Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A French Farmhouse and Damson Gin

I'm back and I have so much to share with you!

The reason I've been away so long is that we've been in France for the last month.  I am thrilled to tell you we now are the proud owners of an old stone farmhouse in Brittany! 

We discovered it on our last trip to France in May/June this year. The house is beautiful but needs lots of work to bring it back to its best. It's going to be a long term project over several years.  We will be flitting back and forth between England and France on our mission to renovate it. It's so exciting. We returned just a week ago and I can't wait to go back already!

I have started another blog as I wanted record everything so we can look back and see our progress. My new blog is called Brambling in Brittany and is a daily blog with lots of photos about our adventures in France.

I've already written the posts but I'm still uploading them at the moment as the mobile internet we had in France was very intermittent. I've published a couple of posts so far and they'll be many more soon so please pop over and take a peek.

Please click here:

I will, of course, be posting on this blog too.

Since we've returned from France, we've met up with Chris's daughters Katherine and Hannah and baby grandson Charlie for a lovely lunch. Hannah is starting a new job abroad....wishing her all the very best.

My son George had also just started a new job in London so the very best to him too. 

My son Will whom I blogged about in the last post is now in Sydney Australia and is enjoying every minute. We have already exchanged FaceTime calls and it really doesn't seem so far after all.

A small area of our garden needed attention. It was awkward to reach and always full of weeds so we've put some weed control fabric down and then some gravel. It needs another couple of bags of gravel and then we will put the bird bath on it and maybe some colourful garden pots.

The damsons were ready to be picked when we came back so Chris got straight to it. 

I weighed them and there was about 1 kilogram although I had to throw some of them away as they were past their best.

After some umming and arring about whether to make jam or gin, damson gin got the thumbs up!

It's very easy. 

Wash the damsons, remove any stalks and prick with something sharp like a darning needle.

Put the damsons into a sterilised large Kilner type jar.

Add granulated sugar.

Add gin to the rim.


The quantities I used were:

660g Damsons

252g Granulated Sugar

800ml Gin

The recipes I found on the internet all seemed to have different proportions of ingredients so I made do with what I had in the end. I don't think you can go too wrong with these ingredients! Anyway time will tell. The damson gin is now is my kitchen store cupboard and I have to shake it everyday to dissolve the sugar. It has to be left for at least 3 months before being strained and bottled.

A few days later and it's already a gorgeous colour!

Look at Spencer! You wouldn't believe it but he managed to wrap himself in his quilt all by himself. He then laid there all contented and cosy.

We also picked the apples from our tree. Not too many but enough for a couple of crumbles.

Last Friday, my sister Ros and I took a garden tour at Highgrove, Prince Charles' home near Tetbury. Ros had treated me to the tour for my birthday and what a treat it was. No cameras allowed there though so here's my garden! Golden nasturtiums and marigolds.

A quick look at a couple of my WIPs. I dug out two quilts that I want to complete soon.

A new quilt for Spencer made from fabric scraps from my Mum. I've sewn them into random blocks but I should have enough for a quilt top now.

I made this blue and white quilt top about four years ago! It's quite big....about a double bed size....and at the time, I was daunted by the thought of having to quilt it. I've now decided I will hand quilt it. I know it will take a while but it will keep me warm having it on my lap now the evenings are getting chillier. Once finished it will go on the spare bed which has blue and white bedding so will be perfect.

And to finish for now, just look at these gorgeous berries I saw on the Common on Sunday.....beautiful Autumn colour!

It's nice to be back!

Thanks for visiting!

Maggie xx


  1. How wonderful to be the proud owners of a farmhouse in France looking forward to seeing the renovations.

  2. Wow! I love it that you bought a house in France and I'll pop over to your new blog! You have a lot going on at home, too! Aw! Spencer is so cute in his bed with his quilt! Your garden still looks so pretty!

  3. Ok, so I had to look up damson. The gin is turning a lovely shade of pinky/purple. I bet Spence would've been happy to eat a few of those overripe ones! You already know how I feel about your new house, so I'll just say that I love the picture of you in the hard hat.

  4. What an exciting new adventure for you! I will pop over and follow your new blog so that I can keep in touch with what the future brings for you. I wish you all the best. xx

  5. Welcome back, Maggie! Congrats on the new farmhouse !! I loved reading your post and going through all the pics :) You have been very busy.

  6. Wow Maggie, what a lot of news! What a great adventure for you, a pretty house in France...
    I love that picture of Spencer, he is so cute, and smart too :-)!
    Love from Mirjam.

  7. What an interesting mix of news you have for us! Congratulations on the France property. I will certainly follow your progress on the new blog. It all sounds so very exotic!

  8. OMG! I'm SO happy for you! You are living my dream...to find an old farmhouse and fix it up. How exciting is that? I's so glad you're going to blog about it. I love the Damson plum idea although I'd do vodka. LOL! It seems you're either a gin person or a vodka person and I'm vodka. I may have to use regular plums from the store...do you think that would work?
    My little Annie girl wraps herself in her blanket too but she has that pointy nose...it's not easy for Spencer. Good for him...cold air settles on the floor
    I love your quilts, as always and I have 2 I need to do also.I'm so excited...I can't wait... I'm heading over to your other blog.

  9. Such sweet quilts!
    I just love Spencer! He is quite a character and always makes me smile. I love the name for your new blog and I am following along. I am looking forward to more posts on your new home.


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