There was one walk I especially remember, and I know my brother does as well. I suppose I must have been about seven or eight at the time. We - my mother, my brother and I - caught the bus to Rainham, just a handful of miles along the Top Road, as we called the A2, or Watling Street as it was officially known from Roman times. There was a footpath that led up beside Rainham church, behind which was a cherry orchard. The time I recall us walking that path was in the spring. The cherry orchard was in full bloom and the sheep in the orchard had young lambs which my brother and I attempted to feed with handfuls of grass.
|Borrowed image - copywrite owner not known.|
Anyway, in the near forty years since I planted that tree, we have enjoyed the display of blossom each spring - but have not managed to eat a single cherry for many years. The tree still bears fruit, but the birds get it before we do. It always used to be the starlings that ate the cherries but we seem to have very few starlings about nowadays; in fact, it's weeks if not months since I last saw one in the garden. We have a bit of a struggle with the pears as well as the cherries, although here we are usually much more successful in gathering a harvest. But it's jackdaws that like pears. They peck at the fruit before it's ripe. I always hope they end up with stomach ache, which is perhaps rather unkind of me.
But I have made a decision to give up any attempt to grow vegetables. I did try again this year, although I sowed only peas and runner beans. The peas failed to germinate - both lots - and the beans just withered. Still, I did pick the first raspberries the other day. As they are supposed to be autumn-fruiting it was just a little early - unless we are due to go without summer this year and the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is already upon us. The blackcurrants are ripening well and I have picked quite a few - although it is more a matter of plucking currants rather than picking them. It's too early yet for the gooseberries but there seem to be a goodly number on the bush which I can just see under its shroud of weeds. One of these days I will get down there and clear them!