All in good thyme

English Lavender

A few years ago I went walking in the Pyrenees with a friend who is about seven years younger than me. After a few days we found that at a certain point on a walk conversation would tire, energy flag and a cheery song would seem in order.

Interestingly, it was only at this point we realised our age gap – from our musical differences. Early 80s indie for me and 80s/90s pop for her. And as we grew up in Wales and Tyneside respectively, even our childhood songs seemed divergent. But there was one song we had in common, an old-fashioned nursery favourite of mine called Lavender’s Blue. We sang it ad nauseum and there was a phrase that struck me as particularly euphonious:

‘Lavender’s blue dilly dally, Lavender’s green’

Some versions have ‘dilly dilly’. I’m sticking to the above, as it works better if you use it as a stand-alone name. For instance that  of a cocktail. Yes, slithering down an ancient volcanic rock flow, three hours from any kind of beverage (alcoholic or otherwise), I was still struck by the potential of a lavender-themed drink.

Tonight was my first attempt at a Dilly Dally. Being unsuccessful in procuring any fresh edible lavender, I decided to make a simple syrup from a jar of golden lavender sugar and shook this up with the lemon thyme vodka (see wild drinking), and a few dashes of lemon and Lillet – lemon and lavender being a classic combination.

It wasn’t unpleasant, my housemates even gave it a thumbs up. But I’m not giving the recipe here as it lacked the balance and depth I was striving for. The golden sugar was too treacley for the delicate flavours and the lemon thyme vodka was also a bit of a joker in the pack. Alone, it packed an astringent citrus tang and had good aroma but became overtly medicinal when mixed (It just occurs to me it would make a lovely sorbet or granita for summer). And, more  importantly, it wasn’t blue.

After a few more attempts, I started to remember that I don’t really like vodka and felt the need of something medicinal myself. So I fixed a lemony hot toddy with the rest of the syrup, vodka and some more lemon juice – that was rather nice and  would make a decent alternative to the traditional recipe for those with an aversion to  scotch.

This isn’t the last of lavender though.  I’ve just bought a bottle of blue gin, so when that window box I’ve planned starts growing I’ll be having an attempt at the Dilly Dally#2.


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