Summer Rituals

What a scorcher this summer is turning out to be. (Ha! It will probably start raining tomorrow and not stop for weeks.)

We’ve become almost continental, eating nearly every meal outside, leaving cushions out on chairs overnight instead of the usual routine of packing everything away in case it rains and closing the shutters each afternoon to keep the rooms cool.

The countryside around here is looking bleached as we haven’t had any rain since May and the dry spell combined with the hot sunny weather has dried up much of the vegetation.  Even the trees are beginning to look stressed.  There’s barely a blade of grass in the paddock above and around the farm it’s tinder dry so we’re vigilant for fires in the standing crops of wheat and barley as we wait for the crops to be ready to cut.

As summer progresses, so do the summer rituals of sweeping out the grain stores before harvest to make sure that no grain destroying weevil or beetle still lurks in the deepest recess, berries are picked for Slamseys Gin and there’s enough growing in the shared vegetable garden that we can sit down to an almost homegrown supper. Unfortunately, the summer ritual of marauding foxes in broad daylight has wiped out my hens and guineafowl and left only two ducks. I regularly holler and shout at foxes that I meet when I’m walking across the farm, but obviously not enough to frighten them away from the lure of a sitting duck.

Getting meals on the table at the moment is a bit of a pain as I have little enthusiasm for spending time in the kitchen at this time of year, though I can be persuaded to make a batch of Lemon Squash, which disappears at alarming speed.

Home-made lemonade (or lemon squash) is deliciously refreshing and so simple to make that at the start of summer, I rush off to buy some citric acid (hopeful that the pharmacy has restocked after the elderflower cordial rush) and set to work. A little bit of peeling, squeezing and stirring isn’t too taxing.

Should you want to make your own Lemon Squash, here’s the recipe.

Making lemon squash drawing


A refreshing cordial or squash, to dilute with still or sparkling water.

  • 4 lemons – peel and juice
  • 600 g granulated sugar
  • 25 g citric acid
  • 1 litre boiling water
  1. Remove the rind of the lemons with a vegetable peeler and put into a large bowl or jug with the sugar and citric acid. Add the boiling water, stir to dissolve the sugar and then add the lemon juice.
  2. Cover and leave somewhere cool overnight. Next day, strain out the peel and pour the lemon squash into sterilised bottles.
  3. Keep in the fridge for up to a month and dilute with water, soda water.

If you’d like pink lemonade, add a handful of deep red rose petals with the lemon peel.

Now I just have to pour myself a long drink of lemon squash and relax in the evening sunshine.