Yesterday afternoon was going to consist of a quick run for Sparky round the fields at m’parents, followed by more research project pain. But when we got there m’father announced: “Can’t go down the fields, stallion’s out with a mare.”

So it was going to be a quick walk round a couple of footpaths, until m’mother spotted us and said: “Oooh, I’ll just change my shoes!” And m’parents won’t use the footpath I was proposing to set off on due to contretemps with the comers-in whose land the path runs across, so the walk got longer.

And then we spotted – blackberries! And the walk slowed into an amble from bush to bush.

It’s a bit early for a big crop, and all I had with me was an (unscented) dog poo bag, but we came home with a pound and a half of fruit. So now my morning jobs include chopping up some cooking apple and putting berries and apple on to simmer and strain.

Sparky found blackberry picking very frustrating and spent quite a bit of time whining piteously. Fly the border collie will not play with her, and if Sparky approaches Fly’s stick the fur flies. Fortunately I also had third-and-final-son with me. He liked blackberry picking but he was also good with finding and throwing sticks.