Merry Craftmas

 

Lush Design Studios at Cockpit Arts in Deptford
Lush Design Studios at Cockpit Arts in Deptford

Leave Black Friday weekend for the masses and make your way way to one of the vibrant and creative craft and artists independent fairs this advent – it’s a much more imaginative and enjoyable way to shop.
And you get something unique and handmade.
And… You’ll feel better for helping a local artist instead if a tax-dodging international corporate entity too!

Made in Clerkenwell
Made in Clerkenwell

Try these:

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Crafty Fox, this weekend in Dalston; next weekend in Brixton; Peckham the weekend after.

 

Tea for One table from Made in Clerkenwell at Craft Central
Tea for One table from Made in Clerkenwell at Craft Central

Made in Clerkenwell at Craft Central –  today and tomorrow (to 30 Nov). At John’s Square.

 

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Thornback and Peel at Cockpit Arts in Deptford

Cockpit Arts open studios in Holborn this weekend and Deptford next weekend.

 

We’re going on a (Paddington) bear hunt…

That quintessentially British bear (despite hailing from Darkest Peru!) Paddington, hits the cinema screen today in a star-studded film following the polite, bumbling bear’s adventures.

And to celebrate, Britain has gone  all gone soft – and cuddly – for a certain small bear from Darkest Peru, with a penchant for marmalade sandwiches. The Paddington Bear film, starring Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent and Ben Wishaw, only opens today, but he’s already making an impression elsewhere around the UK.

In London you can search for 50 different Paddington statues on the Paddington Bear trail or visit the exhibition at the Museum of London. Get into the look with wellingtons from hip boot brand Hunter or a blue duffle coat; or simply tuck in to Elevenses – with marmalade sandwiches, of course.

A Bear Called Paddington, Museum of London
This small, free exhibition feature original memorabilia, including author Michael Bond’s typewriter and Paddington’s actual costume from the film. Visit on 29-30 November and take part in Paddington’s Picnic Weekend when there will be storytelling, craft activities and even a chance to meet Paddington himself. www.museumoflondon.org.uk

truffles

Toast & marmalade truffles, from £2
Using 70 per cent Pacari Piura Quemazon chocolate from darkest Peru, brown bread toast, butter and marmalade, star chocolatier Paul A Young has reimagined Paddington’s favourite foodstuff in confectionery-form. www.paulayoung.co.uk

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The Paddington Curiosity Shop at Selfridges
The Paddington story began at Selfridge’s department store, when in 1956, author Michael Bond bought the last teddy on Christmas Eve – which then inspired the adventures of the bear from Darkest Peru. So it’s fitting that the a golden Paddington statue (one to tick off on the trail) takes over one of the windows, while Selfridge’s Wonder Room concept store has been taken over by all things Paddington. From one-of-a-kind archive pieces to props from the film it’s a trove of delights. Expect exclusive gifts and fashion items inspired by the much-loved bear, including a blue duffle coat from Gloverall (kids £109, adults £295) and Globetrotter suitcases (from £285). www.selfridges.com

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Hunter boots, £95
The original gloss wellington boots, as favoured by the festival set, in military red – team them with a duffle coat for maximum Paddington effect. www.hunterboots.com

Paddington Bear with wellies soft toy, £19.99
With his cardboard label saying “Please look after this bear”, shiny willies and blue felt duffle coat, this gorgeous bear is just like the original. www.johnlewis.com

A bear called Paddington, Michael Bond, £10.99
The hardback edition of the very first book, originally published in 1958, has beautiful illustrations by Peggy Fortnum and tells the story of a bear, found at Paddington station, having travelled all the way from Darkest Peru with only a jar of marmalade, a suitcase and his hat. www.waterstones.com

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Robertson’s limited edition Golden Shred, £2.29
Grab one of the limited gold label jars of the UK’s favourite marmalade featuring the new-look Paddington Bear from the film and the story about his inception on the jar. Exclusive to Selfridges, www.selfridges.com

