There has been a spectacular crop of fruit this year due to our highly unusual warm, dry summer. The blackberries are very early as a result so instead of October they are ready now, large, ripe and juicy and everywhere. If you know where to look near the woods, blackberry brambles are heaving with fruit and it is very easy to help oneself as the bushes grow quite low to the ground.
Wild fruit foraging is a great way to build up one's immunity and to make friends. Fruit ripened in the sun is sweet and full of vitamins, plus when eaten as soon as it is picked, is full of vitality. I scoff several berries daily on my walks with the hound.
The English can be very reserved but in fact are quite shy. Nothing brings people out of their shells more than inviting them to talk about themselves. Foragers are usually in love with nature and are solitary types who enjoy their own company but ask them if they're picking those berries to make jam and out will come their great grandma's recipe. If you've got half an hour and are happy to listen, you will have instantly made a friend.
Everyone wants to talk and stave off loneliness. It is poignant to see elderly men and women taking a daily stroll in the woods, who seem distant and trapped by their memories but given the chance want to shake off those faraway thoughts and embrace the present moment. And there are those who prefer to avoid reality. One such gentleman who I had never met before, struck up a conversation recently as we crossed paths with our hounds. He immediately launched into the crux of the matter by saying he was about to have radiotherapy for his cancer and he had begun to hate his wife and old age and everything in between, even his dog. But there are blackberries aplenty, the sun is shining and ...