Food for free

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The apple tree on Hilders Cliff

I went scrumping yesterday. I shouldn’t be telling you this, because people my age don’t do that sort of thing  – or perhaps they do.

High hanging fruit

You see, there’s this apple tree on Hilders Cliff near the Landgate at the top of the Horse Slope (that’s a name that few will know or remember). I’ve watched it grow and produce apples each year, but no one seems to pick them. I’ve always thought that they would be sour and crabby, but this year they were exceptionally large and luscious looking.

These last few weeks they have been ripe and falling to the ground at the same time as the leaves have been shedding. What a waste! Determined to test their quality, I furtively picked one up and carried it home for breakfast. Its taste was surprisingly good and sweet, and its texture firm (though a little past its best to be honest).

The Magic Apple Tree by Samuel Palmer

Hardly a fruit of the forest, perhaps the tree was planted by a well-meaning hand for the public benefit; more likely perhaps that a scrumping blackbird from a past era had dropped the seed pip.

So many books and articles have been written about foraging and food for free, to encourage folk to get out into the countryside. But who picks blackberries or wild mushrooms these days?

[Editor’s note: Me , for a start. I have an apple and blackberry crumble sitting in my fridge waiting to be eaten – and I was not the only one blackberrying by the Ferry Road level crossing. And how many sloe gin creators actually have sloes in their back garden?]

Maybe I’m just an old eccentric war-time baby who hates to see good food go to waste. Or is it the excitement of the hunt that gets me out of doors and into nature’s bountiful pantry? Whatever, I can’t change my ways now!

Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .

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