Posts Tagged ‘Chorlton’

Sloe going

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

The weather in the UK has been remarkably awesome over the last few weeks. England has been basking in glorious sunshine and I have been able to wear skirts and have my legs out a few times. Yesterday delivered once again with sunshine and 17 degrees – perfect weather for my friend Jon and I to go foraging for sloes.

You might remember Jon from previous environmentally-related activities such as worm charming and chicken racing. He’s back, this time encouraging me to dive into bramble/nettled filled hedges along the banks of the Mersey river in order to collect sloes.

For the Australians reading this, a sloe is a mini-plum that looks like a potentially deadly berry. Turns out they don’t kill you, they’re just extremely tart and don’t make good eating. But when left to ferment in a bottle of gin with a heap of added sugar, they make an excellent alcoholic beverage. They also make you tell terrible jokes such as, “Geez, Jon, why are you working so sloely?”

At 5pm, Jon and I headed to Chorlton water park (that’s British for ‘park with lake’) and threw ourselves into the prickly growth along the river. There weren’t that many sloes which meant we really had to dig/get scratched to reach them. I received my first ever nettle sting which was as unpleasant as one would expect it to be.

How sloe can you go?

How sloe can you go?

Once we had collected a sufficient number, we searched for wild horseradish and rose hips but both were either difficult to obtain or underripe. So with our sloes, we headed to Morrisons to find the cheapest gin available.

Back at Jon’s place we began the sloe gin making process which essentially involved putting sugar, sloes and gin in a bottle and then shaking it. The hardest part is the waiting time – I can’t drink it for at least 2 months. So sloe… Stay tuned for more sloe jokes in December.

The beginnings of sloe gin

The beginnings of sloe gin

Fire and Explosives

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Last night saw the skies of Manchester light up with the glow of fires and the flash of fireworks, followed by the gentle orange drift of explosives smoke. It was bonfire night (aka Guy Fawkes night) where people around the UK set things on fire and let off fireworks while standing in the rain drinking cider.  The origin of this event stems back to King James I surviving an attempt on his life by Guy Fawkes in 1605 (thank you, Wikipedia) and, for years afterwards, people have taken the opportunity to blow things up. I find this a little contradictory considering Guy tried to kill James with explosives and now children are blowing their hands off with rogue rockets and roman candles.

There were no bonfires within Manchester city centre as fires and enclosed city spaces are generally not a good combination. I headed to Cholton with fellow Australian, Eli, as all British nationals had declined to join us. We headed to the usually pleasant residential square of Cholton Green where we found hundreds of people squished together trying to buy hot cider and get the best position for the fireworks. We arrived just in time for the 9 o’clock display as fireworks were set off from what appeared to be the roof of the Horse & Jockey pub. Considering it was just a local fireworks display it was quite a pretty show and it received plenty of oohs and ahhs from the appreciative audience.

Ooh! Ahh!

Ooh! Ahh!

Eli and I went in search of a bonfire as what is bonfire night without a bonfire? We found a burning pile of wooden packing crates at the back of another pub. When the wind changed direction and picked up speed, the people standing on that side of the fire would get a burst of hot air, ash and smoke. Delightful.

Fire!

Fire!

Everyone was getting into the community spirit and there was a great positive energy permeating the crowd. I was happy with my first bon fire night experience and am now just waiting for the smoke smell to dissipate from my jacket.