Haws and sloes
The very of notion of England's hedegrows is one I find somewhat nostalgic despite never having actually set foot on old Blighty. Most likely it stems from stories I read as a child of quiet country lanes lined with hedgerows :: the setting for many Famous Five adventures. You know, the ones sustained by hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, treacle tart with a jug of cream and bottles of ginger beer.
Although clearly not a new thing, o
Tasmania boasts a few hedgerows, most notably in the state's north, where the back roads are lined with immaculately kept hawthorn hedges.
My valley, however, is not so particular with maintaining its hedges. The hawthorn hedges, probably planted widely when the valley was first settled, are now neglected, straggly remnants of some long dead colonial's dream of recreating a little England at the end of the earth.
There is however, one lush, if not overgrown hawthorn hedge around here. It's one I notice often as it sits in front of an old ruined building that I love. This sweet old ruin, once a shop, is unique for its decorative columns, the only building to feature this style in the valley.
So today as I was driving past, I noticed large purple berries amongst the hawthorn. I screeched on the brakes, braved the wind and lashing rain to take a closer look. Sloes! Lots and lots of sloes growing amidst the hawthorn. I was so excited, I raced the children home from school, whipped up a batch of one of Pip's baked risotto recipes, (because we are all busy), and grabbed my secateurs, baskets, and gloves and screeched back to forage for myself.
I pruned the branches heavy with fruit and chucked them into the back of the car. Whilst I was there, I thought I might as well grab some haws, those red berries that grow on the hawthorn. I will make a jelly with those.
So sloes. What are they? A completely inedible tiny dark purple plum that makes the most wonderful gin. Sloe gin. I now have enough sloes to make quite a big batch of gin. Utterly delicious.
I can't help but wonder though, who was it that planted those sloes all those years ago? Was it the same person who built the shop with stylish columns? That is much more intriguing than any Famous Five mystery.
Thank you who ever you were, you totally made my day.