Growing up in the Midlands, I spent many a late summers afternoon wandering the local nature reserve at the back of my Nan's house. It was a great way to spend lazy sunny afternoons and now living in the city I find myself craving that freedom of the outdoors often.
Aside from sliding down the huge green hills on massive sheets of cardboard and paddling in the clear water of the reservoir, when the time was right we would go hunting amongst the brambles for blackberries.
We would spend whole afternoons getting lost in the wilderness searching for these juicy, plump little indigo fruits which turned your fingers purple, and you just couldn't help eating a good share of the finds along the way.
So, yesterday, feeling a little delicate but not wanting to waste the day, I announced I wanted to go blackberry picking.
Off we went armed with just a basket to see if we could find some, to a place I wasn't even sure they grew in.
Soon enough, we found some small brambles, but many of the riper fruits were typically out of reach way up high, others growing too close to the ground to be safe to eat.
Lots of the fruits were still red, we were of course a little early.
But suddenly we struck lucky and sprung upon an enormous area of brambles with heaps of berries ripe enough to pick.
That first taste of sweet juicy blackberry transported me right back to those lazy days of my childhood. So often I've been tempted by those oversized blackberries on the shelves in supermarkets, only to be majorly disappointed by the sour hardness that's the reality of their taste and texture.
But this was sweet, juicy and velvety, like a purple cloud of loveliness, and just as I remembered from my childhood...
Picking them became a bit of an obsession and a challenge. Trying not to get cut to pieces by the barbed wire edges of the brambles themselves was bad enough, but then there were the nettles to contend with.
I started to become a little greedy, reaching up for the plumpest of fruits, despite having more than enough for my pie. And, sure enough, nature responded to my greed by giving me a nasty nettle sting on my arm.
Ever the wimp, I was soon crying out in pain, and there wasn't a dock leaf in sight to ease it!
A pleasant afternoon (minus the sting) had soon slipped by with us engrossed in our foraging adventure, and the basket was full with plenty of blackberries to use in a pie.
Aside from the delicious blackberries found on our afternoon walk, I decided to bulk it up with some apple, and give both the homemade sweet shortcrust pastry and fruit a nice lemony aroma by adding zest to the recipe.
But I wanted to blackberries to be the overriding flavour in the pie, so made sure to add plenty.
The juice that came out of the stewed concoction of apple, blackberry, sugar and butter was a sumptuous looking deep pink, it was hard not to drink it from the pan.
I topped the pie off with a little heart, lots of sugar and some cinnamon...
Soon the flat was filled with a heavenly aroma of sweet pastry, but we had to wait a torturous hour before it was ready!
And then finally the wait was over! Sweet, crunchy, lemony pastry, with hot, melt in your mouth blackberries and apple - it was delicious, and all the more satisfying because I had foraged the blackberries for free from mother nature herself.