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Welcome Summer & Hello Elderflower

Lovely elderflower

Isn’t it lovely to have summer finally arrive? Just glorious! But like all good things, it comes and then you remember the things that are slightly annoying about it. Like the sunburn, the hay fever, the heat rash and those terribly chirpy birds in the hedge who wake with the light and go CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP. Tiny and sharp and irritating (at 5am), like little chirpy pneumatic drills that invade your head and your sleep.

This bird, and her chicks, wake me up every-single-morning. Sleepy.

But I do love summer. Even though I am Irish and pale and my body can’t actually cope with the heat. I think we operate best between 10 and 16 deg C.

Spring is best. When the flowers start to peep out and release their gorgeous fragrance, when the parks rush towards lush and green. The evenings are longer and people are happier. I love to wander in the local park, especially in the mornings.  If I can motivate myself I will even go before I start work. I always have a bag so that I can forage all of the delicious things like nettles and elderflower.

Elder tree at the end of the garden

This year is even better. Some of you will know that I have moved Saf, as we say here. South of the river in London that is. A new departure for me, I have always been a creature of the North and the East. There are many new things to discover, a gorgeous local park and woodland, lots of wild parakeets (really!) and at last, my little flat has a lovely little garden. In that garden is an elder tree. Perfect.

Elderflower, picked and ready to become cordial

I love elderflower. It brings me back to childhood and possibilities. Our hedgerows were full of elderflower, and I was easily amused so I would spend hours making elderflower cordial and trying to make elderflower perfume. The perfume never really worked for me, but the cordial has stayed. I would also make turkish delight in the microwave – a long story for another post – so I think it is only right that the two should finally meet.

So elderflower a go-go it is here right now. I have been making cordial for cocktails – bellinis and elderflower collins – as it is my birthday next week and I like a little excuse to party. I am also about to fritter some and dust them merrily with icing sugar. Tomorrow I will make that elderflower turkish delight. I can’t wait for the gooseberries to arrive so that I can make gooseberry and elderflower turkish delight which will be just gorgeous.

My elderflower cordial and bellini recipe are in my book, but the others are new to here. I will carry on perfecting them, and I will be right back with them for you to try at home on a glorious sunny evening.

Bye for now! Enjoy the lovely evening.



Filed under: Random


Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.


  1. I must be honorary Irish (you get chocolate brown Irish, right?) as 10-16 C is my ideal temperature range too. Hate the cold and anything above 20 makes me feel lethargic. Anything above 25 makes me miserable. And anything above 30 makes me feel like I’m actually being cooked alive.

    • Lol – we do – you may be honorary Irish. I actually quite like the cold when I am all wrapped up :)

      • Yes I’d rather the cold than the hot. Cold I can wrap up against, I have my snowboots and coat from our Antarctica trips, and lots of thermal undies!!! WIth the heat, what can you do? Stripping naked in public is frowned upon, and sometimes even naked isn’t enough… So yeah, I’m with you!

  2. Claudia says

    Gooseberry and Elderflower Turkish Delight! Wow! I can’t wait to learn how you do that – at last something new to do with the goose-gogs other than Fool – thanks for a great blog – love the photos.

  3. Ann Sutton says

    Nimah Your blog is really inspirational for all of us who just love food. What a great summer theme. I certainly hope to join one of your cookery school sessions at some point soon

  4. I just lived in London for two years and specially ordered some elderflower back home in the States to make cocktails! I absolutely love it :)

  5. Ingrid Stone says

    Have you ever had elderflower cordial? ( the drink) absolutely delicious!! perfect while your trying to cool down!! I am from west cork, and I start to sweat at anything about 7 degrees! Love your blog by the way. Pure brilliance, in web format.

    • Yup – made a big batch yesterday and making more today :)

      Thanks for the kind words – lovely to hear.

  6. I’ve been on the elderflower perve for a month! IT’S TIME!! Although last year I came home and found two bottles of elderflower champagne had exploded in my house (stopper in the fruit bowl, glass on the stairs, that kind of scene) but I will not be put off! Hurrah to the mighty elderflower!

    • Powerful stuff! I have heard so many exploding elderflower champagne stories. Worth the risk though, as you say :)

  7. Oo elderflower fritters! Great idea – I’ve never made elderflower cordial as I’m torn between picking the flowers or leaving them for the berries. Flowers or berries? Flowers or berries? See, hard to decide.

    Welcome Safff : )

    • HARD TO DECIDE. It is a tough call, but bear in mind if you don’t pick the flowers, I will. All jokes aside, you don’t have to pick all of the flowers, just some, and then there will be plenty of berries too! :)

  8. My mum is part Singaporian and I believe that I have inherited the part of the her DNA that makes me very sensitive to the cold! I only take my cardigan off above 20 deg. Our office fan blows right on me and people think I am mad for having the need for sleeves while they’re all sweating their asses off!

    I didn’t spot you mentioning the blight of summer chirps: wood pigeons! They’re of particular annoyance with their unique “huh-hoo-hoo”. Fortunately there’s nowhere nearby for the blighters to nest at our current place!

    • Ah, yes, but you must have the skin for it. I don’t even like really hot baths or showers, my skin can’t take it.

      Pigeons are the worst. And foxes! Nature, out to get us isn’t it?! ;)

      • laythetable says

        I wish I could say I did have the skin for it! I am totally vampire pale like the ginger one out of Girls Aloud! Something has gone very wrong here…

  9. Leave some berries for the birds; they need a good feed before their migration. So my girlfriend’s father says, he is a retired vet. I take from the bottom the birds take from the top.
    Jamie does an Elderflower/Lime/Cucumber sorbet that was the most wonderful summer hit last year. It’s in his Mag. possibly on the net somewhere. I am going for Elderflower Bavoire this year. I am in Bavaria soon, lots of Elderflower there.
    How long does cordial last? Mine started to ferment last year. Is there any way of stopping this other than freezing it?
    Another cool post, well done

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  12. ooooo will there be an elderflower cordial recipe up? I have just moved and there is a huge tree at the end of the garden. Not blooming yet, probably due to Yorkshire climate.

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