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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Cornish Foraging

So finally we are home and back to familiar foraging territory. We landed on Tuesday morning of last week after three hours sleep. We collected Agnes from Reading then drove down to Brighton to do a swap over of stuff in preparation for the final leg of the adventure.

It's a bit odd going in your house when someone else is living in it so we kept the time to a minimum. However due to the lack of sleep and planning on my part I forgot lots of things like checking the post, my foraging bag and a couple of books. To be fair I often take a small library on holiday with me and then wonder why when I remove the books from the bag when I get home never having touched them since they were in there. So we got that organised which was a lot easier than we had expected as after several calls to the Isles of Scilly we established that we were not camping and also that the time we were there would be shortened. We decided that we wouldn't camp due to the amount of stuff you have to take and seen as we didn't have to camp at theB&B,which had always been the original plan, then we decided to get a cottage for a few days after having a longer visit with Krista, Nigel and Zinzan.

So we stayed Tuesday night with the lovely McAulays and also collected Finny and then headed off early on Wednesday to Suffolk to visit my Mother. After the usual delays on the M25 we had our fish and chip lunch and headed off about 6 after some face time with my Brother.

As you will no doubt have noticed by now there has not been a lot of foraging going on. After deciding that having meals with multiple wild foods in would be easier I was having a few days off as it was difficult to cook while all the travelling was going on. However on Saturday I got back into it. Having had a wonder round some woodland with Zinzan and collected all sorts of completely inedible things there were plenty of edible weeds in the fields so had pineapple mayweed and dandelion leaves in my salad. Not realising until recently that you could eat the mayweed but remembering the smell of it was so familiar from childhood days on the farm walking through great clumps of it and that familiar smell coming off. It still surprises me how much it smells of pineapple.

The dandelion is a familiar plant to us all and one I have eaten for years. Not a huge fan of bitterness unless it is watered down but sweeter salad leaves both this combination were quite nice in a bigger salad and. It was good to finally have some wild food after quite a long break.

I was hoping to have had some more fish to add to the protein list and we took Zinzan on his first fishing trip. However Bude breakwater is a difficult place to fish from unless you are fond of dragging mackerel feathers over lots of rocks and constantly having to untangle them. The fishing blogs said you could fish from half tide but no doubt you need to be a better fisherwoman than I to prevent lots of tackle ending up in the sea. No fish supper for me then!

Sunday I had honeysuckle flowers. I had tried them much earlier in the season and found them quite bitter but by this time of the summer, or Autumn for those who follow the meteorological definition of the start of this season, they taste much nicer. I have seem a picture on Ferguson Drennan's website where he is collecting large numbers of honeysuckle but I am not sure what he has used them for so will look that up for next year.

Monday we relocated to what felt like yet another holiday within a holiday,to Helston, where we have rented a small converted barn for 4 nights. We are in a place called Lower Boscadjack in a small yard with two other rental properties and the owners house. We are both very glad we are not under canvas as the weather has been less than kind. However we have so far had time on some lovely beaches and I have now been to St Ives, which is very busy but we are already planning a winter break when it is less hectic with tourists.

I took the dogs down the lane for a wander yesterday and was delighted at the large amount of sorrel that is here. When we stayed down here a couple of years ago I remember then how easy it was to collect. Alas I have had that so it is off the list.

We spent Tuesday in Truro and I got myself a pair of Keen walking boots in a sale which was very fortuitous. After a wonder round and the obligatory coffee (chai latte for me) we headed to Skinners Brewery so Dulcie could stock up on new beers and then decided to head up to Penhale sands with the dogs. Well of course they loved it and went nuts so two tired dogs was the result. We then headed back toward home and stopped off at the local for a swift one before getting home. No wild food today and knave some catching up to do!

Wednesday we went to St Ives as I had never been. Great place and would love to go back for a week in the winter when it's a bit quieter as it was slightly busier than we had anticipated. We were lucky with the weather and the beaches and narrow streets were very hectic. I finally did some foraging in Hayle on the way back as there is an estuary there. So along with my cold chicken I had Marsh Samphire and some Spear Leaved Orache. I also did the foragers emergency stop, which Dulcie always loves, on the way back home and got some newly grown Comfrey so did that with some onions and peanuts (a recipe courtesy of Roger Phillips in his Wild Food book). I think there is some debate about eating comfrey and whether doing so is safe but to be honest the small amount I have didn't concern me much.

So that wraps up the foraging in Cornwall and the next leg is the Isles of Scilly.

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