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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A Snowdrop Story

On one of the coldest weekends this winter I dragged my little family outdoors for some snowdrop-themed exploring. Every year I find that I go a little crazy at the sight of the first springtime flowers, and even if the weather is far from spring-like we head outdoors to parks and woodland to find snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils.

Welford Park near Newbury is well-known for being the home of the Great British Bake Off, but at this time of year the famous white tent is nowhere to be seen and the grounds are completely covered by snowdrops. Along the river banks and through the woodland areas tiny green shoots and white flowers had bloomed making a gorgeous white carpet of snowdrops.

Welford only opens it’s gardens for one month of the year for visitors to come and see the snowdrops, making it extra special. The grounds used to be home to a monastry and the snowdrops were grown alongside other medicinal plants by the monks living there. Over time they have spread to cover acres of the gardens.

Joe’s little pale hands and pink nose give some idea of how cold it was when we visited Welford. Completely, can’t feel your hands or toes freezing! And yes, gloves would have been a sensible idea, unless you’re three years old and know much better than your parents. I’m just glad he gave in and wore a cosy puddlesuit!

I really love the snowdrop’s simple white flowers and gentle raindrop shape. There were so many slightly different varieties of snowdrops in the gardens, all mixed together in little clusters or gathered around the base of trees. And I learned a brand new word to add to my floral lexicon….galanthus!

It looked almost like the woods were covered in snow; such a magical sight which was beautiful in it’s own right, but also that recognition that flowers mean the end of winter, and the start of the exciting spring flower season. In the space of a few weeks the jumps from snowdrops to crocuses and then hellebores and daffodils to bluebells.

A girl and her stick…Mia and Joe appreciated the woods and the mud, even if they weren’t too interested in the snowdrops. There was a tea tent at Welford too, and they can always be persuaded to go for a walk if promised hot chocolate or cake!

Welford has just closed again for the year (I wonder whether Bake Off will be filmed here this summer now that it has left the BBC). I’m sure they will open the gardens again next spring for their snowdrop weekends and I will definitely be hoping the visit again.

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