Owning your own orchard (for a week)

Can’t sleep. I’ve passed that point where you might drift off naturally, and am back into the point of brain-whirring.

Time to get up then. To give way to the brain, read a little, write a little, calm the system down. And eat a little, to encourage the body to slow too.

In the past, I would look for milky things to help me sleep. Lately, not so much – but still I need something that will let me type a little, nibble, type a little more.

Right now, it’s the soft fruit season. I’m making the most of it – particularly if supermarkets choose to discount some of their items. (A different supermarket this time.)

I got lucky: a couple of punnets of ripe apricots. A real treat for a country which may produce great berries, but doesn’t really do stone fruit in the same way. (Not in the north, anyway.)


It must be the week for food transporting me to far-off places: not necessarily far in terms of distance, but further off in the distance of memory.

The holiday week where, for a short time, we felt like we owned our own orchard. A lower flat in the city of Carcassonne, in the south of France. Being on the ground floor, we got to use the garden.

Mid to late June. The flat had doors that opened onto the garden. All those dreams of eating in the open air, pushing open shutters and soaking in warmth – finally coming true again, if only for a week.

The garden had fresh cherries and fresh apricots. We couldn’t believe our luck. We couldn’t believe the birds hadn’t already got to the cherries – so we decided to beat them to it.

It’s possibly the first time I remember eating fresh apricots. Don’t get me wrong, dried are good too – the colour, the aroma, the pull of chewiness as you bite in.

Fresh? They’re part-way to peaches, one of my all-time favourites. Others may have problems with ‘furry fruit’. I rather like it – certainly with peaches, and with apricots too.

The skin is thicker on the apricots than on peaches. There’s a little more commitment needed, a little more trust that the experience will be worth it.


A few days on from buying them, the supermarket apricots are starting to become soft. (I’ve already tried a few, impatient to see what they’re like: sour. Overly chewy. Not worth it.)

So I sit, and type, and eat my apricots.

I remember warm days, and long evenings, and sitting out in the almost dark, trying not to fight over who would get the last cherries, or apricots, of the day.

Am I tired yet? Maybe. Getting there. But not yet of apricots.

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