Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bilberries and plumbers

I would start with a rant against plumbers, mostly plumbers in Whitby but suffice it to say, the noise in the pipes in the cottage is still there, though a good two months have passed, and we have all nagged the plumber/s.  Perhaps that is the problem! Plumbers do not pick up mobile phones, they do not read emails properly, and according to my son-in-law this morning, don't like work anyway!
So to cool the air, and stop moaning, and getting ill in the process I shall turn to Dorothy Hartley's book - The Countryman's England.  Written in 1935, I occasionally thumb through to look at the photos of a less complicated England, pastoral in all its delight, though probably lacking in many of the energy conveniences we take for granted nowadays.
So what caught my eye was this passage describing bilberries....

"Bilberries, variously called "whortleberries" "worts" "blaeberries" "hurts" or "hurtleberries" are a regular Norseman's foot of a plant being found in Norway and Sweden.  Bottles of the juice " as supplied to the King of Norway" are to be found in the towns ( as an aside these bottles of such juice are no longer to be found, but the delicious elderflower champagne is) but up in the mountains we supply ourselves.  Sometimes parties from a village will go out by the day, women and children together, with tin cans, gathering the bilberries, and one of the menfolk will promise to meet them and drive them back,  Or the gipsies will bring down bilberries, gathering them from where they camp on the mountain-side and selling the luscious purple fruit in dripping scoopfuls at the back doors.  On some hills we get wild raspberries, but the best blackberries are not on the hills, but in the narrow sheltered hill valleys, where they hang down over the water, or sweep across the stone footed dykes, and these blackberries have a richness unknown in the Midlands"..

The book is full of photographs, some of which I shall try and scan, what they show is a pleasant unoccupied countryside with no rubbish and hardly any cars; how far we have come after the second World War with our busy roads chock a block with cars.  Gipsies are of course really no longer with us, they have become 'travellers' which is a somewhat demoted word, and we are left with Romanian gipsies to terrify our children with now.

No comments:

Post a Comment