Monday, 7 November 2011

Next Meeting Wednesday 9th November

Just a reminder that the next Transition Alnwick get together will be on Wednesday 9th November at 7.30pm - St. James's Church Centre, Pottergate, Alnwick.
Come along to join in the discussion and find out how you can get involved with having fun with a thermal imaging camera or turning Alnwick into an edible paradise!

Also share suggestions for how to make the Alnwick Neighbourhood Plan a sustainable way forward for future development. How can we engage with the consultation and offer something a bit different?

Monday, 26 September 2011

Next meeting Wednesday 12th October

We discussed at the last meeting what might be fun and useful to do at our next meeting. We decided it would be good to focus in on the coming festive season and what we can do to cut the cost of it both to our pockets and the environment. So we are bringing ideas together for things like recipes using local ingredients, presents and wrapping using recycled materials and other novel ideas for a more meaningful festive season. I'll bring along a sample and recipe for a sugar and oil scrub which I learned to make recently and it was really good for the skin and very therapeutic - cheap and easy! So come along and bring your ideas/samples. We would love to gather together the ideas and circulate them to everybody on the transition Alnwick list and put them here on the blog so even if you can't make the meeting we would love your ideas to share! Email

As ever we are welcoming any other ideas for activities and actions we can work on locally to make our communities stronger and more resilient. We are thinking of organising a trip to a permaculture co-operative soon to see how some people are working on meeting the challenges but we need you and/or your ideas so don't be shy!!!

news from our Elderberry Evening

Well the thing is... the Elderberries weren't ripe so we couldn't make anything at that meeting. Anna and Jill brought lots of their stored potions and cordials for us to try and they were delicious (especially the ones with brandy) and full of variety depending on the recipe used. See below for some provided by Jill. I had prepared some rose hips to bring to the meeting because they were plentiful. I had destalked them, boiled them, crushed them, let simmer for 15 minutes and then sieved through muslin to produce a concentrate. We could have boiled them again with sugar to produce a syrup to keep away winter colds but Anna had heard of a novel recipe using the cordial, sugar and cornflower to make Rose Hip soup! So thats what we had and it was unusual and delicious.

Elderflower Recipes
Elderberry Cordial.

Ingredients: - Bucket of Elderberries, Granulated sugar, Cloves

  1. Cut the Elderberries just below the stalks

  2. Use a fork to remove the Elderberries from the stalks into a bowl.

  3. Place the Elderberries in a saucepan with enough water to cover them.

  4. Simmer for 20 minutes

  5. Strain the Elderberry mixture through a muslin or straining bag, squeezing to make sure you get all the juice out.

  6. For each pint of juice you get, add 1lb of granulated sugar and 12 cloves.

  7. Boil the mixture for 10 minutes.

  8. Allow the Elderberry mixture to cool and then bottle in sterilised glass bottles, making sure that the caps have a plastic seal.

  9. Add an equal amount of the cloves to each bottle you make up.
The elderberry cordial syrup will last up to two years.

Elderberry Tincture

Elderberry tincture is easy. I buy cheap vodka. I fill a wine-making demijohn with elderberries stripped from their stalks, then top the whole thing up with vodka. I leave it for two, three or four months then strain it, throw the berries on the compost heap and bottle the liquid. At the first sign of a cough, cold or flue we take a teaspoonful diluted in water and do so four or five times a day over the next three days or so. Usually it will stop the cold from developing, but if it doesn't it cuts the duration and severity by a long way.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Wednesday 14th September - Elderberry Evening

Our next Wednesday meeting follows on from our woodland walk when we decided that we would like to make something from a hedgrow harvest. On Wednesday 14th September we are making Elderberry cordial and you are all invited to come along, bring your Elderberries and join in.

Jill Schnabel will be helping us. Here is a link for information about picking and using Elderberries. Basically only pick Elderberries that are purple, not green and are hanging down. Uncooked Elderberries have cyanide in them so its not a good idea to eat them in that state(especially in quantities!).

