122. Freedom Beckons (Part 2)

Now, Look on my hair, ye followers, and rejoice! (To misquote Percy Bysshe Shelley in Ozymandias).

Haircut! And sloe gin cocktail

Before I start, an abject apology. Yesterday I gave you a link that you probably couldn’t use. If any of you have died of food poisoning in the interim, I will send flowers. To summarise the article. There are about 2.4 million cases of food poisoning in the UK with 180 deaths. Do not confuse use-by with best-before dates. Most likely to cause harm after you should have used them: minced meats, fish and seafood, chicken and bagged salad. Worth thinking about: peanut butter, soft cheese, very old tinned stuff and mouldy jam (guilty of the last item). The older an egg is the more likely it is to float.

To resume, I promised to tell you about rum, Sambuca and sloe gin. Before I do, I bought an aperitif I thought we might enjoy as we live on Earl Grey tea and this has bergamot as a principal ingredient. I mixed it with Australian fizz and you can see us drinking it out of Spanish wine glasses at the end of Part 1. Truly International!

Rum comes in many guises, but not as many as gin or whisky. We have dark and white (actually colourless) varieties here, no spiced or gold (in colour). I also have a few little bottles of syrups by Monin so I can make different flavours.  Post 113 on 7th December alluded to rum but not in depth. It is made from sugar-cane residues / molasses or sugar-cane juice and is associated with the Caribbean, so we immediately think of sun-drenched holidays (well, I do, who knows what you think of. That wet Friday night in Scunthorpe when you drank too many rum-and-colas, maybe). In the French Caribbean islands, rhum is distilled in the same way as Cognac or Armagnac so more of a spirit than in Spanish (ron) or British (rum) islands. The different stills give different types as well, whether a pot still which gives dark syrupy rum or a continuous column still (think school science lessons) which gives a clear rum more suitable for cocktails (they say). If you want to learn more, go to this website:

Rum – Master of Malt

You’re waiting to make something, aren’t you? How about A Day at the Beach: 15 ml Amaretto, 30 ml coconut rum, 15 ml grenadine, 120 ml orange juice. Very refreshing. I didn’t have coconut rum so mixed Monin coconut syrup with Bacardi rum. There was another recipe that I thought had an apt name, Holiday Egg Nog but it’s not a cocktail to try unless you have a big party. Half a bottle of gold rum, 235 ml Bourbon, 1.2 litres whole (full fat) milk, 8 eggs AND four egg yolks, sugar, cream, vanilla extract and nutmeg. I cannot bring myself to give you the method but in essence make a custard. No, I’ll pass, even if you all descend on us together (once allowed) and demand it.

Moving swiftly on: Sambuca. This is an Italian anise-flavoured aperitif (think Ouzo), most commonly drunk with coffee beans floating on it and set alight (I use the word commonly advisedly here). I’ve never seen it but you can reportedly buy blue or red Sambuca. Maybe when I run out of everything else. However, the cocktail I made is called Jet Black so possibly I used the wrong sort. Mix 5 ml Sambuca with 45 ml gin and 10 ml red vermouth. It was red, not black. Sambuca finally takes us back almost to the beginning of my cocktails, to 18th April 2020 and Corpse Reviver No 9. I never did look up the other eight. Maybe it’s like Pimm’s, where there used to be five different spirit bases but now only Pimm’s No 1 which is gin based. I’ll get back to you on the revivers.

Professionally available sloe gin

Finally for this session, sloe gin. I used Chase’s mulberry and sloe gin. I’m not sure if it was a one-off as the bottle on their website has a different label. When I remember to pick them, I make sloe gin in the autumn and then decant months later when I open the cupboard and notice the Kilner jars. Below is the 2020 vintage, only just bottled. Chase has more of an interesting story than me, certainly a more successful one. They started off as farmers in Herefordshire, first making crisps but then branching out to potato-based vodka in 2008. In late 2020 they were bought out by Diageo.

Please note my necklace and earrings in the first photo (as well as the tidy hair), gifts from Cape Town and Sydney that featured many posts ago.

Following all this research, I created a gin cocktail with rhubarb gin, spiced orange ginger ale and spiced orange juice (star anise, cinnamon) in which rhubarb had been stewed for a cheesecake last week. Highly recommended,

A drink I cannot recommend (it might be my age) is ‘hard seltzer’. We were given one free with a bottle of gin. I think it’s what we used to call an alco-pop, that is an alcoholic sweet drink that you drink when you don’t like alcohol.

