I've been picking blackberries this afternoon, big, luscious, juicy blackberries, about the sweetest I have ever tasted. And I don't have to go far to pick them; just down the garden. There are brambles growing in the hedge that separates our garden from our neighbour's. One advantage of having blackberries in the garden - in addition to not having to go far to pick them - is that I can wait until they are at their peak. When we had to pick our fruit along the lanes and in the woods, it was always a case of having to pick what was available because as sure as eggs are eggs, someone else would be coming along very soon after you had gone and would pick what was left.
When I was a lad it was always something of a ritual at this time of the year. My mother, my brother and I would set off with our . . . I don't actually remember what we used to collect the berries in. It was way before Tupperware had arrived, before margarine came in plastic tubs so maybe we used baskets of some kind. Even 20 or so years ago the Old Bat and I would make our way along the old railway (the footpath where the Hove to Devils Dyke railway had run many years before) with the dog and those cardboard pick-your-own punnets to pick the blackberries, just two among a crowd of other pickers. But these days? This year I have seen just one person picking blackberries in the park. Maybe people just don't bother any more.
Apart from crab apples (which I mentioned a few posts back) I harvest nothing from the hedgerows. I'm not a lover of country wines such as dandelion and burdock (not that I have ever tried that particular one) and my one attempt at elderflower wine was a disaster, and we don't drink gin so the sloes are of no use to me.
I did have a picture that I intended to use to illustrate this post, one of the Old Bat picking blackberries, but I can't find it! I suppose I might have deleted it by mistake and I will have to search the recycle bin (which hasn't been emptied in months - or even years). But while I was looking through the archive photos, I came across these. First, Brighton's Royal Pavilion at night:
Then my daughter, aged 4. She is now a deputy head at a secondary school!