At over 600 feet, or 200 metres, above sea level, things ripen at a different pace here in the Quantock Hills. Even though it’s almost mid-October, the brambles in the hedge behind the cottage are still heavy with fat blackberries. So, while Nora was in her crate having a rest, I hopped over the fence to pick as many as I could.
Just in time too, as about an hour later some giant farm machinery – the kind that struggles to get up the narrow lane – hove into view harvesting the maize, or cow corn. Quite terrifying from the perspective of the kitchen, which is tucked into the hillside about four feet below the field.
In four and a half years, I haven’t seen the corn being cut before because I was rarely here during the week when I worked. The men and the equipment are brought in, which explains their cavalier attitude to the verges and doorsteps which they drive over in the lane. At the weekend, only the farm family are around and they’ve been here for about 100 years and have a little more respect.
Later it occurred to me that there should also be some grapes on the vine after the fine summer that we had.
Sure enough, there were quite a few. I wouldn’t massively want to eat them as they are quite pippy but when I saw some apples being given away free outside the library in the village, I thought they would make a lovely crumble together with the blackberries.
But it wasn’t to be, as the free apples sadly became the Thing Left Behind (there’s always something), but I’ve now cooked up my little fruit harvest into two pots of ‘Spring Cottage Blackberry and Grape Jam’. I’ve been making little batches of various kinds of jam all summer and now have quite a stash to last until next year.