Oct 202014
 

conker collectors

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conker collector

Three small boys set off for a walk on an October weekend, welly-footed and grubby-fingered. Their destination was an avenue of tall Horse Chestnut trees, bronzed leaves falling onto the grass below. Amongst the leaves, the shiny brown treasure trove of a thousand conkers.

Little fingers winkled them out of their spiky shells, smoothing them gleefully. Every pocket was stuffed to bursting with this autumnal bounty, the scent of leaf-mould spilling out with them over the kitchen floor when we returned home.

The wild boys have gone, for the moment, in playground lines of crisp school uniform. The conkers remain, appearing in the laundry basket, falling out of coat pockets, resting in piles halfway up the stairs. Waiting for the return of the small hands that warm them. In my brief moments of pause, I wait too.

 

 

 October 20, 2014  out & about, weekending Tagged with: ,  5 Responses »
Oct 122014
 

FEAST Veg prep

Since starting the #growforagecook project with Sabrina, it’s been so exciting to to connect with others who share our enthusiasm for growing, foraging and cooking! Over on Instagram, I got chatting to Rachel, who works by the coast in Dorset for Fore/Adventure. She posts the most fabulous images of foraged goodness. I discovered that Fore/Adventure provide all sorts of adventuring opportunities, from kayaking to coasteering, bushcraft to beach school, all of which look amazing. I was particularly interested, however, to learn more about their thoughts on and experiences of wild food and foraging. When Rachel invited me to their Foraged Feast at the end of the summer, I was thrilled and disappointed in equal measure, because I just couldn’t make it to Dorset on a school night, however much I would have loved to! I was desperate to hear all about it, though, so I invited Rachel to answer a few questions and to share with us a little about herself and Fore/Adventure.

Over to you, Rachel…

Tell us a bit more about yourself and what you do

I’m a country girl; wellies and the Wurzels, fishing and getting muddy- all of that good stuff. Returning to Dorset after a stint away I, in a glorious chance encounter, came across Fore/Adventure after sharing a local foraging find on Twitter and promptly joined the family team behind this adventuring venture. In a nutshell, the essence of Fore is to connect people with nature through positive adventures and stimulating environments, to enable you to learn and develop your relationship with the outdoors, and with each other. We just love getting outside and wholeheartedly believe in Life Through Adventure, whether it’s through foraging, feasting or fishing , kayaking or coasteering , bushcraft or beach school, wild food or wild camping.

FEAST Rachel

Can you tell us about how the initial idea for Fore/Adventure came about?

Fore/Adventure was born from a lifestyle choice that echos a somewhat English version of the American dream. After a decision by Jade and Dan, the brains, brawns and founders of Fore, to get out of the city and relocate to rural Dorset with their small humans Fore/Adventure was forged, following Dan’s background in the outdoor industry. Starting with four kayaks it has evolved to include sea, shore, and solid ground adventures to get both big and small humans in the great outdoors.

Where is Fore/Adventure based, and how does your environment shape what you do?

Our playground just so happens to be on Dorset’s Jurassic Coastline. We have a varied environment on our doorstep that allows us to get up to all sorts. On Studland’s beach is where our hutquarters lie and from here we explore the sea, shore, cliff line and iconic stacks of Old Harry’s; checking out the sea from the surface, underneath it and the creatures that inhabit it. As well as this we have an abundance of woodland and heath sitting behind the beach that provides a base for a host of more bushcrafty based antics.

Foraging, and wild food, are at the heart of what you do. What makes them so important?

We all love to eat. It’s the way to the heart, isn’t it? This, married with adventure, getting outside and in the elements, which we know to be good for us, is a winning combination. It’s important to connect with our food and with where it comes from- this connection leads to a better understanding of our environment which means we tend to treat and love it better. Plus, there is always a cheeky and overwhelming satisfaction with getting something for free…

FEAST Fish

Can you tell us a little about where, and what you forage for?

Beyond the bits and bobs that are found most places, berries, edible flowers and herbs, we get to make the yummy most out of our seaside location. This means sea vegetables from glass wort (Samphire) to sea blite, sea purslane to sea beet as well as sea weeds. Dan happens to be a bit of a seaweed pro which means mackerel sashimi wrapped in seaweed is often made up at Old Harry’s Rocks if we have been lucky with our catch!

What’s the most popular food that you forage for? And the most unusual?

Certainly the most unusual and interesting food we forage for are the seaweeds. We Brits tend to see seaweed as a beachside inconvenience and don’t really know that there is some tasty grub right there. All you need is a trip to the beach and a seaweed identification book and you are away. Adding hand foraged, dried and ground kelp flakes to season your food is a great, and tasty, party trick.

How do you find that people react to their first experiences of foraging?

Bewilderment! Foraging is something people assume to be a specialist subject, and while there will be a spectrum of edible knowledge, it’s brilliantly easy to get foraging. Knowing that you can walk out your door, whether in an urban or rural environment, and find free food is a welcome and yummy realisation.

FEAST Feast

You recently hosted a foraged feast. Can you tell us about what you served?

We did! And it was an absolute night and a half (you can check it out on the Fore blog). We wanted to celebrate our environment with a foraged feast as the end of the summer drew near and the new season began. Like Kings we feasted on local lobster, hand caught and sea cured mackerel, sea vegetables, handmade local berry juices and a seaweed panna cotta to finish us off. Is your mouth watering?!

What is your favourite time of year for foraging?

For me it is now- the end of summer and beginning of autumn. Crab apples, rosehips, lingering and hardy berries, chestnuts, plums and such. It’s those lovely warm flavours that are perfect for these increasingly crisp days.

