Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Back Road Brambles.

"Blackberries, Sloes, Sorrel and even Blueberries and wild Strawberries are out there in the rural larder. The pleasure of collecting your own food, then taking it home and making it into a crumble or Sloe Gin, or Sorrel and Nettle soup, is intense indeed. You have completely sidestepped the need to work and earn money, and the whole process has been a joy from beginning to end. You have glimpsed a world of true autonomy and freedom." Gathering Food From The Hedgerows, The Book of Idle Pleasures, by Dan Kieran and Tom Hodgkinson.

The last time I went Blackberrying I would think I was in short trousers, it was that long ago. But a Sunday evening phone conversation with my sister who lives up where the locals talk funny (Bristol - funny lot they are...) pricked my interest in revisiting something I'd done many times as a 'tacker' (snotty nosed kid), but not since, having decided that supermarkets presented the safest option for getting food rather than picking wild growing things that could delight, or possibly kill, or even and far worse, give me the trots for a week.

Yesterday, Tuesday, my back had recovered enough for me to get out and do some manly hunter gathering, so the Voodoo was fished out as it was the one with the panniers fitted when I went to the shed, and off I pedaled, a man on a mission.

Always a pleasure, wheeling out for a ride a freshly cleaned, adjusted and lubed bicycle.

 I say ride, but the Voodoo was to spend a lot of time lurking in hedges and on verges while I went foraging.

Hmmm... hardly enough for feast here, but still, crack on!

Windy out, but a nice morning for a ride, and a poke about the hedgerows too.

Hmmmm... yep, now we're starting to get somewhere.

 Erm... no. I'm not going to try eating Snails just yet, even if the French consider them a delicacy (funny lot they are...). Those red berries look tempting though, but I'm not taking any chances, knowing my luck one of those could fell a cart horse. I need to do more some research before branching out into other foragibles (is that a word? T'is now...)

I was using the water bottle for picking and then transferring the spoils to a carrier bag in the panniers. Much more convenient when hauling on the brakes for a quick pick after sighting a cluster of berried treasure.

 The result of my morning's bramble bimbles. More than I intended to get admittedly, but you know how it is, you think to yourself you've just got enough when you spot a clump of fat juicy looking berries that you just can't leave behind. The upshot of that is you come home with a veritable sackful and wondering whether Tesco might like to buy some off you...

First job (after washing my fruity plunder) was to make a jelly with added slices of Apple. The jelly was Strawberry, not my preferred choice for the job of Raspberry, but it was all I had.

So I've been enjoying the fruits (sorry) of my Blackberrying labours by making the above jelly, sprinkling some on a salad, and also having some with sliced Apple, Banana and custard as a dessert last night. I'm thinking of doing a crumble, but that might be beyond my rather modest culinary skills, we'll see how brave I'm feeling.
A very relaxing and enjoyable few hours of riding about, picking, jellying and custarding it all was though. I managed to lose myself in the task quite happily and time flew by so it was an immensely satisfying exercise in every respect, except one - the reaching, stretching and standing made for a stiffening back again. But I'll recover from that again soon enough and once my supply has run out, I'll go Blackberrying again without a doubt.