In celebration of Elderflower cordial – Thanks Mary Berry for Inspiring this post!
My parents were both keen wine makers and I remember a day, when I lived in Worthing, West Sussex, where I ventured out on my bike and stumbled across an avenue of Elder trees, all bearing these beautifully scented white blooms. I picked several bunches, dried them out and it did indeed make a very pleasing wine. It was these fond memories which inspired a countryside scene in my latest book, ‘Pleasures’ Book 3 of my series, which I am working to have finished by the end of the year. So I included an extract below:
“Before anyone had a chance to feel melancholy, they continued their hike – where the footpaths circumnavigated a vista of undulating fields, enclosed within hedgerows. In contrast to the devastation William had witnessed before, the vegetation around them had burst into life – the hedges lush with foliage and cow parsley, whilst a profusion of creamy, scented elder blossoms graced the slender branches of trees. Lucy momentarily paused to admire them – explaining how the delicate blooms made a particularly pleasing cordial, as well as a fine summer wine. She and Joshua would be returning here to gather some, over the next few days.
Her love of the countryside was infectious and Margaret soon found herself completely absorbed, as she finally saw the landscape through different eyes. Elijah too, who had recently turned 15, found himself just as captivated. This was after all, the place he’d grown up as a boy, compelled to push aside those darker memories of a time when Eleanor sped back here – shortly followed by the nightmare of his near capture. They were approaching the woods, encircling the grounds of Westbourne House. The path wound its way towards a stile, which they clambered over in turn. On this occasion however, the woods were cleared of fallen timber; the few trees, left standing, allowed the sunlight to permeate through the gaps in long, hazy shafts, illuminating the grass, which lay scattered with a few withering blue bells.
“It looks better, than the last time we came,” William explained, as they followed the path through the wood. Eventually, it trailed its way towards the gate on the other side.
By the time they exited the wood, they could clearly see Herbert’s farm again. But the far side of the forest had now been completely excavated – the ground cleared of any remaining fauna, the earth ploughed and flattened in readiness to be sewn with grass seed.
“It’s going to be so much easier to manage,” William found himself explaining a little later.
Toby had briefly explained how they intended to use their new land for grazing stock – intent on putting some goodness back into the soil, before turning it over to crops. Then, finally, he invited them into their homely farmhouse for a drink.
Straight away, Amber had found a bottle of elder flower cordial, which she uncorked and sloshed into a glass jug. Its floral taste was wonderfully refreshing – and the kids had agreed that, if they had time, it would be a pleasure to help Lucy gather some, on their walk back to the caravan.
It was a good half hour, before they gradually set off again, this time, armed with a wicker basket, loaned from Amber – pausing at intervals, to pluck flat bunches of blossoms from the over-hanging branches. They chose a slightly different route home – and after the exertion of their steady up-hill climb, they ambled their way back along the farm track which led to the road.”
This is an early draft of PLEASURES in its embryonic stages. Hope to deliver another fast paced story soon.