The first foraged jam of 2014 was loganberry and orange. Just one jar, from a handful of berries overhanging the street from the student let. I don’t think the young people knew the bush was there… a few days later, loganberry and grapefruit.
The family I visited today said, ‘That jam you gave us; it set us off using all the (foraged) fruit in the freezer. Gooseberry and Strawberry, that was special …’
Anticipating Saint John’s Eve, Mrs T and I welcomed NAIB2 and Harry to al fresco lunch under the vine. John may have died because of a drunken promise at a debauched feast; this was a more decorous affair. We did eat lamb in his honour, marinaded in our home-made wild garlic pesto from the Lake District, (see the post, ‘First Forage) with garden herbs, mustard and more (cultivated) garlic, all wrapped in vine leaves to keep it tender.
As evening finally fell, I splashed the bath water onto the plants in pots and thin soil round the house and garden. A warning chuck from a blackbird suggests they are nesting, or at least roosting, in the ivy again. On the way up Abbot’s Hill to Church this morning we had found a greenfinches’ nest fallen from a pine tree, with a blind, half-fledged chick still crawling back into it. The nest was a beautifully crafted bowl of mosses and feathers; the baby doomed; a black cat was watching from the garden wall, an ants’ nest active nearby. Had puss killed the woodmouse a few yards away that the ants were already swarming over?
But just now the pipistrelles were flitting around, snapping up the moths around the lamppost at the corner of the garden. There were plenty of insects at ground level, too, ants, little beetles and bugs, and the spiders were getting active. The snails and slugs were wise not to be out, as Mrs T is at odds with them for eating her new thyme plant. Perhaps she dug it in too close to the hosta, which they’d reduced to a tatter overnight last week. They would be wise to fast for a week or two and lull Mrs T into a false sense of security.
A few weeks ago it was primroses all the way along the line from Dover to Canterbury; today the predominant flower is that pilgrims’ joy, the Canterbury Bell, that sings out from the walls of the cuttings. And so, my journey home is a pilgrimage – as it indeed ought to be, every time.
At the shrine of the common table Mrs Turnstone has prepared a feast of home grown salad, with a handful of sungold tomatoes and pizza from Enzo’s Bakery at the Goods Shed.
Careering down a path where perhaps I should not have been cycling, I enjoyed a Wordsworth moment. No golden daffodils, no lake, no trees to speak of, just the end of a hornbeam hedge up against a hideous galvanised steel fence. But miles from any field, between the concrete path and the base of the fence, there spread a single plant of the scarlet pimpernel, turning to face the southing sun.
Not so long ago, maybe forty years, this path was a field path, this land was part of a farm. The soil was disturbed when the new fence was put in, no doubt to protect the school children from whatever dangers might lurk on the path. Even an earthbound constellation of red dwarfs.
The train from London and Ashford always edges slowly along the sea wall towards the tunnels and Dover Priory Station. Unless the weather is really atrocious the traveller can look up to the East and see the Roman lighthouse, the Pharos, rooted to the Castle cliff-top with the Garrison Church beside it – a church built in part from Roman bricks.
Today, between the downside track and the sea there was a foam of pink and white valerian, Centranthus Ruber, a plant said to have been introduced by the Romans. Mrs Turnstone loves it for the garden, but it is just as happy between bricks on the wall on in that crack between the asphalt and the garden wall, or springing up among the ballast on the railway.
As I cycled to eat my lunch on the beach, I passed the Roman painted house. It’s about time I called in again.