I have worked in the food industry since 1985 and latterly knew the fashions which generally surround the seasonal local story for anyone who is even vaguely clued up on these things. But I don’t think it was until I went to work at Laverstoke Park Farm that I understood what that really meant and how it should be applied to the food we eat.

Since leaving there, my connection has remained with M who continues her quest to make ever improving dairy products from the buffalo milk there and each year is humbled by the gold awards that she receives from the cheese, yogurt and ice cream aficionados. Unlike me, M grew up with nature in her soul. I tell her she is Mother Nature herself in my eyes and she laughs at me. She literally eats and breathes biodynamic principles because she was brought up with parents who taught her to pick and eat the flowers and herbs that nature presents us. She is horrified by the combination of many recipes, like tomatoes and kale salad to name but one as they are simply never in season together so what are we talking about. And now she connects with the buffalo on the farm in such a spiritual way that her cheese emanates the quality of the milk like no other I have ever tasted…hence all the awards.

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This weekend I managed to get out of the smog and down to the pure air of Hampshire to re-charge. On Saturday we went up to the stables to feed her horses and then strolled through the adjacent woodland picking elderflowers as they are absolutely in season right now. I never ever in a million years did this sort of thing in my childhood so I was like a child once more embracing nature’s presents. We filled two bags with the pretty flowers and made our way back to the farm kitchen.

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The flowers we immersed into pure water and married with lots of lemons (Juice and rinds) to be left over night to share their magic with each other.

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On Sunday we had a leisurely morning and then addressed the flower water. M has the most wonderful folder of recipes that have been handed down to her from two generations with handwritten and illustrated recipes all in her native Dutch tongue. In these days of the internet, it feels we have lost this art. Every page was more inspiring than the last and whilst I don’t speak Dutch, I could glean the precious nature of the folder. You could never get that sense of something special from a computer file. We opened up to the elderflower and elderberry recipes and calculated the sugar, which is a whopping 1kg to 1 litre of liquid in Grandma’s recipe and started mixing the potions. It is a cordial after all.

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After bringing to the boil and leaving it there for 5 minutes, we decanted into our many and varied bottles, added slices of lemon and more whole elderflowers and hey presto. The Summer cordials were made. M told me that you can do lots with them such as storing in ice cube bags and then adding to water that way, or making lemon juice ice cubes and adding those in, with some little flowers too. I always like to mix my juices so will be serving with lemon but also ginger and mint to mix it up a bit but either way am dead chuffed that we did this. It was such a fun day.

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We rewarded ourselves with a long walk in the farm saying hello to the buffalo, cows, pig, sheep, wild boar and the odd deer before coming back to a simple lunch of M’s mozzarella, seasonal tomatoes and basil. The tricolore salad was as colourful as the peonies plucked from her garden and I just embraced the whole day. Sadly the motorway beckoned, but at least I had three bottles of elderflower liquid gold to bring back to London with me.

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