…that bearing boughs may live

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.

Chastleton House
A chocolate box cottage in Great Tew

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.

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12 thoughts on “…that bearing boughs may live

  1. Never eaten damson jam – just always admired the fruits on the tree. Now very rare in this part of the world. As a child growing up damsons were commonplace here. Now come to think of it, I've hardly seen a tree anywhere.

  2. Chastleton is one of my favourite NT houses in the vicinity (I also recommend Basildon PArk down near |Reading, perfect for an Autumnal day); we were lucky enough to visit Chastleton while it was closed last month and look at the library!

  3. oh it's so lovely being able to second guess the sentences of our parents. One of my particluar favourites is whenever my aunt is down my mother will say 'Come and look at the garden' and off they go… Enjoy the damsom jam.

  4. You are so adorable. I love fruit trees! Shame we didn't make it to Chastleton…you can take me in a year's time when I return from my travels. What was the inside like?Damson jam? I have never tasted it.But it sounds delicious. You have made me long for autumnal days and toast and tea and my lovely leather boots that I will be able to wear again and crunch through golden leaves…in Central Park!!!!!

  5. I've always wondered what quinces taste like – can you enlighten? Homemade jam sounds fantastic, it's something I can't convince my family would be worth the while, but we'll have rhubarb pies next year to make up for it.

  6. I've discovered your wonderful blog through Book Snob' blog. Your articles are very interesting and some remind me of my Oxfordshire travel last year.Excuse my bad English.

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