Thursday, 23 April 2009


These darned newts have become my new 'perfect wave', my new obsession which, like all obsessions, draws me away from the little necessities that make up my life. I may be gardening, trying to bring some order to the chaos I so love, but which yet needs some careful direction so as not to become oppressive. I may be washing dishes mid-baking only to stare out the window and feel the tug of the wildlife pond tucked away just out of sight and find myself for the umpteenth time grabbing the camera in a desperate attempt to capture the wriggling little dragons at play. Why? Well, I can only think it is to share with you as my family obviously can walk their dear feet right out the door and see for themselves, cooing in appreciation as their besotted mother goes on and on and on and... Yes, did I mention obsession?

Of course I now have a zillion pointless and unflattering pictures of the pond which don't even show it in its best light as I had to wobble precariously at the edge risking life and limb while the newts swam off just as I clicked the camera.

But finally, finally, here is one lying in its murky pool slightly visible in the light, though nowhere near as much as by ones own eye. I suspect the hunt will go one.

So, having shared 'a' singular newt with you (despite the fact there are dozens languishing 'neath the water forget-me-nots and fallen leaves) I will now share a little more. First up is my recipe for dandelion wine which can be found by clicking here to take you to the long-overdue 'what we are doing' page on my website. Nettle wine will be added as soon as I can grab a moment, but I am actually up to my eyes in wholesale orders just now, so it may be a little while coming. Yes, I do actually work as well!

I am not only newt-obsessed at the moment, but weed obsessed also. I don't mind these wild plants in moderation, but when they threaten to overtake then my thoughts turn to wine. Country wines are such fun to make and I never mind if they don't taste too wonderful on first try - just pop them away and bring out next year to see how they have improved.

The main thing is not to take it all too seriously and not to expect it to taste like something from Asda. Last year, when money was tighter than tight for us and buying alcohol was not an option, we dug out various demijohns of wine I had made years ago. Regular tastings had left all but me unimpressed - but then, I will drink anything - and suggestions of pouring down the sink floated on the air. I resolutely refused and put them back in the porch where they were forgotten for a long, long time. Desperation drove me to bring them out again last year in a 'this time you're going' mood and lo and behold the potato wine tasted like a wonderfully dry sherry, gorgeous trickled over ice in tiny glasses (actually, we moved oin to fairly large ones as it was so good).

The plum was a deep colour which was not quite so good for drinking and yet worked some magic when added to casseroles. The Rhubarb was again sherry-like and according to Dave, close in flavour to an Amontillado. My sausage casserole rose from humble beginnings to heady new heights with the addition of some juniper berries, a few grapes and a jolly good slug of the wine. Delicious. I suppose my point here is that it is fun to do, from the gathering of produce to the mixing and bottling, it costs very little, and you might just have something gorgeous at the end of it. Each year the flavours will vary according to the type of season we are having and their are no guarantees (so please don't blame me if you don't like what you have made), but try it and see. Just don't throw anything away and ignore those boring people who just have to tell you how terrible homemade wines are!

Next week I am hoping to share another thing with you as I am planning my first ever giveaway. I have meant to do one for ages, but you know how it is. No idea what the giveaway prize will be yet, but I promise to pick something lovely from the pipany sewing room. Hopefully, I'll have these orders out by the end of next week so will post about it then.

Bye for now x


  1. Oh, cute newt! I'd always be hainging over the pond (freaking them out) too! Interesting that your home made wine has developed - my Uncle Sid's home made wine was like paint stripper and really put me off, but we are very strapped for cash too so it's something to consider.

  2. Toads here lurking in the undergrowth, surprising as we have no pond.
    Your lilac is so beautiful, Pipany, it is the one thing that i dont have in my garden.

  3. Oooh homemade wine, my grandad used to make his own. It was very rich and used to blow your head off! (particularly if you were only about 16 ish and having a crafty sip or two! lol) In fact too much of it and you might of ended up as something as a newt!

