Sunday 6 March 2011


The first feijoa has fallen. That means autumn is here - despite the hot sunny days, the warm sea, the still muggy afternoons and evenings. It's been an amazing summer, and seems to have gone on so long - but there's no denying a feijoa on the berm. Mine are still on the tree, but there's a hedge along my walk that's always earlier. Next to the school, its fruit are more often used as missiles than eaten, which would seem wasteful, except that they are so abundant.

Feijoas and (confusingly, in spring) loquats are the only scrumpable fruits to be found along my walk. I suppose they're excitingly exotic to some people - certainly, when I lived in England, they would have seemed that way compared with blackberries. Never try to pick blackberries while riding a horse along the hedgerow, by the way: no matter how large and juicy, how seemingly accessible, you'll only ever end up with prickles in your fingers, take it from me. Much better to stand your horse in a ditch and reach up for apples: but you must always share them if you want continued inter-species co-operation.

The best free fruit I've ever come across was in quaint little Cooktown, in northern Queensland, where there were juicy, ripe mangoes just lying around on the side of the road. Mangoes! For free! I had to gather an armful and carry them back to my hotel room - but from then on, it wasn't a pretty sight. They were SO ripe, and SO juicy - and so delicious, natch - that it was a sort of one-person orgy in there, hung over the bathroom basin, juice running down my chin and dripping off my elbows, sucking and slurping, and ending up with teeth like a baleen whale's.

And worse was to come. Take this from me too, friends: sad but true, it's possible to eat too many mangoes.

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