Berries: take your pick

Fancy a quick pick-me-up? Try picking your own, says Jo Haywood.We all know that eating five portions of fruit and veg a day is good for us. We also know that getting out into the fresh air for a leg-stretch is vital for our health and wellbei...

The pick-your-own fruit season is now underway, giving you the perfect opportunity to enjoy a stroll while stocking up on a punnet or six of beautifully ripe berries. The strawberry season runs from mid June to the beginning of August. Fruit can be grown at other times in tunnels, but most growers stick to the traditional method. It's important not to pull the fruit as this can remove the calyx (the green leafy hat) and reduce the shelf-life. Instead, try gripping the fruit behind the calyx and sever the stalk with your fingernails. The main raspberry season is later and shorter that the strawberry season, with July as the prime picking period. A raspberry is ripe when it can be picked easily without too much squeezing and squashing. Simply grasp the berry carefully with the thumb and forefinger and pull gently. It should separate from the plug easily. If it doesn't, it's not ready. Blackberries are usually ready for picking from July to early November (watch out for those nasty prickles though). Like a raspberry, a blackberry develops its colour some time before it is fully ripe, so don't be tempted to pick too early. The best way to judge the ripeness of a blackberry is by how firm it is, so feel free to give it a gentle squeeze. Gooseberries ripen early and can be harvested from mid June until late July. The earlier you pick, the sharper the taste. If you want a slightly sweeter dessert variety, opt for a red gooseberry and pick it as soon as it develops its colour. Gooseberries have a tough skin which makes them easy to pick - just hold them firmly and break the stalk with a sharp pull. Blackcurrants ripen in July and are very good at hanging around on the bush until you have time to pick them. In fact, they actually have a more intense flavour if they are not picked too soon. All currants - black, white and red - are fiddly to harvest individually, so pick whole sprigs instead. For more information about PYO farms in your area, try clicking on, or www.wellbeingdirectory.

PHONE FITNESSSometimes there don't seem to be enough hours in the day to fit in a session at the gym. But if Mohammed won't go to the mountain... Harrogate-based personal trainer Matt Hancocks, who runs his own fitness centre - elev8 - at Haggs Farm Business Park, has introduced a new exercise system that means you don't have to be anywhere near the gym to work out. Making use of new technology, elev8mobile is a download service that offers exercise images straight to your MP3 or mobile phone. 'Maybe you're a busy professional who can't find the time to hire a personal trainer in the conventional way, or perhaps you live in a remote part of the country without access to personal training advice,' said Matt. 'You might even feel that a personal trainer is a luxury you simply can't afford. 'But downloading a workout to your MP3 or mobile will save you time and money by cutting out the middle man.' Once you have learned how to perform the exercises safely and effectively, you can choose a music playlist, switch to an image version and enjoy personal training on the move. 'This is a modern portal to better health and fitness,' said Matt. 'We tailor exercise and nutrition programmes to meet people's specific requirements based on their experience, equipment, exercise preferences, time and base fitness.' For more details about elev8mobile, contact elev8 on 01423 816888 or by clicking on


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