Blueberries and Bluegrass

A couple of weeks ago, I won a set of tickets for Shady Brook Farm’s bluberry festival.  So on Sunday, I went there with my parents and two youngest children to claim use my prize for a fun day in the sun.  We had been to Shady Brook Farm for events twice before, to pick pumpkins at Halloween and to see the Christmas Light Show, so we knew to expect some fun activities for the kids, fairground food and fruit-picking.  We were not disappointed.

My 5 and 7 year olds had lots of fun trampolining on the giant pillows, clambering up and sliding down the inflatable chute and making their way through an inflatable maze and again scooting down a slope.  They also had fun playing on some newly installed wooden play equipment.  My Dad, as indulgent grandparents do, also paid the additional fee for each boy to fill an alien shaped bottle with coloured sand, which they thought was great fun and a cool memento of the day to display in their bedroom.  We also stopped to snack on some funnel cake, which was something my parents had not experienced before.  They thought it was delicious.  It was all devoured while still steaming hot.


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Blueberry picking was something that none of us had ever done before.  My parents and I are veteran pick-your-own fruit gatherers and Fife – where I originally hail from – is an area that grows a lot of soft fruit but, of all the tons of fruit we had ever picked, we had never before picked a blueberry.  Varieties of blueberries can be grown in Scotland and I have known a few people who have grown the shrubs in their gardens but we had never seen them growing on fruit farms so had never had the opportunity to pick them.  So we hopped on the rough wooden charabanc and were towed by tractor to the netted area where the bluberry bushes were growing.  Punnets in hand, we walked the rows plucking ripe berries, purplish and plump, and popping them in our pots.  The little ones were rather good at spotting juicy berries at the bottom of the bushes that had been missed by taller pickers.  I rather liked the mauve hues of the unripe berries.  Punnets filled, we returned to the main area of the farm, paid for the berries and brought them home.  They are currently in a ziploc bag in my freezer waiting to be transformed into a blueberry buckle once we have eaten our way, like Very Hungry Caterpillars, through all of the other dessert options in the house.  I am sure they will be a delicious memento of the day.

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That evening, after a barbecue dinner, we headed out to attend a free concert.  The performance was by a Pennsylvanian Bluegrass troupe by the name of Raven Hill.  My father-in-law is a devotee of bluegrass music so I was more familiar than I perhaps care to be with the music of the Stanley Brothers, Earl Scruggs.  I do love the harmony created by the stringed instruments and especially like the sound of the banjo but must confess that, despite rare exceptions, I find that one tune tends to just meld into another creating a monotonous marathon of music, as pleasing as the instrumentation and vocals might be.  Regardless, the band had presence and played some original compositions as well as old covers and the whole event was fun.  There are more free concerts to come this summer and we will certainly aim to attend a few more.

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