LAURA CARTLEDGE: Tomatoes are not the only fruit that I’d pick

Nature is doing a pretty good impression of a supermarket at the moment.

Just one of the many reasons which makes this time of year, and the upcoming autumn, my favourite.

Yes there is an argument that we haven’t reeeally had summer yet, but I have a feeling it has just been squeezed into the hours I’ve been at work while the weekends get the rain.

I know I spent the second hottest day of the year, a couple of Saturdays ago, running around central London trying to get to a wedding on time and that is more than enough for me.

Bring on the jumpers, the dew-decorated cobwebs and the hot chocolates is all I can say.

And bring on the tomato recipes.


I’m planning chutneys, pasta sauces, pizza sauces and bakes.

In fact our meals recently have been decided by a simple question – can you put runner beans/courgettes/tomatoes in it?

Allotment fajitas and veg patch soups being two of the favourites.

What’s more, this basket is just half the haul we got from our neighbours.

It has become a bit of a tradition, which I like to think of as scrumping – just to make it seem more rebellious than it is – where they call on us when they can’t harvest it quick enough.

It’s like an invite-only ‘pick your own’ and helped save the bank holiday for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love bank holidays, it is just that I’ve realised, arguably since owning a house, that they come with a side portion of pressure.

It is a bully of a thing, and I don’t think it is a coincidence that the word ‘holiday’ has the same syllable count as DIY.

I’d clocked August’s one before we’d really unpacked, a long weekend perfect for decorating.

‘We could do a whole room,’ I thought, with blind optimism.

That was until I knew the loft needed our attention and the whole place needs rewiring, you see.

Which has left me needing to sit on my hands until those biggies are ticked off.

So how else to use the oasis of extra time?

What shall we do?

Family was the answer. A great answer.

Especially as cooking curry for nine is a very effective way of eating down the vegetable stores.

Unless you also take everyone on a guided blackberry pick around the village...

The result was like an unconventional Christmas.

My dad, head of the table, or rather just a head at the table as he was seated on a deckchair.

Which was made to look the more ridiculous as he was flanked either side by people on kitchen stools.

It only felt right to have board games for afters, then my sister dug out an arts and crafts project she needed help with.

Add two birthday parties which popped in for some of the action and the extra day soon filled up.

It proved priorities are what you make them.