On the lighter side of life, I found a Blackthorn bush (Prunus Spinosa) in a spinney so loaded with sloes, that it was decided that Sloe Gin had to be made again this year. Last year we made three litres and gave it away as Christmas presents. This year I thought we were going to be completely out of luck as the rainy summer seems to have kept the bees away from the bushes out in the open and the fruits that there are, are hardly worth the bother. However on the way back across the fields from the MOT test centre last Friday I found some sheltered Blackthorns, under a Willow spinney (Salix alba ... but I’ve not checked) running along a banked path with deep ditches either side. These ditch banks have their own populations of burrowing bees.
Now I’m not an entomologist or a botanist or an ecologist or other modern day bio-diversity and habitat specialist ... but I’d like to think I’ve just seen a bit of cause and effect. To whit: Bees protected by bank and trees, Blackthorn bushes protected by trees, heavy rains feeding black thorn bushes, hence giant sloes (some had started to go over they were so juicy), and either side of that protected spinney Blackthorns almost devoid of fruit. So what I think I saw there is a tiny 50 by 8 metre island habitat. I may be talking utter bollocks, and maybe the bushes beyond the spinney have been ravaged by Wood Pigeons ... but that wouldn’t explain the difference between Blackberry sizes inside and outside the spinney and the below average numbers in our usual picking spot down near the river.
So on the Friday I earmarked the bushes for a Sloe foraging session early Sunday morning (around 10am in the end ... we had good intentions honest). And then we went out for the shopping trip mentioned in the previous post. Followed by the calamity of the roof leak on Sunday (which if you are interested will be fixed by a complete new felt roof being installed tomorrow Friday 28th September £650 cash) ... PS: Fuck You David Gauke, if you want to eliminate the black economy and tax avoidance at low level ask your senior colleagues to stop giving my hard earned money to fuck nugget bankers that spunked trillions on dodgy deals ... lets shake hands and call it a rebate.
Back to Sunday afternoon, and the roof leak had been reduced from a Sev1 to a Temp Fix in place. So we sat down to stab almost plum sized sloes with map pins (not silver tined forks ... we keep them for special and if the vicar is popping round ... ahem). We then forced the sloes down the necks of 1.5ltr bottles of Gin or dropped them on mass into Kilner jars with the pre-requisite amount of sugar, a damn fine shake to get the fermentation going and retired to the lounge to write blog posts and watch the Brendan Fraser movie Journey To The Centre Of The Earth http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0373051/ (I would have given it 7/10 myself IMDB’s reviewers must have been expecting Ghandi or something FFS it’s a kids film).
So despite the expense and the worry and the rain that means we’ve had to tell the Estate Agent not to bring anyone around this week in case there is water dripping from the ceiling into an Ikea storage box perched on the kitchen counter... not that anyone has requested to come around; well we’ve still had some fun making Christmas hooch. And if there is a Giant Intergalactic Spider watching over us (See South park episode Red Hot Catholic Love for an explanation ... I can’t be arsed), then perhaps he’ll cut us some slack now, and point a willing cash buyer who doesn’t like to haggle in our direction and we can move forward with travel plans.