I’ve been a forager for years. My mum always took us to pick your own farms when I was a kid, so grubbing strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries off the actual bush they grew on never seemed a big deal to me.
And pinching blackberries from the hedgerows which lined the country lanes around my little town was just normal.
Monday was a holiday for me, so I set out with three year old in tow to snaffle the first of the summer blackberries from the rambling cemetery which spreads over 45 acres behind our house.
You have to know where to look – to figure which spots ripen first, and find the shortcuts around the back of the most aggressive brambles.
We did pretty well, and then bumped into a friend who’d spotted an apple tree on a piece of common ground a little way away.
Kids, bikes, books and blackberries already in tow we set off down one of the steepest hills in Bristol in search of our prize.
We found the apples – still a bit unripe, but fine for cooking and weighing down a huge tree. Plus, more blackberries nearby.
Best of all, was the tip from a passing gent – there were plum trees further up the slope away from the road.
While my pal herded the kids, who were by now naked, except for their wellies, and covered in sticky blackberry juice, I scrambled up the slope, glad for my gardening gloves as I grabbed at thorny twigs to hoik myself up the incline.
Our benefactor had issued one proviso ‘don’t take too many plums – people around here like to pick them’. Fair enough – we were half a mile from our house so it wasn’t exactly ‘our’ territory.
He needn’t have worried. With several trees within easy(ish) reach, and plums already scattering the ground, I filled my jumper – now a makeshift apron, with fruit from just one branch, and left probably a van load for those lucky enough to live nearby.
So, blackberry and apple crumble for pud, apple pie, and plum jam are all on the cards, and all for free. Hooray!
(Apologies for some weird photos – I have a new app – Little Photo, which I’m playing with).