14 Sep
2013
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Fruit and nuts

Autumn has arrived with a thump and the hot sunshine that characterised 2013′s wonderful summer has well and truly vanished. The drizzle that was falling when we left the house has turned into a downpour, but I am determined to carry on foraging. Izzy, in wellies and winter coat, appears to love the rain, and, splashing through puddles, is happy to follow.

It seems to be a bountiful year and the Blackberry bushes are heaving under the weight of glossy fruit. Izzy has already eaten her own weight in blackberries several times over in the last few weeks, but, despite her voracious appetite for them, I do eventually manage to fill a bag. Wasps and flies, dopey in the rain, cling to the bramble plants and raindrops hang on the webs of Garden Spiders.

I collect some blue sloes, which I will put in the freezer for sloe gin, as well as some hazelnuts. There are plenty of other wild foods around, including ripening rosehips and elderberries, but they are not on the menu today.

We pause to watch some large crayfish, probably American Signal Crayfish, which stalk the shallows of the River Yeo, before heading home.

Later, I spend an age extracting the hazelnuts from their shells with a squirrel-shaped nutcracker and Izzy, getting bored, starts to fling them around the living room. Finally, they are ready to be cooked with and, together, we make chocolate spread. Izzy licks out the bowl and gets sticky fingers all over the sofa.

Checklist

Practicalities

We walked along the footpath adjacent to the railway (Tarka Line) from Yeoford Train Station (under the road in the direction of Barnstaple) to the gate, then back again the same way. Parking is usually possible near to the station on the road.

Please forage sustainably (leave plenty for wildlife and other foragers – a good rule of thumb is to pick only a fifth of what you find), legally and safely (only if you are 100% sure that what you are picking is safe to eat).

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