Sunday, 26 June 2011


I am told the Czech news has been full of doom and gloom about a failure in fruit this year - no cherries, no plums, no apples and pears. But they clearly haven't been in my orchard.

The branches on my early cherry tree have been weighed down with deep red fruit or they were until I and the birds relieved them of their treasure. The freezer is now full of bags of cherries and in the cupboard jars of cherries preserved in a mixture of gin and sugar are sitting waiting for my return from England in August.

Then there are the strawberries - my friend Hannah loved her strawberries and grew them both at her Krumlov riverside house and the house she was restoring by the lake. I have keeping an eye on both houses, as the slow business of Czech probate proceeds, and I pay myself in soft fruit - strawberries and raspberries.

But the greatest of fruits are the ones that no one plants or tends. They have a special richness that comes from God or Nature being their gardener. The wild strawberries are magnificent this year in their size and abundance. Usually there are too few even to survive the trip to the basket and certainly not to the house, but this year there have been so many that there are bags full in the freezer.

And what shall I drink with these fruits? Of course it is a drink made from another harvest. I have two bottles of elderflower syrup sitting in my cupboard. An easy drink to make and a delicious one that speaks of early summer. My method is simply to layer the flowers with sugar in a jug and leave for a day or two, then simply add bowling water and hey presto - elixir.

For the last few weeks I have been

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