ladders, quilt up, quilt down, “don’t let it touch the muddy floor!” After all that effort you would think we would be pleased with the result, but no, my Dearest now decided to go all Arty Photographer on me and declared that none of the shots we had were any good, the lighting wasn’t right and they’d all need to be done again, on the bed with different lighting.
Nuts to that!
I’m so glad we didn’t leave the photography till today, because it has rained… and rained… and rained… and rained, the garden is awash, and the weather forecast is for more rain, wind and snow, in October.