Fort Augustus | The Highlands

Pine, mountain and skies

The rumours go that Scotland is home to a whole bunch of Gods.

Being the very homestead of the deities is one reason for the stonking badge it’s been given of ‘God’s Country.’ The other reason is one you will only make sense of once you have wound your way in to the highlands for yourself.

There’s a magic in those mountains- a magic that would bamboozle  even Bilbo, Frodo and co.

(And their ain’t no higher praise than the hobbit seal of approval).

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Elderflower Gin

Elderflower Skyline

Foraging for Elderflower

Elderflower Gin

Straining the gin infusion

Elderflower infused gin

Elderflower infused fun

Bicycle rides are a pretty heady affair at the mo. Your nose is affronted with blooming elderflower and with this summer sunshine enhancing the scent, it can make you a bit woozy.

Tell you what else makes you woozy. Gin.

The thing is, it’s just so easy to make (elderflower infused gin that is). Gosh darn it.

I mean for one afternoon of merriment in the park with your nearest and dearest all you need is the leftovers of whatever bottle of gin you have in the cupboard (we had about 300ml), a couple of tablespoons of sugar for that amount and enough elderflower heads (picked in the morning is best) to stuff in to your chosen vessel. Chuck the sugar and gin in together first and give it a shake till the sugar is dissolved. Then add in the elderflower heads, getting them nicely submerged and suitably ginny (best to shake off any bugs from the elderflower heads before you pop them in too). Hide the jar in a dark space for 5 days or so so it can do its infusion thing (giving it a shake every now and then) and that’s pretty much it. You then need to strain the heads and pollen out- you could do this using a muslin cloth, we just used some tea bag filters.

What you’ll be left with is a golden elixir. Truly.

With some tonic, ice and a sprig of mint you are away. Also makes a pretty sweet gift I reckon. I’d certainly be chuffed with some foraged elderflower gin.

The River Frome | Wareham, Dorset

Wareham river

The great thing about winding up the river Frome from Poole Harbour and in to Wareham is that the end point is a pub.

That’s assuming your vessel won’t fit under the bridge. If you are traversing the water way by kayak then you can definitely keep right on going after a quick pint at The Old Granary all the way to, well, the river source I imagine.

That’s one great thing.

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Town Mill Bakery | A place to gather, Lyme Regis

Bowls made from bread and lunch made from goodness at the Town Mill Bakery, Lyme Regis Cracking coffee and lunch at a table shared with strangers at the Town Mill Bakery in Lyme Regis Hearty lunches at the Town Mill Bakery, Lyme Regis

‘No we don’t have Coca Cola, we serve fresh apple juice, because no matter which one of our restaurants you are visiting you can pretty much guarantee that there’s an apple orchard within a 20-mile radius producing gallons of the stuff.

No, we don’t have highchairs because we believe that if your child is too tiny to sit up on their own they should sit on your lap…

And no, we don’t sell marmalade, we have local jams – and will continue to do so until oranges are grown in this country.’

Their ethos packs a punch.

Thankfully, and saving awkwardness, their food, coffee, bakes and vibe matches their community-centered creation story.

You’ll sit among strangers on the benches at the bakery, asking them to pass the salt and pepper like you are round your family dinner table. If you make it for the lunch shift you’ll eat hearty stews and soups out of bowls made from bread which you can guarantee the freshness of because you can see them being made. If I’m in Lyme for the day, I’ll chance an early lunch at the bakery, a coastal trek and then a literal slab of cake back at the bakery base camp. It’s that good.

These guys, with their uncompromising values that rate the handcrafted over convenience, will flip conventional foody experiences on their head. Then you’ll leave, pretty stoked and, remembering what you had, making sure you pay at the door. It’s making loyal mates over keeping tabs for the Town Mill team.

Big fan right here.

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