We drive past the ‘Pick your own fruit ‘sign, park and walk up to the hut; we select three empty punnets and read the whiteboard with a map of the different fruit areas. The first fruits I see as I walk into the field are hundreds of squat red currant bushes. We walk on and to our right, as far as the eye can see, are rows upon rows of raspberry plants over a metre high. I’ve never seen anything like it! The sun is shining and nourishing the leaves, highlighting the dense foliage.
I’m amazed by the organization of this operation. Each raspberry plant has been placed in a pot that rests on bricks for clear drainage, with three horizontal wires holding up the vines; lower down I see a hose running along each row as a built in irrigation system. Presented with such an abundant harvest, my husband has a good look then gets to work; as I’ve never really done this before, he reminds me to make sure I pick the darkest raspberries that come off the stem easily.
Soon its time to move on and in front of us are many rows of raised strawberry beds; the fruit is mostly ripe, abundant and spilling over the edges of the bed; a delicious bounty. I draw closer, breathing in their scent, in awe of how Nature provides. There are lots of little white flowers. Some of the hanging strawberries are still a light green-creamy colour; others are perfectly ripened, a brilliant red, vibrant and ready to be picked.
I stop to look around. It’s great to see my husband relaxing in Nature, away from his computer. He’s in the zone and has even started humming! A few families are fruit picking and I can hear the sound of buzzing bees and childen’s laughter in the distance. I spot an assertive toddler running amidst the shrubbery clutching the handle of her half-filled punnet, occasionally stopping to gather more redcurrants. Her blonde locks bouncing as she runs on; her mother hardly able to keep up. I can see there is a magical freedom to growing up in the countryside.
Further along are the blackberries, transforming from light pink into deeper and deeper shades of burgundy and ripening in the full sun; their texture is much softer than the strawberries and I pick them with care.
Soon our punnets are filled. I’m proud of my pickings and swing the punnets contentedly by their handles. My husband takes a photo of me, as he can see my childlike wonder at what I’ve picked with my own hands. Later that afternoon I make a crumble. The sweet aroma of apples and blackberries simmering in the pan fills the kitchen. After dinner, I serve it up for dessert with some custard and within minutes, it’s gone!