Thursday, June 30, 2016

Preserving Time, again!

Ox mountain, Co. Sligo
The summer Solstice has come and gone, we are now over half way through the year, time is flying and fruit is ripening fast. We have been eating strawberries for the past ten weeks from the tunnel now
Lots of soft fruit.
it's the turn of the Cambridge favourite which are in the garden and the raspberries. We are picking around a pound and a half of strawberries every other day and around a pound of raspberries every other day,
The first strawberries bottled and one jar of juice to use with homemade ice-cream.
too many to eat so Strawberries are being bottled, or canned if you live across the pond. The raspberries are being frozen. Soon it will be the turn of the Gooseberries and this year we will have them instead of the blackbirds as they are now protected by a netting tunnel. Preparing for the Gooseberries I have now made a second batch of Elderflower cordial, some of this has been frozen into ice cube trays, I will then add two cubes to each bag of gooseberries, or two cubes to each jar if I bottle some.  Elderflower gives a different dimension to Gooseberries and also to Rhubarb.
Specially for Donna here is a step by step guide for making Elderflower cordial.
Elder flowers.
Pick your flowers preferably in the morning when it hasn't been raining, allow thirty large heads per batch. Remove all the individual flowers removing as much of the tiny stems as possible, the stems and leafs are mildly toxic.
Flowers detached from the stems.
Place the flowers in a large bowl,
Add zest and juice from four lemons,
add the zest and peel of four Organic lemons (or unwaxed lemons) add two pounds of sugar and three pints of boiling water, stir vigorously to dissolve the sugar, leave overnight. Next day strain the mixture through fine muslin, and bottle in sterilised bottles. I don't add citric acid although many recipes say to use it,  it gives me indigestion, I use plastic bottles which can be frozen. you can also freeze the cordial in ice cube trays to use with gooseberries or Rhubarb. It will keep for a long time if frozen, but if you use citric acid and stored in the fridge it will only keep for a few weeks.
I am also going to try freezing the flowers to make more cordial later on in the year, I don't know if this will work or not, this is the one time Google has let me down.
A few days ago I received a parcel from one of my blogging friends in the US containing a real bees wax candle for me to make furniture polish, a jar of wonderful smelling rose balm which my hands are greatly appreciating,
Freddie made the first inspection.
and six real catnip toys,
One cat on a high.
the cats have had a wonderful time with their toys,
Next came Susy.
I wish we could get the real Nepeta here but we seem to only have the blue flowering type,
Then Misty entered the mix.
not the white which is the one that sends cats into ecstasy. So again, many thanks Carole.
Ducklings at three weeks.

The ducklings are growing well and enjoying being outside, but they do make such a mess. Their drinking water is used as a bath and has to be change four times a day.
Connemara mare and foal. 
It seems that this is the time of year that horses give birth, we have seen several mares with
Our neighbours horses.
very young foals in the last week,
I think foals are so cute, they seem to be all legs.
The gardens are looking very colourful and the roses are now in full bloom,
I love the Albertine rose, and the way it has merged with the purple prunus
and also with the Solanum crispum, ( potato vine), such a shame that the rose is so prickly.
I have a three week holiday from the pottery class, unfortunately my teacher has various shows to attend, Friday is now quite boring,
I did manage to complete a vase based on Troika, it worked out quite well and is great to display flowers in. I have another similar one on the go, and then my next project is a Moorcroft type vase. For this I have to make a mould, so I'm making that out of papier-mâché , whatever you use as a mould has to be porous, the three weeks will probally go quickly, then it will be back to normal.
We are still trying to get our heads around the Brexit vote, and it would appear that we are now stateless persons. Although still British passport holders we were not allowed to vote as we have been out of the country too long, neither can we vote in any Irish referendums, only in local and general elections, when votes really don't count. Despite the Brexit campaign being led by BoJo who was tipped to be the next Tory leader, he has not entered the race, now what in heavens name is that all about? It seems that the pantomime season has come early this year. I wonder where we will all be this time next year, will there even still be a United kingdom although an oxymoron to call it United, let alone an EU. It looks like England is as good at politics as they are at football. Interesting times.
I love the colour of this Delphinium.
They are very tall and have to be staked.
Suzy and Tommy.

Freddie supervising.


  1. A very productive time, I love preserving, so good to just be able to pull a jar of summer out of the cupboards in the cold winter.
    Love your vase, perfect for Roses.

    1. There never seems to be enough hours in the day at this time of year.
      I love the vase as well, it's a great shape for flowers.

  2. Ha ha, cats do like to rest in the most inappropriate places, don't they? We used to have a cat and I remember him loving catnip, it used to send him in to raptures.

    1. Freddies favourite place in in the hand basin in our bedroom's en-suite, it fits him nicely! I think we have one plant of the real catnip the seed was sent to us from the U.S

  3. Looks like paradise on your little patch of the world. General Election today and Tom is voting for the first time. The polling booth is across the road at the school so little Tilly is going nuts barking at every passerby. Its difficult to honor my one little vote that many fought for when no one is worth voting for.

    1. It's a great place to grow stuff Linda, warm and damp. I think all countries should adopt the Australian voting system, make it compulsory to vote even if there is no one worth voting for. Do you have the option to mark the voting slip 'None of the Above'?

    2. Its called a Informal Vote. Yes, once your name is manually marked off the ROLL it becomes anonymous and so you can write what you want. Surprisingly only 3% of all votes are deemed to be informal. Having recently watched the movie Suffragettes i did try to honor my hard won vote.

  4. I didn't know that about Nepeta - I always wondered why our cats (UK and now here) are always so 'meh' about supposed catnip toys. Take 'em or leave 'em. Now I know.

    Our take on Brexit, rightly or wrongly, is that it will never actually happen. The politicos on both sides are back pedalling, deserting or running for cover so fast that I think no-one will actually be brave enough to press that big scary "Article 50" button. They will prevaricate, swerve and have discussions about discussions about scope of negotiations and who should be on the team, that years will creep by and then they will be able to go to the country on a manifesto saying "We'll stop all this malarkey". That will make the Referendum redundant and everyone will have forgotten who made the original promises anyway. We may get civil unrest, but I don't think anyone has the stomach for an actual exit.

    1. In some countries it is illegal to grow the true cat nip as it can give a high to humans as well as cats! We think we have one plant, the seeds were sent to us from the same person who sent the cat toys.
      I do hope that you and Liz are right about Brexit but I doubt it, what ever happens it makes for interesting times. I think the biggest problem is that the UK has made it's self a pain in the butt to other European countries and they will be pleased to see the back of the UK!

  5. Beautiful roses and Delphiniums and a lovely vase! I have so much of your blog to catch up on it looks like you have been very very busy! Lauren

  6. Thanks Lauren, yes we do keep busy.