Archives for posts with tag: brambles

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For the first time in what feels like forever, we had a completely blank calendar this weekend and an unusually cool August decided to give us a final hurrah of warm sunshine. Saturday morning was spent tidying up a little after our last WWOOF visitors, the fantastically helpful and efficient Georgia and Stefano, and decanting our first batch of apple wine.

We also got out into the field to put up more electric fencing in preparation for the pigs. We have ordered a pair of female weaners who should arrive later this month. Georgia and Stefano prepared the ground and helped us with the fencing, now we just need to sort out the battery, patch up the sty, connect up some hoses and get a trough and we should be good to go. We’ll have a pig for ourselves and another to sell on, so if anyone fancies some outdoor-reared pork for Christmas, let us know!

Saturday afternoon saw us go on another brambling expedition along the road and into the fields. We gathered around 4kg of brambles and finally visited the small lochan in the field behind our house. A pair of swans were floating serenely on the surface with their awkwardly adolescent cygnets, rabbits startled to see us from their hedgerow hides and deer dashed away, glimpsed through green and pricky gorse. The uneven and rocky ground had been thoroughly worn down by years of cattle marching over the turf to create rutted paths around the thorniest brambles and most gristled gorse. In short, we were great galumphing intruders on a landscape shaped as much by animal as man with only the presence of cattle, feed containers and ancient dry-stane dykes to remind us that this landscape was as human as it was animal.

A quarter of Saturday’s brambles are fermenting merrily for bramble wine and the rest have been packed in the freezer. Today, while I worked, Matt took the kids exploring in the southern part of Cally Woods at Girthon. Matt had planned to forage for mushrooms but there was nothing to be seen, so he made notes of likely locations and a crab apple tree for future expeditions. He and the kids did discover The Temple, an old folly, and lots of coppiced trees for climbing, like this hazel.

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In other news, Iris lost her first tooth on Friday and got 50p from the tooth fairy. Hers is called Twinkle, apparently, although Georgia tells us that in Italy they have a Tooth Mouse who collects milk teeth in exchange for a Euro (or 1,000 Lire when she was wee, which impressed Iris mightily.)

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The product of a weekend’s foraging in the sun, not to mention several bags of frozen brambles and elder berries.

Apparently a spoonful of rosehip syrup a day will keep us all free of colds for the winter. It is delicious stuff and likely to make its way into all sorts of cakes, ice cream desserts and warming drinks as the weather cools off.

The hedgerows are particularly abundant after our sunny summer, so a few more picking trips will be embarked upon to add to our haul with hedgerow jams and jellies.

Our Italian WWOOFers tell us that the equivalent activity in southern Italy is figging – gathering wild figs from the roadside. I suspect this activity is undertaken in warmer conditions but it was hard not to feel fortunate plucking a free harvest from the hedgerows while the sun glinted off the Solway and clouds glowered on the Galloway Hills.

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Just in case this all seems too idyllic – out of shot in this picture is a tray of comically scorched shortbread fingers!

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Bit more preserving this week at Plunton. Matt made bramble leather – a great success with the Rayburn and something we had always failed at with the regular cooker. Iris and Arthur are slightly addicted to it. He’s also got some bramble whisky steeping. The giant bucket of apples is from our neighbour, Janet. The red ones are good eaters but do not keep well, the green are sweet cookers and I suspect the apple press will be put to good use on them next week. They have already made lovely baked apples. Janet also brought a jar of damson jam and an invite to Sunday lunch with both sets of near neighbours next month. She’s also offered baby sitting services so we are in clover!

Much of the rest of the week has involved more work on the house. Dad is visiting again and has started rewiring upstairs, in fact he is finishing off the kids’ room as I type. We are off up north this weekend for great-grandpa’s birthday so he is going to do our room and the office while we are away.

I, on the other hand, have finally started stripping off the anaglypta wallpaper in the lounge. It was removed fairly readily and I am about halfway through now. Part of the reason for doing it now is that we are hoping to pick up a period fire at the salvage yard this weekend and I (correctly it turned out) guessed there would be an indication of the height of the original surround in the plasterwork behind. Not the best photo but you can see the walls are in OK condition and, as Matt pointed out, look just like the walls in one of his vintage house craft books!

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Our Daily Bread

Had a bit of an indoor day today so indulged in making a proper roast dinner – braised partridge (bought at Ballards, one of several great butchers in Castle Douglas) followed by a bramble jam sponge and custard.

Despite all the above being yummy (even if I do say so myself) the best meal of the day was my tea of toasted Galloway spelt bread slathered with slightly salted butter and consumed by the fire with a cuppa.The bread is made in Laurieston by Earth’s Crust bakery and we bought it on a whim at the wholefoods shop. We’ll be going back for more!

When the weather improved – and it was a lovely sunny afternoon, if blustery – we did more garden planning and dragged up fallen branches and old logs from the undergrowth. I also waved goodbye to the summer and dug out my winter wardrobe – farewell maxi skirts, hello corduroy and jumpers.