Strawberry Fields Forever

My only recollection of fruit picking as a child was wading through blackberry bushes near our caravan at Castle Howard. I would always come out with nettle stings, but delighted at the achievement of collecting a small handful of unripe blackberries which I would devour immediately – bugs and all! There was none of this anti bac gel and incessant washing of fruit before hand. I was told that germs were good for you.

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I can’t remember pick your own fruit farms where you could go as an activity. Maybe they were about, but we never went. My dad was what we would call ‘extremely tight’, but having had 5 kids, the cost of everything we did was multiplied up so we often had to make our own fun that was free. I am hugely grateful for this upbringing as we learnt to entertain ourselves, make up games, perform shows, dress up the cat and dog (in my mums bras – obvs), make rose petal perfume and mud pies. We used our imaginations. That was childhood to me. Of course there were no ipads, mobile phones, sky plus and gadgets. I love my memories of recording songs from the radio to cassette tapes, and watching films with my sister on old video cassettes. Something that would be alien to my son now.

I have been wanting to take Louis was a while, but always seem to miss the ‘fruit picking boat’ and the season is over before we know it. I stumbled across a Facebook post last week for Hutton Bonville Fruit Farm near Northallerton. Saturday was a lovely sunny day, and as daddy was away (fruit picking wouldn’t be this thing anyway) we got up early and went out on our adventure to find fruit. As idyllic as this all may sound (fruit picking on a sunny day with my child, smiling and holding hands) I was just lucky to land on a good day – where he didn’t whinge and was actually a delight. Other days, as all kids are, he can be a nightmare…grumpy (typical man) and all he wants is to hide away in his bedroom with his hidden stash of Haribos and the ipad. Anyway, today was a good day so off we went.

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The faithful sat nav delivered us well and we arrived to a field full of cars, early bird catches the worm and all that. At this point I didn’t really know the extent of the amount of strawberry’s and raspberry’s that would be available, and a sudden fear that there would be none left hit me as we quickly got out of the car to beat the families behind us to get our plastic baskets. I did imagine carrying wicker baskets, wearing straw hats and lolloping in the fields, but no…recycled plastic containers had to suffice and my sons oversized Vans cap had to do. Since his 12 year old cousin left the cap at our house last week, I can not peel it off Louis’ head. It looks ridiculous but also super cute.

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I was pleasantly surprised, there were fields and fields and row on rows of fruit…plenty for everyone. Louis has inherited his impatient personality for me so off he ran in search of raspberry’s immediately. Louis had hoped for gooseberry’s too (which he doesn’t actually like) although he claimed he did, but these weren’t ready yet.

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The whole experience doesn’t last that long. We had 3 containers to fill, but there are only so many punnets of fruit you can eat even after you’ve donated half to your family. I have to say eating a strawberry freshly picked has to be one of life’s great pleasures, we sneakily ate a few as we went round (we saw others doing the same so I assumed it was strawberry picking etiquette).

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Seeing the smile on Louis’ face and excitement when he found ‘giant strawberry’s’ was priceless. We found the biggest strawberry’s why hidden right underneath at the bottom.

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At the end the chap weighs your baskets, ours came to about £11.00 which was reasonable for what we had picked and enjoyed.

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On the way home we drove though a little village called Great Smeaton and fell upon a gorgeous vintage home wares shop called the ‘The Old Saddlers Shop’. If you are in the area it’s worth a visit. We had a lovely lunch in the local pub and then home for a cuddle on the sofa and a movie. It was a perfect day.

For mummy – well the fruit went perfectly in a large glass of Sangria. Cheers!

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