Adventures Blackberrying in Sunny Sussex and Beyondat
This year the blackberries have gone completely bonkers in sunny Sussex. We have picked them here, we have battled with bloody brambles there, we have even done dangerous things in an attempt to reach the fruity heights and grab the goodies. The blackberries got the weather they love, with the result that on the way to the allotment I have constantly stopped, armed with my trusty bag, poised to pick that wonderful fruit with a strange compulsion. It’s a dangerous business fighting for these wayward berries on the edge of steep inclines, getting scraped so frequently it looks like I’ve been self-harming, and doing battle with insects not to mention the worst nettles in the known western world. But the results are worth it – blackberry sorbet, juice to go on the apple cake, jam and jelly of sheer perfection. I was first introduced to blackberrying years ago as a child when I was on holiday in Sussex with my mother and my sister. I was entranced then, and I’m entranced now with the process of picking wild fruit as I roam around the rougher reaches of my allotment, thinking of my family with nostalgia and contemplating this luxurious free food that’s been on the menu for hundreds and hundreds of years. Long before I was born, my mum knew the art and science of blackberrying as a youngster, skipping around the Isle of Wight without so much as a pair of shoes, whizzing down the country lanes with her twin brother, defying the same hazards we all confront for this deep dark perfumed fruit. In those days free food had an altogether greater meaning and value. Years later, when she took my sister and me along the sleepy country lanes of Sussex during the summer holidays, it was if she already knew how to look under the leaves and in the shadier corners to discover where the berries chose to hide away. The sheer pleasure of searching for this most exquisite fruit comes to me as a reminder of the simplest pleasures that can be enjoyed by all, generation on generation, as we stroll along the leafy lanes of sunny Sussex. And… if George Osborne’s corporate pals plan on fracking here, we will be there, fighting for nature, beauty and the blackberries.