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Elevenses and afternoon teas
Known for his love of a snack – elevenses was his favourite – there are Paddington-themed afternoon teas popping up all over the place. At Aqua Shard the afternoon tea of orange marmalade macaroons, praline cream buns, chilli-chocolate taxis and orange blossom scones, is served 31 floors high in a battered suitcase (£34.50, www.aquashard.co.uk). At the Athenaeum you’ll find marmalade-glazed ham sandwiches, marmalade tarts and chocolate tea cups filled with orange and white chocolate mousse (£39.50, www.athenaeumhotel.com). And at the Lowndes hotel you can try Elevenses – a morning ritual that Paddington Bear famously enjoyed with Mr Gruber – and a Pastuso cocktail (that’s Paddington’s original Peruvian name) as part of the Paddington Bear experience, which also includes a night at the hotel and a toy Paddington Bear (£252, www.jumerirah.com/JLH).

paddington cocktail

Paddington Pisco Marmalade Fizz, £7.95
The Fable in London’s Farringdon has created a cocktail that may leave you feeling like a bear with a sore head – Peruvian Pisco, lemon, sugar, Prosecco and two healthy dollops of marmalade. It even comes served with a mini marmalade sandwich. www.thefablebar.co.uk

Paddington wallpaper and fabric
Jane Churchill’s London Sights Paddington range of wallpaper and fabric have a vintage feel that will give any child’s room a timeless feel. www.janechurchill.com

Paddington case

Paddington Bear suitcase gift, £20
This gorgeously-presented bath set contains shower gel, bubble bat, bath fizzers and a marmalade-shaped sponge – too cute by far to give to your little ones. www.marksandspencer.com

This feature appeared in Metro on 27 November 2014. To view the newspaper version visit http://e-edition.metro.co.uk/2014/11/27/

Etiquette: a very British art

This week saw a new documentary about life at Tatler magazine – one of the most striking things we learnt watching it is that all staff at the title are given a copy of Debrett’s Guide to Etiquette when they start.

Which got me thinking about manners in the modern age…

In a digital age, you might be forgiven for thinking that etiquette is dead. Certainly not, says Tatler magazine – the focus of a new TV documentary, Posh People, which follows the outrageous exploits of the upper class – where all new recruits are given a copy of the Debrett’s Guide to Etiquette.

In the first episode we learnt, from Tatler newbie Matthew Bell, that the best way to eat a pear is with a spoon; how to navigate the social minefield of public kissing, aka the new handshake (FYI – very slight contact is best, with no sound effects or salvia needed); and editor Kate Reardon’s personal favourite Debrett’s rule: a gentleman is never rude unintentionally.

“At first I thought it was a joke,” said Bell, “but I’m thrilled to be working somewhere that expects this of their staff,” he said, referring to the weighty tome on politeness and appropriate behaviour in social life.

“Although some of the information might be a bit arcane, mostly the Debrett’s Guide is just basic good manners – don’t be late, always say thank you, always be respectful of other people and the effort they have gone to, to entertain you,” explains Tatler’s Deputy Editor Gavanndra Hodge.

“Being polite, saying thank you, listening when someone else talks are especially important in a digital age, we are doing things at such speed, and the computer interface makes it really easy to forget there are real people on the other side of it, so an important rule is never say anything online that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.”

Indeed modern technology is one of the biggest challenges to etiquette. In an infamous case last year, one cashier at Sainsbury’s politely refused to serve 26-year-old Jo Clarke from Crayford until she finished her mobile phone conversation. While Sainsbury’s apologised to the rude customer and admonished the staff member for poor customer service, they were later left embarrassed by the backlash from the public at the absurdity of condoning such shockingly bad manners. Public sympathy lay with the cashier, not the customer.

Social media brings with it an array of dilemnas: is it okay to ask for selfies? If having your mobile phone on the dinner table is rude, how do you instagram everything you eat without looking impolite?

