Monday, 23 August 2010

Blackberry Picking

This weekend Daniel and i went Blackberry picking. Last year, when the blackberries had become ripe we took a long walk along a disused railway stretching from one area of London to another. I'd thought that we'd go back there but a few weeks ago whilst cycling around our local green area, we noticed long stretches of blackberries which would soon be juicy and ready for picking.
I wore my jeans and a long sleeved jumper to protect myself from nettles and brambles. A mixing bowl, and a measuring jug were our containers of choice and I popped them in my bycicle basket. We cycled along a few streets then over the canal bridge, along the canal and into the fields. It's a strange green space that we live next to. In what was once a big industrial area, next to the building site of the Olympics. There's big old factories and electric pilons and a railway running through it but it's a nature reserve with many birds and insects, fruit bushes and trees. When I first went there I didn't like it and thought it was to industrial to be pretty, but as I've spent more time there I've seen different birds (a heron and a kestrel on this occasion) and the changing of the wildlife through the seasons. I've come to appreciate that nature doesn't only exist in peaceful countryside, it lives all around me in the city.
Just like last year i found myself wishing I had a walking stick to pull down those high branches laden with plump berries, just out of reach. I'd learnt that trick as a child. I remember a lovely day trip to the Lake District with a friend and her parents to fill tupawear upon tupawear with berries. On arriving back at their house we made jam with my friends mother in the kitchen, us two girls stiring the pot.
Daniel and I didn't have a walking stick and couldn't find a stick on the ground to use so I thought of an alternative. He put me on his shoulders and I could reach the big juicy berries on the fruit laden high branches. I only managed to get about ten before he needed to put me down but it was fun. The train kept going over our head and we were so near that the passengers could probably see us filling bowls and our bicycles near by. I always thought that my dream would be to live in the countryside but there is something fun about finding alternatives in the city. Blackberry picking in big open fields is the perfect way to spend an end of summer afternoon. Do I mind the pilons and train going by? Not so much these days.
I'd love to hear your recipe suggestions. I'm thinking crumble and muffins......

13 comments:

Sonia said...

hi Jill ! mmm blackberries, the signs of the end of summer, I really love that !
I simply adore the way you illustrate your blog post, each drawing is absolutely darling ! (they would be so great in a cook book !)
Well, I'm a muffin girl at heart, so yes, my suggestion would be muffins. But depending the quantity you have you can try making fruit leather.
have a wonderful week ahead !
oxox

chocolategirl64 said...

old wives say you've got to pick them before 1st October:
blackberry jamMmm ^_^

Thrup'ny bits said...

Delicious drawings.

When I started reading the post I thought, "Where's the walking stick with the crook handle?"

As for urban wildlife: I recently came across a study of bee pollen which noted that urban bees collected a grater variety of pollens than rural bees . . .

Alan

Jill Wignall said...

Alan, that's really interesting. Where did you find the article? I'd be interested in reading it. My Gran was a bee keeper but she lived in the countryside.

Sonia, I made the muffins but they were bright purple! Purple cake anyone? A cookbook, now there's an idea!

Thrup'ny bits said...

There's a piece on the National Trust site and an article on the Guardian site

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-global/w-news/w-latest_news/w-news-honey-bees-find-richer-diversity-of-pollen-in-urban-areas.htm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/17/bees-urban-pollen-diet

zephyr said...

my sister made a fabulous bread pudding (day old bread torn into chunks, baked in a custard) with blackberries. YUM
can send recipe, if you are interested.

Adam said...

I want a muffin

Janis said...

Your drawings and stories always inspire me. Beautiful, sweet and delicate...

I have just realized I never sent your postcard - I've had a fuzzy head for the last few months - please forgive my absentmindedness! I know what I am sending you and it will be soon :^)

Joan said...

My son and new daughter-in-law live in Belsize and they found blackberries growing near where they live. Son Steve has been making blackberry jam and blackberry drink and is quite delighted with himself. He is the house husband just now.

his peach said...

I adore your little drawings, they really are very pretty! As for the berries, I recently had cheescake with blackberries and it was delicious.

Trula said...

love the drawings. blackberry picking is one of my favourite summer activities - I use them to make jam. and lots of it. I am always amazed that where I spend my summer holidays - in the middle of nowhere - no one seems to be interested in picking them.

Anna Emilia said...

What a lovely story to read while having my morning tea (the first one of the many).

Blackberries, they are like raspberries here, growing everywhere. Anything I make to a smoothie with soya milk (coconut milk works as a special taste too), sunflower and sesame seeds, banana and any other berries or fruits around. Enjoyed as a part of breakfast daily.

Have a happy Wednesday dear Jill.

jodi said...

What a lovely entry! Nice to meet you!

I know just what you mean when you talk about finding the that there is still a whole natural world around you, even in an urban area. When I was in uni my then boyfriend (now husband) was taking a class about oral tradition in aboriginal studies. Rather unexpectedly he got assigned a paper that required him to find out all about all the different animals and plant species in his local area. Since we were living in Toronto, there was initially a lot confusion about this in his class, since most people didn't think they could find very much nature around them. Anyway, this is getting to a long comment... but it was an eye-opening experience. I pay a lot more attention since then!

Hope you had a lovely blackberry dessert that day in August.