I hadn't been to a Pick Your Own (PYO) farm since my childhood days when my mum would take me and my brother and sister to any of the many fruit farms in Essex and task us with collecting as many strawberries, gooseberries and raspberries as our tiny hands could gather. The undoubted highlight of these trips was all the 'tasting' that went on and the challenge of finding the biggest strawberry being something we all took very seriously.
When Kate suggested we visit Parkside Farm PYO in Enfield all these memories came flooding back followed by me double-checking she'd just said Enfield. I mean, it doesn't sound the most likely location for a farm of any sort but it's true, after thirty minutes driving up the A10 and a quick detour through the centre of Enfield you're in the verdant and fertile countryside of North London.
Arriving at about nine thirty on a Sunday morning we were amazed at how busy it was, the car parks were almost full and there was a queue to collect punnets before an eager public were let loose in the fields.
The trick with PYO is not to go too crazy, it's easy to start getting competitive and seeing who can collect the most but the thrill of the race quickly changes when it's all weighed and priced at the tills. So we took our average sized punnets off into the fields and began collecting at a leisurely pace.
I was immediately transported back to my childhood ooh-ing and ahh-ing every time I found what I imagined was a secret stash of fruits that all the other pickers had missed whilst Fergus and Kate were busy tasting for all of us. Fergus quickly learnt that the green strawberries aren't as nice as the rich red ones and made a face to match.
By the end of a mornings picking we'd gathered two kilos of strawberries, a small bag of broad beans and a handful of green onions. At the tills we bought some cream and meringues and then headed home to watch Andy Murray winning the tennis whilst enjoying a homemade Eton Mess with hand-picked strawberries, perfect for the hottest weekend of the year so far.