While Val and Nick do sterling work in the glittering halls of Fortnum and Mason, tasting, sipping, and I am sure illuminating all and sundry to the delights of Hepple Gin, a small party heads out towards the junipers at Hepple. What an amazing day to have a birthday…

The day had started with fog hanging low on the hill, the early sun glancing across the tree tops.

The plan by the propagator-in-chief was to visit the Bickerton juniper and harvest some mature purple berries. First to be visited was Brenda, a lady of great age and substantial girth, still prolific in her bounty of berries despite the rather monstrous growth of what is now a mature ash tree right in her core. Oh the indignities visited upon the old by the young!

At this time of year the purple berries have fully matured and fall easily from the bush, a gentle tap leads to a shower of little incipient Brendas descending into the awaiting hand.

Lucy then moves on to Barbie, a younger lady chock full of berries, but also sporting much more luxuriant fronds that have put on very good growth this year.  The berries lie just a little more hidden, a little more defended behind those ticklish needling defences:

How much fun?  Total immersion.

Juniper, NorthumberlandFlynn W