Sep 102014





On Saturday, we took a trip to the farmers market in the sweet September sunshine. The stalls were laden down with glorious late summer bounty: crisp local apples, plump purple plums, ears of golden corn and bunches of cosmos and dahlias. I couldn’t resist a paper bag full of homegrown damsons: small and firm with an ebony gloss. I toyed with the idea of jamming them, but I have some already stashed away in my freezer, from my mother-in-law’s tree. This fresh bag called out to the bottle of gin in my cupboard-  time to make a fruit liqueur for sipping when the cold winter evenings make their inevitable appearance.

I haven’t made Damson Gin before, but I make an annual batch of Sloe Gin, and the recipe is exactly the same. Prior to the first frost, which gets their juices flowing, damsons (or sloes) need to be pricked with a skewer before bottling. This, a meditative process, is the only work involved, the rest of the recipe takes a matter of moments… followed by several weeks resting to infuse the gin with the damson’s flavour, and glorious colour.

Damson Gin

450g Damsons

450g granulated sugar

600ml gin

Prick each damson several times with a skewer or cocktail stick and place in a clean kilner jar. Pour over the sugar, followed by the gin.

Shake to mix. Shake regularly for the next week or so to dissolve the sugar, then leave for 8-10 weeks, shaking occasionally.

Pass the mixture through a fine sieve  and pour the strained liqueur into bottles.

(The damsons can be stoned and served with ice cream as a boozy pudding!)


If you like the sound of fruit liqueur and have some blackberries to use up, Sabrina has a Blackberry Vodka recipe over on her blog. Do take a peek at the August #growforagecook roundup if you haven’t already done so, and be sure to share your own pictures or blog posts about your seasonal kitchen adventures using the #growforagecook hashtag on Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest, tagging @circleofpines and/or @wolvesinlondon. There have been some absolutely gorgeous pictures so far, so please keep them coming – we’d love to see what September brings to your kitchen.

Sep 052014






The most magical thing about Polaroid photographs is that they truly capture the dreamy, golden summer light. These snapshots of glorious summer days were taken with my vintage Polaroid 1000 using Impossible Project SX-70 film. I treasure them, both as images and as memories. I hope that their warm glow can get me through the darker months that are around the corner.

 September 5, 2014  shooting film Tagged with: ,  7 Responses »
Sep 032014


September, the month of fresh starts, clean pages, new notebooks. Having spent many years as a student, and several more as a teacher, the beginning of the academic year has always been a pivotal point for me. Nowadays it’s my children who have the pleasure of a well-sharpened pencil and the first page of an exercise book: my eldest son has returned to school for his third year, and my second son started today. After the wild adventuring of our summer, a quiet house, a cup of tea and an unchristened book proved pleasingly meditative.

During August, I devoured Burial Rites with pleasure. Haunting, evocative and glitteringly brilliant, it was exactly the kind of novel that I love. Its basis in historical fact intrigued me, and every page of the book was infused with the fascinating and formidable Icelandic landscape. Burial Rites is a novel brimming with stories- the plot as told by the author; Agne’s life as she narrates it and other’s differing versions of her story, woven together with traditional tales of the Icelandic sagas. It would be a perfect book to curl up with as the nights grow longer! I also read Instructions for a Heatwave, a page-turning pleasure and, as part of the Oh Comely Book club, I read Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which proved to be a remarkable and unsettling novel: startlingly dark, claustrophobic and unexpectedly compelling.

For September, with the academic year in mind, I’ve chosen two books which I hope will prove both instructional and inspirational. For writing, I have selected Anne Lamott’s  Bird by Bird (Some Instructions on Writing and Life) and for photography, The Photographer’s Playbook. Looking ahead to October,  I’m planning to read The Fairy Tales of Herman Hesse, which was given to me recently by a friend.

Let’s get on with the September link up. I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve been reading!

Here’s a reminder of how it all works:

The aim is to read (at least) a book a month during 2014. At the start of the month, we blog the book that we are planning to read in the month ahead. If we feel inspired to, we could also write a little about the previous month’s book. Not a review, as such, just some thoughts: a recommendation (or otherwise!) for others who might be thinking of reading it. It’s not a traditional book club, so we don’t have to all read the same book. This is just about trying to ensure that we make space for reading in our busy lives, and hopefully a way to discover more lovely books (and lovely bibliophiles).

If you would prefer to share your book choices over on Instagram, that would also be great, please use the hashtag #theyearinbooks so that we can find your posts. The same hashtag is also active on Twitter. There is a Year in Books Pinterest board, so do let me know in the comments if you would like me to add you as a pinner. If I should have added you, and haven’t, do nudge me. Pinterest is a little problematic on the issue and it sometimes takes a couple of attempts. There’s also a Goodreads group for this project, and you are welcome to join, whether or not you have a blog of your own.

If you would like to add a badge to your blog, you can grab the code over in the sidebar. I am compiling a reading list of book suggestions which people have left in the comments here, or via Instagram. Please feel free to continue to recommend books in this way and I will add them to the list.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you have linked up before- everyone is welcome and it’s never too late to get involved. I would be grateful if you could link back to here in your post. Do add your link below – click on the blue button at the bottom of the post.

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 September 3, 2014  the year in books Tagged with: , , ,  6 Responses »
Aug 312014


August, the most precious month of all. A month which is free from the school run, from deadlines and routines. Days spent as a family on our own terms, our hours ungoverned and free. Time spent outside, under the sky, in the wild spaces. A month for paddling, for jumping, for running, climbing and exploring. Days in which to breathe deeply, to feel the sun on our faces and the breeze at our backs. Nights of stargazing, days of dolphin watching. Searching for treasures along the shoreline, plundering bramble bushes for plump blackberries. A time for catching up with far-flung family and long-loved friends. Dawn walks and sunset strolls, kite flying and sandcastle building. A month of sandy toes and sun-streaked hair.

August, you’ve been a beauty and it breaks my heart a little to let you go.

As always, I’ve been looking back- to last August’s patchwork - and to the month ahead, with a Pinterest board for September.

September on Pinterest

 August 31, 2014  monthly patchworks Tagged with:  2 Responses »