The first surprise of the day was that there was a sign at the entrance setting out fees for picking. Not the cost of the fruit, but a price for proceeding past the notice. I was ready to get indignant. The fruit is expensive enough as it is - I could get it cheaper at the market, but picking my own reaches out to my inner hunter-gatherer. And I have been coming here for years. However, the woman at the desk read my face and waved me through, explaining that it was to stop coach parties who arrived, ate, and left again.
The second surprise was how thin on the ground (literally) the strawberries were. Unlike previous years' egg-sized fruit, the strawberries were small, sparse and mostly either over or under-ripe. I suspect that this is partly down to over-picking, but also the exceptionally dry spring may be a partial explanation. It took an age to pick all I needed - I wanted an extra 2 lbs for a future 'Crab Apple and Strawberry' but came away with 5 lbs 9 oz.
|Some slightly out of focus strawberries|
|Some rather more in focus strawberries|
I put the wine into its demijohn on Sunday, 10th July, which is two or three days later than I would normally have done this. But the last week has been manic and I have been out every night. There was a pint too much liquid (I added a mug of cold tea on Wednesday morning). and the taste I got at this stage was insipid. Which is disappointing.