Thursday, 11 November 2010

Foraging Forays.

Mainly Parasol Mushrooms

Parasol Mushroom, Sweet Chestnut,
Field Mushroom, Hazel Nut,
Chantrelles, Rose Hips,
Ceps, Walnuts,
Boletus mushrooms, Rowan Berries,
Horse Mushrooms, Elderflowers,
Amathyst deceivers, Elderberries,
puffballs, Sloes,
Chicken of The Woods, Blackberries,
Wild Garlic. Sorrel,

The above list is most of what we've picked up in the woods over the last six months or so. Obviously care is needed when foraging - there are many pitfalls for the unwary, uneducated or merely hopeful. Certainly when picking mushrooms extreme caution should be excercised, there are a dozen or so mushrooms that can kill and several dozen that can cause severe gastric upsets. If you're not 100% sure - then don't eat it, don't even pick it!

Horse Mushroom
The same goes for some of the flora that can be foraged. There are many members of the potato and carrot family that can kill or at the very least cause severe illness, so again, make sure of what you're picking. There are many brilliant books available - try the River Cottage series on mushrooms, Hedgerow and Seashore for information, humour and recipes.

Sloes, chestnuts, hips and walnuts
But we've made chutneys, jams and jellies galore, sloe gin, bramble vodka, rosehip syrup, risottos, omlettes and eaten the nuts au naturelle, so to speak.

I would encourage anyone to get out with a couple of good books and have a good look around. It's fun, educational, healthy and free!

Monday, 1 November 2010


Harry and I met again at this large Kent/East Sussex reservoir hoping for a change of luck and as I now live less than a mile away, it seemed churlish not to have yet another go at the pike that have eluded me thus far. Harry's had a couple including a lovely upper double - I usually catch trout!
This time we took deadbaits with us as well as lures - actually that should be well dead baits, as I'm sure they were not the freshest baits by a very large margin. However they worked, Harry, they worked.

The Autumn colours were as wonderful as always at this time of year and spotting the red maples amongst the yellow and gold birches, chestnut and beeches was a real joy, even more so as the day was bright, calm and mild. The reservoir, however, did not look as pretty being lower than I can ever remember seeing it before. With all the rain we've been having lately, one wonders where the water has gone.
Harry returns his fish
I was the first to catch after a couple of hours drifting and casting. We anchored up in a quiet spot, cast out a bait rod each and proceeded to cast a few lures around the boat keeping an eye on the floats as we did so. After almost an hour my float disappeared and the resulting 5 pound jack was as tatty as any I've caught before which leads me to wonder about the viability of Bewl as an ongoing fishery.
We then spent a few hours drifting and trolling and although we found many interesting features - we found no fish. I had one pull, from a trout probably, and as we settled back into the earlier, lucrative swim, Harry had a take on a small plastic which resulted in a small jack - but at least we both caught.
The shame of it was, as always, that just as things started to look up, we had to get back, the boat needed to be at the jetty by 4 pm. However, the fly anglers could stay out until dusk - another hour or so of fishing. I think our money is as good as theirs....