Our move northwards, several years ago, was preceded by a great deal of thought and in-depth conversation about 'what if'. There were many considerations to take into account, but none of them involved foraging in hedgerows. It wasn't so surprising, I guess, as there aren't many hedgerows in Orkney in which to forage.
Not that we spent huge amounts of time in Milton Keynes wandering about the countryside looking at hedges, you understand. Well, actually, we did do a lot of that, but not in a foragey way, more of a natural history way! No, our list of wild food activities was limited to annual brambling expeditions, collecting blackberries, each late Summer or early Autumn.
For the reason mentioned above, there's not too much scope for that in Orkney but, for the past two years, I've been self-medicating my blackberry habit through the medium of Mackays Bramble Preserve. But the thing is, it's just not the same, or possibly it's because the preserve is cut with other lower grade stuff.
The time was ripe for a change.
So what to do? One option was to grow my own blackberries. It's not illegal, as far as I know, but would have to be done indoors as I don't imagine that the climate here would be particularly conducive to a good crop. But did I really want to go down the 'windows lined with alumimium foil' route? Probably not.
Buying online seemed a reasonable option, nothing too seedy, you understand. After all, folk say that you can purchase just about anything through the internet. After browsing the dark fruit web for a while, I discovered the Wilkin and Sons site. Really, at this point, Our Lass should've taken my credit card and cut it up.
A modest perusal of their wares led me to an astonishing discovery. There's Bramble Jelly, and also Blackberry Jelly. What is that all about? Surely, both products are the same thing? Hmmm, apparently not. A brief look at the ingredients showed that there are different strengths of blackberry-ness, so I obviously needed to be a bit careful. It's a thorny problem.
And this also explained why the Mackays jars no longer satisfy my cravings. Even I might have to admit that I've got it bad.
Mackays Bramble Preserve - 35g of fruit per 100g
Thursday Cottage Bramble Jelly - 50g of fruit per 100g
Wilkin and Sons Tiptree Blackberry Jelly - 60g of fruit per 100g
Several days later, a parcel arrived at Tense Towers. My joy was unconfined! Frantically ripping off the outer plastic packaging and tape, I discovered a neatly-packed, but suspicious-looking, consignment of...
To be continued...