Blackberries

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,

The first nip in the air signals a change of season and the start of the blackberry harvest

The turning of the year as we travel through the seasons was a huge factor in pulling us back to the UK. The recent change in the weather, with its wonderful chilly bright mornings and nippy evenings, has warmed my heart. Whilst the other seasons have their appeal I can’t love them half as much as I love Autumn.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
Blackberries

Autumn is our season. The most potent memories of the last ten years with my wife belong to this time of year. It is the season of our wedding, of our first kiss, and of our first meeting. It also marks the onset of a series of celebrations and birthdays stretching all the way to Christmas.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
Mollie our Golden Retriever enjoys a foray into the green lanes

I am not a summer child; the sight of me in shorts should be enough to banish any misunderstanding on that matter. Instead, I am happiest in warm jumpers, walking boots, and damp woodland. Days spent walking the dog under a tree canopy are my favourite. Also at this time of year comes the bounty of hedgerow harvests. Already this year I have Crabapple Vodka and Sloe Gin steeping in the larder, all collected from the hedgerows and trees around our village. The other important harvest of the season is blackberries.

This year I read Alys Fowler’s book on foraging and I’m making an effort to note the harvest when it presents itself. Already this year I have Crabapple Vodka and Sloe Gin steeping in the larder, all collected from the hedgerows and trees around our village. The other important harvest of the season is blackberries.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
A view over the Devon hills

Blackberries

I think the ritual of blackberry collecting, bound up as it is in the season, might be even better than the fresh berries themselves. I’m working my way through a jar of blackberry and apple jam made 3 years ago which I find infinitely more alluring than the fresh berries. September signals the start of hunting season for blackberries.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
Not all the berries ripen at the same time

So, with my jumper on for the first time since moving home, we ascend a local hill to find the best berries. Jewel-like berries gleam from the yellowing hedgerow senescence. The bunches of berries carry both mature and immature fruits. The rule of foraging that states you only take a third of the crop you find (the other two-thirds being left for wild animals and someone else) reinforced by the plant itself.

The light prickling on skin reminds you that no harvest comes for free. This only intensifies the sensory experience. You feel like the proverbial child in the sweetshop picking only the choicest fruits between thumb and forefinger. The idea to bring surgical gloves comes to me as I notice the purple staining on my fingertips, as it does every year but is never remembered.

It’s not long before my cheeks are chilled and the light becomes thinner. It’s time to go home.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
Blackberry harvest

Book Review: Book Review: The Apple Orchard -The Story of our most English fruit – Pete Brown

Book Review: The Apple Orchard -The Story of our most English fruit - Pete Brown

Book Review: The Apple Orchard

The Story of our most English fruit

Pete Brown

Back in  December I listed a few books on my Christmas list that I hoped to get my sticky-from-all-the-mince-pies hands on. An Amazon voucher from my sister-in-law meant I was able to purchase the hardback of this book guilt free. I’m really glad I did. It may not be for everyone, I gave it to my mum to read whilst I was finishing another book and she couldn’t get into it as ‘it was all about apples’. Apparently, there’s a certain amount of NerdAlert needed to read this.

What it’s about

The blurb says this is going to be the author spending a year in the apple-growing regions of the UK uncovering the mythology and the true history of the apple.

Book structure

The book is sorted into sections titled Blossoming, Fruiting, Ripening, Harvesting, Celebrating, Transforming, and Slumbering. These are all pretty self-explanatory and nicely echo the rhythm of the yearly cycle in the orchard. The chapters are a good length, perfect for reading a couple before bed or during your morning commute.

Readability

Pete’s writing style is excellently engaging. The unexpected F-bombs remind me of chatting with a friend rather than being lectured at by a professor which would have been a risk had the tone of the book been more traditional. I like it. It’s so much more approachable and will win over someone not sure how much they’re into non-fiction books. The shortish chapters and humorous observations, akin to Bill Bryson, make it very easy to plough through the book faster than you’d like. I even put it down to read a magazine for a few days just so I didn’t rush it.

Resources

At the end of the book is a reading list should your interest be peaked. This is a nice touch. After getting all fired up with optimism about small-scale private growers (not the bits on commercial farming and the general public’s changing tastes – that’s truly depressing) it would have been nice to have a list of UK growers if you wanted to source your own orchard. I suppose ten minutes on Google would probably give you that.

Summary

Simultaneously informative and enjoyable, this book did exactly what I hoped it would, but in a style that was refreshing and engaging. I’ve not read his other works on Cider and Beer but that matters not when this book is so good. I’m glad I went for the hardback as it now sits on my gardening shelf proudly.