So bring along any ripe Elderberries you can collect and a sterilized jar with a lid so you can take home some samples.

The meeting takes place at St James Church Centre in Alnwick at 7.30pm till 9.30pm. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Don't worry if you can't find enough ripe Elderberries. We will also be looking at making rosehip syrup.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Heritage Open Days - September 10th to 12th.

It's that time again - three houses belonging to Transition Alnwick members will be open to the public. The purpose of this is to show members of the public what can be done to a 'normal' house in order to make it greener.

The three properties are all semi-detached and have had a variety of green initiatives take place within them. These include triple A rated appliances right the way through to Solar PV and solar thermal, using garden space to provide food and additional insulation.

Paul and Clare Mills house 24 The Dunterns, NE66 1AN is open on Thursday the 10th and Saturday 12th September.

David Farrar and Rachael Roberts’ house at 50 Swansfield Park Road is open on Friday the 11th and Saturday the 12th.

Karen and Martin Swinbank’s house is open on Sunday the 13th.

All houses are open 10 until 4 and will the householders will be pleased to meet anyone who is interested in green initiatives in the home.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Appreciating Trees

We had a great time during our July Wednesday meeting which was an evening Tree Walk through woods near Alnwick Garden. Anna Corbett was very knowledgeable and pitched the information at just the right level but we also had Gill a herbalist there and others pitched in what they knew so it was a great sharing event. We looked at lots of trees such as Beech, Birch, Elder, Alder, Elm, Hawthorn etc etc and also came across many other interesting plants. We were a bit stumped at the end with a mystery tree but Anna has asked me to report that the tree was in fact a Sweet Chestnut festooned with male flowers.

We talked a lot about the uses of the Elder such as using the flowers for Elderflower champagne, Elderflower cordial and even Elderflower fritters. We had a good time in the pub afterwards and we decided that we would like to do something with Elderberries at our next Wednesday meeting in September (the second Wed of the month). So our plan is to bring our collected berries and Gill will provide the expertise and help us make Elderberry cordial. Of course this assumes the berries will be ripe then and we are optimistic about that. I'll post more information about what equipment we will need to bring on the night and of course you don't need to have been on the tree walk to join in this activity. Just bring some Elderberries if you can and if not come along and learn for the future. IF anybody has any ideas for activities you would be interested in seeing or doing over the winter than please get in touch. Also if you have anything you would like to share or take a lead in then again that would be great and we would welcome that wholeheartedly.

I was excited to see this plant as I have never seen Burdock before!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Helen and Stephen's green adventure


After a combination of being very busy moving house and bad weather, the growing was delayed somewhat! My partner and I had planned to grow many wonderful veggies, however we were just a bit too late for a lot of them. Not all was lost though, as there was still plenty we could grow. Towards the end of June we sowed beetroot, lettuce, carrots, french beans, tomatoes. We also obtained a young courgette plant ('Eight-Ball') and a butternut squash from the local garden centre, which were transplanted into grow bags.

Our garden is on the small side, and being a rented property, there is less scope for having things just the way we want. However there are still opportunities to grow your own, using pots and grow bags on the patio. Grow bags along a south-facing fence contain tomatoes, courgette and squash. Cut and come lettuces are doing really well in a somewhat high-tech 'self-watering' trough. A borrowed patch at the parents' house has been sown up with more veg!

We were a bit worried as our tomatoes developed some yellow-brown patches, which we feared were blight! However, there are many reasons for discoloration of leaves with plants like tomatoes. In this case, continual heavy showers had meant that the grow bag used to plant out the tomatoes was sodden for a long period. With no chance to feed them during the damp weather, the yellowing of the leaves was more likely due to a mineral deficiency. A liquid feed squeezed in between the showers has improved the plants' growth.

Best wishes

Helen and Stephen