Wednesday, 14 July 2010
A few weeks ago amidst all the sunshine and flowers (before all the petals falling from the leaves in the rain) some friends came round for an evening, It was quite a last minute thing and it was such a hot day that we just couldn't bring ourselves to go to the supermarket. So Mr Roses trotted off to the local Turkish shop to buy all manner of things - olives, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes etc and popped into the offy for a bottle of Pimms. I set to work making some Greek salad and chopping up a melon we had in the fridge, I knew the kids would want something sweet and treaty so I made some cupcakes and, because it was such a perfect summer's evening and reminded me of summer's evenings when I was little. I decided to make some rose petal syrup to add to the icing. Oh how I love collecting the petals and filling the house with the gentle scent of rose, so so many memories for me. The cakes were a success, not too sweet and just rosy scented enough not to be too cloying, or maybe by then the Pimms had set in...
We have this year been making a concerted effort to grow more veg in the garden. I bought Mr Roses a raised bed and polytunnel and all the gubbins for his birthday and we have been feasting (or rather, sharing with the slugs and snails) on salads and chard and strawberries. The other week I caught sight of our first courgette flower which was just so beautiful. I was tempted to fry it in batter but couldn't bring myself to for fear of no others appearing and a complete lack of courgettes. I shouldn't have worried, the plant hasn't stopped flowering every since and we are looking forward to 101 ways to cook a courgette...
At the end of June, lovely Emma from Sew Recycled joined me on our second elderflower picking excursion. Following last year's adventures, who knew that picking elderflowers could be such fun, we decided to give it a go again.
This time we chose a swelteringly hot day to saunter up onto the Downs and whilst the scenery looked beautiful bathed in the sunshine, it did make us even slower than usual, or was that just all the nattering I wonder?
Emma, fully armed
Armed with our secateurs, bucket, walking sticks and gloves we braved the nettles and hills and set forth. It wasn't the heat that was worrying us as much as the thought of the grass snakes which explains why we were found every few minutes to be tapping the ground noisily with those walking sticks - Indiana joneses we are not!
It was hot and thirsty work and we had a lot of catching up to do, so as soon as our buckets were half full we sat in the shade with a bottle of ginger beer and some baklava that our friends had brought to our rose cupcakes and Pimms evening. It wasn't quite Enid Blyton with the baklava but the ginger beer made us giggle and it was good to be chewing the cud with my lovely friend again.
Once more the day ran away with us and we were up against it time wise to get the elderflowers steeping in the sugary syrup before we had to collect our children from school. Once more we grappled with the measurements and finer details but felt confident that all would be well.
The next day Emma came round for the grand bottling. Armed this time with doughnuts we were prepared. Perhaps we did not have enough mishaps as we did last time round but the one huge mistake was pouring the sweet sticky ambery liquid into the bottles whilst eldest daughter was in the shower. Under strict instructions from her, not to turn on the hot tap, we were left covered in sticky sugary syrup for what seemed an age, the taps were sticky the work surfaces too - so that's another thing we've learnt for next year.
However, the rewards were sweet, very sweet and lemony and flowery. We took the first two glasses with our doughnuts into the garden, sat on the bench and enjoyed the fruits of our labour. Mmmm, here's to next year!