Being brought up during the Second World War meant that oranges and bananas were virtually non-existent - a distant memory. The convoys which regularly braved the terrors of the German submarines had far more important cargoes of food to bring in.
After the war these fruits began to appear again and I remember eating tangerines, clementines, bananas, coconut and maybe even the occasional pineapple. And of course we could always buy them in tins.
We had fruit in our garden always - damsons, apples, pears, raspberries, strawberries, plums, gooseberries, red and black currants - but we did not have a freezer so when the crop was finished it was made into jam or into bottled fruit and that was always a bit of a nightmare with the old Kilner jars and getting them to seal properly.
This week I just happened to notice the variety of fruits on offer in my local supermarket. I am not speaking here of the big Tesco store but my small supermarket in our little market town. There were coconuts, pineapple, fresh dates, kumquats, lemons, limes, four kinds of oranges, six types of apple, two kinds of pear, two kinds of plum, peaches, bananas, black and green grapes, red currants, raspberries, strawberries, blue berries, blackberries - all of them imported, and I have to say that most of them pretty tasteless at this time of the year. Then, of course, there was forced rhubarb from our Yorkshire triangle. Children are now growing up with this huge variety of fruit to choose from; growing up familiar with all these fruits.
But what has happened to the good old English apple? Where are James Grieve, Laxton Superb, Beauty of Bath, Beauty of Kent, Cox's Orange pippin and the like?
Don't compare the Cox's in the shops with the good old English variety. Why does no apple really taste of apple when you sink your teeth into it?
I talked to the greengrocer on our market stall about this and he says that most of the fruit in our supermarkets is put into cold storage until it is needed and is then brought out. Once it hits normal shop temperatures it begins to wilt and the taste is largely destroyed.
My Uncle Albert used to store his Bramley and James Grieve apples on the attic floor in wooden crates. As you went up the attic stairs the smell of Summer greeted you - I can smell it still if I close my eyes.
Maybe in apple-growing areas like the Vale of Evesham you can still get the old-fashioned varieties in the shops at the right time of the year. If so, then I wish, come next October, then would send a few boxes up here.
##Various people asked what poems I read yesterday at our Poetry afternoon. I chose to read Poetry for children - and I was pleased I had done so as one member of our group had brought her teenage grand-daughter. This is the list of what I read:-
Ogden Nash - The Tale of Custard the Dragon.
TS Eliot - the AD-dressing of Cats.
William Cowper - The Nightingale and the Gloworm.
Cowper is a poet who has been largely forgotten. He had such a sad life - as did John Clare. I might do a post on both of them tomorrow if nothing more exciting comes up.
Speaking of excitement - the farmer saw a pure white stoat running along the wall yesterday - he couldn't wait to tell me when I returned.