Tuesday, August 18, 2009

If Gerry can do whimsy...

"Gooseberries glisten in the inexhaustible variety of our English culture" reads a bit like one of those old Soviet propaganda lines ("deep in the rural heart of the Peoples’ Paradise even the parsnips bask in the Utopian, abundant light of our Socialist Motherland”) but that’s probably a bit unfair, this from Michael Knowles of the CEP is actually one of those pieces about the customs and traditions of parts the United Kingdom that I enjoy.

It triggered memories of childhood berry-picking/nicking trips up places like the Castlereagh Hills- a -pleasure which has been denied future generations as much of the area where we used to go is now largely built over with non-descript, characterless, suburban, estates complete with identikit oversized rabbit hutches inhabited mainly by likewise identikit civil servants, teachers, social workers and quangocrats.

There’s also a fainter memory of my grandmother telling tales about a certain Gooseberry Corner located in Ballymacarret (close to the modern day Bridge End and Newtownards Road junction) where once upon a time there were reputedly enough gooseberry bushes to keep the whole of East Belfast and most of North Down supplied with jam (on the journey up to the Gold Coast it became "confiture") and the 19th Century version of Mr Kiplings cakes for the winter.

Looking at the area today it’s hard to imagine...aficionados of quality artificial preservatives jam really needn't grumble though, sure hasn’t progress delivered us Tescos at the Connswater and family-sized Hartley's "Apricot (Flavour) No-Bits"?


Anonymous said...


Berries are a part of Irish culture too, my county is famous for it's soft fruit.
Good post though, it's nice childhood experience being able to ramble the countryside gathering up handfuls of fruit.
Something I think modern kids miss out on with the suburban sprawl you mentioned and the video game/shopping mall culture.


O'Neill said...

Nothing wrong with shopping malls in their place...which if I had my way would be a couple of metres short of th North Pole!

Anonymous said...