These have been the joy and the bane of my life recently:
Why? The two little ones are obsessed.
It's such a joy to see their purple-stained faces as they scour the hedgerows for more midnight-coloured jewels. To teach them the rules of picking (none too low; check for bugs; go for plumpness and colour) and watch them put those rules into action. To see them brush off the thorn scratches and nettle stings that would usually breed misery, yet are now a minor inconvenience on the way to berry heaven. To feel like I'm the mother in an Enid Blyton, rose-tinted childhood story.
But it's also been a bit of a pain to have every walk take three times as long, as every single bush needs to be stopped at and inspected before being devoured. To clean yet another stained and ingrained fingernail. Make yet another ignored plea that "you've had more than enough" and "we really do need to go."
I'm surprised these boys haven't turned into blackberries, in the style of Roald Dahl's Violet Beauregard. Despite eating ridiculous amounts, we have managed to pick just a few to keep rather than eat al fresco. They are hiding in the freezer waiting for the blackberry season to be over - and it's almost done. They're destined for a crumble, but until then we mixed a few with banana, peach, milk and a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream to make an after-school smoothie treat. There's no point in giving you a recipe: just add a bit of this and a bit of that, and don't forget your milky-mauve-mustache smile at the end.