I have just come back from what I thought would be a lovely morning fruit picking, with my husband, daughter and her friend Harriet who is staying with us for a few days. Isn’t there something in all of us that just loves the idea of a ‘Pick your Own’ fruit farm? The sun is shining (it was), the fruit is bountiful (the raspberries were fantastic) and the cost at the end of the day is much lower than the supermarket (6lbs of raspberries for £10 – sounds good to me).
I bounced out of the house and into the car for the short drive (OK – food miles already I hear you mutter, but it is a really steep hill…) trying hard to enthuse everyone.
‘Auntie Jane says the picking is great’.
‘No, the strawberries are pretty much over for now. Raspberries. Great for your smoothies and dad loves raspberry jam’
‘I want strawberries they are much nicer’.
Good start. Arriving at the fantastic Runnington Fruit Farm I went to the shop to get some punnets, and duly picked up three of the larger size.
‘What do we want all them for?’
Now at this point I really should have just given up on the whole family fun outing bit and wandered off by myself to enjoy the peace and quiet, the sound of the wind in the raspberry canes and the occasional squawk from the guinea fowl they keep. But no, I pressed on.
‘Let’s go over there! There are loads! Make sure you pick all the biggest juiciest ones!’
‘Doh mum, I was going to pick all the little green mouldy ones..’
To be fair to Harriet she was doing her best to sound politely enthusiastic, and they were picking, but rather quickly, as if the whole enterprise ought to be completed as speedily as possible. At this point I did wander off, to the other side of the field. Suddenly the mood lifted. I was picking with two families, both with children under the age of 7. One father had a child of about 2 on his shoulders and the air was full of shouts of excitement.
‘Look mummy its HUGE!!’
‘Yes darling, lovely. Bit green though still. Find the red ones.’
‘Ok. Bet I find a bigger one than you though’. I bet he did, as his mum was probably like me and would have hidden her plumpest finds under a layer of scrawnier specimens.
‘Rasps’ said the two year old, swiftly corrected by dad. ‘More rasps’.
Do you remember that feeling when you were little, or when you are with small children, when you don’t want to leave because there is bound to be the biggest, bestest strawberry just under the next leaf? Or having found that one, spotting an unharvested crop, missed by the jam making lady just up the row, that you just have to pick and balance on top of the already over-brimming punnet? If when picking raspberries one oozy delicious one drops off and you just can’t reach it through the prickles, did you ever apologise to it? It is almost as if its little life has been in vain. I did that today. I was determined to stick to tradition.
Suddenly Evie and Harriet were by my side. ‘We’ve finished’. My punnet was just half full. That was when instead of the desire to pick raspberries with my daughter, the overwhelming desire to BLOW them at her came over me. Immature I realise. I then proceeded to take longer than strictly necessary walking up and down the rows, in pursuit of the Holy Grail of soft fruit. It was only when my husband came back from walking the dog looking a bit stressed out because he didn’t know what to do next that I realised my time there was up. Within the space of an hour my family outing was over and we were back for lunch. Oh well.
It just doesn’t pay to expect trips out with teens to be as much fun as when they were under 5’s. Even if they were enjoying it (and secretly they may well have enjoyed this morning) they wouldn’t let it show and frankly it was almost unfair of me to expect a joyous response. Even if I had offered them paintballing and quadbiking all I would have got was ‘Great. Cool’. I will just have to go fruitpicking by myself in future. So next time you visit a pick your own, if you see a lonely middle-aged woman standing amongst the canes apologising to soft fruit, you will know who it is.
Photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/dnamichaud/