AH, the glorious long days of summer.

Bumbling bees, deckchairs, picnics, sunshine – and showers – the heady smell of cut grass, the buzz of lawnmowers, flowers in the garden, time with family and friends and, as a foodie, the beautiful harvest of summer fruit and vegetables.

Summer soft fruits are at their peak now and to me they are one of the treasures of the season.

I’m lucky enough to have a little garden and grow a few strawberries and raspberries, though too few to make a jam from them. Not that they’d last long enough, they are normally eaten before they’ve made it into the house.

It’s a great shame that only a few varieties of the summer berries and currants make it to the shops. They are succulent, delicious and bursting with vitamin C. The supermarkets only really stock strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, the others are neglected. Fortunately you can source other varieties in our independent shops such as Rigby’s in town, the Walton Lea Project and at Kenyon Hall Farm in Croft who grow an amazing selection.

At the fabulous Stockton Heath Festival a couple of weeks ago I was positioned next to the Kenyon Hall Farm stand which brimmed over with the spoils of summer plenty.

Gooseberries, red, white and black currants, blackberries, tayberries (a divine cross between a raspberry and a blackberry), apricots and of course many delicious varieties of plums. It really is worth seeking these out if you have never tried any of them.

Another summer joy is the fruit that is available for free.

There are a couple of damson bushes that grow wild near to my home that I plunder every year. I adore their glorious, bittersweet flavour and am excited that they will be ripe for picking soon.

Sloes (a smaller astringent relative of the damson) will be ripe in September.

Though impossible to eat they make a delicious sloe gin ready in time for Christmas.

My favourite activity though is brambling. The bramble is a wild blackberry with a more intense flavour than the cultivated variety, they have more seeds and lots more vitamin C. I cannot walk past these luscious fruits without picking them. It’s an addictive, relaxing and quite mindful activity. Golden rules to observe when foraging – never pick from too low on the ground (for obvious reasons), be careful as the thorns can be lethal, don’t trespass or go climbing trees and just pick fruits that are firm and ripe. If you aren’t sure of what you are picking, leave it alone. If the fruits are ‘blousy’ the likelihood is that the flies and wasps have been there first.

Always wash the fruit and, as an extra precaution, soak your brambles in salted water for half an hour as it will kill off any nasties which will float to the top, then rinse in clean water. It’s then just a case of what to do with your summer riches and how to preserve your taste of summer.

Brambles freeze well – freeze them in a layer on a baking sheet before bagging as they’ll stay separate – or make jams or chutneys.

At Room Forty I can only use sourced, cultivated, fruits in the preserves that I sell, so my family and friends benefit from my foraging exploits.

Making a chutney is easy and plums make a gorgeous chutney.

Finally, I’d like to say good luck to SaRnies who have just opened in Grappenhall and Great Sankey. They are a wonderful new sandwich and catering business passionate about the quality of their food and the provenance of their supplies.

They use, among others, Sextons for their bread, Rowles Butchers for their cooked meats and pies, Cheshire Tea for their teas and my little business Room Forty for scones and my jams. Pop in and see them, just don’t expect my foraged fruit jams to be on sale!