In a case of thoroughly modern manners Nigella Lawson tweeted her apologies last month for NOT posting photos of everything that she ate at a restaurant – ten years ago polite society wouldn’t dream of photographing their food, let alone using their phone to tweet about it. Now, it is the new normal. In fact, it is so expected that we feel compelled to apologise if we don’t do it.

As for selfies, while I still cringe with embarrassment about the thought if asking for one, spare a thought for today’s celebrity who are so narcissistic that it would, in fact, be rude not to ask for a snap. So much so that Russell Brand practically forced one journalist, Lucy Kellaway from the FT, who was interviewing him into having a selfie taken with him (she didn’t even ask for one).

Over at Tatler, other new social scenarios to be deciphered include internet dating and modern romance – “we have declared that this is now okay,” Hodge informs me, “but if you’re thinking of having a threesome at a country house weekend it is very bad manners not to invite the host to join in.”

And as for instagram, smug posts are the height of rudeness. “We did pronounce that you shouldn’t post pictures of a green juice or shots of you and your pals on your private jet,” says Hodge. Well, yes, how vulgar?

So if you ever find yourself drinking a kale and celery smoothie on your private jet, think twice before you reach for your phone.

 

This feature appeared in Metro on 27 November – to see the newspaper article visit http://e-edition.metro.co.uk/2014/11/27/

 

 

 

My gorgeous friend Stella…

To say that the acclaimed children’s book illustrator and, more recently, ceramics artist Stella Baggott is an old friend of mine is something of an understatement.

We grew up together in the same Shropshire village and lived just metres apart – in fact we were born just days apart. The story goes that our mums met on the maternity unit in the local hospital and we have been friends ever since.

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Which is why I’m tremendously proud to get to write about her here: if anyone sums up great British design, then it is Stella with her cheeky, irreverent, handmade pottery. Each piece is unique and has personality.

She’s been making pots and other ceramics for about the last five years, since taking an evening class, but art has always been in her blood – ever since we used to spend our weekends together making Fimo models!

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Using Staffordshire clay, which she sculpts from slabs or turns into pinch pots, her hand-built, fired and glazed pieces have a mid-century charm about them, thanks to their rustic nature and vintage-looking glazes. In fact, the colours remind me of our own childhoods.

Today she lives in Brighton and although she is still extremely successful as an illustrator, her ceramics are becoming increasingly recognised and collectible.

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If you can’t get your hands on one of her quirky designs from her own shop Atelier Stella she has collaborated with Brooklyn-based brand West Elm to create a slightly-more polished version of her own hand-made designs (these are factory-produced so that have a different finish to them but are still very tactile) for frankly bargain prices.

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PS – At the time of writing, a few of these lovely ceramic mirrors were still available from Stella’s Etsy shop

Visit her website to fid out more http://atelierstella.tumblr.com

 

Woody open studios

I’m  a huge fan of artist Zara Wood, aka Woody, and follow her to art and craft fairs all over the place (one of her little Pirates prints hangs in my daughter’s bedroom).

So the prospect of a pop-up shop in her Brighton Studio is too good to miss, and a brilliant Christmas present pit-stop, too.

I love the naive, almost-Victorian style characters that she creates – the Little Treasures collection of miniature works of art housed inside vintage jewellery has been top of my Christmas wish-list for about the last five years!

The workshop is open for the next three weekends (28-29 Nov, 6-7 Dec, 13-14 Dec) as part of the Brighton Christmas Art Trail, when artists open their homes and studios to the public.

www.zarawood.com

www.openhouseart.co.uk

Last days of Pisco

This feature appeared in Metro on 25 November…

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Forget the Negroni, ditch the Aperol Spritz – the new drink du jour is the Pisco Sour. Velvet-y smooth, complex and bursting with citrus-y flavours, this grape brandy from Peru is taking the bar scene by storm since Martin Morales opened the UK’s first Pisco bar two years ago. “When we opened in 2012 we were the first Pisco bar in Europe and we only sell pisco – no gin, vodka or rum. Back then only 500 bottles of pisco were sold through restaurants and bars in the UK each year. Now, in 2014. it is 40,000,” says Morales.

