A weird nation, the British. We have this great enthusiasm for all things summery, outdoorsey and al fresco. We have a penchant for picnics: complete with boiled eggs, pies, baskets and blankets in the past and these days setting up a throwaway barbecue on random bits of green.
The street parties - admittedly the Queen does not often have a jubilee or a birthday, though still twice as often as civilians - bunting and collective bake-offs de rigueur. Parties, wedding or not - outside! Or at least under the marquees!
Walking is such a British thing, as the rest of the world considers getting on foot from point A to B a necessity, not leisure, and least of all exercise. Outdoor sports dominate too - cricket above all. Riding. Cycling. Plus there are ice cream vans. Cheese rolling championship. Punting and boating. Jumping off the Magdalen Bridge into Oxford’s river Cherwell. Yes, we’re mad.
Because during all those activities it invariably pisses down.
The British Isles are the land of eternal October, no question about it. Like in an average continental autumn: sometimes it’s quite warm, nudging 20C or over, and sometimes there’s a bit of snow and frost on the ground. But mostly it’s wet and blowy.
So off we go out for the street parties in the drizzle, weddings getting rained upon, marquees blowing away and the picnics disbanding quicker than they banded up upon a sudden shower. Waterproofs are mandatory for cyclists and riders, students catch pneumonia from exposure when they crawl out of the Cherwell, and so on. On the other hand, if we waited for nice weather to do things, we’d be cabbages.
So let’s have a Pimm's this summer, rain or shine (the former more likely). The worst that can happen is we’ll have to run inside sheltering the jugs and the strawberries!
For those who live in balmier climes (pretty much the rest of the world, bar Ireland), Pimm's is a gin-based liqueur flavoured with herbs, with alcohol content similar to that of sherry or port. If it’s not available to buy where you are, I found a decent DIY approximation. But don’t worry - where you live the weather is probably far too good to worry about special summer fruit cups.
It’s a British thing.
- Prosecco, Cava or dry sparkling wine of your choice
- sparkling mineral water
- 3 limes
- 1 orange
- 1 small cucumber
- 100g ripe strawberries
- a bunch of mint
- ice, to serve
Slice the limes, orange, cucumber and strawberries and put them into a jug with the mint. Put a few of the nicest slices and a mint sprig into the serving glasses.
Pour the Pimms over the fruit and leave to infuse for an hour if you can.
Add the ice to the jug and the glasses, top the jug with the sparkling wine and the fizzy water in proportions: 1 x Pimms, 2 x wine, 1 x water. Stir with a long spoon and serve. Drink responsibly - it's obviously stronger than the lemonade version!