Iris flowers

Friday cocktail: Raspberry Fizz

garden in May

FIVE reasons to drink a Raspberry Gin Fizz this evening

It’s Friday

It’s a beautiful hot sunny Friday

It’s a beautiful hot sunny Friday and the garden is in flower

It’s a beautiful hot sunny Friday and rain is forecast for Bank Holiday Monday

I can think of no good reason not to drink a Raspberry Gin Fizz this evening

Should you wish to drink one too

Slamseys raspberry gin with elderflower presse

Pour a generous measure of Slamseys Raspberry Gin into a pretty glass

Drop in a few cubes of ice

Top up the glass with Elderflower Pressé or Elderflower Tonic Water or better still, home-made Elderflower Fizz.

Decorate with a slice or wedge of lemon.

Stir gently. Sip. Enjoy.

Need a recipe for Elderflower Fizz? You’ll find one here

Need more ideas for Raspberry Gin cocktails? There’s lots here

Have a relaxing weekend.

An Ordinary Week

Reading blogs from around the world and particularly prompted by Sarah’s post Finding Your Normal, makes me aware of just how differently we live. Your normal, ordinary day is my extraordinary. Sarah knits with a lamb by her side as she waits for her cheese to set; Glenda has bucket loads of passion fruit to deal with whereas I buy a few at 60 pence each to use sparingly; Jane deals with heat and looks across a red, dusty landscape; Sam gazes from her home across an ever changing seascape …

Here’s a glimpse of an ordinary week at Slamseys. Nothing exciting. Just the normal day to day. But possibly quite different to yours.

oilseed rape crop


I walk past this field of oilseed rape each day and have watched it grow from tiny seeds, been grazed by marauding pigeons and finally it has burst into flower. The poles carry the high voltage power lines that make up the National Grid, which are a pesky nuisance for tractors to negotiate around when they’re in the middle of fields but remarkably handy when you want to turn on the lights.


Miss Rachel's Yoke sweater


I try to always have something on my knitting needles but am between projects at the moment since I finished this sweater (Miss Rachel’s Yoke  from Kate Davies). This sweater was straighforward to make as it was knitted in the round and only needed real concentration for the patterning on the yoke.


ducks waiting to be fed


The ducks waiting to be fed. Some days, they decide they can wait no longer and come to the kitchen window to chivvy me along. Before I kept ducks, I imagined they would spend most of their time on the pond, but instead they wander all over the place. Last week, I found them marching down the chase headed for the road and a few years ago they ended up sitting on the central reservation of the nearby dual carriageway.

rusty duck



Every day, when I shut up the ducks, I walk past a building with doorways that have been blocked with rusting metal panels. As I waited for one of the ducks, who was waddling particularly slowly that day, I noticed this little duck in the rust. How apt.


Slamseys Blackcurrant Cooler


Drinking a tot of gin at the weekend seems a perfectly normal and sensible thing to do, especially when Beth needs tasters for some product development. This Slamseys Blackcurrant Cooler looks set to be my favourite during this spell of warm, sunny May weather.

Easy to make and oh so easy to sip.


Slamseys Blackcurrant Cooler

2 shots Slamseys Blackcurrant Gin
1 shot fresh lime juice
Ginger Beer

Drop some ice cubes into a highball glass and pour in the Slamseys Blackcurrant Gin and lime juice.

Top up with ginger ale and garnish with a wedge of lime or a sliver of cucumber.

Find a sunny spot in the garden and enjoy.

What’s your normal, ordinary? Do share.

If you want to know more about oilseed rape, you might be interested in Fields of Gold, which explains why it’s grown and what it’s used for.




In My Kitchen – March 2015

In my kitchen …

making blood orange jelly

… making blood orange jellies with orange and lemon juice, sugar, water and some gelatine leaves with a splash or two of Slamseys Marmalade Gin. A perfect mid-week pudding when we just want a spoonful or two of something sweet.

In my kitchen …

English muffins

… muffin making. Not sweet American muffins but proper English muffins made with yeasted dough, cooked on the girdle where they puff up before your eyes. We twist them open and toast them to eat with a generous spreading of butter and jam or a poached egg. If I was trying to impress then I could have made hollandaise sauce so that we could have Eggs Benedict, but instead we sandwiched the egg between each half so that the egg yolk ran down our chins when we bit into it.

In my kitchen …

giant jaffa cakes

… making giant Jaffa cakes. I know, why would you, when it’s easy to buy a packet. Well, sometimes it’s fun to try. Of course there were comparisons. Why isn’t there a little hump where the orange jelly goes? Why have you used marmalade? They’re a bit soft for Jaffa cakes. A work in progress.

