We went to Alford this morning, George wanted some wood so that he can make more racking for storing apples and I wanted to browse the charity shops and the antiques centre.
On our way home we drove down a country lane which normally has masses of elderberries at this time of year - not this time though. So we tried our second favourite pitch, here we found a few wizened specimens! They were certainly not worth harvesting.
We had a quick snack for lunch - during which Dawn, the landlady from the Railway Tavern, popped in with some prizes which we had won in a recent raffle (truth to tell, I had forgotten about it completely) so that was a lovely surprise.
Waxed jackets on, wellies put into the car, the dogs and cats were settled, and off we went to hunt the elusive elderberries! We drove along lanes, down roads, searched field hedgerows, finding nothing much at all. We saw lots of
autumn berries and hips at their loveliest. A riot of glorious reds and deep juicy purples, which work so well against their lovely green leaves. I find those colour combinations so exciting and utterly autumnal (actually they make me feel as though Yuletide is on the way, but I don't want to start that in September!!). There are so many berries and rosehips that I wonder whether we are in for a really bad winter (or is that an old wives tale?) or could they be a consequence of the really bad winter which we had last year?
We found a place where the sloes are as big as those really big glass marbles we used to play with, but we didn't need any of those so we left them in situ.
We found an abandoned old orchard with plum and apple trees, and we will be going back to sample a few apples at a later date!
We just couldn't find any elderberries worth picking.
Eventually we decided to head for home ... and less than a quarter of a mile from home we found enough good quality elderberries to suit our needs! What a relief.
We wanted to make elderberry rob. This is a syrupy concoction made from sugar and elderberries and has been used by canny Scots for generations, to help ward off colds and flu and to treat bronchitis, etc. I won't go into the science of it, but it has been shown that elderberries contain something which really does work to protect you from flu. (Details and recipe are available to anyone who messages me.) We have used it for years, George used it when he worked in Kazakhstan and he swears by it.
It is also useful for helping you to get to sleep. This is not based on scientific evidence!
So, if you can find enough elderberries, and can face stripping the berries off the stalks with a fork, pulping the berries and cooking the syrup you will end up with a small bottle or two of a beautiful deep, dark red syrup. Take two teaspoonsful at night, in hot water - or whenever you come in contact with anyone with flu.
We will be heading back to the forgotten orchard to get some more of the apples, we tried one when we got home and found that it is crisp, with a nicely balanced mix of sharp and sweet. Too good to be left to rot.
I finished off the little bag which I made the other day, by adding a flower which I had made out of the same fabric.
So, Jonny, it is the weekend again. I hope you manage to fit in a Skype call to us, or at the very least please remember to send your old Ma some photographs...
Have a brilliant weekend.
Lots of love,