Cotna Eco Retreat

Elderflower Cordial

Just been picking the last of the Elderflowers to make cordial – here’s a great recipe below that we always use at Cotna Eco Retreat:

750ml water

1kg sugar

1 lemon (ideally unwaxed)

25g Citric Acid (from health food shops, brewing departments, greengrocers)

15-20 elderflower heads

  1. Heat water & dissolve sugar in it
  2. Grate the zest of the lemon & add to sugar water
  3. Half-squeeze the lemons & cut into slices, add to mix
  4. Add citric acid & elderflower heads
  5. leave to steep for 12-24 hours
  6. Sieve & bottle


Guess who came to Dinner

Lovely Cornish chef James Strawbridge dropped at by at Cotna Eco Retreat last week and cooked us dinner! It’s prime wild garlic season at the moment so we went foraging in our woods. He then cooked up the most delicious gnocchi we’ve ever eaten. The secret for the pesto seems to be loads of lemon juice and grated rind in the garlic pesto with some spinach to soften the heat, a rocket & charred leek base with some panko breadrumbs fried up on top – easy! And of course a beautiful kitchen to cook it in thanks to the great kettle co. kitchens! Coming shortly is the actual recipe if you’d like to try it out 🌱

James Strawbridge with Sara in the kitchen at Cotna Eco Retreat, eating delicious gnocchi with wild garlic pesto

Cornish Chef James Strawbridge at Cotna Eco Retreat

New Life, Willow, Sheds and Cold Water

Signs of new life are appearing at Cotna Eco Retreat as the days start to lengthen, despite the cold. In the polytunnels the broad beans and garlic are sprouting, which hopefully means the wild garlic in the woods can’t be too far behind. We’re starting to hear the song thrushes practise their varied tunes and the great tits with their more repetitive call of ‘teacher! teacher!’ The legendary Flump’s offspring are flying like angels, ducking & diving in the pond with great splashes 💦

It’s finally stopped raining after the very wet winter and this week we’ve ventured out into the sunshine to cut back the brambles and willow along the stream. The Gorran Haven Withy Crafters are using the willow stems to revive the local craft of weaving lobster pots before the art dies out completely with the last generation of local fishermen who remember how to make them.

Dave’s mega-shed has a roof and is slowly developing walls, so will hopefully be finished by the time we open up to this year’s guests at the start of May. While the men build sheds Sara and friends feel there’s nothing better in life than drinking ceremonial cacao while looking at the sea, after a freezing cold swim 🧜‍♀️  So until next month, enjoy the gradual return of light while making the most of this regenerative time before life starts to get busy!