26th June 2012

What a wonderfully heady time of the year. My daily walk along West Beach is full of delicious smells: honeysuckle, sweet peas, lilies, broom and roses of course. I try to sniff a different rose each day, from front gardens and parks, but not yet from my own garden.

Roses are fairly hideous plants for most of the year. With twisted thorny stems, that can often grab a hold of you and catch your clothes, their foliage is often discoloured and diseased, but for this one month of the yea,r they are worth the other eleven. I thought I could forgo that month-long charm, but have succumbed and bought some ‘Souvenir de Docteur Jermain’ – deep magenta bloom with delicious aroma to clothe one wall of the chicken run next to our rickety old swing seat.

Not all June’s bounty smells so sweetly. How can elderflower blossom with a bouquet of cat pee make such a delicately flavoured cordial? This is the definitive recipe: light, lemony and Muscat flavoured: pick 10 flowery heads on a sunny day and soak them in 850ml of boiled cooled water in a large pan or bucket. Add 650g sugar and 3 or 4 sliced lemons with their juice and zest. Leave to macerate for a day or two, then strain through a muslin-lined sieve.

Any surplus can be saved and frozen in small plastic bottles, but if you use this cordial in sorbets, jellies and drizzled on cakes; or mixed with gin, lemon and ice in a cocktail or with cheap fizzy wine, there won’t be a drop left.