Elderflower Cordial

My Elder trees are in flower. So, naturally, its time to start doing something with these delicious blooms.

First up is Elderflower cordial.

Elderflower Cordial

  • 2½ kg white sugar, either granulated or caster

  • 2 unwaxed lemons

  • 20 fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed

  • 85g citric acid (from chemists)

  1. Put the sugar and 1.5 litres/2¾ pints water into the largest saucepan you have. Gently heat, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved. Give it a stir every now and again. Pare the zest from the lemons using a potato peeler, then slice the lemons into rounds.

  2. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat. Fill a washing up bowl with cold water. Give the flowers a gentle swish around to loosen any dirt or bugs. Lift flowers out, gently shake and transfer to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and citric acid, then stir well. Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.

  3. Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan. Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through. Discard the bits left in the towel. Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run glass bottles through the dishwasher, or wash well with soapy water. Rinse, then leave to dry in a low oven). The cordial is ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Or freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed.

Recipe from the BBC Good Food website


A Dutch Beauty

I always have projects on the go… am terrible at sitting parked in front of the telly and not actually doing anything… mostly I’m knitting, but when I wish to remind myself how bad my eyesight is getting I pick up my Dutch Beauty project.

A completed example off the internet

A completed example off the internet

Huge (1m x 50cm), sewn on lined with one single strand of embroidery floss (rather than your usual two threads), its a labour of love which will no doubt take me years to complete.

The original was sewn around 1790 by a 13 year old girl whose initials are HVZ. Many of the figures (and there are 68 of them) have meanings .

This little bird is sitting in a representation of the tree of life

This little bird is sitting in a representation of the tree of life

I've been to China too...

Getting around to unpacking the boxes with my photo collection… about time really, seeing as I’ve lived here for 2 years.


Came across this beauty of me when I was in China in 1998. I was studying Chinese at UNSW and went on a language exchange for three months. This is the gorgeous family I lived with during this time.

Bed 4 Tidy Up

Bed 4 got a tidy up today.

In amongst the weeds the basil, rocket and lettuce was going off. The Pak Choy had all bolted to seed, and the parsley and heartsease was Not Happy.

Ate a quantity of lettuce from this bed for lunch, plus tomatoes from Bed 5.

Next up for this bed is Peas and Beans (or legumes). Legumes add nitrogen to the soil which brassicas love - so the following year I’ll plant broccoli and cauliflower there.

The 2019 Veggie Garden Plan

Using my trustworthy back-of-envelope planning method and referring to Gardenate frequently, I hashed out a plan for 2019.

Everything has rotated a spot (so onions which were in bed 1 in 2018 will now move to bed 2)


I’m also leaping into the great unknown and having a crack at square foot gardening method (cleverly referred to here as 1m2 method as I couldn’t think of the name at the time).

Summer Garden plan

What with school holidays, working, plus the build up to Christmas and new year, plus two birthdays, November / December was full on. This meant that the garden was left to its own devices.

Not only did heat and constant rain send it into a growth spurt the likes of which I’ve never seen, but my busyness meant that the growth spurt was unsupervised for a good 6 weeks. Its a mess…

So here today we start to get organised. First priority is to get veggie beds sorted out and the lawn beaten into submission. Wish me luck.

Garden: Bed 4

As part of my new daily routine I’m trying to spend one hour a day in the veggie garden, and one hour elsewhere in the garden.

Today was Bed 4 day.

My garden rotation plan is based on my six veggie beds and what I eat most - a lot of lettuce, tomato, onions and peas, not so much turnips and Brussel sprouts.

Carefully planned out on the back of an envelope stuffed with seed packets.

Carefully planned out on the back of an envelope stuffed with seed packets.

Bed 4 was a mess… and the soil had compacted and was like solid rock… it was also 30deg here this afternoon. So many rests playing candy crush and sitting in my chair that hangs from the macadamia nut tree were needed.

But I went from overgrown, to orderliness… those are Pak Choi in the second pic… nearly 1m tall!!

All seeds except some basil seedlings which are the scraps of green you can see.

So I give you Bed 4…


My Doom Smiles at Me

I don’t know why, but I started to write again. Well edit mostly. As I’ve no doubt mentioned before I’ve got at least 12 complete and partially complete novels sitting on my computer. All good stories, but not yet good enough for publication.

I’m editing the first book in my Plan X trilogy. The title, and theme, come from this Bukowski poem… I’ll keep you guessing about the details… for now

My Doom Smiles at Me

there’s no other way:
8 or ten poems a
in the sink
behind me are dishes
that haven’t been
washed in 2
the sheets need
and the bed is
half the lights are
burned-out here.
it gets darker
and darker
(I have replacement
bulbs but can’t get them
out of their cardboard
wrapper.) Despite my
dirty shorts in the
and the rest of my dirty
laundry on the
bedroom floor,
they haven’t
come for me yet
with their badges and their rules and their
numb ears. oh, them
and their caprice!
like the fox
I run with the hunted and
if I’m not the happiest
man on earth I’m surely the
luckiest man