Monday, 29 August 2016

Berry Picking

It has been fabulously hot here so days off have been spent mostly in the garden reading library books, berry picking in the woods or hopping on trains to |Brighton beach randomly.  Not much housework is being done, the grass needs cutting and the car needs washing, but these days are too precious to waste and I feel compelled to fill them with as much goodness and treats as possible.

Hubby and I found a new route to woods in a direction we had never explored.  The reward was the most ancient elderberry trees we have ever seen in one place.

 There was over 4 hours walking and we got totally lost! I was afraid it would get dark, then we got caught in rain, but it worked out (we walked with carrier bags on our heads and sheltered under trees).  It was really fun as it was all new to our eyes.

 These beautiful bright shiny red berries look very much like red currant but are red bane berry, very poisonous - just six berries can finish you off... I picked a stem to check their identity at home, but it should be noted this is not wise, our skins are very absorbent and gloves should be worn... note to self be more careful in future, silly.

I saw an abundance of sloe berries, it's going to be a bumper crop this year - they look beautiful and plump but are still very hard, so I will wait as long as possible for them to ripen before picking (to make sloe gin which would be very bitter if picked too early and then need additives to rectify).

There is a lot of farmland around here, despite bordering suburbia, and there are many walks we haven't yet done.  Now the boys are grown up we are venturing further afield.

The blue/yellow sign says 'bull in field' - you can guess that we didn't take that route!!

The walk involved a lot of elderberry and blackberry picking, so much I had no place to put it all so I cooked up my fruit cordial as soon as I got home.  I had kept some lovely old fashioned lemonade bottles that look really pretty for this purpose.

  (Safety Note:  when you have the elderberries on the stems like this picture above, you have to remove them all with a fork and take out the stems and most importantly any of the bright, green, berries as these parts are poisonous (elder contains cyanide in small quantity in some parts of the plant, only the ripe black berries are edible).  I wash all my berries with a sterilising tablet in a bowl of water before cooking with sugar and then straining through a seive - huge mess, great rewards!

Despite the hot weather the UK is enjoying, the woods tell another story - it's definitely Autumn here, full of seeds, berries and nuts.  The landscape colour is changing to Autumn tones and even our little garden is changing, the flowers are getting tired and starting to seed.

fabulous golden rod growing wild on edge of woodland
 I put some old washing up bowls full of water out the last few nights as it has been so very hot, I wanted to ensure the 5 toads living in/under my shed didn't get dry (I put some stones in so they can get back out).  The water level had gone down a lot so I think local foxes have benefitted and also some birds were showing interest.  During the day every cat in the neighbourhood takes a detour for a sip.

I have been to Brighton so many times this month I will bore you but never tire of a train ride, a spot on the beach with a book and a take away lunch from Taj asian supermarket (falafel wrap).  Days off are being crammed as I don't want any regrets when we sink into Winter... when we are  back to being indoors I will dust off my sewing machine I think.


The charity shops have had an abundance of amazing shoes lately.  I used to wear shoes like this but could never stay upright in them these days!They do look fabulous but are not for me.  It was fun to play dressing up and try them though.

room for two?

Thank you for your kind comments on my silk paint post, for visiting and being a friendly blogger.  I will be back sometime when things slow down and there is time to ponder.....


  1. Your long all resulted in a beautiful cordial. My, a lot of work, but a beautiful bottle of goodness.

    The red bane berries, never knew that they could be so dangerous.

  2. You have a summer attitude that is well worth following! Lovely pictures. The berry picking there is an event worth an entire trip to the UK. The bull in the field sign reminds me of the bull down the street when I was a toddler. One never forgets the noise he makes when we walk by his barn. And the shoes! Gorgeous!

  3. I always love reading about your explorations!

  4. Hi Betty! Oh, I would be scared to death dealing with possible poison berries! I'm glad you know what you are doing. Your boys are so grown up. How did that happen?
    How fun that your hubby is a woods man and that you can tromp around together.
    You are so very smart to jump on the train to Brighton whenever you can. I wish I could go with you.
    You're the best, good Betty!

  5. I'm the same about cramming it all in while the goings good!Not enough hours in the day at the moment!Your beverages look amazing!Have a good week Pal.xx

  6. Beautiful Betty ... thank you for sharing. Been having a few internet problems so will keep this brief ... so glad you are enjoying your days off & some lovely weather in your part of the world x x x Wonderful picture of Ambercat at the end x x

  7. You sound like you're using your precious time most wisely. Why waste time on mundane chores when we've got a rare warm spell? I should be packing my bag for an early getaway tomorrow but I've chosen to lie in the garden with a good book instead!
    Your cordial looks lovely in those pretty bottles! Fancy those red berries being so deadly. I'm pretty sure there's some lurking in th bottom of the garden. xxx

  8. Thanks for sharing your lovely walk. I hope to get out more often now that it's cooling off. I'm a hibernator by nature, but I need to get outside while I can. :)

  9. Love how you spend your days off! Sounds really good ♥


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