Every year at this time we collect sloes to make into sloe gin, a delicious liqueur we enjoy drinking and giving as gifts. Yesterday we went to our previous hunting grounds near the sea and found very few and those that we saw were very small and shrivelled. I wondered if the dry summer had prevented the fruit from swelling. Today we stayed close to home and only 2 minutes walk down the lane was a fabulous crop on a few trees on top of the bank. We climbed up like a couple of kids and set to filling the bucket. Pretty soon we had plenty which weighed 1 and a half kilos which I have cleaned and put in the freezer ready to mix with gin and sugar tomorrow. The reason for freezing is to soften the skins so that more juice is released. In England it was traditional to wait till the first frosts before picking but it rarely freezes here except in the coldest part of winter. I find the blue black berries irrestible to draw and my sketchbooks probably have a picture for every year!