Archives for posts with tag: autumn walk

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An autumn half-term jaunt with my three children turned into a delightful discovery in our backyard. We set off using a map to follow the Letcombe Brook and to enjoy the autumn season – and found a secretive little park called Betjeman Millennium Park. What a pleasure to discover the poetry trail of Sir John Betjeman who had lived in Wantage. I enjoyed the poem in blocks that can only be read if you are in the exact right position and yet the fragments are tantalising in themselves. Interestingly, I didn’t appreciate that it looked like a gravestone until I saw the photographs and wondered at the time why my daughter asked if someone had died there. The cherry on the top was seeing an enamel sign on The Sack House which reads ‘The West of England Sack Hiring Company Ltd’. The building dates back to the early 19th century and served as a depot for hiring sacks to farmers and corn merchants to transport goods. Old signs, graphics, history – and walking with my children bring me so much pleasure and what treasures to discover so unexpectedly. One day I will buy an enamel sign for my home!


Crossing the metal pipes – an added extra to our walk (not part of the recommended route!)

I love autumn walks and even more when it includes a little foraging, which is a growing interest of mine. This is the time of year to collect sloes which are blue-black bitter fruit growing on blackthorn bushes. Sloes need to be collected in October after the first frost, but if autumn is mild or you want to beat the birds, collect them early and put them in a freezer. Sloes are too tart to eat but are perfect in gin, making a tasty, sweet and glorious ruby sloe gin. Below is the recipe I am using courtesy of National Trust.

For 1 litre of Sloe Gin you will need:
– 450g sloes
– 300g caster sugar
– 1 litre gin any brand – cheap gin works just as well
– A 2 litre Kilner jar
– A bottle for decanting

Step 1
Wash your sloes and remove any leaves or stems. Prick as many as you can with a needle or sharp fork. This helps to release the juices. If you have frozen them make sure you de-frost them first.

Step 2
Sterilise your jar with boiling water. Put your sloes, sugar and gin in the jar. Seal and shake the jar every day until sugar has dissolved, then once a week.

Step 3
After 10-12 weeks decant your sloe gin into a bottle and enjoy at your leisure.

Top tip:
Sloe gin gets even better with age, you could make two lots and hide one away for next year. If you do this every year you will always have a vintage supply of this delicious tipple.