Christmas Cocktails

As promised here are some more Christmas cocktails I’ve been trying out.

Santa’s Little Helper

Cocktail Santas little helper

1 part golden rum
½ part Chambord
½ part cranberry cordial
2 parts cranberry juice
2 parts apple juice

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and warm slightly. Don’t let it boil. Pour into a glass and enjoy. I didn’t have any cranberry cordial but I did have some homemade cranberry vodka instead, that’s probably why I would describe it more as a drink to ensure you are of no help to Santa whatsoever rather than ‘Santa’s Little Helper’. Note to self – must find cranberry cordial!

Christmas Cracker

Christmas Cocktails

500ml cloudy apple juice
500ml cranberry juice
100ml vodka (I used cranberry vodka)
500ml ginger ale

Put the first three ingredients into a shaker with plenty of ice. Shake. Pour into glass and top with ginger ale. I used ginger beer and I haven’t really been able to discover what is actually the difference between the beer or ale. Tasted really refreshing and a good cocktail so I’ll stick with the ginger beer!




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Red Rudolph

December is nearly upon us and I’m an unashamed lover of Christmas! I’m like a big kid who starts to get excited as soon as I open the first door on my advent calendar (yes, I have one and yes, I know they are meant for children!).  Inevitably Christmas never manages to live up to all this excitement but I’m not going to let that stop me!

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be experimenting with some Christmas cocktails – all in the name of research you understand, so I can decide what to serve to my guests on the big day. So here’s the first one.

Feel free to join in the experiment and let me know which are your favorites.

Red Rudolph

30ml vodka
1 cup frozen raspberries (2nd time round I halved this amount)
Juice of 1 lime (2nd time round I halved this too)
15ml sugar syrup (2nd time – halved)
2tbsp pomegranate juice (2nd time – extra tbsp)
(2nd time – 15ml Cointreau)
(The result of all these little changes was a smoother and less bitter drink, I preferred it.)

Put all the ingredients in a shaker with plenty of ice. Shake. Strain into a lovely glass and garnish with a raspberry or two.

Marks out of 10?

This is probably a little too heavy on the raspberries for me, making it abit too much raspberry puree and not enough raspberry cocktail. I may try another with less raspberries, a little more pomegranate juice and maybe a splash of Cointreau. The verdict…. half the amount of raspberries and lime, add and extra tbsp of pomegranate juice and 15ml Cointreau. This make is a far smoother and less bitter cocktail.

Haven’t even had a sip yet!





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Wish List – Hot Border & Banana Bench

I’ve recently been creating a Hot border at one of the gardens where I work. It’s been a real success, everything has settled and grown really well and the results, even after a couple of months, have been wonderful.

This is a picture taken early on whilst I was doing a spot of deadheading.

The plants used include - Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’, Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldstrum’, Papaver orientale ‘Goliath’, Papaver orientale ‘Beauty Queen’, Lychnis chalcedonica, Geum ‘Lady Stratheden’, Hemerocallis ‘Stella d’Oro’, Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora‘Emily McKenzie’ and Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff”.  They all provide tremendous vibrancy in late summer and into autumn as long as you make sure you keep deadheading.

It’s inspired me to have a hot border of my own. I know the exact spot where it will be and the plants will surround a bench that will be the focal point of the border. It’s a sunny spot and the bench will be baked by the evening sun.  I’ve rather fallen in love with a bench that I know would be perfect – Banana Bench from Hayes Garden World, it’s got lovely smooth flowing lines and would be a cosy perch for two. I’d best get saving!  I can already picture myself glass in hand on a summers evening next year!


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Kitchen Garden – I’ve been busy!

Things have been moving on a pace here, clearly reflected in the number of recent posts and the boys being off school for summer!

A few pictures to show you what I have been up to. The Kitchen Garden has changed completely heres a couple of befores and afters.

Kitchen Garden

Kitchen Garden

Kitchen Garden

Kitchen Garden

Kitchen Garden

Like the rest of the garden it is still work in progress but I have to say when I look at these photos I feel very proud of what I have achieved. Knowing that I have done 99% of the work myself – blood, sweat and thankfully no tears you realise what you can achieve. It would have been 100% but believe me you can not put a greenhouse that size up on your own!

