Summer afternoons picking elderflowers

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up on a Sunday morning convinced I had missed the elderflower season this year. I dashed out as soon as I was up, sure that I would have missed the best of the crop! I find time every year to make elderflower cordial, even the summer when Joe was born (full heartfelt story here).

A busy couple of weeks had meant that the elderflowers had to wait this year, but luckily opposite our house is the perfect lane for picking them. It’s quite shaded by lots of other trees, so a week or so behind the main season, and I was so happy to find that there were hundreds still in bloom, calming the elderflower anxiety (first world drama crisis, ahem).

It was also the perfect opportunity to try out my new to me Bobbin bike (committed eBay searching does pay off eventually!) and so I combined a cycle ride with elderflower collecting. The bike’s lovely wicker basket was the perfect thing for collecting and transporting the flowers safely home. Even if my family all laughed at me for being a massive blogger/IG cliche!

I hadn’t ridden a bike for over ten years and had forgotten how much fun it is; just complete exhilerating freedom, cycling down a country lane in the sunshine…it was a complete rediscovered childhood pleasure, just blissful. As Mia accurately summed up the moment, ‘oh Mummy, I didn’t know you could ride a bike…now we can cycle to the cafe together!’ She has only just learned to ride her bike after a long-standing lack of cycling confidence and some previous nasty falls. So we cycled along, collecting elderflowers like something from an Enid Blyton novel, wishing that every day could be like this. But if it was we would end up with a large amount of elderflower cordial and really achey legs!

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Midsummer’s Eve

http://www.tryswedish.com/how-to-make-your-own-midsummer-magic/Midsummer’s Eve, a celebration of the longest day of the year falls this weekend. It is a special time of year, with the hedgerows, fields and gardens in full bloom; everything so green and fresh and new. Despite the grey weather today, the week has been sunny and warm, and it feels time to acknowledge summer’s arrival. I have even harvested some rhubarb, baby beetroot, and soft herbs from the allotment this week. It is so satisfying for the hard work to begin to give something back. I like to take time to step back from the day to day tending, watering and picking, and recognise the mid-point in the year… it feels so important and significant. The longest day, the shortest night, solstice.
Taking inspiration from the beautiful Scandinavian tradition of Midsommar* celebrations, I have ideas for flower crowns, strawberry cakes and lantern lit dinners outside. It is a magical time of year, and whatever the weather does, I will be celebrating…even if it is with a slice of cake, elderflower cocktail and a tea-light in the garden!

*Swedish Midsommarafton and Midsommar, Finnish Juhannus, Danish Sankt Hans Aften, Norwegian Sankhansaften.
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