Monday, 10 June 2019

Strawberry Powered Bike Rides

This year's Elderflower Cordial has been Pasteurised and safely bottled, tanks to my daughters efforts.
At the time I was too busy, brewing up a double batch of Elderflower Champagne, it always seems to go too quickly.
We had a blissful half term holiday, camping and cycling in France. We did not realise initially, but it was the week before the D Day 75th anniversary, and there was a great deal of preparation going on. 
We spent most of our time on our bikes; the French do know how to make perfect cycle paths and networks. We would cycle from one town to another, along peaceful, nature laden pathways, without a single car in sight.
On one of our cycle trips, we spotted a large patch of Wild (Alpine) Strawberries, so we called a short rest break. We proceeded to feast our faces on these delicate little juicy fruits, before setting off again, fully rejuvenated.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Bluebells Blossom & Beltain

I once before wrote a post here called Blossom, Beltain and a beautiful game. That was quite a while ago and then Saint's were moving from the Championship into the Premiership. Since that time they have just about stayed up.
The Bluebells are looking magnificent this year and it's well worth taking a lovely, long walk through a local wood, simply for the pleasure of gazing on this wonder.
I have spotted early Elderflowers, waving their blousy, citrus blooms to herald the onset of Summer. Yes, that's right, the warm season will soon be upon us and I'm already wearing my shorts in preparation.
Plums are gradually fattening on the branches, Hawthorn is flowering in the hedgerows and everything is growing like crazy.
This year, as normal, I will be visiting Butser Ancient Hill Farm, with the children for Beltain. The celebration culminates with burning of their truly massive Wicker Man; the kids have been, quite literally, looking forward to it all year.




Friday, 1 March 2019

Spring Blows Hot and Cold

February was playing games. It was frosty, it was foggy and it has also been unseasonably sunny and warm.
We have been out in hats coats and gloves and we have been out in shorts and t-shirts.
Plum Blossom is filling the hedgerows with a white bloom, Blackthorn and Hawthorn will soon follow. 
Meanwhile Daffodils and Crocus are painting the road sides and gardens. Flashes of colour to fill in between the new growth of trees and bushes.
We have been on some lovely walks, including down Hurst Spit and around the Keyhaven nature reserve. 
When the sun has been hot and the tide good, we have been messing about on the river with boats from St. Deny's Boat Club.
 
March looks set to start with a good old fashioned storm. How it will turn out after that, only time will tell, but I hope the prevailing wind stays Southwesterly.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Signs of Spring

As I ride my bike to work, through the February weather every day, I notice changes, over time, in the roadside foliage. I think about what might be growing there in a few months and I make a mental note to check back on my prospects in the Summer.
Winter & Spring is always a lean time for foragers, especially those of the Urbane persuasion. So to entertain myself during the cold dark periods I like to test out my home made drinks and preserves to see how they are maturing. I was delighted with my Ransom Capers
My Elderberry Wine seems effective at staving off the colds, the Walnuts and Hazelnuts are great for baking or simply nibbling, the Cider and Apple juice is still lovely, and the Grape wine has matured into a perfectly tolerable rose. 
So, to keep you amused during the Winter/Spring months, Dear Reader, here is a fun quiz, to get you thinking about the hedgerows in your own area...
  1. Identify the tree & flower images on this page
  2. Work out if they will deliver anything edible. 
  3. Work out the time of year that you would harvest and produce.
  4. Plan what you could make from the available bounty.