The great pick-your-own debacle.
Rising early in the a.m, I threw open my curtains to let the early morning sunshine beat through the window and embrace me with its glow. As I savoured both the heat and the light in equal measure, my soul rejoiced at the realization of what the day was to bring my way. For today was not just any day, today was a day that promised an untold amount of fun and frivolity, not to mention an ungodly amount of cheap fruit that was already earmarked for my latest mis-adventure into the murky world of home-brew.
Today was a day that I have been looking forward to for many a long week. Today was the day of playschool's eagerly anticipated trip to the pick your own farm. HURRAH.
The packed lunch was made, the appropriated pennies were placed in my pocket and the three year old son was suitably swathed in sun cream.
With everything in place for the perfect morning out, I boarded the coach outside playschool with my afore-mentioned three year old. For some reason I was feeling an un-naturally high level of euphoria. In contrast, the children who were dutifully filing aboard the coach were displaying signs of apathy, if not downright boredom! I was having none of it. The moment the children were seated I roused them all into a stirring rendition of 'wheels on the bus', swiftly followed by a moo and quack filled burst of 'old McDonald'.
The children were happy, the playschool staff were feeling redundant due to my singing display, and as ever the coach driver was a stone faced miserable old sod who last smiled sometime during the early 1980's. I believe that is a prerequisite of becoming a coach driver, however, I digress.
As soon as the last duck had quacked, we were there. I could contain my excitement no longer, before the hand brake was fully engaged, I had opened the door and bounded out upon the terrafirma of the farmers field whilst paying no attention to the assorted curses directed at me from the foul mouthed gargoyle with the steering wheel. I grabbed an empty punnet and made a mad dash for the strawberry field with mad abandon.
With the thought of gallon upon gallon of cheap strawberry hooch at the forefront of my mind, I fell to my knees and began to rummage amongst the fauna for the fruit of choice. Nothing there! Slightly miffed, I moved onto the next plant. Not so much as a little one! Not dis-heartened, I moved over to the next row of plants. At last I found the little red rascals that I had been seeking. Pinching and twisting the stalk, I felt a strange kind of thrill run through me as I picked my first strawberry of the day. I went from elation to despair in a flash as I realized that my old nemesis Cyril snail had beaten me to it. The half eaten berry was the first of many that I found amongst the acre of semi-barren plants.
The field was truly uniform in its bareness. Row after row of fruit plants yielded nothing more than half eaten berries or withered little green things the size of your average wart. My despair knew no bounds. My emotions bubbled over. My temper was unleased with the fury of fifty volcanoes. I had no choice but to vent my anger. I vented it in a way that seemed most apt. I had a hissy fit at everyone and no-one in particular. I shouted at the strawberry plants, I shouted at passers by who vaguely resembled farm workers. It was all to no avail, but my anger simply did not allow me to see the truth of the matter.
I began to stride with a sense of purpose towards the farm shop, when I was brought back to reality by a short sharp cough. Turning to see who had dared to upbraid me, my gaze was met by a stern and disapproving glare from a particularly irate looking playschool teacher. Worse still she was surrounded by twenty toddlers looking down there noses at me. Scanning the faces of the tiny fruit pickers, I found my own little boy. He did not look like he was particulary proud of his Daddy. I was mortified.
I sheepishly made my way back to the coach. It felt like the eyes of the children followed me all the way back to my seat.
As I boarded the coach, I was greeted by an incoherent grunt from the less than jolly driver. I ignorned him, concentrating thoroughly upon my own personal shame.
The journey home was made with no frivilous singing. I was very much aware of the cloud that was hanging above my head. The cloud was very dark and very menacing. It could not, however, stop me plotting my next attempt at getting fruit for next to nothing.