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Summertime has arrived and as the song goes ‘the fishing is easy.’ Having the time to fish is never easy, it is a permanent issue that at certain times of the year can be quite a problem, June especially. Even if the official start of the summer can be a slow one, the ground has warmed up and the flora is blooming, grassland is shooting up, woodlands are lush green and the river banks are over grown with willow, towering hogweed and elderflower. For me one of the finest smells throughout all of the seasons is elderflower after the rain in late spring or early summer, the air becomes filled with a heavy sweet scent.

With little time to fish I still try and put aside an afternoon for elderflower picking with the family and the steeping of the flower heads for a rich and intense cordial that should last long after the summer has ended. One of the first ever posts on The Tuesday Swim was a recipe for sloe gin, a great blast of autumn fruit, preserved for the winter months.  If the summer months are filled with lost opportunities to fish I would recommend as an antidote, a shot of elderflower cordial in a gin and tonic with plenty of ice and lemon (and gin) and a chapter of John Hillaby, Colliers and a Carp at Dawn, or for the modernist The Carp Strikes Back by Rod (buy me a pint) Hutchinson.

The recipe:

20 elderflower heads per litre of water.

1kg of sugar per 2-2.5 litres of water

3 x lemons per litre (zest and juice)

1 x orange per litre (zest and juice)

50g citric acid per 2-3 litres

Dissolve the sugar into the water, add the elderflower, lemons, oranges and citric acid and leave for 24 hours. Sieve through clean muslin into sterilised glass bottles.

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