Sep 23rd, 2015


When I was a child, my family and I would go bramble picking several times around the start of autumn. Between the four of us we would gather a serious amount (I’m talking 40lb or so), but at the cost of our hands being scratched to bits. Then my dad would make bramble jelly, and his hands would be stained bright purple with the juice for weeks afterwards – he was an Excise Officer in the Civil Service, so goodness knows what people made of that. The jelly was very very nice though, and in addition, when we got our first freezer in late 1970s, we would also freeze enough to make pies and crumbles for the rest of the year.

Coming back to the present, we have lots of brambles around the paths here, and for weeks I have been keeping an eye on them, waiting for the first crop to be ready for picking. I’ve nearly finished my strawberry jam – so I have it in mind to make some jelly of my own. Anyway, yesterday I went out at lunchtime, and noticed that there were a load nearly ripe by the side of the river. Come 5pm, finished work for the day and set out with my bowl to gather them.

But what did I find but that a ‘thief’ had stolen in and pinched my crop from underneath my nose!! The grass was all trampled down and the best of the berries gone. In order to get enough for a pie (because most of them aren’t ripe yet) I had to take my life in my hands and climb across a ditch to get to some untouched bushes at the back. Luckily the other picker was either less agile, less brave, or less stupid than me – so I did get enough on this occasion, but if I want my main crop I am obviously going to have to be a bit swifter off the mark.

Actually I am really only joking – it is actually quite nice to see that someone else apart from me actually wants them – the same didn’t apply to the raspberries earlier this year, which seemed about to be left to go to waste if I hadn’t picked them.

So I made an apple and bramble pie for tomorrow when we are having friends over for dinner. They are hoping to see some wildlife, so fingers crossed that it will oblige. Actually tonight I have seen a load of bats which we don’t normally get in such numbers.

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