I realised we do have a T, triple sec (orange flavoured liqueur). As I’ve told you about this under the guise of Cointreau and Grand Marnier I’ll not repeat it. I read that Aperol is also a triple sec but another site had it as rhubarb and orange flavoured. Really? I’ve never noticed.

Home made sloe gin

I have a follow up to Eyam, mentioned in Post 119 dated 3rd March 2021. As you’ll recall, the village cut itself off during the Great Plague of 1665/66. If you get the chance to go to St Lawrence Church, there is a poignant stained-glass window to Rowland Torre and Emmott Sydall. (They were very fond of using letters twice in those days, weren’t they?).  These two were engaged but lived either side of the valley, Emmott (the girl) in Eyam and Rowland (the boy) possibly in Froggatt the other side of the River Derwent. Anyway, back to the story. They would wave at each other across the river every day until one day when Emmott didn’t turn up, sad news. The window has them looking at each other across a little stream so maybe it wasn’t the Derwent separating them. I can’t find a decent picture on the net to show you so I’ll just have to go there. Once allowed.

The book in Part 1 of this Post, The End of The Road by Jack Cooke, also mentions Eyam but I don’t think he noticed the window.  It’s my new favourite book that everyone should read. Reverend Hawker, in Morwenstow in Cornwall, is another link. We used to stay in Landmark Trust properties for our holidays and some of them are at Duckpool, from where you can walk to Hawkers Hut overlooking the sea. Jack Cooke slept in it, as a change from the hearse. We just sat in it (Hut not Hearse). The book also mentions Rum (Isle of), off the Scottish coast, where a derelict castle stands with a mausoleum to the family elsewhere on the island. The last body was transported by Land Rover.


Meanwhile, what else has been happening? You may be surprised that I’ve not mentioned the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh as I’m so fond of telling you about dead people. I wanted more space than in Part 1 of this Post. There has been so much written about him but one quote in particular was from Gyles Brandreth. ‘I don’t want to hang on till I’m 100. I can’t imagine anything worse’. Well, he got his wish, dying around nine weeks before that date and a couple of weeks before the Queen’s 95th birthday. We watched the funeral and felt it was much more in keeping with what the Duke would have wanted, no pomp and ceremony and a Land Rover hearse. A true family funeral (if you ignore the millions watching your every move on TV). I tried to think of a cocktail to commemorate him but as he was fond of beer we just stuck with that.

There was some hoo-ha concerning football (soccer not American), not just in the sports section but the business and front pages as well. Thankfully it was a three-day wonder so I don’t need to bring us up to speed on whatever it was about.

Tulips coming out

And back to boats. The most important thing is Clipper.  They have postponed the 2019-20 resumption (never cancelled) from August this year to February 2022, two years since it had to be suspended. As The Philippines are in their own lockdown, the staff cannot get out there to check over the boats and equipment. The new timings are to set off from Subic Bay on 20th February next year, arriving in Sanya a few days later, then heading to Zhuhai, Qingdao, Seattle for George’s birthday next April, Panama at the end of May, New York in June, Bermuda a few days later, Derry-Londonderry late July and finishing in London on July 30th. All subject to further confirmation of course, despite the very positive title to this link.


Other races are (will be) available.

We’re all waiting to see what will happen in Japan this summer with the Olympics. The IOC is planning to introduce a few virtual sports, including in sailing, so we’ll all be able to participate. If we’re any good on the computer games, of course. This could be the future of all sports? I’m not sure how far it’s got but if you’re interested here’s a link.


The Ocean Race, first mentioned in Post 120 dated 28th March, does not start until 2023, but there will be a European event from the end of next month, May 2021, from France to Italy, stopping at Portugal and Spain on the way. Even before it starts, some of the teams will be racing down from Scandinavia. More details are here.


Before that, the Golden Globe, starting in 2022. It’s been called ‘The Longest Loneliest Race’ in Scuttlebutt.


In the 2018 race, the winner was Jean Luc Van Den Heede at 73 years old. There’s the possibility that JD will be older than that when he finishes the Clipper Race. A new (unofficial) tee shirt has been created. Let’s hope it’s not true!