Warmish day, with showers. Nights are getting colder & more like autumn. A few oaks beginning to yellow very slightly. After the rain enormous slugs crawling about, one measuring about 3” long. Large holes, presumably ear-holes, some distance behind head. They were of two distinct colours, some light fawn & others white, but both have a band of bright orange round the edge of the belly, which makes one think they are of the same species & vary individually in colour. On the tip of their tails they had blobs of gelatinous stuff like the casing of water-snail’s eggs.
A large beetle, about the size of a female stag-beetle but not the same, extruding from her hindquarters a yellow tube about the length of herself. Possibly some sort of tube through which eggs are laid?
The origin of this recipe is buried deep in the traditional lore of the New Forest gypsies. A friend of Lady Muriel wrote it down in the gipsy’s own words. Her people were friends with Romany folk, and a bottle of the liquer was always brought at Christmas as a gift to her mother. The gypsies expected no payment for it, and in addition used to sing some ancient songs which they called carols, but seemed to have no Christian significance.
“Pick your sloes when they be fine and ripe, with dry air, and warm with the sun. Prick each one with a needle three times. Take half a bottle of unsweetened gin and put in a fistful of sugar-candy, firm and strong, the taste of a crushed bitter almond, or the kernels of ripe apricots, crushed. Fill the bottle with the sloes and press them down.
“If you be not on the road, lay beneath the floor of your tent where you be sleeping, for they slags (sloes) dunnot like the cold. Let ‘em bide till Christmas come, when take out the fruit and let ‘em bide till you need ‘em.”