Everyone from Kate Moss to Mario Testino has been spotted there sipping the new tequila, and with the growing trend for Peruvian food it was only a matter of time before Pisco began popping up at all the hippest parties.

“Pisco is the perfect drink because it has the soul of cognac, is as versatile as vodka, has the complexity of gin, the smoothness of tequila and as much history as whisky,” says Peruvian Pisco connoisseur José Francisco-Modonese, who is about to open London’s first private members’ Pisco bar, with a menu of rare Piscos and a Bolivian DJ spinning South American tracks till the sun comes up.

The trend is not just reserved to fashionable bars and clubs either. “The rise of the Pisco Sour has helped to drive sales of Pisco,” explains Guy Topping of drinks retailer Amathus. “The diversity of the fantastic grape spirit means that Pisco will be huge in 2015 – we now sell more Pisco than Cognac.”

So if you want to be in with the “it crowd” this party season, order a Pisco Sour.

Martin Morales of Ceviche and Andina, who opened the first Pisco Bar in Europe in 2012
Martin Morales of Ceviche and Andina, who opened the first Pisco Bar in Europe in 2012

Pachamama

This bijou 16-seat cocktail bar has only been open for a few weeks but already it’s making a big noise on the scene, combining Peruvian classics with British ingredients. With the feel of an eccentric, faded colonial home, you can expect home-infused Piscos with seasonal berries, herbs and fruits – try the Mama’s Pisco, a blend of Pisco, fresh raspberry, mint, orange juice, or the Piñamama, a pineapple-infused Pisco with Dead Rabbit Orinoco bitters, orange curaçao, maraschino cherry.

www.pachamamalondon.com

Pisco infusions line the bar at Andina
Pisco infusions line the bar at Andina

Andina

Peruvian Martin Morales was inspired by his native Andean cuisine to open London’s first Pisco bar in 2012, and he hasn’t looked back. His second super-hip eatery and basement bar, has jar upon jar of different Pisco infusions, including elderberry, cat’s claw, pineapple, chilli, and even cep mushroom. The Amantani – vanilla-infused Pisco, gin, goji berry and passion fruit juice – packs a superfood punch, and the Pisco moonshine four-shot special, four sipping shots of strawberry, plum, pineapple and blueberry Pisco, is a great way to test out the varieties.

The free Pisco Sour masterclass with bar manager Miguel Arbe on the first Wednesday of every month at 6pm, is a must!

www.andinalondon.com

 

A pisco sour from Andina
A pisco sour from Andina

Bodega

With a bright, favela-chic interior, this Birmingham restaurant and bar has a South American flavour that runs to the killer cocktail list, which has eight different Pisco-tails. The Pepino – fresh cucumber, Pisco, pear syrup, elderflower and lime – is cool and refreshing.
www.bodegabirmingham.co.uk

pisco embassy jars

Pisco Embassy

London’s first late-night members-only Pisco bar will open from midnight till 5am every weekend and centres around a 12-strong cocktail menu of beautifully-prepared classic and rare Piscos, bespoke cocktails and home-made infusions such as physalis, kafir leaves, orange and citron, created by head bartender, Lima-born José Francisco-Modonese. He visits Peru during the Pisco harvesting and distilling months each year, touring the vineyards, bodegas and specialised Pisco bars to find inspiration and exchange new ideas and concepts to bring back to London.

