Wednesday, June 20, 2018


At last.  Long, warm sunny days.  And I´m always behind on the weeding.

We dug out the solar lights and the cushions for the patio.  V sanded and applied a few coats of teak oil to the table tops, and we planted some annuals in the planters.  Now, that corner is ready for barbecues and summer visitors.

Finally got enough elderflowers together to try the River Cottage cordial recipe again.  Last time, whilst lemony and refreshing, there was a nasty aftertaste to the concoction.  Apparently, there are elder trees and better elder trees.

General directions are to add lemon and orange zest to the cleaned blooms.  Shake them a lot, there were a ton of tiny, tiny black insects on them.  Also, I read somewhere to take as much of the stem off as possible.

Pour boiling water over and let steep over night.

Strain the flowers into a pot, add sugar and the juice of the lemons and orange and bring to a simmer to dissolve.  I didn´t have an orange on hand, so I just threw in a half a cup of orange juice. I also only used about 3/4 of the sugar in the recipe.

While a definite improvement on the first batch, no funky aftertaste this time, this isn´t quite as lemony and refreshing and is really too sweet for my taste, even mixed with sparkling water.  But for someone who enjoys sweet drinks, it would probably make a picturesque, summery refreshment.  I wonder if vodka would help.

Cheers from Galicia for a happy solstice and Viva San Xoan!


  1. Nice to see your garden coming along now the weather has improved.
    Interesting to see the way you made the elder flower cordial, especially about removing the stems from the flower heads. I shall remember your tips when I get round to making that cordial!

  2. Sally on downsizer passed on a the blooms in a bag for two days...shake, and the blooms fall off the stalks! I imagine that that would be paper bags...

  3. Hi Vera, it´s coming along, but work trying to stay ahead of the weeds and grass. Direct seeding was mostly a disaster. Hope your cordial is delicious!

    Hi GZ, Funny, I remember all sorts of warnings about the importance of harvesting absolutely fresh, but after the dew has dried. Also, somewhere they said not to wash the flowers as it takes off the pollen. Who knows.

    Happy Solstice to you!

  4. Hi Coco,

    It is great to see a summer garden from the depths of winter. Great stuff. Out of curiosity, how far away are fresh tomatoes?

    Well done with the elderflower drink. It's great stuff, and a favourite of mine. We leave it mature for about a year before drinking, although it is as strong as wine by then.



  5. Hi Chris,

    The first flowers are showing up on the tomatoes. Usually they don´t ripen until August. It´s really hot right now, so who knows.

    I´ve seen recipes with champagne yeast for fizzy elderflower drinks, but this particular one says it´ll only last a month or so with refrigeration.

    I may just abandon it as a project at this point.

  6. Hi, Coco!

    Thanks for the recipe; we were talking about it last time. I never did make an elderflower cordial while ours were at the height of blooming. I was busy and I kept pondering all that sugar. You (and your commenters) have really goods tips here, so maybe next time. In fact, we still have a few blooms . . .

    Your season is somewhat later than mine. We usually have a first ripe tomato by July 4, though things look behind this year. I can't figure out why.


  7. Hi Pam,

    It was in the 90s a couple of days ago and now they´re predicting a cold front and rain for the impending visit of some friends from the States for the weekend. Sigh. So much for the solar lights and the patio prep.

  8. Well, that's a shame! Sometimes it seems like you have more clouds than sun. And you have quite a lot of visitors!


  9. It is a shame, but typical, so I guess they´ll get the real experience.

    Hope you´re enjoying your summer.

  10. Hi there, I've been enjoying your blog from afar (California!) and wondering what you would tell others who might be thinking of relocating to Galicia from around the world. I won't be able to afford what my parents have here in California, and so once they are gone, I will be looking for a new home. I'd love to hear your advice to new, English-speaking expats. Thanks in advance!

  11. Hi Anne,

    I´m so sorry for the late reply, I just saw your comment.

    Your first problem will be income, working over here without an EU passport will be very difficult. I know the British population in Spain is in a very tough spot at the moment with the looming Brexit issue. Do your research.

    That said, in terms of finding property, and depending on the exchange rate, you´ll find a lot more for a lot less than you would in most parts of California. Depending on your resources, you might find an entire abandoned village to your taste. In general, I find food a lot less expensive than in the US and property taxes seem downright cheap.

    Be aware that living rural has its challenges, just like anywhere else. Jobs and services are scarce, the population is aging, and people seem to socialize in family groups. You´ll also find it necessary to speak at least some Spanish and many people here function day to day with Gallego. That´s less true in a city, but still something to consider.

    But I have to say I´m delighted with Galicia. I love the history, architecture, music, and varied landscape. We have the mountains and the sea an hour in either direction, and a lovely corner to live in.

    All in all, I´d say visit. It´s a long flight, I know since I visited several times. And try to manage at least one summer and one winter experience. Six months of cold and wet isn´t to be dismissed lightly.

    I know there are compelling reasons to think about living someplace else for lots of people around the world, but also keep in mind that political conflict is everywhere and we´re all going to have to make an effort to get along wherever we are, if things are going to get better.

    Hope that helps!