Slow, Slow, Quick Quick, Sloe (Gin)

I love books, in particular second hand books. Not only can you find some real gems that are no longer published but also they often contain notes in margins, newspaper clippings and in some cases recipes.


Recently a client gave me an old rather battered copy of ‘The Popular Encyclopedia of Gardening’. There is no publishing date, but, I would guesstimate around the 1930’s (judging by the photographs). Nestled within the pages of this rather weighty tome I found the following recipe* for “Styrrup Cup”.


Styrrup (Stirrup) Cup Recipe


So if you still have Sloes, it would seem, you still have time to make this tipple for Christmas.


Styrrup (or Stirrup) Cup

1lb sloes 8 oz sugar 1 Quart** gin

Remove stalks and leaves wash and place in pie dish

Cover with sugar and cook for an hour or two in the lambing oven***

mash occasionally to encourage the jam

When the jam is quite cool mix together with the gin in a large bowl

Pour the liquor into kilners

Keep for two to three weeks in the pantry**** before sieving and straining through muslin


* Whose recipe this was is not known, the book belonged to my client’s Grandfather but apparently the writing is not his.

** 1 Quart = 2 Pints.

*** think this might be the bottom oven of an AGA type range cooker.

****if no pantry available, I have no doubt any cupboard would suffice.

Life’s a Beech – Fagus sylvatica

Fagus sylvatica

The Beech Tree’s Petition

O leave this barren spot to me!

Spare, woodman, spare the beechen tree!

Though bush or floweret never grow

My dark unwarming shade below;

Nor summer bud perfume the dew

Of rosy blush, or yellow hue;

Nor fruits of autumn, blossom-born,

My green and glossy leaves adorn;

Nor murmuring tribes from me derive

Th’ ambrosial amber of the hive;

Yet leave this barren spot to me:

Spare, woodman, spare the beechen tree!


Thrice twenty summers I have seen

The sky grow bright, the forest green;

And many a wintry wind have stood

In bloomless, fruitless solitude,

Since childhood in my pleasant bower

First spent its sweet and sportive hour;

Since youthful lovers in my shade

Their vows of truth and rapture made,

And on my trunk’s surviving frame

Carved many a long-forgotten name.

Oh! by the sighs of gentle sound,

First breathed upon this sacred ground;

By all that Love has whispered here,

Or Beauty heard with ravished ear;

As Love’s own altar honor me:

Spare, woodman, spare the beechen tree!


Thomas Campbell