or rather the blossom that will form the sloes that will be picked to make the gin. In the village I come from on Speyside, and where my father still lives, there's a wonderful wild expanse of sloe trees. My mother used to make sloe gin from the fruit. If we can time our visit right this autumn I'm planning to make some. It's not really a gin, more a liqueur made by pricking the sloes and macerating in gin along with a hefty addition of sugar - the sloes by themselves are mouth-shrivelling.
Whether or not I manage to harvest some sloes, it was balm to the city soul to walk among the blossom on Easter Sunday.
On Speyside of course you're never far from whisky, and our alcoholic-themed walk continued as we passed Glenrothes distillery. A load of draff was coming off. Draff is the spent barley, which the distillery has no more use for after it's been soaked in hot water to extract the sugary liquid that will be fermented, then distilled. In the shot below you can see the spiral of hot mash falling into the trailer. Traditionally it's been used as animal feed, but increasingly now it's going to a biomass plant in the village where it's mixed with woodchips to produce electricity. More about this mixed environmental 'blessing' in another post sometime!
And then, sadly, we had to leave Speyside to come south, where we were met with a good dose of haar (sea fog). There's a castle in there somewhere...