These blackberries were growing on wasteland in Italy in early September. While I adore our British hedgerows, I would not turn my nose up at an occasional bunch of succulent grapes nestling among the brambles.
There is something romantic about brambling. Perhaps it is the notion that generations of country folk have foraged for hedgerow fruit; their hands, faces and clothes stained with blackberry juice. The same cannot be said for all the food we harvest. Try as I might, I am incapable of getting all romantic at the prospect of pulling up turnips.
I don't know if previous generations discovered the protective powers of the dressing gown. Our daughter insists that it is the best garment for brambling. She claims that it reduces the impact of thorns, although some of you might rightly suspect that she is simply a staunch supporter of pyjama days.
Of course, the juiciest berries are always out of reach and so they should be. I like to think of brambling as a fair exchange with the creatures who enjoy our cultivated fruits. We may be taking some of their berries, but we will leave the best pickings for them, not least because even a dressing gown will not protect our arms if we are foolish enough to scale the hedgerow for those tempting, unreachable fruits.
As for the fool. Well, we just put the blackberries with a couple of tablespoons of sugar in a pan on a low heat for ten minutes, then mash them and leave them to cool. Then we mix them with lightly whipped cream and chill this delightful mixture for about thirty minutes before we remove it from the fridge. After a few minutes at room temperature, a blackberry fool should look like this...