Sunny, summer days have been scant up here in the north west of England lately. There has been plenty of rain to water the plants and high winds to blow the leaves from trees but hardly any sunshine. Earlier this week, fed up of the downpours I dragged my reluctant son out. The sun was out, with a wind I hoped would blow the rain clouds away.
“Come on,” I said. “We are going blackberry picking.”
So we set off down the canal, away from the city centre into a suburb close to the countryside. I knew of a place where the blackberry bushes were abundant. I couldn’t take him last year as I worked all summer, this year would be different I thought.
We came off the canal and cycled down a stone track, one I knew well from my teens. We had moved up to an estate close by when my family lost everything. They had lost their business, our home and my dad’s home, we were all about to become homeless. Back then there were available council properties and we were allocated one on this estate. It was hard for my mum, a woman who single handedly has built up her own business from nothing and at one time had, had seven shops. We were moving into a house without anything. It was hard at times, although I think me and my brother viewed it as an adventure. We both lost friends along the way, old friends didn’t want to travel three miles to an estate that had a bit of a reputation. It was no problem, we soon made new ones. It made us both more resiliant, harder working and philosophical. Money comes, money goes but true happiness is found elsewhere. This was the place I used to like walking with the dog.
My mum eventually opened another shop, I used to enjoy walking to work down this stone track and through the park, looking at the old mill in the distance, watching the clouds and seeing the seasons change. So it was with great pleasure that I was taking my own son down this track and through a wild field, through the long grass, to the blackberry bushes.
When we had eventually wheeled our bikes through the tangled grass he was amazed. There were hundreds, possibly thousands, of juicy blackberries waiting to be picked.
We spent an hour or so filling our Tupperware box, one which we could have filled ten times over. We then sat down to cloud gaze and watch butterflies dance across the grass before we set off on our adventure again.
Shelter, the UK’s housing and homelessness charity says that every 11 minutes a family in Britain lose their home. If you want to find out more contact Shelter.