The most gruelling fruit …

What fruit is the most gruelling, while also the most satisfying and the most gorgeous?

My candidate: wild blueberries.  Collecting them from here is a mini-triathlon.  First I ride the bike high up in the moor, starting on the road, but later on a rough track, and finally a mile or so of non-track where I carry it much of the way.  Then there’s a landmark where I can park the bike (and be confident of finding it again) and continue on foot over rough terrain.  At this point I want a backpack, not the cycle pannier I’m carrying.

Finally the precious fruit.  But these wild blueberries are tiny compared to the farmed ones you get in the shops.  Neither do they come in great dense clumps: rather they tend to be sparse.  No doubt being rather late onna Sunday afternoon doesn’t help there.  Bottom line: picking them is a great deal of work, for very little result.

But yes, it’s all well worth it.  The bike ride is a pleasure.  The walk is almost a pleasure, even if it’s challenging keeping ones footing on terrain that varies between rocks and bogs, and when more-than-half-blinded by the sun.  But most glorious of all is the swim, in the bigger, deeper pools of the river, high up in the moors.  The swim marks the end of collecting the blueberries, and is coupled with a fantastic natural massage in the white water.  Wonderful, and a blessed relief on a hot afternoon!

The homeward journey, and each milestone is a blessed relief.  Returning to the bike; reaching the point where I can ride it; and best of all now getting back to the surfaced road.  The homeward journey is predominantly downhill, to a welcome shower and a glass of deep-chilled hungarian pinot grigio – a wonderful wine for hot summer weather.  Mmmm 🙂

Can’t beat it.  And I haven’t even collected an excessive crop of insect bites, as might be expected after prolonged exposure to that vegetation.

Posted on July 28, 2008, in dartmoor, food. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. So now you know why Dartmoor people call them “hurts” (or ‘urts, pronounced with an appropriately rustic accent!).

  2. Another point on the easy/tasty graph?

  3. My vote goes to blackberrys – we took over an allotment last September which hadn’t been worked for years and was covered in brambles. Firstly digging out the brambles is a major PITA, but my wife wants to keep some for the blackberrys – but they grow like crazy. Anyway she made the first batch of blackberry jam this weekend, which was fantastic, but I think we’re going to be fighting a never ending battle to keep the brambles in check to a small part of the allotment. I guess you might ask why not just go collect the wild ones – but thats not so convenient when you live in a city.

  4. john – looks like someone else shares my thoughts on ’em 🙂

    cal – sorry, can’t agree with anyone who’s so uncomplimentary about grapefruits. Wonderful fruit when you get the decent ones (in .uk, they’re commonly imported from Turkey, Cyprus or Spain; those that come from further afield are rarely any good).

    Niall – sure, blackberries (and their regular companion – nettles) fight back. But from here it’s still a lot less work, ‘cos they’re local, and they’re big enough that you’ve got a decent quantity once you’ve picked a few hundred. I expect to pick ’em about once a week from sometime-in-August to sometime-in-October (except in 2003, when I was still gathering ’em into the second half of November – way past their best of course – ‘cos I couldn’t afford anything else).

    /me wonders where Niall lives, that gets blackberries this early in the year.

  5. p.s. On the subject of things that fight back …

    When I lived in Italy, I used to collect chestnuts in their (autumn) season. When you extract them, they really lacerate the hands, in ways a mere bramble can only dream of!

  6. You’re probably right – a cheap attempt to win “the most gruelling fruite….” award and I’d probably have a heart attack if I tried you’re trialthlon. Its more little-and-often type effort to keep them under control.

    Location is here:

  1. Pingback: ‘urtz « niq’s soapbox

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