Alex James: A timeless treasure buried in the woods

Rural Notebook

Share
Related Topics

Running over open fields, up wooded hillsides, lost sometimes and not caring, I plunk plunked around another blind corner and there was a blackberry bush as big as a bus, festooned over some hidden banister of shrubbery, decorated with fruit, as festive as Christmas and about twice as delightful for being completely unexpected.

It was a magnificent spectacle. I'd hardly given blackberries a thought: I've been completely dissolved in a piece of music for the last two weeks. Ten minutes worth of elaborate adagio left room for little else in my mind but all of a sudden here I was at large in the woods, something I'd been dreading, exercise, but which I found myself enjoying more than I've enjoyed anything for a long time. Running free in exquisite solitude. My dad, who is fanatical about blackberries and always knows where the best ones are, had been on several sorties over the weekend, taking various children with him including the baby, who came back with a smiling purple face and sticky hands.

I've been blackberrying since I was a child but I've never seen a bush like this before: deep, deep in the woods. I never see anyone in those woods. Sometimes a dashing hare, a flashing deer, but no people. And there it was, in the deepening evening sun: the quintessential specimen of the most English of flora at its zenith. The leaves a shade of green seen nowhere outside English woodland: the black and red berries more colourful than anything at Chelsea, almost psychedelic. I had to stop because of the smell more than anything. I haven't smelled blackberries like that since I was 10 or 11. Heavenly. I stood ecstatic, beyond time. The woods seemed suddenly to be a kind of Tudor scenario. I stood there smiling, chewing blackberries, half expecting Henry VIII to ride around the corner

No sour grapes

I was actually on the look-out for puffball mushrooms as I bounced along the pathways but I still haven't seen a single one this year in any of the places where they usually come up. It's swings and roundabouts as usual, though. For the first time ever, the grapes on the vine in the back garden are edible: really quite fat and juicy. I'll be picking the pears by the time you read this, the last of the summer fruits. Best crop ever.

Wallop hits the mark

Of the 884 cheeses entered, supreme champion at the British Cheese Awards last weekend was taken by a blue cheese for the second year running: Quenby Hall stilton. Well worth grabbing when you see it. To my surprise and delight, Little Wallop, one of my goat's cheeses, won an award, too: best soft white (camembert type).

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands in Shanghai  

Is Russia and China’s ‘Nato of the East’ more than a Potemkin alliance?

Nigel Morris
A petition calling for Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party, to be included has been signed by nearly 200,000 people  

Let me list the reasons that the Green Party should definitely not be allowed into the TV election debates...

Mark Steel
US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager