Memories of a rural childhood – B is for Blackberries and Birthdays



The best blackberries to pick were often in the most difficult places. I remember one time when I donned gumboots and carried a bucket and billy down the hill in order to pick the large, sweet, tasty, well-watered blackberries near the creek at the bottom. Our dog Axel accompanied me. He stood beside the bucket whilst I clambered out along a fallen gum tree to pick the delicious fruits. Every so often I returned to empty the billy into the bucket. I was impressed with Axel’s loyalty and staying power until I realised that he, having a sweet tooth, was helping himself from the conveniently placed bucket!


I was most impressed when reading an extract from a Family Bible with my Grandmother, I realised that I was born 100 years to the day after my great grandfather, Robert Ferres – and that one of my brothers was born 100 years after one of his brothers! The chances of such duplication seemed quite incredible.

Many years later when teaching probability to a year 12 Maths class, I came across the shared birthday paradox – in a room of 23 people, the chance of two sharing the same birthday is 50%. I took a chance and introduced the concept. My students were sceptical until we shared birthdays and, fortunately for me, discovered that two of them did share a birthday! Anyone interested in the maths can find a relatively simple explanation on this site. It doesn’t, however, help with the added complexity of the 100-year gap!




9 thoughts on “Memories of a rural childhood – B is for Blackberries and Birthdays”

  1. Oh, Maureen, I love blackberries – one of my favourite fruits. I too am lucky to live in a rural village in the Scottish Borders and come September/October we are out picking wild blackberries – there is no comparison between their taste and the cultivated ones on sale in supermarkets.

    Re birthday coincidences, I was over the moon to discover early on in my research that my great grandmother Maria (at the heart of my family history) was born the same day as my own daughter (January 15th) but 114 years apart,.

    this was the ritual dress for going out in winter in my early 1950’s childhood.

    Family History Fun

    1. Blackberries are a noxious week here, Susan. They grow so fast that they can take over a garden or section of bushland very quickly. I agree about the taste.

  2. How interesting – the maths. I’ll be checking out the link later. I think i’ll do the same if I was in Axel’s shoes; blueberries are yummy, aren’t they. 🙂 #AtoZChallenge

    1. Finding someone who shares your particular birthday is, of course, much less common (1 out of 365) than finding two people in a room that share a birthday on any of the 365 days!

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