The heat of the day

Somewhere along the way Spring stepped back and Summer moved gently into place. The days have grown warmer and the light is softer. The acid greens and yellows of Spring replaced by colours already bleaching out gently in the sunlight.

Suffolk's wide skies sit blue above fields of pale golden wheat and barley. The intense yellow of the rape has gone and the roads are lined with long grasses in pale shades of green and gold, the grass seed heads whisper to the gently nodding cow parsley. Scarlet poppies punctuate the golden fields, so much beauty there to see.

There are roses everywhere. Climbing around doorways, framing windows and scrambling through hedgerows. The woods where I walk have changed so much, Spring's damp, green fresh light replaced by stillness. There is a feeling of heat and laziness; it is lovely to leave the dry, dusty paths and venture deeper under the canopy where it is blessedly cool and quiet.

Today I picked elderflower as I walked, destined for cordial. The distinctive scent mixes with the oily zest of oranges and lemons. My kitchen is filled with possibilities, cherries are ripening in the garden and the potatoes are so, so close. It's a very good time of year.

I plan to gather more elderflower soon, but this time for champagne. I am somewhat anxious now that Google has filled my eyes with tales of exploding bottles and syrupy drinks. Any tips gratefully received.


TheMadHouse said…
What an inspiring post. I am going to try some elderflow cordial this year
Lizzie said…
For what its worth, my tip on Elderflower Champagne is ...just don't. My memories of two separate efforts are of sticky, freakishly dispersed explosions, and drinking experiences where I just wished that my glass was filled with something that was actually from France. Bet you try it anyway though...cant wait to say "I told you so" in a sing-songy voice!
Judith said…
Be brave and risk the champagne!! I have had exploding bottles in the past, and believe me cleaning out a sticky cupboard under the stairs is no fun, but have had success using empty plastic 2ltr fizzy water bottles and not filling them to the top. Elderflower champagne and cordial are perfect evening drinks for this warm, sunny weather. My first lot of cordial has already been drunk, next batch ready to bottle today.
(Love your blog, this is the first time I've sent a comment but I've been lurking for a while).
rachel said…
Never having made champagne of any description before, I would stick with cordial for reasons of safety and taste. But I would definitely make those wonderful elderflower cupcakes again (recipe from Waitrose, and which I lifted from another blogger last year - could it have been you? Or Bee Drunken?).
Elizabeth said…
I just made ginger beer and nothing exploded (I used plastic and glass) so be brave and carry on.
Funny I just came here from Norma's blog ( and her tutorial for rose petal jam. You could always try that if the champagne scares you off. Good luck and here's to non- sticking surfaces everywhere.
Ali said…
Sadly, this stage of summer has me hiding indoors as much as possible, at the mercy of my sinuses. But the roses do seem extra glorious this year.
JuicyFig said…
What a wonderful evocative post...and fantastic photo's.

regarding your champagne - my best advice from past experience is to use propper champagne bottles with the raised bottom, and put a wire champagne cage over your cork!

I Have been trying to find a clip from a TV programme made in 1994 - called 'love on a branch line' it was a wonderful period drama but in this particular scene 2 of the characters are locked in the wine celler and one is quite drunk - he talks about making elderflower champagne and when to pick the flowers - it was such a pasionate and dreamy speach, and I would love to hear it again.

Krawuggl said…
I, too, love the smell of the elderflowers so much. A big tree is growing outside my kitchen window and on it´s side a lovely wildroses bush, the same colour as the ones in your pictures. Everytime I open my kitchen window and a warm breeze presents me mixed smell of both I fall in love again with my home and my garden, it´s then the best place in the world for me - and the most beautiful, too. Can´t get enough of it, I always would so much love to have it bottled for the rest of the year, but maybe it´s special charm lies that it is available, visible and sweet only such a short time. But when it´s here, then I also know that summer is finally here. And how much I long for summer this year, your words have described it so very precise, the stillness and the heat, the dryness and the lazy slowly afternoon walks. Here it is still cold and raining most of the days since start of may but your sweet and poetic words brought back to me the memory how summer days had and used to be. A beautiful and so much appreciated post.
For the champagne, I am sorry, I´ve never made it. And I also had to apologize for not having replied to your comment at Flickr, I have only 2 days ago seen it and noticed that one could do comments (yes, I am really stupid in such things) - so thank you very much, it made me smile, love your kind of humour!
Bee said…
I have no tips for elderflower champagne, sadly, but you have reminded me that elderflower season will elude me if I don't move fast. (It doesn't grow anywhere near us, for some reason, but I have a friend who knows a good source.)

I'm so very, very glad that you found me . . . for I am delighted to discover you in turn. I've been in the garden all morning, watering and weeding and making bouquets of rose, tarragon and fennel, and I was thinking such similar thoughts -- about the colors starting to fade and bleach out. It is truly and properly hot -- for once. And the roses are at their peak . . . I have one rose, against, a trellised wall, that is at its absolute fullness today.

I love getting up every morning and discovering what has bloomed in the early morning sun. We just got our first red poppies a couple of days ago . . . just after I read another Suffolk friend (Chez Spud) waxing lyrical about them. Until you mentioned it, I hadn't realized that the rape had gone. And the bluebells! I never notice them fade, and then one day they are just gone and May has become June. Have you ever read The Ivington Diaries by Monty Don? It has the most beautiful descriptions of seasonal ebb and flow. It could convince anyone to become a gardener!

p.s. I didn't post anything about elderflower cupcakes . . . but I do have a foodie blog called domestic sensualist.
Georgina said…
I have made Elderflower Champagne every year for 20 years and, (famous last words) have never had an explosion. I use sterilised, used, plastic bottles - often small sparkling water ones as we prefer the little and often so it doesn't go flat. They are not Country Living pretty, but they work. I think any bottle that has contained fizz - screw topped is easiest - will work. For cordial, I also use small bottles and freeze as much as I can as it hasn't the keeping qualities of the champagne. Bon chance!
Willow said…
I'm not help at all with the champagne except for drinking it!

I got my map out and reminded myself where Suffolk is :)
Linda said…
I have no clue about elderflower champagne but it sounds delicious!
Andrea said…
My nan used to make elderflower champagne, and it was delicious and refreshing served icy cold. She used to store it in the cellar but she did have some explosions in there. I tried to make it once but it went wrong! Good luck it is worth it if you get it right.x
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