Monday 1 October 2012


I have been scouring the field margins, searching for juicy fat blackberries. It seems juicy fat ones are in short supply, or perhaps I am too late? I waited for the rains to "plumpen" them.
I find berries stewing on the stove the most aromatic and sweet occupation, it soothes.
Goody Palmer

backyard blackberries by hannah * honey & jam, via Flickr
Pouring over cookbooks, divining the best use for my black autumn jewels...remembering blackberry slump a hot stew of sweet berries dolloped with mascarpone and topped with a  lemon spiked scone mixture. Sarah Raven has paired down version (minus the scone topping) in her garden cookbook, baked blackberries and mascarpone, as demonstrated by Rose Gray at Sarah's cookery school.

I must confess I then began craving some warm jam and went off on an internet guided tour of recipe research. I am so glad I did as I stumbled upon Juls' kitchen and the joy that is September Jam, oh how the name appeals to me and Jul's description of the grape harvest in Tuscany is a delight.
And so September Jam perfectly solves the dilemma of too few blackberries, I shall be throwing in some grapes and other berries as she directs...and I don't begrudge the shortage if these chaps are having their fill!
All of which brings me neatly round to a rather serendipitous find in the cow-shed yesterday afternoon. Whilst the Faraways were here we rootled out a big old baggage stuffed with what I believed to be Little Brother Faraway treasures...photographs, etchings, games and the like. Sure enough we found lots to giggle over and the memories of a shared childhood swirled around us like paper streamers, tickling us and awakening long forgotten things.
Yesterday Mr. Lane and I began our Autumn clear up. We began to move things back into the Cow-Shed, I tripped over the baggage, quietly cursing it. Bending down to move it out of the way I realised we hadn't quite emptied it. I pulled out a long forgotten box of ink kisses, written onto cards given to me throughout my childhood, carefully squirreled away by little Lane girl.
All the Leap Birthday's were there, carefully stored, all the beautifully illustrated cards given to me by my parents...and the special kisses, the cards sent just because I needed a little encouragement or love. My heart raced as I looked in wonder at each card...
"Is it here?"
...Oh my goodness here...safely stored at the very bottom of the pile...

I have been remembering this card, visualising all the detail, the colour...pinks, mulberry, green and a pop of yellow. When we were in Devon a couple of weeks ago I took this photo...
..and in my minds eye I was thinking of a much loved card, long since lost, sent to a little girl by her Granny when she was eight years old to comfort her as she had suffered a very great sadness.

Kneeling on the floor of the cow-shed, starry eyed, she smiled just as she had back then. 

My childhood was illustrated by Arthur Rackham, Earnest Shepherd, Racey Helps, Beatrix Potter and Beshlie.
Being a noticer, every night I would gaze at my pictures, at the tiniest details and drift off into sleep in the company of woodland animals and fairytale characters. 
This was my favourite, Romany Wood by Beshlie.(There is a great archive of her work here )

And so, once again, comforted by a card sent more than 30 years ago...clever Granny perfect timing.

So here we are in October! "White Rabbbits" everyone, and "Hello" to you all.


The Hare and the Tortoise by Arthur Rackham
Slowly does it very time!


  1. I want a gypsy caravan

  2. The pickings have been rather poor here too though we did manage to score a nice bowlful from the allotment - so not all bad and now we have jam...phew! My morning porridge is safe again.

    Nina x

  3. Blackberry mouth is watering at the thought. My grandfather used to grow loganberries in Guernsey when I was a child and I'd give anything now to taste the resulting home-made jam... Wonderful post, as always.

  4. oooh I love your writing!
    I've just been somewhere else reading about making hedgerow gin...I can't stop thinking about it!!
    happy October to you too
    fee x

  5. How wonderful you finding this card again, and the joy it gave you, and how wellyou had remembered the image.
    My granddad used to make the most amazing blackberry jam, I have tried to recreate it many times but it is never as good as my memories.
    Sarah x

  6. What a lovely story! I used to love Racey Helps illustrations too ...

    Pomona x

  7. How lovely to find the card from your Granny after all these years, and just when you needed it.

  8. Hi Sarah,

    Great to see you yesterday. Yes I got home safely and even got a seat during rush hour. I'm afraid if I ever manage to coax Myrtle into my car then she is mine! Such a lovely little dog.
    Love the jammy images above, I have a freezer full of wild blackberries - it's a shame you aren't nearer we could have a jamming session!

    Charlotte x

  9. Oh my, it felt as if you were telling my story. I too grew up with those illustrations, imagining all the adventures the animals got up to. My mum and granny gave me so many sweet "just because" cards and letters that i cherish now all the more that they are both gone. I too have had a hard time finding any decent blackberries in the hedgerow this year, maybe the lack of sun in the summer? Must try that jam recipe! Loving your pinterest page too :) hugs, catherine x

  10. Hi Sarah-Jane,
    The images of jam-making are tempting! It's not something I've attempted in the past, but we do have an abundance of fruit growing around here - so you never know!!
    Your story of the lost but now found card is enchanting. How lovely. You must have been thrilled.
    Happy days!
    ps: So lovely to have met you yesterday.Wasn't it fun?!

  11. Oh you make jam! One day soon I hope I'll have a window in my life when I have time for jam making :-)

    How lovely to find a little treasure from your childhood. There's a video knocking about of me on TOTP in 1970 that I might just post about one of these days ;-)

    Sheer delight to meet you this week - I have Plumpton Racecourse pencilled in my diary for next month!

  12. I'd love to make jam - but I'm scared of food poising my family (a constant concern, really!). I love all the little graphics on the cards - how I would love to be able to draw like that one day. So inspiring!

  13. I have just found you via Wild Acre, a lovely blog and you are in one of my favourite parts of the country too.

  14. I really enjoyed reading your post Sarah, lots of different images of your jam making and the hedgerows. I shed a little tear at you finding your card, these things are very precious to us and evoke such strong memories. I love finding such treasures. jayne x

  15. Just catching up here :D Such a beautiful post Sarah. And I love the thought of September Jam. I've just been posting about my solution to too few blackberries, blackberry and blueberry vodka!

  16. Lovely post, I want to be a jam maker, but every time I try I am convinced it isn't setting and boil away until I make jam concrete!! I like my Norwegian friend's no cook freezer jam now!

    I love those illustrators too, it is funny how evocative they are and how they take you right back to past times as fast as certain smells do (apple in a brown paper bag and I'm back in the playground!). Those flower fairy illustrations are another that transport me. Strange how things and people reach out from the past and tap one on the shoulder sometimes. xx LOVED meeting you in London, could have yabbered on all afternoon!

  17. Hello,

    I hope that your Fall cleaning has unearthed a few more treasures for you! What a beautiful memory this card held for you for so many years and to find a kiss and a hug from a much loved grandmother.

    I too just discovered Jul's and am looking forward to taking the time to read her entire blg and learn some of her wonderful recipes. I have never mad jam or jelly but between the two of you I am begining to think it a delicious idea.

    Have a wonderful weekend, elizabeth

  18. Oh, Sarah-Jane!!!

    What a lovely thing to happen! What a memory and what a treasure refound in that card from your Grandmother!! I'm so happy for you!

    I, once, had a similar experience when I rediscovered a favorite childhood book when I was in my twenties. Standing there in the book shop, I shrunk right down and WAS my little self, again. An amazing and honestly magic experience.


  19. Oh, I forgot! The images and discussion of jam is completely enchanting! =]


Thanks so much for contacting me! I love to hear from you it makes me smile x

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.