What would you do if, as you sat down with six months of bank statements, a cup of tea and a huge dose of determination, you received this message:

‘Hi Trish, we’re going to be harvesting a small batch of honey in about an hour. If you’re in Braunston you’re welcome to come up and see how it’s done.’

This was a message from beekeeper Neil Bannister owner of the gorgeous Southfield Cottage that Richard and I stayed in at the beginning of our trip. Guests at Southfield find a jar of honey in the cottage when they arrive. I had a lot of fun using it.

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I shook my head over Neil’s message. I was in the middle of a chore I’d put off for weeks, involving all those bank statements and a complicated analysis of who’d paid what for what. I contemplated texting, ‘So sorry, I’m right in the middle of something really important, can’t make it. Maybe next time.’

But was I mad? There was no way I could say no.

The view from Southfield cottage is lovely. In the foreground is a lovely meadow, cropped short by cows and sheep.

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Then there’s the canal, separating us from Braunston Marina. And then, beyond that, a vista of distant hills. But perhaps the most distinctive part of that landscape is something so close to the cottage   you’re apt to miss it altogether: a higgledy-piggledy row of beehives.

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I just had to go and see how the honey gets from those hives into a jar.

‘Richard, I’m just going to run up the hill to the village for a while.’

He looked up with surprise. ‘What did you say?’

I had not ten minutes before given Richard a very stern lecture on how I was going to be working all evening, that he was going to be cooking supper and that there was no way we were going to binge-watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix.

‘I’m going up the hill to watch Neil and Kim harvesting honey.’

‘And your grand plans?’

‘Shelved. See you later.’ And with that I jumped out the boat onto the jetty and set off up the hill.

A couple of hours later I was back on the boat with a little jar of the freshest honey I’d ever possessed plus some thyme and sage. Kim, with great foresight suggested I pick some herbs from the planter outside Southfield Cottage. These ingredients would turn into a perfect breakfast.

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But what could I do with the honey that would do justice to it? What would show it off to its best advantage?

It would of course be perfect with toast and lightly salted butter. The bread would have to be the best. Sourdough would be perfect. Well, I wasn’t going to be able to make that and there was no way I’d find it in the village shop, I was sure. I’d have to think of something else. Scones, nope. Crumpets, nope. I needed to use some of the herbs too. Thyme goes so perfectly with honey.

What about oat and thyme pancakes?

After a quick google search I found this recipe for oat pancakes by Rosie Sykes on the Guardian. It was perfect. You mix the oats and milk and leave the mixture to stand overnight. In the morning you beat in a couple of eggs and some bicarb and cook. I did make a couple of changes. I used baking powder instead of bicarb and added a very generous pile of fresh thyme leaves.

I served the oat pancakes warm with butter and honey on some and crème fraîche and honey on others.DSCF1855

The oat pancakes were the absolutely perfect platform for the honey.DSCF1838

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