I was shattered and just wanted to spend the day lazing around in the beautiful caravan loaned to us by friends. Curled up on the settee with a good book, I could see out of the corner of my eye that the kids were getting restless. This was the point where my eldest suggested that we went “for a short walk in the forest to look at the dens.” Our youngest then joined in the excitement, so we got suited and booted and set off toward the woods.

We walked our way through the woodland…then across a field…and then across another field…and another…

As we trudged through knee-high bushes and dodged nettles, I started having flashbacks to the cross country running lessons of my school days. I was half expecting Miss Barrett to appear from behind a tree aggressively shouting “Come on Longbottom, get yourself moving.” 

As my three family members happily walked ahead of me, I could feel myself getting grumpier and grumpier.

He said we were going for a short walk!

This isn’t what I signed up for. 

If I’d known it was going to take this long, then I would have brought a bottle of water. 

It’s too hot.

Once we get there, we’ve got to walk all the way back again.

I never wanted to go on this stupid walk.

I am not proud to say that my inner teenager appeared in all her splendour and I sloped along at the back of the unplanned ramble.

NB The eldest child involved in this story has asked me to represent his version of events which allegedly include a detailed discussion about the length of the walk, the amount of time it would take and the fact that it covered at least three fields. We have agreed to disagree on the exact details of what took place that day.

Eventually, we reached the “amazing” ruins that my son wanted us to see (I’m aware that I am still in teenager mode) and then started the journey back home. By this point, our youngest realised she had been walking for far too long and decided that she was going to complete the rest of the journey on her knees. Tiredness took over, and even our attempts to turn the walk into a bear hunt failed to motivate her to keep going.

As we dragged our way back through the woodland, I spotted the blackberry bushes. A question punctured the grumbling and complaining circling my mind.

Fruit or thorns?

My family walked ahead, blissfully unaware I’d stopped.

I took a picture of the blackberries and mulled over the question in my mind as we walked back towards the caravan site.

Fruit or thorns?

Would there be fruit, if it wasn’t for the thorns?

I’m no botanist, but from the limited research I’ve done, I’ve discovered that the thorns play a vital role in the survival of the plant. The thorns ensure that the blackberry bush can survive attempts from predators to steal the fruit. The thorns strengthen the branches and create a robust framework for the fruit to develop and grow. Thornless varieties of blackberry bushes are available, but according to the gardening sites I visited, the fruit doesn't quite taste the same. It would seem that for the fruit to flourish, it needs the thorns.

As our group of tired walkers, one now on piggy-back, continued to climb over brambles and entered the woodland near the caravan site, my grumpiness began to lift.

Back at the caravan, I collapsed on the settee with a cup of tea, reluctantly acknowledging that the fresh air had done me good. Despite my weary legs, I was thankful for the reminder that there’s no fruit without the thorns.

The fruit of love can grow through the thorns of heartbreak.

The fruit of joy can be found in the thorns of sadness.

The fruit of peace is often discovered in the thorns of uncertainty.

The fruit of kindness can grow around the thorns of disappointment.

The fruit of goodness can flourish around the thorns of cruelty.

The fruit of faithfulness can spring through the thorns of doubt.

The fruit of gentleness can be found within the thorns of anger.

The fruit of self-control can stem from the thorns of surrender.

We can try and live our lives avoiding the thorns, but the fruit will never quite taste the same.

No thorns. No fruit.

Kay Moorby


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