Monday, 23 May 2011

The 'Strawberry-Gate Scandal' | Countryside bites butt

Prologue: If you don't live in the UK, you might not know what a 'punnet' is (apparently - according to Wikipedia). A punnet is 'a container used to collect fruits'. Now that's been clarified, let's get the show started .........

Blimey, I don't feel like I have had a moment to myself over the last four days. Which is a good thing really, because if I am on my own and engage myself in conversation, it is always ruined because I know what I am going to say.

At the beginning of the weekend, Izzy and I had arranged to meet up with my mate Sally and her daughter, Hailey. The sun was out and we decided to go to a fabulous place called Rectory Farm.

Rectory Farm is one of those farms that specialises in 'pick your own' fruit and vegetables, and also has a lovely outdoor seating area with a marquee cafe serving organic food and drink, enabling you to sit out and relax in between picks. Most of the inhabitants of nearby villages use it as a place to meet and mingle, and whenever I go there with Sally, it turns into quite a sociable occasion because she seems to know everyone in Oxford.

The reason I like 'pick your own' (PYO) farms, is that they work out to be quite cost effective in terms of your weekly food bill. All you have to do is turn up at the farm with your entire family. Then everyone goes forth into the fields and stuffs as many strawberries down their necks as they can without vomiting. Finally, when everyone is replete you put one strawberry into a punnet and take it the 'weigh and pay' station, so it looks like you are a legitimate customer. Marvellous! (not that I would ever do that though; I was hypothetically speaking).

Pic.No.1 Rectory Farm - The outdoor seating area and marquee cafe. There are also some play activities for children so that you can quaff your cappuccinos in peace. The fields where all the fruit and vegetables are grown are situated behind the trees and they go on for acres. And on the left you can see a yellow and black board which tells you which fruit and vegetables are ready to be harvested

So Sally and I grabbed a coffee and sat down in the sunshine to chat. But, Izzy and Hailey reappeared after an hour or so of playing.

"What can we do now Mummy? We have played on everything," Izzy asked.

I had a brainwave; "Why don't you both go into the field next door and pick some of your own strawberries to eat?" No flies on me (but you can see where they've been). Not only would it keep them busy, but it would also prevent them from getting hungry. [Taps side of nose in knowing fashion].

"Yay!" they shouted and proceeded to bunny-hop to the adjacent strawberry field (why do children always embrace the most arduous method of getting from A to B?)

Pic.No.2 This is my mate Sally. At the bottom right, you can just see the top of her cappuccino cup. And if you look in the background, you can see a random chap extricating his underpants from his bum-crack (a non-intentional inclusion which I have only just spotted)

Whilst Hailey and Izzy were off busying themselves, Sallly and I continued to chat to a succession of people who came over to say hello - the countryside is friendly like that.

Then, just as the sun was starting to fall, and the shadows were gradually elongating, Sam and I suddenly heard grunting sounds coming from behind us. We turned round and gasped in horror ............

Izzy and Hailey were staggering under the weight of two huge blue crates, each crammed full of strawberries. What the blazes?!

It quickly became apparent that instead of playing in the fields and eating the odd strawberry here or there, they had turned it into a 5-year-old's, military 'strawberry-picking' operation.

Oh yeh, after being left to their own devices, they had figured out where all the various PYO receptacles were stored and had decided to go into full-scale production.

I turned to Sally; "hey matey, I don't want to scare you, but I have just done a quick calculation*, and we are looking at enough strawberries to feed sixty people."

* The calculation was based on the fact that Izzy and Hailey have each picked a full crate of strawberries - each of which contains 6 punnets - and each punnet feeds 5 people


Pic.No.3. Hailey's crate of Strawberries, minus the two punnet's-worth that I was trying to eat in order to reduce our overheads

"Aw crap," replied Sally, "that's gonna cost us around £40 ($75)!"

I nodded gravely in reply and we headed, heavy footed and in a sombre fashion, towards the 'weigh and pay' station.
___________________________

And so my dear reader; as we speak, I have a fridge stuffed to the brim with strawberries (and I don't even like fruit because they have vitamins in which taste funny), and a small carton of cream that I had half-heartedly purchased in order to try and expedite their consumption.

I don't suppose I could tempt you to a nice juicy strawberry could I dahlink? ..............................



P.S. What foods don't you like? (I think this one could be rather interesting!)


Annie (Lady m) x
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