Back from holiday and, no sooner had we got in the door than, obviously, I’m outside, bags unpacked in the hall, two small children running wild at my feet as I find myself tying in errant squashes, pinching out sideshoots of tomatoes and cutting back the vast jungle of foliage that has proliferated in my absence. So effective has my mother’s watering regime been that I’ve returned to the Lost Gardens of Heligan – before they found them.
To assuage the guilt that I’m largely ignoring the children as I teeter on a garden chair, secateurs and twine in hand, I pass them down blackberries, plums, tomatoes and raspberries which they cram into their mouths and smear over their white T-shirts as if they haven’t been fed for weeks, clearly forgetting the desperate Ryanair Pringles-fest of hours earlier – an attempt to stop mid-air tantrums and hence death stares from everyone else on the plane. Within minutes it’s an orgy of fruit juice, sand and discarded prunings with children somewhere in among.
The toddler’s learned to feed himself, can strip a raspberry cane in seconds and has now largely learned not to eat the green tomatoes (anyone who’s thinking, how amazing, a toddler who loves fresh fruit should know that fresh fruit is all he eats. He has never eaten anything normal, like shepherd’s pie). Speedy crawler baby, however, has a lot to learn – as I swoop down to remove half a rotten – proper rotten – windfall plum from his mouth I’m not sure whether I should get points for feeding my children home-grown produce or be reported to social services.
Never mind, look at this Red Kuri squash. It’s beautiful though I’m slightly scared of it because one day I’m going to have to eat it and have no idea how. Maybe if I leave it long enough I can just make it into a Halloween pumpkin.