What advice would you have for anyone who’s interested in having a go at foraging?

Get outside! Honestly, honestly, all you need are some scissors, a plastic bag (or basket if you are feeling snazzy), and a little guide to what’s about. I really enjoy John Wright as an author of foraging guides but if you don’t want to invest too soon then the internet will have everything you need to know.

What does the future hold for Fore/Adventure?

We really love what we do and want to see others getting the same deep-rooted buzz for being outside, having a smattering of adventure intercepting their day to day. For us ,that means getting on the sea in whatever shape or form, getting out in the woods and more feasting! (Not a bad job eh?! ; )

FEAST Basket

Thanks so much, Rachel, it’s been fantastic to find out more about you, and what you do at Fore/Adventure. I’m now pining for the ocean and a foraged barbeque on the beach! I can’t wait to head down to Dorset at some point and visit you guys. Thanks for sharing all your foraging adventures using #growforagecook.

You can find Fore/Adventure here:  website | blog | instagram | twitter | facebook

and connect with Rachel here:  instagram | twitter

{all images by Justin Glynn, courtesy of Fore/Adventure}

 October 12, 2014  Grow Forage Cook Tagged with: ,  5 Responses »
Oct 032014
 

yiboctober

Now that autumn is here and the evenings draw in, curling up on the sofa with a book and a blanket is a rather lovely thing to do. I’ve found myself with a little stack of books on the go. I’ve been reading the devastating but brilliant A Monster Calls, flicking through the gorgeous cookbook A Modern Way to Eat, and imbibing advice and humour from Sali Hughes’ Pretty Honest.

My September choice was Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (Some Instructions on Writing and Life), which has proved both entertaining and thought-provoking. With a combination of autobiography and practical advice, Anne Lamott is by turns irreverent and wise, anecdotal and philosophical. This was the first book that I’ve read about the writing process itself, and it was both educational and inspiring. I’ve also been dipping in and out of The Photographers Playbook, a cornucopia of ideas including assignments, essays, advice, tricks and games, it’s a resource that will prove endlessly fascinating.

For October, I’ve selected The Fairy Tales of Hermnn Hesse which was given to me recently by a dear friend with a penchant for the literary. For some reason, fairy tales seem appropriately autumnal reading to me, and I’m looking forward to settling down under that blanket, book in hand. I have yet to select my November choice, but no doubt something will present itself in the meantime.

So, onwards to the October link up. Here’s a reminder of how it all works:

The aim is to read (at least) a book a month during 2014. At the start of the month, we blog the book that we are planning to read in the month ahead. If we feel inspired to, we could also write a little about the previous month’s book. Not a review, as such, just some thoughts: a recommendation (or otherwise!) for others who might be thinking of reading it. It’s not a traditional book club, so we don’t have to all read the same book. This is just about trying to ensure that we make space for reading in our busy lives, and hopefully a way to discover more lovely books (and lovely bibliophiles).

If you would prefer to share your book choices over on Instagram, that would also be great, please use the hashtag #theyearinbooks so that we can find your posts. The same hashtag is also active on Twitter. There is a Year in Books Pinterest board, so do let me know in the comments if you would like me to add you as a pinner. If I should have added you, and haven’t, do nudge me. Pinterest is a little problematic on the issue and it sometimes takes a couple of attempts. There’s also a Goodreads group for this project, and you are welcome to join, whether or not you have a blog of your own.

If you would like to add a badge to your blog, you can grab the code over in the sidebar. I am compiling a reading list of book suggestions which people have left in the comments here, or via Instagram. Please feel free to continue to recommend books in this way and I will add them to the list.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you have linked up before- everyone is welcome and it’s never too late to get involved. I would be grateful if you could link back to here in your post. Do add your link below – click on the blue button at the bottom of the post.

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 October 3, 2014  the year in books 7 Responses »
Sep 302014
 

patchworkseptember2014

September began as rather a shock for us- back to school, and for my four year old, the ever first day of school. Whilst I mourned the loss of carefree holiday days, and felt the inevitable wrench as my boy started school, I found myself relishing the clean page, new start and the quiet, still daytime moments when the older boys are away and the baby is asleep.

With the warm weather and the still-light evenings, there have been many opportunities for foraging- perfect for #growforagecook. A gentle ramble, basket in hand, to our favourite blackberry field has been a weekly occurrence: the cupboards are stacked with Bramble Jelly, and the freezer with frozen berries. My kind friend with the apple trees has, as always, been generous with her windfalls, and I’ve been baking endless Windfall Apple Cakes, replenishing the tin as fast as the hungry hordes empty it. I’ll be sharing the recipe over at Weekends Collected in the coming weeks.

I’ve been foraging for berries, blooms and treasures, too- sharing my discoveries as part of Lou’s #natureinthehome over on Instagram. Rose hips, rowan berries, feathers and fading hydrangea blooms have all graced my mantel this month. The central picture above was the collection that represented ‘September’ for me- my contribution to the #stylingtheseasons project.

Whilst Autumn has crept into our days with its misty mornings and flame-bright leaves, we clung to summer until the last, with our final camping weekend at the Good Life Experience, which proved to be exactly what its name promised. The tent, along with the summer, has been packed away until next year, and we move hopefully into October, with all autumn’s glories ahead of us.

As always, I’ve been looking back- to last September’s patchwork – and to the month ahead, with a Pinterest board for October.


October on Pinterest

 September 30, 2014  monthly patchworks Tagged with:  3 Responses »