Monday, 25 August 2014

A sloe day

Its a rainy and surprising dark August Bank Holiday Monday and I've been pottering around the house tidying up after quite a busy weekend.  The house is filled with stocks, one of my very favourite flowers, as it was my birthday last week and between Mr C and my family, I've been entirely spoiled.

We were very lucky with the weather yesterday as we went sloe and blackberry picking.  Although we didn't expect to be picking sloes until next month, it seems a lot of berries are early this year.  We found a blackthorn bush which was heavy laden with berries which were all very ripe.
Sloes are one of those fruits that aren't particularly useful for the usual things like crumbles and pies and eating.  Anyone who has tried eating one will testify that they aren't sweet and pleasant.   However, we plan to make some sloe gin this year and were determined to get some, and luckily my brother in law knew of a great place!  We managed to pick almost ten pounds of sloes in about an hour, leaving a lot of sloes behind still.  I did wonder how many people pick sloes each year?

We have taken our half of the sloes and washed and frozen them.  By freezing them, we will not need to individually prick every single berry when we come to make our sloe gin.

After filling our buckets we also picked about three pounds of blackberries.  If any berry can claim to be the best and most readily available free food, it has to be the blackberry.  Brambles will take over every patch of ground if left alone, including our garden.  The positive to having this painfully prickly, almost invasive plant is the wonderful berries that appear each summer and autumn.
The is something quite magical and beautiful about the blackberry.  It always evokes childhood memories of blackberry picking or of blackberry and apple crumble.  Nature provides so well this time of year.  The hawthorns were also laden with haw berries, although after having made haw sauce before (and the amount of work it takes to de-stone a haw berry!), we decided against picking any.  This beautiful insect was found amongst the hawthorn, it looked as if it was made of copper.
On a rainy day like today it seems that Autumn isn't far off, although I'm sure the weather will change again.  It is a day for staying inside and remembering bank holidays where it rained all day and I watched old films with Cary Grant, Doris Day and James Stewart... 

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