Saturday, July 21, 2012
The council used to give this open space a regular crew cut leaving a flat, green, giant dog toilet. This year much of the field has been left to go wild. As a result the insect life is flourishing. I don't know if this is a result of the cutbacks but if it is we're all benefiting; a great diversity of wild life will be supported here now. At the edge of the field are large patches of nettles. These are the primary food source of many caterpillars including those of the comma, tortoiseshell and peacock. Intensive Post War herbicide use has led to a decline in our bee and insect population. Some insecticides are persistent in the environment and may have had long term impact on the bees.
Are there any natural meadows near you?
Monday, July 16, 2012
"What have you got there?" I asked.
"Elderflowers" she replied.
I sighed. She'd pilfered my stash.
Her husband who runs a restaurant makes elderflower jelly. This is what comes of living in a town with enterprising foragers; don't dally when it comes to harvesting your wild foods.
We were left with some really amazing big bunches of white flowers....right at the top of the trees. The next morning my husband and I and the loppers went out on a mission. Half an hour later I was balanced on his shoulders with loppers fully extended risking my life to reach the best blooms. I really don't like heights and in 20 years together I have never sat on my husband's shoulders so this just demonstrates the lengths I will go to to when I've put my mind to something.
Once you've nearly broken your neck getting hold of the flowers the actual making of the champagne is dead easy. I roughly followed a recipe, chucking the flowers, some cut up lemons, some sugar (and icing sugar because I didn't have enough granulated) and a little apple cider vinegar into a sterilised bucket then filling it up with water. I left it in a cool part of the house for a couple of days with a tea towel and piece of cardboard on top.
The next bit was a faff and a half. I had my plastic bottles lined up in the bath to sterilise them with sterilising fluid. I had a big jug of cooled boiled water to rinse them out afterwards. I scooped out all the lemons and flowers I could from the bucket. Then I filled a glass jug with the cloudy liquid and poured it through a tea towel (that had been rinsed in boiling water) into another bowl. This was to filter out any little bits that were left. I then poured this through a funnel into my bottles. When I had finished I left the bottles sitting out next to the washing machine with the tops just resting on them. I had read that it was a way of preventing the pressure from the gas building up and blasting them off. There was a whole thread of horror stories of broken glass and sticky liquid coating walls on the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall site. I was glad I decided to use plastic bottles. I told my husband about the loose-topped bottles. A couple of days later I came home to find him mopping up an inch of liquid from the floor next to the washing machine. There is something a little upside down about a wife being furious with her husband because he's spilled her home brew while putting a washing on. How times have changed. It's a wonder any of us can keep up.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
I am so incredibly busy at the moment and I'm sorry I've not had time to visit all of your blogs recently. I really miss them and look forward to catching up when I have a bit less on. I'm making a few new textile pieces to display in a cafe in the beautiful Alexandra Park and I've organised a Pom Pom Bomb for this Saturday. A lot of people look at me bemused when I say this. It just means making pom poms and decorating the park with them. Other news: the council did an inspection at the allotments. I'm still waiting for the summons to get my finger out but no letter has come. Does this mean my "messy", healthy, rather unconventional allotment/nature reserve has passed?!? I've got my second batch of elderflower champagne brewing in a bucket next to the washing machine; what a drama and a half that has turned out to be...deserves a whole post of it's own.
Hello to new followers and wow I'm blown away by the number of people visiting my blog these days. Enjoy!