The way I had pictured this post going was a series of idyllic photos as we skipped off happily – a model blended family that proved all those sceptics wrong – to find the blackberry bushes, picking blackberries and returning triumphant an hour later with bags bulging with ripe, succulent fruit.
The reality was an hour of screams & crying which resulted in a small bowl of berries and a very stressed out mother. You dear reader, no not have to suffer the same fate as us by simply learning from our mistakes of what not to do when picking blackberries (trust me – we have proof already from the successful blackberry mission the next day by James and Bella). So here’s where we went wrong..
1. Know where you are going
Now when we are talking about picking blackberries here we are talking about the free variety that grow wild around New Zealand so there is a little more skill required in finding these than there is in driving up to a pick your own.
Aunty Cheryl had spotted some people coming out laden with berries down the road from the beach we were staying at the previous Christmas so her and Granny knew where to go.
Unfortunately they didn’t come with us but did send us with instructions – head past the toilets, jump the fence and then follow the path.
Easy – except there were two fences – one barbed wire, the other not. We jumped the not barbed wire fence…. Which turned out to be private property…. So we jumped back pretty quick.
We sent the youngest up the hill to clarify the fence (barbed wire it is) and off we went – finding the path in no time.
2. Look out for dead things
We sent the youngest two in first – possibly not the best idea. Not that they weren’t keen and brave – they certainly were – but the path got non existent pretty quickly and then we heard a scream from the youngest of our adventurers (who is 7) “Mummy, I’ve stepped in a dead thing!”
Turns out the dead thing was a decomposing possum.
These things change the mood somewhat…
3. Bees like blackberry bushes
Our middle child is really afraid of bees (and is moderately allergic to them) so while she was delighted to find the blackberry bush, she wasn’t so thrilled to find the bees.
She did pick them regardless but it was with a few squeals along the way. I’m not sure what the answer is here apart from a bee keepers suit or prior warning…
4. Dress appropriately
Summer frocks look brilliant in photos but bare arms and legs don’t go well with the prickles from blackberry bushes – and there are a lot of them.
I would recommend long pants and top and probably gumboots too (not ideal for the midday sun so try to do your picking morning or night) – which leads me to my next point….
5. Bring something to lean on
The best blackberries are in the middle of the bush – jealously guarded by a plethora of thorns. A thick blanket or piece of drift wood to lean against would do the trick here.
6. Plan to stop and take it all in
Our trip was cut short by bees, prickles and a lack of planning. If I was to do it again I would bring a blanket and plan a little picnic out by the wild blackberry bushes under a shady tree.
And was it worth it – absolutely! Despite complaining a bit at the time the girls loved being able to provide the blackberries for dessert for everyone that night (it’s not every 7, 8 and 9 year old that gets to hunt up a meal for they family) and it didn’t stop Bella and James going back again the next day.
As for where to find them – we found ours at Waitete Bay, but if that’s not in your neck of the woods ask anyone you know living on or around a farm – or better still if you know of a good spot post it over on our Facebook page and let us all know!