simple pleasures for August

abandoned secateurs

Clearing the decks.

The flower garden has peaked and is now filled with blooms in varying stages of decay. There are plants to cut back and seed heads to gather or shake around the flower beds.


Enjoying the transition to late summer.

The artichokes are turning from regal purple to autumnal brown


and the rhubarb is slowly wilting as its leaves are coloured with bright reds and yellows.

blackberry and lemon posset

Picking blackberries.

The first blackberries of the year have been picked from the short stretch in Great Forest field, where they ripen a week or so before the rest, to eat by the handful or use in new recipes.

iced plum gin


Drinking Iced Plum Gin.

We picked the first plums of the year, though not from our garden where the plums are still hard as rocks. Most of them are destined to make Slamseys Plum Gin but I managed to divert some to the kitchen for compotes and a rather tasty granita. For some reason, I’d never made granita before, which is rather foolish as it’s simple to make and tastes great, especially in a shot glass with Plum Gin poured over to make a sort of adult slushy drink.

What are your simple pleasures for August?

Are you looking forward to spring or making the most of summer days?

cow parsley

Simple pleasures for May

1 Take a walk outside.

public bridleway Slamseys Farm, Great Notley


In May, the English countryside is at its best. Everywhere is lush and verdant so that looking across the fields it seems that every shade of green is featured. Cow parsley fills the verges, the birds are singing and some days the sun shines too.

2 Smell the blossom.

apple blossom

The crab apple tree is so smothered in blossom that it looks like a bride on her wedding day but my favourite blossom in the garden is this pink blossom on the apple tree.

3 Visit the seaside.

Slamseys Rose Gin

The seaside out of season is a very different place to the seaside in the middle of summer being less crowded and quieter. And colder. This week, we dragged an Australian teenager to the Essex seaside at Mersea Island and I fear she was less than impressed. The tide was out so the view from the beach hut was of grassy sand, an expanse of mud leading to the water and a decommissioned power station and a wind farm across the estuary. Not quite Forty Baskets Beach. But we still dug holes and made sand castles on the beach, ate fish & chips and took home a pint of the tastiest prawns for supper.

Please excuse the product placement. We took the opportunity to take some photos of Beth’s gin and seem to have taken none of the sea.

4 Make

washing line bowl

Photograph courtesy of Elizabeth at

Make a basket like Elizabeth’s beautiful washing line baskets. At last I’ve found a way of using up all those pesky scraps of fabric that are stuffed into bags. I hoped that one day I’d find a use for the little fabric cords I made last year and finally I’ve found it by using Elizabeth’s technique to make a miniature basket.

miniature basket made with fabric cords

Naturally, the tiny basket is of little more use than the bare cords but I tell myself, it’s all about the process, rather than the finished object. Next on the list is a full sized version using washing line.

5 Spend time with family and friends.

Because, honestly, isn’t that the best pleasure in life?