In my kitchen …

vegetable garden March

… the view from the kitchen window. The soil is too wet and cold to do much with at the moment so mostly I just dash out to dig some leeks or to empty the compost bin. But soon it will be spring and there’ll be lots to do. Meanwhile, I’m happy to potter in the kitchen at the weekend.

Once again, I’m joining in with Celia’s In My Kitchen series at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial as we tour the world to see what everyone has in their kitchen this month. If you have the time, check out some of the different blogs that are listed on Celia’s page.

Autumn days

Lately, we’ve been …

autumn leaves

… 1 enjoying autumn leaves. I wonder whether I shall ever reach the age when kicking autumn leaves is no longer a joy. I do hope not.




… 2 picking sloes to make Sloe Gin. It’s proving to be a bumper year for sloes around here and it’s good to get the sloes picked on mild autumn days as I hate going out on freezing winter mornings when the bushes are wet and fingers chill to the bone as we pick. The sloes are already ripe and some are beginning to fall from the bushes so we’ve been out in force to pick them before it’s too late.


… but not enjoying the vicious thorns of the blackthorn. Look carefully and you can see the thorns, ready to catch the unwary hand plunged into the bush in search of the fattest, juiciest sloes.



… 3 enjoying the quiet decay of the garden in autumn. The rhubarb has finally keeled over, the leaves now draped over the edges of the bed as they quietly rot away. The beans have been taken down and the canes put away until spring, the last of the peas picked and the pumpkins cut and left to dry with the rampaging vegetation pulled up and composted. I rather like this time of clearing away and tidying up, though I confess that I’m not that diligent and there’s quite a lot that’s just left to go to seed and stand forlorn through winter.




… 4 wondering what on earth I’m going to do with the pumpkins. We have only three pumpkins from our plants but they’re enormous and  I could feed (almost) half of Braintree with this one alone. I hear the call of Pumpkin Soup and Pumpkin Ice Cream but so far I’m just enjoying the sight of the pumpkins sitting out in the garden chairs, like old ladies taking in the sunshine.


Blackcurrant Gin, butterscotch bars, pears


… 5 enjoying some autumnal food. Pears from the garden that have just hit the perfect ripeness; Butterscotch bars studded with walnuts and chocolate; a hot toddy of Blackcurrant Gin with a little lemon juice, honey and a splash of hot water (an almost virtuous drink with all that vitamin C and goodness).

Are you enjoying autumn days or are you bursting into springtime? Whichever, have a good weekend.



a glorious week

roses growing over arch

When the first job of the day is to go into the garden to pick roses (for Slamseys Gin), I don’t think life can get much better. Added to that, we’ve had a glorious week of hot, sunny days, partied all weekend in marquees set in beautiful gardens, watched the Lions and Andy Murray to victory, walked in glorious countryside and harvested fruit and vegetables from the garden. I should perhaps add that in this Pollyanna mode, I’m ignoring the fact that the fox ate another of my hens, the weeds are rampaging through the garden, the washing is piled up, the housework is neglected and there’s a heap of paperwork on my desk that needs attention.

Brasted Hill

This glorious week started with a few days walking. Having finished the Norfolk Coast Path, we’ve started to walk The North Downs Way that follows the chalk ridge across the south east of England for 153 miles, from Farnham in Surrey to Dover on the Kent coast.


We walked in the shade of woodland, through vineyards and across open downs, dropped down to cross rivers at the bottom of the valley and climbed back up to the ridge. Along the way, at the edge of a wood we found a cottage, with smoke curling up from the chimney pot and I fancied  that at any moment Little Red Riding Hood would come tripping along basket in hand to visit Grandma inside the cottage. Bill thought I was completely bonkers. No change there.

tree house North Downs WayWe passed make believe houses hidden in trees

 Inglis Folly, Colley Hilland ate lunch in grand follies. Life slowed down for a few days. We journeyed on foot or buses and trains, ignored the emails and just enjoyed the surroundings. If you’re planning to walk this route, there’s some brief notes about our days here.

When we returned home the garden had sprung to life. This is the first week that we’ve been able to sit down to a supper that’s entirely home produced. Scotch eggs, new potatoes, salads of beetroot, carrot, peas and rocket followed by gooseberry compote. No matter how simple the food, there’s nothing better than eating a meal that (mostly) was still growing half an hour beforehand with a vase of flowers freshly picked from the garden to decorate the table.

Slamseys Strawberry Gin

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I must help make this Rose Petal Gin. And then, as we have some freshly picked strawberries in the kitchen and basil growing in the greenhouse, we may need to celebrate this glorious week with a Strawberry Gin & Tonic with basil leaves and black pepper.