Two years ago I saw Ruth on her way to gather elder flowers to make cordial, it’s easy she said. But I don’t have time, I said to her. I remembered this moment, and not having time, it stayed with me like a ghost tapping me on the shoulder, and making Elderflower symbolised ‘I don’t have time’.
Like making humus it’s been on the desire list, and like humus, Rupert is with me, as we both explore the method. The aim is champagne and Rupert has found a 3 step process. Make the cordial concentrate. Transfer to demi john diluted with water and added yeast and ferment into wine. Add more sugar for champagne.
I am on the look out for Elderflower now, getting the eye in. Two fabulous bushes right by the church’s common land. Feeling more expansive we explored Route no 1 on our bikes, taking the dogs but Kali was now too old to go too far, so we turned back at the railway line, but we’d spotted a good hedgerow of elder, near Arthur’s lockups. Walking hedge side through long grass up to my arm pits we found some sweet elder heads that filled our bags. As I took his photograph however, we were challenged by a voice from the road.
What are you doing? Did you get permission? Get off then, right now. I cut this land for hay and I don’t want your dogs shit in it.’ Once out on the road to our bikes, his last salvo was ‘You townies, you have no idea.’ We’d been rudely ticked off. But we had our Elder. the photo and this story.
Back home, Rupert had the good idea of using the empty gin bottles.
With a fork, remove flowers from one carry bag of elder flowers heads.
Add the peel of 3 lemons,
Pour over 1 1/2 pints of boiling water.
Leave for 24 hours.
Sieve the water off the flowers and lemon
Boil with a kilo of sugar for 2 minutes. Add juice of the 3 lemons.
Put in sterile bottles.
Out on our bikes on a glorious june day, elders still on our minds, we biked to where Rupert had spotted some good elders, near Westhall Mill Common, and back down over the blyth, where Bobby took a well earned drink of the river water. Over sand soil of Wenhaston (the Westleton Seam) and by the road side 2 fine Elders.
It is the time of dog roses.