It’s June, its’ Wimbledon, it’s the strawberry season!
What is it about a trip to the PYO farm that fills you with an innocent excitement of your childhood? The anticipation of being the first one to find the fattest juiciest strawberries to fill your small carton; the occasional naughty nibble of one or two of the sweet red berries or the joy of walking in the summer sun whilst foraging amongst the lush green leaves?
We have visited Shepton Beauchamp Manor Farm for the past few years and always been delighted at the ‘table top’ display of succulent deep red strawberries that hung heavily from the waif like thinness of the strawberry stems.
So with much excitement and eagerness, we headed off as soon as the school day had ended. There was talk of scones generously topped with clotted cream that was then completely concealed with a liberal helping of strawberries or perhaps a Victoria sponge with lashings of double cream and strawberries scattered all around.
However, our hopes of Eaton Mess for pudding that night were brutally dashed as we saw what appeared to be a hastily hand written notice at the entrance informing us that the farm had shut at 4pm – it was 3.55pm. Surely the madness of the World Cup hadn’t managed to ensnare the freedom of English strawberry picking! Was it worth shouting over the 5 barred gate in an attempt to appeal to their better nature and let us in for just a few minutes extra time? Come on, I said, fair play; especially as I had previously checked their website for opening times.
But we returned home empty handed and empty cartoned, determined to return at the weekend.
So with the dawn of a new day, we set off once more. The gate was open, the signs said ‘open’, it all looked promising.
But once more our hopes of a bounteous harvest were dashed. Instead of rows of tended green leaved bushy strawberry plants drooping under the weight of their juicy red fruit, we were met with just a few rows of dejected looking plants. The berries were small and meagre and having instructed my apprentice pickers to pick only the fat red berries, even I was struggling to find anything bigger than the size of a raspberry.
We concluded we had either missed the best of the crop or the best was yet to come, although the scene surrounding us should have given me a clue.
We returned to the shop and couldn’t help but notice the shelves that were normally heaving with masses of local produce were bereft of anything, not even so much as a bunch of asparagus.
I was soon to uncover the mystery, it would seem the husband and wife team who had had aspirations and dreams of producing everything people wanted, had sadly become a team of one following the untimely demise of the other and the whole venture had become too much for one person to cope with.
It seems unlikely that even the strawberry tables will survive through to next year which is very sad but it made me think about life and destiny. No matter how well you may plan your life project, if kismet has other ideas, there’s not alot you can do.
But don’t get me wrong, everyone should have their life game plan but be prepared for the googly and a bit like strawberry picking, make the most of it whilst it’s there, because before you’ve had a chance to have your fill, the season is all too soon over.
Life is not so much a bowl of cherries as a one season opportunity to grab the best on offer.
Author Sophia Moseley (copyright)