Sunday, 27 September 2009

Country Phial

A lovely day here in Cornwall. London Acres is bathed in warm sunshine, across the field the river twinkles; peaceful silence broken only by birdsong. Time to go out then.

In the nearby lane, I met an elderly lady; she was snaffling blackberries from the hedgerows. The old soul was chatty and enjoying the warmth. She was also on the lookout for sloes.

I nipped back for two carrier-bags.
What better than to gather succulent blackberries during a gentle afternoon stroll around the nearby fields, an amble down to the path by the river. Both have blackberries galore - lovely with a dollop of cream, or in a pie. And also, the sloes.

Christmas has many disadvantages, but one compensation is sloe gin. Smooth, sweet, sticky, it brings comfort, a warm fuzzy swaddling as it slips down; the loathsome period recedes. Of course, you have to know to make it, so here are some instructions.

1) Collect lots of sloe berries - don't leave it too long, get out there over the next couple of weeks or you'll find they've started to turn. Good luck with this bit if you live in Newham. In fact, good luck generally.

2) Buy two 70 cl bottles of Asda Smart-Price Gin.

3) Get two empty 70 cl screw-top spirit bottles from your friendly publican.

4) Prick each of the sloes a couple of times.

5) Fill each of the four bottles half-full with gin, and a third-full with sloes.

6) Bung in a load of sugar, but leave a bit of space at the top of each bottle.

7) Give each of the bottles a really good shake. Oh, put the tops on first - sorry.

8) Place the bottles upright in a warm place. Inspect them monthly. Add more sugar, give them a bit of a shake. Put the bottles back unsampled.

9) Christmas Day. Drink four 70 cl bottles of sloe gin. You may need a friend to help you with this bit, eventually.

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