If only wild music did ‘burthen every bough’ as Shakespeare declared in Sonnet 102. For if it did then the fruit trees at Chastleton House would be truly raucous. Mulberries, plums, apples, quinces and even peaches are scattered throughout the grounds making me wonder why we import fruit at all. I look forward to late summer every year for so many different reasons but to hear my mother (as I did today) say she is going out for damsons is absolutely one of them; as I know that on a cold winter’s night I will go home to a jar of her damson jam. Spreading it thickly on toast, I will think of the late summer sun and my mother’s jam making magic combining to produce the best comfort food that you could wish for when the boughs are bare and the bounty of summer seems a lifetime away.
And so autumn is slowly ripening the fruit of summer’s labour. I found this bounteous tree in the grounds of The National Trust’s Chastleton House. A moment in between drenching rain showers took me off into the wilds of Oxfordshire with my oldest friend. We have known each other since we were seven years old and have been aspiring, in our tastes, to be middle aged ever since we met. We are long used to being the youngest people wherever we go. So, on Saturday we went for a hearty pub lunch and gentle stroll at Great Tew and then on to Chastleton House for an idyllic afternoon spent wandering the grounds and eating the mulberries.