www.piscoembassy.london

A PIscoffee cocktail from Pisco Embassy
A PIscoffee cocktail from Pisco Embassy

Pisco Bar at LIMA Floral

This stylish new basement bar, that fits 30 people, offers an array of Peruvian-inspired cocktails including LIMA’s signature Pisco Sour made with Pisco, lime, sugar, egg white and Angostura bitter. You can also customise your Pisco Sour with a range of home-infused flavoured Piscos including rocoto pepper, huacatay herb (an Andean mint), orange and lemon peels, and rasisin and cinnamon. Or go upscale with an El Senor de Sipan – Prosecco, apple juice, raspberry syrup, Pisco, Campari and Pisco foam.

www.limafloral.com

The Pisco bar at Lima Floral
The Pisco bar at Lima Floral

 

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Brighton’s buzziest cocktail bar makes drinking a serious business, with a classy drinks list that’s as long as your arm. Their Pisco Sour combines the spirit with a simple base of sugar, lemon juice, bitters and orange zest, for a classic, grown-up take on the trend.

www.audiobrighton.com

Lima pisco sour

Senor Ceviche

London’s hottest pop-up ceviche bar, which puts all its energy into serving the best ceviche and Pisco, and nothing else, has finally found a permanent home in Soho this month (and they’ve even broadened their menu a little). Owner Harry Edmeades went out to Pisco to source their house drink direct from the vineyard, and eight of the bar’s ten cocktails are Pisco-based. The freshly shaken Pisco Sour is still the signature drink.

www.senor-ceviche.com

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Black Dog Ballroom

Manchester’s New York-style speakeasy cocktail bar is championing the return of the Pisco Sour, which it describes as “one of the greatest drinks of all time, sadly lost to many of our generation.” The Little Bird is a tall cocktail of Pisco ABA, maraschino cherry liqueur, citrus, and ting (a fizzy Jamaican grapefruit juice), topped off with crème de mure.

www.blackdogballroom.co.uk

Pisco Infusion (3)

Pisco Bar at Coya

Head barman Jun Narita has been mixing seasonally changing PIsco cocktails as well as home infusions since this Peruvian bar and restaurant opened two years ago. Try the latest Blackberry Pisco Sour or sign up for one of the Pisco masterclasses and learn to mix your own at home.

www.coyarestaurant.com

 

Las Iguanas

With three outposts in Bristol, and others around the country, this bright and breezy South American chain serves up a mean Pisco Sour using Pisco, triple sec and lemon juice, with egg white and bitters.

www.iguanas.co.uk

 

To see the original feature in Metro, visit e-edition.metro.co.uk/home.html 

Poppy pops up in Shoreditch

 

I love the whimsical designs of Brit label Poppy England, which creates cute kids (and big kids – ie, Me!) clothes, toys, fabrics and home accessories, toys and books. So I’m overjoyed to see that they have a pop-up shop in London’s Shoreditch this weekend at 20 Cheshire Street. Turn up in a Poppy dress and get a 10% discount! www.poppyengland.com

The modern pantry

Our love of baking, combined with a lack of storage thanks to open-plan living has led to a resurgence of the traditional pantry

This weekend is Stir-up Sunday, when it is tradition to make your Christmas Pudding – and let each member of the family have a stir and make a wish. Organised bakers will already have their Christmas cake made and be storing it somewhere dry and cool until the big day. If, like me, you have a modern kitchen with very little storage space you might want to wish for a pantry while you’re stirring that pudding, in which to keep your festive creations.

In the days before fridges, nearly all homes had a larder, but today it’s something of a luxury – where they did exit they have been largely ripped out to create open-plan kitchens. And while few of us can afford the space for a walk-in pantry on the scale of Nigella Lawson’s, sales of standalone pantries are on the rise.

Whether it’s down to the craze for baking that means we all have a lot more ingredients and paraphernalia or simply because of the compact size of modern fitted kitchens (few seem to cover more than one wall in new open-plan homes), the pantry is having a comeback.

