It’s that time of the year, Summer is on the wane and Autumn is almost upon us, or depending which seasonal date you adhere to - 1st September being the ‘Metrological’ start of Autumn and 21st September being the Equinoctial start of Autumn - we could already be in the third season of the year. It’s fruit picking time!
2018 has averaged across the UK as the hottest Summer on record, followed by lots of rain and then further sunshine. This means the wild fruits of the hedgerows and old abandoned orchards, have flounced early this year. In The Highlands we tend to follow the rest of the UK when it comes to the seasons which means we’ve now having a spectacular crop of wild Blackberries, after having an equally spectacular crop of wild Raspberries in July.
A few days ago I had a wonderful conversation with one of our dearest friends Tim (Timbo) Rennie. Tim, lives in a cosy little cottage in sunny Surbiton and he mentioned his partner Claude had gone out earlier in the week to pick Blackberries only to discover the birds had eaten all of them! I commiserated deeply with him and promised I’d try and make a few pots of Blackberry Jam to give to Claude the next time we see him. This will be a very interesting experience, I’ve never made jam before, but that old expression nothing ventured, nothing gained.
This year in the Highlands, particularly in the Great Glen, we’ve had an enormous abundance of wild berries of all kinds from Raspberries and Blackberries, to Rose Hips and even strawberries.
There is something so satisfying about spending a couple of hours picking wild fruits, perhaps it’s the fact that you’re going to the effort of picking them yourself, but they always seem to taste more delicious and they’re free. This is especially true of Raspberries, which are much smaller than the ones purchased in supermarkets and have the sweetest taste. For Alastair and I there is nothing more relaxing than a bowl of hand picked, wild Scottish Raspberries with a helping of cream, eaten on a beautiful hot Summer’s afternoon in the garden with a chilled glass of wine watching the wildlife. NB/ Remember the midgets don’t like hot weather, so you’re quite safe until the evening if you wish to partake in this splendid pastime.
The first of many forays into this years Blackberry picking took place last Saturday 8th Sept. I was absolutely spoilt for choice, there were so many berries to choose from I even started quality control - which meant I did tastings at every bush I came to. However, whilst this was really yummy it did rather slow things down and on several occasions Alastair gave up and wandered off to take pictures. After eating a considerable amount of berries and deciding they all tasted very good, I resisted the quality control and focused on picking them.
It’s amazing how quickly time flies when you’re actively involved in something you love doing. My first Blackberry pick of the year has been very successful, hopefully I’ll be able to pop out again in a few days time for another forage.
During this trip I also helped a little beetle get safely across the road. Personally, Alastair and I are very fond of beetles, we think of them as nature’s little friends, the shimmering gloss of their shells is beautiful and as insects go they’re really quite cool. I then came across two weird, but amazing looking mushrooms.
Who knows what the next trip will bring……
Christine and Alastair