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Thursday, 3 October 2013

A sloe day.

This morning I was round at my Mum's cutting her cotoneaster hedge. It is just about the most prickly shrub I have come across but it needs doing to keep it looking good. It is very striking at this time of the year as there is a profusion of orange and red berries. I used the hedge trimmer mainly but as I was getting it ready I found several cuts in the cable, one of which had bare wires showing. It was a good job I noticed as I could have been electrocuted, or at least the RCD cut out. It certainly looks better for doing.

This afternoon we drove to a secret location to go picking sloes. I can not reveal the place so hence the lack of photographs! There didn't seem to be so many as I would have expected, but I think they had all ready been picked over as you could see the trampled grass below. There was still plenty left on the trees, especially high up, and we soon picked enough for our needs. We picked 4lbs in the end. On the way home we called at a supermarket and among other things we bought some vodka. We prefer sloe vodka to gin.

It is a funny thing, shopping. Do you go up and down the aisles or do you stay in one spot and go to the place where each it is located. I should work out the least distance. I expect that going directly to each items location would actually save you money as it would cut out some of the impulse purchases. When you get to the checkout people do it all different. I think there is science in the order in which you put things on the conveyor in order to make the packing more easy. I like to put all the tins, solid and heavy items first to put in the bottom of bags and then fill up with the lighter things and then the breakable and crushable things on top. Helen just seems to rely on luck and have lots of bags open. I must stress that we don't argue over it or anything, it is just interesting.

Sloe vodka preparations.

After washing the the sloes they were pricked and placed in the jar. I added 4oz of sugar for every 1lb of sloes and a bottle of vodka. You have to shake every day to dissolve the sugar and then you just have to wait about three months before straining and bottling, and then a further wait for as long as you can before consuming it. I have enjoyed using some of natures bounty this year and have really enjoyed the damson and red currents. We have made cherry brandy, rosehip cordial, blackcurrant vinegar, cherry and apple jam, blackberry jam and sloe vodka along with plenty of pies and crumbles etc. I think next year I will be better prepared and harvest more. I wonder if there will be as much fruit next year as this year  has been a 'must' year where everything climatically comes together and a lot of the fruit trees and things like conkers and acorns do really well. That  wont happen next year as the trees will not have enough energy to do it two years running. There is also a saying that when there are lots of berries, hips and hawes on the trees there will be a hard winter. It seems there were plenty of berries in 2008 and 2010 and a harsher winter was experienced, but there was a scarcity of berries in 2009 but still there was a harsher winter. A harsh winter may kill off some of the parasites that may damage a crop so maybe a cycle is set up as a better crop follows a harsh winter, but the main factor must be climate, and especially for fruit and berry trees the lack of  frost when the flowers are on the trees must be the main factor. It seems that many more people are taking advantage of natures bounty this year. I'm not sure whether that is because there is a lot of fruit to pick or that times are more economically hard.

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