Down to Border Berries at Rutherford, where everyone does indeed seem to be called Rutherford, for part of the annual berry-pick.
We are lucky that we usually manage to score some freebie fruit – a basket of plums from friends having a glut, a visit to the secret wild raspberry bushes nearby, crab apples falling ripe from a neglected tree in the hedgerow – but always fit in a visit to Border Berries for a spot of Pick Your Own.
Or, as the Young Master and Mistress might re-name it, the Pick And Eat.
The Young Mistress is generally more honest than her older brother, and took a ‘one for me, five for the basket’ approach after my gentle reminder that while the odd strawberry or two just might find its way into their mouths, that this wasn’t just a way of getting extra pudding.
The Young Master, however, did that thing that all wee boys do – nod sagely, say ‘yes’ very earnestly and then just go off and do exactly as they please anyway, totally disregarding anything you might just have said. Even if it was said just seconds earlier. I guess it’s just a boy thing.
What followed was an amazing display of covert fruit-eating which was fascinating to watch and breathtaking in its audacity and risk-taking.
Even eating close to two lady members of Border Berries’ staff picking fruit for the sales table – luckily for him, they were deep in conversation.
Just a thought – who goes to the trouble of driving to a Pick Your Own and then just buys the fruit ready-picked? Odd.
Head down, he developed a kind of half-kneeling, half-creeping, swinging scuttle down the strawberry rows. Just close enough that you could see him, but not clock exactly what he was up to.
Only calling his name occasionally, causing him to pop his head up, revealed the evidence – red lips, tongue and chin. Busted.
I curtailed his brazen behaviour briefly with a trip down the gooseberry bushes. Yak! He pronounced them inedible. So that gave his stomach a rest for about, oh, 10 minutes.
He was also lukewarm on tayberries, and hardly touched a blackberry, although I must admit I only like eating these when they are so ripe that they are practically dropping off the stems, otherwise they are pretty inedible. But it kept him off his gorging spree for another 10 minutes.
A stroll down the raspberry canes was just too much for him after this barren spell, and soon he was openly stuffing them into his cheeks again, having realised that these were much easier pickings – lovely tall canes trained at just the right height for their leaves to hide the juice-stained face of a 10-year-old.
Eventually he was dragged away, and we went home to make jam (in my case) and labels (in theirs). Funny how the Young Master seemed to have lost his appetite for soft fruit completely for the next few days, and spent a lot of time on the loo.
The next day I was able to stand on a dining chair and re-stock my jam shelf. Yes, it’s an entire shelf above the kitchen door full of home-made jam (and the odd jar of chutney).
If it ever collapses, it will kill someone – if not by weight, perhaps by slow, sticky asphyxiation.
Death by jam.