Heyshott Bonfire and Fireworks

Heyshott Bonfire and Fireworks, West Sussex

Remember remember the best fireworks near Midhurst are at Heyshott

Round these parts, the Heyshott Bonfire and Fireworks is one of the highlights of the social calendar! The fireworks are as good as you’ll find anywhere (and I include my old village of Chiddingfold), and this year was no exception with the added advantage of fine weather and unseasonably high temperatures.

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Ellis O'Connell Sculpture at Cass Sculpture Park Blog

Cass Sculpture Foundation

Sculpture Park near Goodwood, West Sussex

On Saturday we took a wander around the Cass Sculpture Foundation. Set in 26 acres of woodland near Goodwood, it’s an incredible collection of modern sculptures. The Foundation has commissioned more than 400 sculptures over the last 20 years, and 80 or so are currently on display at the park – and they’re all for sale if you have room in your garden!

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Happy Halloween!


Sussex Halloween…

Check out the bat-shaped eyes on our scary pumpkin, oooohh spooooky…

We thought our pumpkins were good, but check out the Halloween display at Slindon in West Sussex which is made up of more than 600 pumkins, squashes and marrows! This guy is bonkers…

Here’s an interesting recipe for the leftover seeds from the pumkin… toss the seeds in oil, sprinkle with a little salt and cook in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes until they’re just being to puff up and toast. An easy Halloween snack, packed with goodness and the kids loved them.

Pick of the bunch


Green tomatoes UK!

What a miserable end to the summer – this is the best we got from our crop of outdoor-reared tomatoes… not very impressive at all!

That said they look very pretty 🙂

We searched the web for something useful to do with them, thinking of green tomato chutney or something similar. Nigel Slater has some thoughts but I think even he has doubts about eating green tommies!

Sussex Wild Damson Vodka Recipe

Damson Vodka Recipe

It’s been a great year for fruit in the hedgerows, so I just couldn’t resist picking some Wild Damsons as there were literally thousands of them overloading a tree near our house. My logic for picking them was that it seemed wrong to let such fine fruit go to waste!

Naturally I considered making either jam and chutney, but with a little persuasion I agreed to make some Damson Vodka… Damsons are a bit like Sloes, just sweeter and larger and more suited to Vodka than Gin. A typical Damson is about 20-30mm long and slightly rounded, with a skin that is often a dusky matt purple colour (see the photo above).

A quick search on Google revealed a wide range of recipes for making Damson Vodka, so I’ve created an ‘average’ recipe from all of them and will see how it goes… I’ll let you know!

To make Damson Vodka you will need:

  • To walk around the countryside picking Damsons
  • Roughly a pound of Wild Damsons
  • About 6 ounces of white sugar
  • A 70cl bottle of mid-price Vodka
  • A sterilised 1 litre Le Parfait Jar or similar

I gave all my Damsons a good wash, and then put them in the freezer. Freezing them splits the skins, plus there are lots of great rumours about freezing improving the sweetness of the fruit. Not sure if that’s true though! Defrost the fruit and put it in the sterilised jar. Add the sugar and vodka, taking care to fill the jar nearly to the top (air can make the fruit go off). Give it a good shake, put it in a dark place, and shake it every day for about 3 weeks.

Here’s the tough part. The broth now needs to be left for about 6 months to mature. After about six months, the liquid can be strained through a muslin and decanted into bottles. Try a bit at this stage and decide if it needs more sugar… And here’s the REALLY tough bit! The Damson Vodka should now be left for another 6 months!

I think we’ll be drinking our liqueur on Bonfire Night 2012. But I’m sure it will be worth the wait…