The hedgerow theme round here has been almost black brown and tinted pink white. The variable weather since last autumn has led to lanes and lanes of frothy blossom set on the dark twigs of blackthorn. Which is excellent news because maybe, it means easy to pick sloes for sloe gin in October. There weren’t so many last year and the fattest ones were high up out of reach. Until January one blackthorn tree stood on its own at the top of the hill facing the strong winds and was always good for at least two or more, usually four, litres of sloe gin. Unfortunately, the contractor employed to cut the hedges slashed it pieces even though it wasn’t part of a hedge, which amounts to a sort of vandalism.  

The tree that was flavoured 4 litres of Co-op gin last autumn. The gin sat in its cool dark place taking up the purple than red of the sloes and absorbing the sugar.  Bad timing meant it wasn’t ready for Christmas but in January it was strained and bottled, but only half of it because the other half ended up a mess of smashed glass, split almonds and coloured gin which seeped across a concrete floor – the pub smell lingered for weeks.  

Another almost black brown and tinted white sight is the back end of this alpaca, Bea. Blackthorn would have been an excellent name for her – she is spikey and hardy and tough, coming from a line of spikey, tough females. She is 10 years old and gets more irritable with age.