I ate a blackberry – and I liked it…

A cycle ride on the Isle of Wight may hardly be the wilds of nature – but a recent pootle out on the bikes gave me pause to think about wild places and conservation – it was the perfect preparation for starting my masters this week…

I don’t really like blackberries – so that partly explains why the one I ate on that cycle ride was the first in my living memory – picked straight from the bush, sweet and fresh. But it doesn’t really explain why neither I nor Alice could really answer the question, “Are these blackberries early or late… when do they normally come out”…

I am a nature lover, a passionate believer in the value of the natural world and our environment – yet I am so removed from the natural rhythms of the world, that I just don’t know even these most basic of facts, that you have to imagine in the past must have been second nature to every one of us.


So I ate that blackberry, and I liked it. I enjoyed the novelty of the freshness, even if I still don’t really like blackberries. But more than that it was a small step in following the inspiration I have taken from George Monbiot’s latest book Feral. It’s not about eating blackberries, but what I did take strongly away from what I found a truly inspirational read, was that ‘conservation’ can be as much about enjoying, experiencing, valuing and sharing the simple, visceral pleasures and powers of nature, as much as about intellectual arguments, economic values or climate change.

That is really only one small, slightly bastardised, point that Monbiot is making in a really interesting and challenging look at rewilding and our modern view of conservation. In an era where many ecologists, biologists and economists seek justifications and ‘proofs’ I found it powerful and refreshing to recognise that it is enough to simply argue that wildness and nature can be exciting, beautiful and magnificent – and that is just as valid, perhaps even a more powerful reason to conserve it that any of the more intellectual arguments we generally focus on.

It makes me wonder and reflect in my vague career ruminations, if perhaps there is a place for me to focus on inspiring the public to experience, to feel, touch and taste nature. For once they have, I suspect there is no more powerful way to promote its respect and protection.


About domhall

I have spent the last 15 years juggling careers in education publishing, expedition leadership and safety training. It has involved a careful balancing act of dreams of expedition travel, a love of climbing, walking and the outdoors and the the realities of life - and the later has definitely come off worse. I've run an adventure travel and expedition training business and lived in the sometimes sunny Lake District. Having taken a year out to complete an MSc in Environmental Technology I am now working for The Conservation Volunteers, working on engaging communities in their local green spaces.
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1 Response to I ate a blackberry – and I liked it…

  1. Taissa says:

    Hey Dom – I didn’t know you had a blog. I like it. Further to the question of early or late blackberries I have definitely heard it said, or read somewhere that there are more than 400 – or maybe it was 4000 – varieties of blackberry-bearing brambles. So maybe the blackberry you had was neither early nor late but just on time going by its own clock.

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