Monday, 1 October 2012

Blackberry Wanderings

I've told you about blackberry picking before,  I know.  I was little suprised to hear that Vivien had never done this, but I was very pleased to be able to introduce her to it.  I did some recce-ing a couple of days before to make sure my plans were going to work.  There is a path from a nearby park that has been extended to join up with the Metro station.  Bill had been along this path through a broken fence - I worried we were trespassing on Metro property, which carries a hefty fine, but apparently not.  Some of the best blackberries I'd seen were on that 'illicit' path, as is the way of things.
I've never found this little sitting place by the burn before...I wonder if those
stones came from the old medieval hospital...
Now that it was opened, the bushes along the 'official' path were well picked, almost Hoovered!  So we carried on into the park, where many of the neighbours had picked berries year after year until the 'Friends of the Park' cut back all the bushes to let 'natural grasses' grow for the 'wildlife'.  They also put up all these tacky little laminated signs reminding people to pick up after their dogs, complaining that people have stolen some of their plants, and requesting that the 'natural grasses' be left in peace.   Never mind, this isn't supposed to be a rant....
Another teenaged den, only with swinging ropes.
As usual I took a wrong turn and so we didn't go exactly the way through the park that I'd envisioned, but no matter, we found some great black berry picking places.  Bill and I discovered a couple of years ago that taking a couple of his mother's old walking sticks was useful for pulling down out-of-reach branches; also for providing stability when climbing up and down steep banks.  Back packs for the containers being filled are also useful.   I also learned (the hard way) that it's best to not fill a container, but to close them up when there are more berries that I can bear to lose if I trip.   
I'm sure we were a sight with our canes, our backpacks and our boxes of berries.  People who saw us seemed slightly amused but also generally approving, as though we were doing something they might like to do.  Indeed, we did see at least one other person picking berries, but we were already on to a better patch.
When we'd tired of the park, we went down the bank to the Fish Quay and called in to the 'Fish Quay Fair' and then had (a ridiculously large) lunch at a pub - there were no salads or small sandwiches to be had, honestly!  Then we found another place to explore on the top of the cliff.  We followed a slightly-beaten path (as opposed to choosing the well-trod path) much further than I would have dared.  Vivien was quite intrepid in this, I thought, pursuing the faint trail into more and more overgrown territory.  We got to a place where she thought there might be a gateway, even if no gate and I thought we'd either found a teenage 'drinking den' or a homeless person's hangout: the grass was crushed and this clearing was covered with litter and flattened plastic bags.  That convinced her we should turn around, which we did, but we picked blackberries on the way out!
I used to love to explore when I was a kid.  Apparently this is a trait I've yet to out-grow and one that Vivien shares!  


BigLittleWolf said...

This sounds lovely. But I admit, I'm an urban creature. I'm happier reading about others' forays into the forest and woods than doing it myself.

(Please pass some berries!)


Anonymous said...

Your post made me nostalgic.

Blackberries prevail along a series of ridges in the Oakland/Berkeley hills, and many a late summer morning a friend and I clambered about picking until our purple-stained fingers were quite stung through from the inevitable thorns interrupting our enthusiastic picking.