london foraging

A Victorian Part Full Dress and Undress Uniform to an Officer of the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry, comprising a black leather helmet with white horse hair plume, gilt metal acanthus leaf plume holder and pommel, helmet plate (lacks chin strap and ear rosettes, in a black japanned helmet tin; a red tunic with blue cloth facings and shaped lapels, bullion lace and rose to the stand-up collar, and lace trimmed cuffs, with brass buttons; a silver bullion lace trimmed blue morroco shoulder belt with silver pouch, buckle, slide, chains and pickers, hallmarks for London 1855; a blue morocco sabretache, with gold bullion lace trim and appliqué, waist belt with rose cast clasp and sword sling, in a japanned tin case; a pair of brass spurs, by Maxwell, London; a black forage cap, with gilt bullion lace trim; a black single breasted frock coat, with stand-up collar and six loops of black braiding, each loop having two olivets; white leather shoulder and waist belt, with sword sling and gilt metal fittings; a pair of steel spurs, by Maxwell of London, together with a small green tin trunk.

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For the last few years I’ve been making damson gin, foraging for the gorgeous, rich and mildly astringent plum subspecies towards the end of September and letting them sit in a good gin with a little muscovado sugar ‘til Christmas Eve when I’ll make up a bottle, saving the rest for Easter or maybe even the following Christmas. 

Fortunately there’s a wealth of damson trees around here as it was a popular hedging tree for farmers and land owners, and one of my local stately homes, Chillington Hall (the estate has been home to the Gifford family since the 1100′s, the rather ugly red brick house is of Georgian construction), has ‘em in abundance. So it was I found m’self with 10lb of fruit this year, enough for multiple batches of gin, a few pots of jam, a couple of damson crumbles, and even enough for some homemade damson ice cream. Excellent!

The first bottling of the resulting tipple was just lovely, med-sweet, obscenely rich and fruity courtesy of the damsons, and with a lovely hit of juniper, almond, and other botanicals peeking through. Looking forward to bottling more over Easter, cheers all!