Monday, 5 November 2012

Picking Sloes and Blackberries

We spent a chilly and slightly damp weekend in Ireland, just before Halloween,  but the weather did not prevent me from picking sloes and this week I plan to make some Sloe Gin!

I love  Autumn, the preparation for the cold of winter, making delicious supplies which will be here  for  both  family, and  as seasonal gifts for friends.

This week, as well as sloe gin, I plan to bake my Christmas cake, prepare some mincemeat and make various scrumptious chutneys.

Sloes are mini plums, which grow wild,
be careful when picking as the trees are very thorny!

Some times they can be tricky to pick out
well hidden behind the bare branches.

It's worth the hard work though, there is nothing
as wonderful as warming glass of sloe gin
after a long winter's walk.

The crop was sparse this year,
but I hope I have enough for three to four bottles.

Amazingly the blackberries were still around,
my sister in law made a scrumptious blackberry
and apple crumble.

And it was very wet...

So lots and lots...

of mushrooms

Sadly I didn't have an identification book with me
so left them well alone.

It was wonderful to come into the house
 out of the chill and damp
and sit by the fire

Or the range!

We were joined by some wonderful
Halloween characters

And had a cheerful, fun

 Halloween evening.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Decorating for Halloween

I love Halloween, there's something timeless and magical about it.  Perhaps it's because it's an ancient pre-Christian Celtic festival, and despite my English birth and upbringing I like to think I am spiritually celtic, with Scottish and Irish Grandparents I think I can justify the claim.

I enjoy having a small child who enters into the spirit of the day.  Yesterday she got up and dressed as a witch all day, a good, kind and beautiful witch of course.

We had a lovely lunch to which she had invited the other little girls in her class from school,  they all came dressed up too.

After lunch we went to Ham House to see the Halloween festivities there, and as well as doing a Halloween trail in the garden we spent a while in the kitchens.  While my daughter and her friend spent time 'cooking'  I was able to photograph the magnificent Pumpkins.

An orangey Halloween arrangement

As the girls were mainly in the dining room
I concentrated the decorations there

Lots of pumpkins and spiders

I do love the cobwebs, such great fun

And very effective

More Halloween/Autumnal decoration

Scary!  This was at Ham House

Amazing Pumpkins, all grown in the gardens of Ham House

Beautiful shapes, colours and textures


I'm not sure, but do you know if these are Medlars?
I really want to find some and make some preserves
but I think they are only grown in gardens, and are not
a cash crop?
Any ideas?