The rest of the garden is changing quickly at the moment as well, with large borders being created that will be ready for planting in the next month or so…..all depends how much digging time I get.









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Beetroot Daiquiri

Beetroot cocktails

Last weekend I was chatting to my freakishly healthy older brother (if you’re reading this I mean freakishly in the nicest possible way!) and he was telling me about his latest healthy thing of juicing. That morning he had drunk a juice with beetroot as one of the ingredients and that got me thinking about whether I could use beetroot in a cocktail (I can see you are drawing comparisons between my brother drinking habits and my own!!).  A little googling and it reveals I am not the first to think of beetroot cocktails so here is one recipe I found and have tried.

Beetroot Daiquiri

50ml Havana Club Añejo 3 Años
2 tsp white sugar
20ml beetroot juice
20ml fresh lime juice
1 cup of crushed ice

Put all the ingredients into a blender and whizz it up for about 30 seconds. Pour it into a glass and enjoy.

I actually really liked this cocktail and if you’re not a fan of sweet cocktails this may be worth a try. Although having said that when tasted by my other half his remark was ‘That’s disgusting, it’s like drinking soil!’ – clearly it’s for the gardeners amongst us!!

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Strawberry Delight

There is nothing that heralds summer more than freshly picked strawberries.  Here is a cocktail that definitely helps to celebrate summer!

Strawberry Delight

6 fresh strawberries
50ml gin
20ml elderflower cordial
1-2 tsp sugar
Splash of Champagne

Muddle the strawberries and sugar together. Add the gin, elderflower and plenty of ice. Shake and strain into a chilled glass, top with a splash of Champagne and enjoy!

This is delicious and went down very well when I had friends round, in fact I ran out of strawberries!  Have a great weekend, I’ll be busy in the garden dodging rain showers.



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Bellis perennis

Alison's Garden blog

Whilst gardening for one of my clients the other day she brought me out a cup of tea & a bickie (yes, I have lovely clients!) and on the tray was a little vase of daisy’s (Bellis perennis). I chuckled whilst she was describing how every time, before the lawn is mown she comes running out to pick them. I was explaining how most of my clients want to get rid of these pretty little flowers from their lawns.

Anyway I’ve just come back from my hols today and my lawn has gone crazy but on the plus side so too have the daisy’s – my lawn is far from croquet perfect, more two young boys perfect! So with my client in mind I went out and picked these before getting out the mower.

Go on you know you want to, let your lawn grow and go picking.


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English Garden Cocktail

This was last nights cocktail, tested out over the fence with my neighbours. The verdict…..delicious. Plenty of time to nip down to the shops, grab the ingredients and make this evening for what looks to be a sunny one here!

English Garden

50ml white rum
50ml apple juice (use more if you want a longer drink)
20ml Elderflower cordial
5 mint leaves
Fresh lime

Put all the ingredients into a shaker with plenty of ice and shake like crazy! Pour into a beautiful glass and enjoy.

Have a great weekend, I’ll be busy earthing up spuds, building supports for my tomatoes, planting the last of the sweetpeas, the list goes on!!


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My Greenhouse!

What better way to spend a bank holiday weekend than building a greenhouse!

The concrete perimeter base was done a few weeks ago….. my shoulder is still recovering from the many barrows I had to mix!

Ikea eat your heart out – take a look at these instructions for a flat pack!

Slow and steady – as long as you’ve got plenty of time and take it step by step it seems very straight forward.

So here’s the frame up and ready for the glazing!


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Greenhouse Update

The on going saga that is my greenhouse…. I hope I’m not the only one where things seem to take an age! The perimeter concrete footing I planned to use moved to the next level of needing shuttering.  So a few weeks back the weekend was spent constructing it with old floorboards I had lying around.  Now this probably wouldn’t take most people a weekend to build this but I had the ‘help’ of my two little boys so work was slow and regularly interrupted.

How to lay a greenhouse base

But at the end of it all this was a sight I saw……..everywhere!

how to lay a greenhouse base

Now I’ve got the joy of mixing what I suspect will quite a few barrows of concrete!







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