We love to wander about the fields, harvesting whatever takes our fancy and coming home laden with fruit and vegetables. I then make jam from some of the fruit and freeze lots of sweetcorn and other vegetables to keep us going through the year. It was and still is a great way for us, living in London as we do, to get out into the countryside and commune with nature.
We usually visit Hewitt's Farm, just outside of Orpington in Kent, as this is just a 40 minute drive for us, so the journey is not too long. They have masses of fruit trees, bushes and fields of various vegetables ready to harvest and we've always found them very friendly and helpful at this family run business.
I had taken a supply of carrier bags, paper bags and the odd punnet for our picking and as soon as we got there, we set off around the many acres of the farm. First stop was the cooking apples. I normally get given some by OH's father, but as we won't make it to visit them this summer, I decided to buy some here.
The areas where you are allowed to pick are always sign posted at this farm and fields or crops not yet ready tend to be marked off by tape or signs are put up telling you not to pick. It never ceases to amaze me how some people still manage to pick the corn well before it is ready and then just discard it. It always seems so wasteful. It also amazed me how much litter people drop on their way around. Are people not taught to take their litter home with them? (Sorry, I couldn't help but have a little rant).
Anyway, from cooking apples we graduated to the french beans, runner beans and plums. Many of the plums weren't quite yet ripe, but I picked a couple of pounds anyway, as I'm sure they will ripen in the fruit bowl. The beans I will probably freeze for use in stews in the winter months. Unfortunately, I'd missed the broad beans which I really like to put in stews. They had finished by the time of our visit and I hadn't grown any on the allotment this year.
Last stop was the eating apples. By now we were getting quite tired as there was quite a lot of walking involved. Luckily I'd had the foresight to take my shopping trolley as actually carrying our fruit and vegetables would have been difficult and heavy work. I used to use the pram when Little Bird was small. I picked some of a variety called Vistabella, as I've never heard of this variety of apples before, whilst Little Bird picked us some trusty old Discovery, which we all like. Finally, I picked a few russets as I can never resist them, although they are a bit of an acquired taste and not to everyone's liking. I remember them from my teenage days, when I worked in green grocer's shop after school and on Saturdays. It was a job that gave me a lifelong taste for and love of almost all fruit and I must admit that I do eat quite a lot of it.
Once we'd finished picking, we headed off to the tills to pay for our haul. I won't tell you how much I spent. It's a secret, but I did consider it an inexpensive, yet educational day out for us during the school holidays and a pleasant trip down memory lane.