Thursday, June 18, 2020

A Message from Old Mary

Hello My Dears,

June is a time full of pleasant pastimes and tasks to be done. Our little village is thriving with activity, all of us happy in the warm sun of these longer days. Have you heard that our dear Charlotte Watson has left us to marry and settle in Rushton? I know you all join me in sending our best wishes to her in this new chapter of her life. Lorne Bratten, nephew of Leandrea Wallis has returned from a trip north and is a much welcomed help at the Rose & Crown Inn. Our dear friend Patience Blackthorne of The Brambles is off for high adventure touring Italy with her chaperones. She will be sorely missed but perhaps at some time in the distant future she may enthrall us with her tales of high adventure. We also have the pleasure of welcoming Miss Lavinia Rose Westcott to our Amberleigh family. I am sure we shall all delight in making her acquaintance.

You will no doubt have heard the news that a regiment of the His Majesty’s Army has set up their camp just outside Cheltenham so you may just see some of these fine young men looking impressive in their uniforms when you visit Bexford Market next. I dare say we may even have some of them at our Midsummer Masque. I have had the pleasure of meeting one Captain Venning, a most agreeable young man, who tells me they will remain in our area until August.

The morning of June 10th saw us all pause in awe to watch the Count and Countess Von Alland arrive at Carlyle House in their grand equipage and four beautiful greys. The Count and Baron Marlowe were tutored together as children, I’m told, the Count being the son of the Ambassador to England from Vienna and a good friend to his Lordship’s father. Lady Elizabeth tells me the Count and Countess will demonstrate a dance called The Waltz at our Midsummer Masque.

Have you all been sewing your costumes and getting your masks in order for this most anticipated event? I have had a very clever idea for my own costume, I wonder how many of you will recognize me? It shall be glorious dancing the night away enjoying the pleasure of one another’s company, do you not agree? Lady Caroline, Lady Elizabeth and Leandrea Wallis have put much effort into the ball for your enjoyment and I’m sure it shall be a most enchanting evening for us all.

The happy news of Mary Thomas’ pregnancy can only be made more joyous in the knowledge that we may expect another new resident in Amberleigh in the new year from Lady Elizabeth. Both are delighted their babes shall be born shortly after the new year and hope they shall be lifelong friends. The Thomas’ have the added good news of Reverend Thomas being gifted the living of Constance in addition to the living of Amberleigh. With this added responsibility a curate will be joining our realm in order to assist the vicar and I know you shall all welcome Mr. Neville Clutterback into our family when he arrives in mid June.

Our summer fete grows closer and proves to be a day of pleasure for everyone. Lady Caroline and Lady Elizabeth have worked with Mary Thomas for some time now to create a day of fun and an evening of music and dancing that shall rival all other fetes in our environs. I hope you are all working diligently on your entries for the competitions. I hear there will be many categories to admire this year and I for one am looking forward to the day.

Speaking of the fete, have you noticed the elder flowers? I believe they are one of the prettiest harbingers of summer. Frothy clusters of tiny buds burst into bloom making the hedgerows look beautiful. The berries have their own uses but the flowers may also be used to great advantage. This week I’m brewing a little elder flower sparkling drink to enjoy on one of those long, hot summer days and a little extra just for the fete. This is something all the family may enjoy for it is not spirited. Perhaps you will also brew a batch for yourselves and one for the fete for all to enjoy.

Here is my recipe should you care to make this refreshing drink:

to 1 Gallon (4 ½ litres) of water add:
4 or 5 elder flower heads with as much of the stem cut off as possible
juice 2 lemons then quarter the rinds
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1 ½ pounds (750 grams) of sugar

Stir this mixture all through the day then on the second day pour it through a fine sieve or cloth into bottles. Put the bottles in your cupboard and in two weeks you shall have a lovely effervescent drink to enjoy.

With all my best wishes,

Old Mary

Foraging with Old Mary

  Hello, My Dears, As you know, I like nothing better than to meander around the Ackley Wood, foraging for herbs and wild flowers to use i...