BBM ; Blackberry Mess.

I was tidying up the kitchen the other day, lamenting the fact that summer is slipping away and that there is a noticeable chill in the air. Even when the sun has forced its way through the clouds, the intense heat we’ve enjoyed over this glorious summer, has gone.

My gloom soon passed though as I spotted my two girls running up the garden towards the kitchen, their hands and faces stained purple with blackberry juice, excitedly asking for a bowl as they had found a hedgerow full of blackberries along the side of one of the fields.I found a bowl and followed them down to the bottom of “hilly” field, and was thrilled to see the hedgerow bursting with gorgeous ripe berries.

Busy in the hedgerow

Busy in the hedgerow

blackberries

saffie blackberries

Although a fabulous sight in itself, it warmed me even more, as there are no fruit trees to speak of at Fishponds. The garden at our old house was tiny in comparison to here, but we did have a number of fruit trees that we’d planted over the years, and harvesting the home grown fruit at this time of year had always been a highlight for us. It is probably the only thing I’ve missed so far (apart from our neighbours!).

There are cherry trees here along the edge of one of the fields, but we lost the race with the birds this year, who managed to gorge on them before we had a chance to pick them.  The number of blackberries also means that the birds will be well fed by the time winter sets in.

I found an old map of the land a few weeks ago, and one of the fields is marked as an orchard. We have big plans to eventually replant the orchard; another exciting long term project.

Over the next couple of days we paid a few visits to our bramble patch and in total scrumped a bountiful haul of about 10lbs of wonderful blackberries. I’ve frozen some, so we can have a taste of summer later in the winter. And I helped the girls make a blackberry cobbler and some blackberry biscuits

cooking blackberriesblackberry cobblerblackberry biscuit

frozen blackberriesblackberry biscuitsblackberry cobbler 2

Picking blackberries. Such a simple pleasure. Messy chins and purple fingers. Makes me think that maybe it isn’t so bad that autumn is creeping up on us afterall.

Happy after an afternoon picking blackberries

Happy after an afternoon picking blackberries

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Strange findings at Fishponds.

Despite the cooler weather and more frequent rain that September is bringing, it hasn’t dampened the girl’s appetite for being outside, riding their bikes and exploring the fields. The hunt for feathers still endures, but sightings of butterflies and discoveries of new meadow flowers have all but ceased as the cooler weather sets in. Instead, we’ve been searching out nuts, acorns and pinecones. And it was on one such mission that Maddie noticed strange things on one of the oak trees.  It looks like some of the acorns are wearing hats.

IMG_2466 IMG_2473 IMG_2469The smooth, green acorns, have grown quite large, orange and red, peaked extensions. We don’t know what it is. We’ve only seen it on two of the trees, and they are on opposite sides of the fields. Any ideas on identification would be much appreciated.

As we were pondering this weird acorn mutation we noticed another strange sight in the long grasses beside the tree. It looks like some form of spider’s web and as we inspected it further, we were expecting to see it full of hundreds of spiderlings. Instead it was full of grass seeds. It is a truly amazing work of (I’m guessing) insect workmanship. The web looks so fragile but is holding safe the stash of seed.

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Two days later and it’s still holding strong.  I’m not convinced that it’s the work of a spider, as my limited knowledge of the natural world doesn’t know why a spider would need grass seed, but I can offer no other explanation to Maddie as so what it might be. Again, any suggestions would be welcome.