Our days this week have been filled with fresh produce and flowers and our feet have barely touched the ground. We've been out and about; walking, picking blackberries, visiting gardens and farms, picking our own fruit and vegetables. The kitchen is in overdrive as I turn elderberries, blackberries and windfall apples into hedgerow and bramble jelly. Crumbles are made as fast as I can pick the apples and blackberries. Last night we ate fresh corn on the cob, picked that very morning by Angus and Bella in a field. I have a kilo of Victoria plums in a bowl, some ready to be baked into a cake and some gently stewed with sugar and spices into a compote to eat with vanilla ice cream.
I love this time of year. The leaves are starting to fade and yellow in places but the air is still warm and the fields and hedgerows are full of so much life and colour. This is when I start to really get back into cooking, into baking and preserving, and I can see that I'm already beginning the gradual retreat from time in the garden into time in the kitchen again.
Making bramble jelly is one of my seasonal rituals, something I really look forward to doing at this time of year. It heralds the gradual ending of summer for me like nothing else. When I first started making preserves, I experimented with so many different fruits and flavour combinations, trying different things, building my confidence and skills. But I've narrowed it down to three I make: bramble jelly in late August, some kind of chutney in October (for Christmas) and marmalade in January, when the Seville oranges are in the shops. These jamming sessions punctuate my year and I look forward to them, set time aside for them.
Yesterday we visited a wonderful Pick Your Own farm only fifteen minutes away, I can't believe I've never been there before. It has a farm shop and cafe, and field after field of fruit and veg to pick. I thought Bella and Angus might be bored but they absolutely loved it. All of it, seriously, I had to stop them picking everything there. And I discovered the wonder that is a Pick Your Own cutting garden; a large patch of dahlias, cosmos, cornflowers and sunflowers, and you cut as much as you like and pay by weight. One huge bunch of glorious dahlias cost me £1.22. I'm already planning when I can go back.
On a separate note, I've been thinking about cameras a lot lately, about how I use mine in my life and here on this blog. It's pretty central to most of the things I do. I adore taking photographs and take far too many, every day, of anything and everything. I always - religiously - used to take my big DSLR out with me everywhere I went and used the photos I took on that camera here on my blog. The camera on my phone was always for Instagram and family photos and I just didn't think they were good enough quality to publish here.
But, increasingly, I'm leaving my heavy "proper" camera at home and just using my phone for most photos taken out and about. Partly it's the weight of the DSLR, but mainly it's because the camera on my phone is really quite good. It was my sole basis for choosing the phone I did, in fact, a Samsung Galaxy. Five years ago, when I started blogging, you could really see the difference in quality between DSLR and a phone camera, but now I am struggling to tell the difference. I still use my DSLR for any photos taken around the house and garden at home, but I'm not ashamed of my phone photos any more. All the photos taken above at the Pick You Own Farm (except the two of me which were taken by my friend Rachel on her phone) were taken with my phone. I've edited them a very little, mainly just cropping, levelling horizons and a little tinkering with light or colour, but I think they hold their own. What do you think, can you discern much of a difference in quality?