I have always wanted to get into foraging and I guess the simplest first step is to pick berries. I am surrounded by hedgerows filled with Brambles and so I have spent the last few weeks collecting Blackberries. It has been fun walking along hedgerows in my fields with my young nephew picking out the juiciest and best looking Berries, but of course leaving plenty for the local wildlife to feast on. I soon realized how much work goes into picking a small amount of berries, and even more work getting them cleaned before eating. It was amazing to do this all with my nephew, he pointed out the best berries, I picked them and he put them into our bucket. It was such a fun activity for both of us and something that we will want to do again and again, especially because we got to see lots of Butterflies, Ladybirds and Birds around the hedgerows.
With our Blackberries, we washed and froze them before using them for baking. We made an Apple and Blackberry upside-down cake and an Apple and Blackberry Crumble, both of which were very simple and very tasty. All of the left over berries that either got a little too squished or were not as ripe as I thought when picking, went straight to my goat who was very happy with her treat. I only wish that I had went out and picked even more so I could have a good stock in my freezer, but it is only a few days until Michaelmas and folklore says that it is unlucky to pick Blackberries after this date as they are spat on by the Devil. I doubt there is any truth in this, but I have noticed the berries are not at their best at the minute so I shall sadly have to wait until next year.
I recently went for a walk along the Mourne Coastal Path close to Bloody Bridge in County Down, Northern Ireland. I had left thick mountain mist surrounding Spelga Dam to find beautiful clear skies along the coast. As I walked along the path I took in everything and it was a pleasure for my senses. I could hear both the crashing of the waves at the shoreline and the rush of water from the Bloody Bridge River. There were many tourists out visiting the beautiful spot, taking in the beautiful views and capturing some photos. I, of course, had my camera at the ready and was snapping away at everything and anything. I spotted a beautiful Peacock Butterfly and was lucky enough to get a great close up photo before it flew off. Then I spotted something that instantly brought back some amazing memories.
A simple berry, so common to my home but continues to put a smile on my face. I snapped away at the berries, marvelling at the different colours displayed. I recalled how my friend and I used to love picking blackberries, always trying to find the biggest and juiciest ones on offer. Instead of eating the berries, we mashed them up and created our own jam. We didn’t use a kitchen or utensils, we just used the garden. A rock made a great replacement for a scone and who would have known that a leaf could really be a slice of toast. We would have played café nearly everyday of the summer, picking the blackberries throughout my garden until they were gone. My mum, dad and anyone nearby would be offered the appetising treat of a rock covered in mashed berries and luckily enough they had a great sense of humour and always pretended to love my baked goods.
What always makes me laugh is thinking of my mum’s face when I would walk in the door after a long hard day of smashing blackberries. She would look me up and down and just let out a long sigh as yet again I had completely destroyed another outfit.