    But I always thought they were rather nice his damson one was my favourite. Thanks for bringing back happy memories.

  4. I have to say that I do not make wine at home but I do try other things. So far I have tried: sloe gin, sloe vodka, rhubarb vodka and sloe cinzano (!) x

  5. Great to see the newt! Over the years, tadpoles and tiny frogs have been a familiar sight, but newts are a creatures that I've seen only on rare occasions.

  6. Hi Pipany... isn't the weather just glorious?'s very hard not to want to spend all day in the garden!
    we have so many dandelions here... i think we have some demi johns in the loft too so maybe we will give it a whirl... thanks for sharing the recipe.
    lots of love to you xx

  7. Wish I had more time to make wine. I manage only to do Elderflower Champagne, Lemonade,Ginger beer and Plum Gin. Bought some starter for Root Beer in Amish Country, so must give that a go. There seems to be a plague of Dandylions here this year. An uncle used to make the most delicious Rhubarb wine.My friends laugh at my funky concoctions.
    So glad you finally got the newt!

  8. Hi Pipany,

    those pesky newts you'd think they would let you take just one little picture!

    I love home made wine, Keith used to makes loads of the stuff when he was a student, though I do remember a bottle exploding and repainting a freinds freshly white painted walls 'rouge' he gave up after that! Maybe I could encourage him to start again though elderberry cordial is definitely top of our list this year and we need to replenish the sloe gin!

    Enjoy the rest of your day,

    Nina x

    ps. I love the 'apple blossom' shoes too, but your right they do scuff easily and Florence only wears them to nursery twice a week!

  9. I enjoyed your looks so pretty in your neck of the woods. Perfect for picnics, I would think with all those lovely flowers to look at.

  10. I like newts - maybe you could make a newt equivalent of babbit, that would be unusual! Love the colours on your blogs today - the lilac and the dandelion wine.

  11. Those newts are playing hide-and-seek. They're taunting you, really....! Wine sounds yum, can we just cut out any effort on my part and I'll come round and swig yours? You wouldn't mind, would you?
    Seriously, thanks for sharing the recipe. Once you've got your orders under control, time for coffee and cake methinks...
    Love and hugs
    Diana xxx

  12. Love your newts, camera shy and all. Now what I want is something to do with the following: bindweed, dandelions, nettles, creeping buttercup. Yes I know this is asking a lot.
    I do so wish our cottage was bigger so you could come and bring your brood and I could ask you all this stuff! Sadly, we can only accommodate four.
    I might have my first ever go at nettle soup tomorrow. x

  13. How lovely to have newts in your pond! We found some big frogs hiding behind our shed yesterday. The wine making sounds like great fun - I'd love to see your recipe for rhubarb wine.

  14. My husband was a great country wine maker and Parsnip and Dandelion def.improve with keeping, his Elderflower was pretty good also. I have a pair of wild ducks who have taken up residsence on my pont, noisy beggers. You sound very busy with your sewing orders, at least it is good light this time of year to sew by.

  15. Making your own wine! Wow! I'm impressed. To me that's the ultimate in self sufficiency, and very cool indeed. The idea of potato wine is particularly impressive!
    Isn't it amazing that those wiggly things are going to turn into Frogs! I totally understand your fascination.
    I love Lilac, I just love it...............
    Love Vanessa xxx (do you mind if i knit)

  16. I think it has been a good year for newts! My mum has two in her pond and she rarely has any and I found one when I was moving a bag of compost! I like the sound of the rhubarb wine tasting like sherry! If the wine is not drinkable by itself, as you say it can be added to cooking.

  17. Pip you're so busy - just caught up on three blogs and all lovely and beautiful and industrious. And Isabella just gets more scrumptious. And Vanessa's studio is picture (or magazine shoot) perfect, isn't it? My niece has a beautiful studio - I am filled with envy, but I can't really have one just to float about in, can I?!

  18. My only attempt at dandelion wine many years ago was a bit of a disaster. I might have to dig out the demi johns and give it another go!