Loaf's Rhubarb larder is ideal for free-standing kitchens
Loaf’s Rhubarb larder is ideal for free-standing kitchens

“There’s something really nostalgic about a kitchen larder, stashed full of homemade jams, pickles, spices and biscuits,” explains Charlie Marshall, the founder of Loaf, which has just introduced its Rhubarb Larder Cupboard (£695, loaf.com) this month as a response to requests from customers. “They’re really handy for extra storage – especially as there’s a trend for low kitchen units at the moment, which look nice but lack space.”

Loaf’s larder cupboard is perfect for storing away biscuits, caster sugar, baking powder, vanilla pods and spices… and other dry ingredients that need a good, cool, dry home. With a vintage feel and matt paint, it will suit new or old homes and is pretty versatile – as well as food you can stack crockery or baking equipment in it.

For the storage poor, a pantry is a modern alternative to a dresser, which can look a bit too “country” for urban homes, and also has the advantage that you can get a lot more in it.

“Traditionally the pantry would be on an outside wall with an open air brick supplying naturally cool air up underneath the traditional marble cold shelf to keep everything on it below room temperature,” says Richard Davonport, Managing Director of Davonport, which specialises in building bespoke stand-alone and walk-in pantries – the Davonport butler’s pantry comes with dovetailed walnut wood drawers and storage compartments, fruit and vegetable crates and a Carrera marble cold shelf (from £4,000, davonport.com).

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“We’ve definitely see a rise in sales over the past few years. In part it’s because our clients are opening their rooms up for open-plan living. This allows more space to place a large pantry cupboard, which can retain most of a family’s food storage in one space. But I think it is also because people are cooking more and living more healthily, so they need more space to store dry foods and fresh fruit and vegetables.”

For those lucky enough to have a pantry in their homes, they wouldn’t be without it. “It’s essential,” says David Foubister from Huntly in Aberdeenshire who grows his own fruit and vegetables. “I need my pantry to store the vast amount of homemade pickles, chutneys and jams that I make from home-grown food. Often, normal kitchen cupboards are too warm.”

They’re also increasingly a great selling point for properties, as more of us want room to store food and our kitchen gadgets.

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“I grew up with one and been without for years until we moved into our new house two weeks ago – as soon as I saw the pantry in the kitchen when we looked around my mind was made up about wanting the house,” explains Hazel Newhouse from Biggleswade in Bedfordshire. “I cook and bake every day and I wanted the space as I have a lot of baking materials that I’ve collected. It’s ideal for us as a growing family and I love that it makes the space feel quite retro and nostalgic.”

A walk-in pantry does mean sacrificing floor space in your kitchen or home, but it can also be used as a prep area for measuring out ingredients, and also as a store for the plethora of kitchen gadgetry that now clutters most kitchen worktops.

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For a custom solution, Birmingham’s Kitchen Restoration Company (kitchenrestoration.co.uk) can design a larder to fit your space, whether it’s adding doors to an alcove with shelving or creating a unit with glass shelving for storage jars and pull-out wire baskets for fresh veg.

It’s little wonder that the high street has picked up on the trend, too. Marks and Spencer has stocked its chunky Padstow larder unit (£1599, marksandspencer.com) for three years. “We know that people want more kitchen storage space,” says Furniture Buyer Paul Tanner, “but a country dresser doesn’t suit every home.”

In fact, demand for the contemporary New England-style pantry, with its built-in wine and spice racks, large vegetable drawers and shelving, has been so strong that this season the brand has introduced three new colours this season, green grey and putty. John Lewis has also begun stocking its Lomond larder unit (£2250, johnlewis.com) for the first time this autumn.

As Pip Prinsloo, John Lewis’ Design Manager Homeware notes, “people are looking for new kitchen storage options. Larders were once commonplace and we think that they will become an important feature in homes again.”

 

Join the sloe food movement

Chances are, you’ll have sipped sloe gin at Christmas, but sloes, or blackthorn berries, are actually a wild autumn fruit, and thanks to a mild spring followed by the downpours of rain this month, ‘Christmas’ is coming early with a bumper harvest of sloes appearing more than month earlier than usual. The rain has caused the fruit to think that frost is on the way and start producing fruit early – the same thing happens to other hedgerow fruits including blackberries, haws, rose hips… and even grapes, making 2014 a vintage harvest.

