Like many of us, when I was a young student I had all sorts of dreams. We didn't really have gap years then but I thought maybe I would go off and teach for Camp America in my summer holiday or buy an Interrail ticket and travel Europe, ending up in France or Italy for the grape harvest. But I was only ever brave and adventurous in my head and in reality was too scared to go anywhere on my own and was always worried I would run out of money. There was no-one in the family who had done it before, no one to give advice... no internet packed with useful information, so I never did pick grapes.
Early in September we discovered a little gem of a vineyard in Bedfordshire. The Warden Abbey Vineyard is a community run venture that has a small output of rather nice wines. We had a lovely afternoon at their open day on a glorious sunny day.
And I even ticked off a sixty by sixty by drinking English wine in an English vineyard!
But at the weekend I returned to tick another thing off my list... And fulfilled a long held ambition to go grape picking.
No, it wasn't the South of France, it was a chilly and rather damp corner of Bedfordshire...
But it was great fun! I learned a little bit about the different grapes... we picked Reichensteiner, Bacchus and Muller-Thurgau. And I discovered what to pick or what to leave behind.... young berries are no good, black or shrivelled up berries need to be picked off the bunches. And I met and chatted to some interesting people.
It wasn't such a great harvest this year due to wet weather in the spring so with lots of volunteers we had finished by lunchtime
But I managed to fill three and half crates like this before we were treated to an Al fresco buffet lunch ( in the rain!) along with a glass of their lovely wine.
I came home rather cold and wet but as I recovered in a hot bath, I decided it had been good fun. Maybe not quite the same experience as heading off backpacking to the vineyards of Europe in the 1970s but grape picking none the less... And another sixty by sixty ticked off my list!
On Friday we are actually heading off to Europe for a few days and I hope to achieve some more sixty by sixty ambitions but you'll have to pop back next week to hear about those.