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I have been up to my eyeballs with my masters programme these past few months. Each subject is proving more interesting than the previous one. Apart from stimulating places of my brain that seem to have lain dormant for a decade, my environmental course is also causing a ripple effect in my daily life… just as my tutors warned!

Environmental dilemmas are nothing new to me. Even before I had the vocabulary and mathematics needed to analyse the impact of my coffee habits and orchestral treats, I was acutely aware of the resources involved in my everyday choices. In recent months, however, day-to-day actions have turned into involved socio-economic and environmental decisions. Analysis of resource inputs, outputs and waste streams as well as complex trade-offs seem to pop up each time I do the laundry, water the garden or stock the pantry. To say nothing of my fitness dilemma… but more on that another time.

Temptation in a punnet

Last week a dilemma presented itself in the form of a punnet of gorgeous crimson raspberries!

As air miles for fresh food are out, I have not tasted the juicy red berries since last September. Last week, however, I spotted a Union Jack on punnets of luscious Tulameens from West Sussex. I was tempted, very tempted. The first British raspberries of the season!

But how? April and early May were depressingly grey and wet. My own raspberry canes are putting on fresh growth but I have only recently spotted flower buds. How then could berries grown 60 miles south-west of London be ripe? The little temptresses must have been grown in a lit and heated greenhouse. Although they may account for less energy than the Mexican ones available all year round, they are hardly environmentally virtuous! With that realisation the tempting berries lost some of their appeal, but not all…

Having put the punnet back, my brain swung into the mind games that keep me on track and motivated when faced with a challenge or temptation. Break the problem down into manageable steps.

A green June, black July and scarlet August

Our own raspberries will not be ready till mid August. Nearly three months away! Fortunately the greengrocer’s will be stocking naturally grown ones from about late June; a month’s wait for my first taste of the ruby berries seems much less of a privation. In the meantime, there is the prospect of other soft fruits to displace my longing for raspberries.

In a fortnight we shall be enjoying our first gooseberries. The promise of an early picking of the tart green fruit for a gooseberry pie – one of Mr M’s favourites – or a summer crumble helps banish my craving for a raspberry pavlova or summer pudding.

And now the blossom on the morello cherry tree has faded, I coax on the blossom heads as they steadily bulge into dark sour cherries. With just one tree in the garden, our morellos will be extremely precious so I have already netted the branches to keep the scavenging birds at bay. This is one crop we shall most definitely not be sharing with the wildlife in the garden!

Further on the horizon there is the prospect of brambles from the deserted patch next door. The scrambling thorny branches are already displaying fluffy green buds, which I shall follow longingly on their progression from flower to fruit.

Dwelling on the super fresh seasonal berries that await us puts the punnet of greenhouse grown raspberries into context. Whilst I long for raspberries, I long more for the explosion of seasonal freshness. The first pavlova of the year will be an absolute delight! My senses shall feast on their soft skin, sweet juiciness and intense scarlet colour. But in the meantime, I shall satisfy my craving with a slice of Victoria sponge cake, complete with raspberry jam, and a cup of tea…


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