The roses are blooming with gay abandon. I adore roses and have planted many in our homes in the last decade. They're really getting into their stride now. Here in London, they seem to like the clay soil, and our home is filled with posies with their delicious scent. One of the better things I've done, is to plant a David Austin Gertrude Jekyll on the front of the cottage. This is a fabulous rose, I have one here at home, too. Very easy to care for, it flowers from the base and has a lovely fragrance and the quintessential pink many-petalled blooms. This one is planted in the tiniest little pocket of broken earth where the front path meets the cottage wall. It certainly doesn't seem to mind.
We spent last weekend in the West Country. We went to a vintage fair at Killerton House in Devon, mixed thoughts on that one. We managed to dodge the torrential downpours, at least. On Sunday, we popped via the heritage railway at Midsomer Norton and I was entranced by the 1948 bus in the yard. Sadly, we didn't have time for a ride.
We did manage a ride on the train. Proper cardboard tickets were in evidence. Marvellous!
On the way home through the meandering country lanes, I had my eyes peeled for treasure. A cry of "there's some" saw me veering into a lay-by and pushing out Mr HenHouse to get harvesting!
For 'tis the season for elderflower, don't you know, and we are rather partial to a spot of cordial. I use a recipe from the WI book of preserving; it's a simple matter of leaving the flowers to steep in a sugar and water solution, along with some lemon zest and juice.
The Mr has been doing a little harvesting of his own out in the garden. We never get a lot of strawberries as they take more watering and weeding than we can manage. The few we do get, we are very thrilled with and they taste amazing.
Now that the English strawberries are plentiful and relatively cheap in the shops, it was time to get jamming. I am an avid jam maker, I love cooking up a brew, like a witch with a big cauldron! But in the main, the fact is that no other jam will taste anything like homemade. Strawberry is tricky to set as the fruit lacks pectin. Rather than boil it for ages, which leads to loss of colour and flavour, I prefer to use jam sugar which has pectin added naturally from apples, and leads to a perfect set in under ten minutes.
Whilst all that boiling was going on, I couldn't resist nipping through the kitchen's French windows and into the garden. The patio is looking really pretty but I must confess to a touch of melancholy that we haven't really had the weather to be sitting out on it enjoying these precious long evenings.
Those roses were begging to be cut and brought indoors, still plenty left on the bushes.
Meanwhile, we women are used to multi-tasking aren't we? The elderflower cordial was ready for straining through it's muslin jelly bag. It's a sticky business!
It's been troubling me recently that I haven't been managing much on the crafting front. There are only so many hours in the day, I suppose. One thing I struggle with is balance. I find that when I start a larger project like a quilt, which is really my true love, I get quite obsessed with it. I like to have long stretches of time to work on such a project, I don't just want to do an odd hour here or there. This does rather mean I feel guilty about other things I feel I should be doing, though, and as such, it's been too long since I've done any quilt making. I need to be more moderate, reader! Any tips?
I have been crafting though, how could I not. I've squirrelled away a few more pretty vintage fabrics recently and have now got into the habit of straight away cutting a hexagon from each before I put them away in my stash (because then I forget which I've already cut and which I haven't). So I now have a pretty stack ready for a rainy day.
At crafty Wednesday at Stag and Bow, I've been naughtily working on my hand pieced star blocks. This, you may recall, is usually my holiday project, but now that it is growing, I am enjoying adding to it in my spare time. I'm rather constrained by having the right types of fabric for fussy cutting and those spots and stripes I favour for the edges. Constrained by not having enough fabric? Surely not!
By the way, should you fancy learning the lovely hand sewing craft that is English Paper Piecing, I will be teaching a Saturday morning workshop on the very same at the delightful Stag and Bow on 6th July. Do pop along to their website for details, a jolly time is ensured; much craft, chat and cake.
Anyway, in the background, the jam (strawberry and elderflower) has been bottled, and the scones, (light and fluffy thanks to Paul Hollywood's recipe), have been baked.
Do you know, I think these are the best I've ever made! The proof, of course, is in the eating...
Have a super weekend. XXX
P.S. Don't forget that Google Reader shall be no more as of Monday. In my right hand sidebar, you'll find a button which links to Bloglovin' which is the new reader I and many others seem to be using. It's a very simple matter of importing your existing reader list, while it's still there, into the new format. Don't lose your lovely blog list, it will be such a hassle to rebuild a new one after Monday!
P.P.S. Because a lot of the comments which appear in my in box belong to "no reply bloggers" (ie. those without an email address attached) and so to who I can't reply, I have decided to try replying to comments here on my blog in the comments section. At the risk of re-opening "comment gate", I am unsure about this to be honest, as I appreciate it means people having to come back here to read yet again. However, one of my commenters suggested doing this so I'm going to try! Thoughts?