September 19, 2014

Fruits of no labour.

“Would you like to see the orchard?”

Well, there’s only one answer to such a question.

“Yes please.”

I am lucky to have spent the past two weeks in France. The second week was as a tourist in Paris, but it’s the first week, in a much more rural setting, that I’d like to revisit here.

So, back to the orchard.

With the entrance partially obscured by an overgrown hedge, it would have been easy to miss the ancient wooden gate with the ‘Privee’ sign hanging slightly askew. Through the gate steep, uneven steps lead through damp, dense pillars of bamboo before suddenly opening up into about half an acre of land, home to old, gnarled trees. Dappled sunlight filtered through the leaves. It was the kind of scene that you imagine greeted Mary when she first discovered the secret garden, and the trees were great for climbing and sitting in.

Of course, being an orchard, the old, twisted trees were fruit trees. Apple, pear, plum, apricot, peach and fig. Most weren’t yet ripe, but we could spy small, yellow plums high up in one tree. A quick scout on the ground below found us a couple of plums that were still unscathed. They were delicious and made us all the more determined to reach the ones high up. The fact that they were so out of reach made them all the more precious somehow.

After some predictably useless attempts to knock the fruit out with a frisbee, someone went and fetched a fruit picker. This is not a nine year old child, as you might have thought, but a small mesh ‘sock’ with plastic fingers round the edges, at the end of a long pole. After lots of poking and twisting, and trying not to swear in front of the children, we had enough plums to fill half the frisbee. So, nettle stings smarting, we carefully transported them back to the house.

After a good rinse and a quick check for wriggly occupants – they made a fantastic dessert!