Don’t let on but I’ve been scrumping again, or should I say Autumn foraging. I’m tempted every year and one end of my workshop is now stacked with wonderful bramleys and some old fashioned little red apples that I can’t identify.
Let me explain. Lampwork cottage supports only one apple tree. Stately it may be, with a beautiful canopy, it’s a tree for climbing and resting under, but it doesn’t justify its space in the garden by providing me with apples. It promised six green marbles earlier in the summer, but three dropped off in the first strong wind and the starlings did for the rest. I’ve managed a few pies from next door’s windfalls dropping over the fence but each year I’m lured on by the lustier trees down the allotment.
Now my allotment isn’t posh, with paths, sheds and running water. There are no written rules and anarchy does reign at times. It’s privately owned and I pay £5 a year to join other stalwart gardeners fighting a never ending battle with mares tail, bindweed and other invasive terrors. But for my £5 a year I have the most beautiful spot looking onto fields and woodland. A place of peace and tranquillity, where I can watch birds and wildlife when tired with digging. The soil’s quite good too.
But my little patch of earth is constantly threatened by brambles. They creep towards me with a muscular stealth that can be quite unnerving. and, in the middle of these brambles, grow some of the most prolific apple trees I have ever seen. They are so fertile that each year branches break under the crushing weight of the fruit. No wonder I’m tempted.
When I took over the allotment the old timers told me they were Mr A’s trees. It was a couple of years, and several metres of steadily encroaching brambles, before I realised Mr A had been dead for some time. So now I quietly thank Mr A as I slash and trample my way through his brambles to scrump the apples. I do have a naughty guilty feeling as I pick, but I guess women have always been tempted by apples and I’ve had to find something to go with all those blackberries the brambles so helpfully provide.
(The pictures are just recent snaps of my garden)
I've just found this rather sweet little fairy poem. Very appropriate!
Song of the Fairies Robbing an Orchard
We are the fairies, blithe and antic
Of dimensions not gigantic
Though the moonshine mostly keep us,
Oft in orchards frisk and peep us.
Stolen sweets are always sweeter,
Stolen kisses much completer;
Stolen looks are nice in chapels,
Stolen, stolen be your apples!
When to bed the world are bobbing,
Then it’s time for orchard robbing;
Yet the fruit were scarce worth peeling
Were it not for stealing, stealing
Leigh Hunt (1794-1859)