An early Thameside harvest

Erith blackberries

I nearly fell off my bike yesterday, what with the shock of seeing a vast sea of flowering blackberry bushes on the bank of the River Thames near Erith in Kent. Once recovered, my foraging instincts took over. I filled a small carrier bag with the juicy fruits, and proceeded on my way.

Yes, I know one occasionally finds blackberries maturing not long after midsummer, especially when the season is soggy and the temperatures lower than normal. But in the southern British Isles it would seem that early blackberries are becoming the norm.

Our current weather is unsettled, but not particularly wet, and we haven’t had a prolonged period of cool that would trick the local plant life into thinking that autumn has arrived. The summer of 2009 in the south east of England is as windy as a Woolwich chav following eight pints of lager and a doner kebab, but that is its only distinguishing feature.

Like most other residents of temperate climes I expect blackberries from late August through September, hence the shock of this unusually early Thameside harvest. Still, they will go very nicely in a pie or crumble, or perhaps accompanied by a little full-fat vanilla ice cream. In a few days time I shall return for some more.