Sunday, 5 June 2011

Wicken Fen walk and elderflower gathering

 Today we drove to Wicken Fen which is about half an hour out of Cambridge.  We have been twice before - once for I's 7th birthday and once to meet Father Christmas  but I wanted to do a proper walk. Having googled it, we picked the Adventurers’ Trail: which is 2 3⁄4 miles.

We started with Wicken Lode on our right and followed the path keeping the water to our right. We saw some ash trees and Wicken’s Poor Fen on our left which is common land where local villagers used to collect sedge and peat from here. We crossed Monk’s Lode at Norman’s Bridge. There were 2 narrow boats mored here. Having turned left we walked along Monk’s Lode. Then we turned right through the lower set of gates. The girls were interested in the two hides on the right, but knowing their inability to keep quiet we thought we better stay away. I and G were excited to see the wild Konik ponies and highland cattle in the distance however. We then turned right along the next path. Then we turned right again to walk alongside Wicken Lode. We crossed back over Norman’s Bridge and returned to the car park.

Even more excitedly I found lots of Elder in flower which I collected. Then I came back and have made elderflower cordial. I used this recipe:

25 elderflower heads
7 tablespoons of lemon juice (as I didn't have any real lemons but if I did I would have used 3)
2 tsp of citric acid (bought off the internet)
1.5 kg  of sugar
1.5 ltr  boiling water

First I boiled a kettle for the water. I shook the flowers over another bowl to get rid of insects (although I note there are a number of drowned tiny ones in the mixture) Then I put the other ingredients in my huge bowl. Then I pour the water over the other ingredients and stired until the sugar has dissolved.  I covered with a tea towel.

I will remember to stir twice a day for five days. Then I'll strain though a fine sieve and a muslin cloth to decant into sterile screw topped bottles and refrigerate.

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