Sloe berries
Sloe berries

Foragers love sloes, which are part of the same family as plums, cherries and peaches, but look like a small damson and taste very tart indeed. Add enough sugar, though, and they become spicy, plummy and complex in flavour – which makes them taste extra delicious in desserts, drinks and even tarting up savoury dishes such as venison and duck.

Blackthorn bushes are often used to form a traditional “brambly hedge” because of their spiny, dense branches, and are a common site along country lanes and hedgerows, around fields and on scrubby land in towns. The fruits, just over a centimetre in size, are a dark, purply-black bruise colour and grow in clusters at the ends of the spiky branches.

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Thanks to the early, and bumper, bounty, sloes have ripened already so instead of waiting until after the first frosts in October or November to pick them, they are ready now. You’ll know they are ripe if they are soft to touch. And the riper they are, the sweeter they become – though they’re still tongue-curlingly sour without any added sugar. “I’ve already picked some this season and they are great,” confirms forager and author of the River Cottage Hedgerow handbook John Wright. “Just make sure that they are purple and soft, and choose the fattest ones you can find.”

Sloe gin
Sloe gin

So, once picked, what can you do with them? Sloe gin is ludicrously simple to make. “It’s the classic country drink,” says Wright. “Round where I live in Dorset, everybody makes it.”

“The curious thing about sloe gin – aside from the rather marvellous flavour – is that there are only three ingredients and around 4,000 different recipes,” explains Wright. He works to a basic recipe of 250g of sugar and one litre of gin for every 500g of sloes. Combine them together in a bottle, then all you do is wait, with the occasional shake of the bottle now and then, for the flavour to develop and infuse so that you get a sweet, syrupy, festive liqueur. Eight weeks is about the minimum time required, but the longer you leave it the smoother it becomes.

A lovely label for your gin, as found on Pinterest
A lovely label for your gin, as found on Pinterest

“The secret,” says Wright, “is to make more than you need and leave it for as long as possible. After two or three months it will taste fruity; after six months it will take on an almond-y taste, almost like Amaretto; and after 20 years it will taste velvet-smooth like Madeira.”

And once you have the sloe gin, you can combine it with blackberries to make blackberry and sloe gin sorbet, add it to a fruit sponge pudding for an extra kick, or even braise meat with it.

But if you want to use those sloes now, just add sugar to create sloe and apple jelly, or combine it with blackberries, new season apples and cobnuts to create a foraged, autumnal crumble or cobbler.

 

More hedgerow bounty…
Grab a basket and hit the hedgerows for a free, fruity feast.

Blackberries
Wherever there is a patch of neglected land or a hedgerow, you’ll find brambles, laden with ripe and juicy berries – they look like big raspberries, but they’re black, sweeter and juicier and will be ready from September onwards.

Rosehips
You’ll find these orangey-red fruits, that are potent in vitamin C, from late summer onwards, both on roses in your garden and wild, rambling ones in hedgerows. Turn them into syrup, herbal tea, jam and jellies, or rosehip soup – which is a popular dish in Sweden.

Cobnuts
A variety of the hazelnut, cobnuts are especially common in the South, where they grow wild in woods on hazel trees. Young, green cobnuts have a taste like coconut, while ripe, golden ones, are sweet like hazelnuts. You’ll probably also find cob- and hazelnuts in parks… if the squirrels don’t get there first.

Mushrooms
Unless you know what you’re picking, or are with an expert (they don’t call John Wright “John Mushroom” for nothing!), you don’t want to go picking random mushrooms. But armed with a guidebook or a forager, you’ll find them popping up in woodland and grassland from about now and throughout autumn. John Wright has mushroom foraging courses at River Cottage in Dorset.