Wednesday 6 September 2006



Picking blackberries on your own land is an enjoyable task. There is still the feeling of foraging from the wild without the worry that a farmer with a shotgun will appear looking for trespassers or that the berries have been contaminated with some arcane agricultural spray designed to kill 99% of all known pests. Today in a little over an hour I picked enough fruit for several pots of jam and I think, although it depends on the weather tomorrow, that I will pick again and gather enough for a gallon of wine. Blackberry wine is luscious and worth the effort.

The plums are all but finished now, all that is left is the debris of rotting and fallen fruit gently decaying down beneath the trees. This wild jam is beloved of Red Admiral butterflies and there is no way to capture the experience of stepping beneath the tree and being surrounded by a cloud of twenty or thirty beautiful, strong flying and slightly tipsy colourful insects whirling away around your head. You really have to be here.

All this autumnal bounty has a dark side. The hornets, which have behaved impeccably well all summer, are now stupid with the early darkness and chillier evenings. They batter their heads against the glass all evening trying to get into the light and when they do find a chink they force through it to drive themselves mad with frantic beating against the bulbs. This hasn’t been quite so bad the last couple of nights as we have had clear skies and a nearly full moon to tempt them away from the house but they are fearsome creatures and it’s not nice to find one has made ingress.

The swallows left on the 30th August. We have had one small group of late travellers stop by for a morning but it is strangely quiet in the yard, even the other little birds seem quieter and less sociable. I have plans to make a bird table for the back garden, but this is something that keeps getting delayed by the simple tasks of living.

We also have rats. Well, of course we have rats but yesterday I watched the cutest rodent running backwards and forwards to the compost bucket collecting old cat food and rice for her young and having a wonderful time while she did it, squeaking and chattering with excitement. I’ve no intention of finding them and killing them, we have snakes and owls for that but it’s silly to encourage pests near to the house. I shall have to get a lidded bucket and start emptying it more frequently. The cat is no help. While Mrs. Rat was collecting her groceries he slept the sleep of the good just five feet away, entirely oblivious.

Paul has managed to take a picture of the fish in the pond. Surprisingly enough it is a trout! It certainly moves fast and you are much more likely to see a dust trail of stirred silt than the fish itself but sometimes if you creep very quietly to the edge of the water you can catch a glimpse of it as it swims along the wall side. I don’t know if Paul has managed to upload the picture yet, it wasn’t great photography but notable for existing at all, but you can look at all his photos here


Anonymous said...

I didn't think the fish was worth uploading because, as you said, it was very dodgy quality; trout being both underwater creatures and timid to boot,rendering any photo at all quite an achievement, but I'll tweak it and see what I can do. Watch that space.

Anonymous said...

Nice description of the scene under the tree. I was /almost/ there :)