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Pillow Walker

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream…

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Foraging

You never even asked us

I’m not a expert of trees, I don’t proclaim to know a lot about them, I know that they’re pretty to look at and provide the planet with some of its oxygen. I know they are home to many animals and other oganisms, but this thing here doesn’t seem quite right to me…

Now I’m not one to believe in conspiracy theories. People who claim that agenda21 is really just a fake mandate to give governments the go ahead to perform various environmental activity in the interests of flood defence and whatnot, but really that could be a front for acquiring land by flooding and other environmental disasters that they could perform in order to get the residents to leave and for them to sell the land paving the way for potentially dangerous activities like fracking…

No, no I wouldn’t be so cynical…but right outside my house the local council has taken it upon themselves via a EU project (agenda21) to clear away quite a bit of trees and scrub, in the belief that the land should be allowed to flood naturally.

I don’t quite understand how getting rid of all the trees surrounding the areas where there is water going to achieve that aim…its going to flood more surely.

Now I told you I was not an expert on the subject of trees, but surely clearing the land of them is going to make it easier for it to flood, unless there is something about roots I dont know about.

We had some flooding in 2007 which caused very minor (for some of us) and (inconvenience and a few damp walls for some unfortunate people), damage but on the whole it wasn’t really a major drama.

I believe the problem in 2007 in our local little area was caused by blocked drains, and poor infrastructure/maintainence to get the water to run away via the sewer drain rather than the impact some trees would have in the flood plain area, which is what they are telling us they are doing now.

By the way they informed us of their plans about a week before they actually carried them out, the local residents were not asked of thier opnion… its just vital environmental work that needs to be carried out so we’re going to do it…tomorrow, have a nice day.

image

I liked the copse like areas which are now completely cut down, I liked seeing the birds in the trees and the squirrels which now have to find other places to live. I liked going there for walks for the wild plants, the sloes the blackberries, and to take photographs I liked it how it was, it all seems unnecessary this killing of the trees.

Now its just a barren field for doggies to walk on and shit.

Of course it could be a nefarious plan to not only evict the animals, but to evit us as well…sometime in the future after it really floods?

It’s not a huge area we are talking about here, its not even a square mile in size and the waterway is a brook..but given enough of these little agenda21 projects there will be no countryside left..just bare land and wells for the oil companies, thats if one believes in the fracking conspiracy in the guise of good environmental responsibility projects.

I’d love to be wrong, and I just hope its my paranioa.

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March Foraging

March and the beginnings of spring…

Primrose - Primula vulgaris
Primrose – Primula vulgaris

One of the first signs of wild flora activity that heralds in the Spring season is the flowers that begin to show in March such as the Primrose plant (Primula vulgaris) – The plant can grow in woods, hedgerows, parks and gardens, and because of this care should be taken not to pick flowers that are on private grounds, also one should be aware that flowers can become tainted from roadside contamination, so it’s best to avoid these as washing the flowers will ruin them.  As with any wild food you are planning to pick, please leave some of the flowers intact for insects such as bees.

The flowers were used medicinally, but for foragers today the main use of the flower is to decorate cakes and to add colour to spring salads.  You can also eat the leaves of the Primrose but the tastes range from mild lettuce to more bitter salad leaves, so it’s probably best left alone.

Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale
Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale

Another common plant that everyone should know about in the UK is the Dandelion plant (Taraxacum officinale) – The common name “dandelion,” comes from the French phrase “dent de lion” which means “lion’s tooth”, taken from the serrated look of the leaves – Usually the young leaves and buds are eaten raw, and make a great addition to any salad, the older leaves can also be eaten raw but tend to have a more bitter taste, and are best left for cooking in dishes such as soups and quiches.

The raw leaves are high in vitamin A, C and iron, carrying more iron and calcium than spinach leaves, but obviously cooking steams some of these minerals away.

I’ll leave the flowers and the root of the Dandelion for another time in the calendar when it is best left to harvest.

Cleavers - Galium aparine
Cleavers – Galium aparine

A sticky plant which I had great fun with as a child throwing on the back of friends and family, it adheres to animals and peoples clothing and is also a common find in the UK, growing along damp river banks, fences and up high attached to other plants, called Cleavers or Goosegrass (Galium aparine)  – In the old days dried Cleavers used to fill the inside of some mattresses as the plant would stick to itself and make a uniform pile, it’s root would produce a strong red colour.

Cleavers make another good addition to cooked food at this time of year especially when the leaves are picked early before the addition of any plant fruits. The small leaves are only really suitable for cooking and can be added to a variety of dishes such as stews, soups and can even be made into a refreshing tonic drink.  The leaves are said to promote lymphatic flow, as to be cooling, soothing and cleansing.

I’ll leave it at that for today’s post, I may include some more March wild foods in the coming days, so stay tuned. 🙂

Externals:

Susan Clark has written an excellent article on cooking with wild primroses, with a few recipes at the ecologist.org web-site.

The BBC have quite a few recipes for Dandelions at their web-site.

Spicy Chicken Cleaver recipe courtesy of www.countrylovers.co.uk

Here is a recipe for Lemonade made with lemons and Cleavers.

The Joy of Scrumping

When I was kid I lived on a small council estate in Bath, UK and next to our block of houses at end of our street stood a large house that was built a couple of hundred years ago, way before the likes of us common folk were born or even had thoughts of invading the area.

The large house which is called Montague house is a tall building of Victorian origin and in their grounds there used to be an orchard there, (this was before they decided in the 1980’s that the upkeep of an orchard was too expensive, and so they dug it all up, tarmacked it over sold the land, turning the orchard into a block of flats with garages) which would of catered only to the well-off dwellers within its domain – Interestingly a fossil hunter called Joseph Chaning Pearce (1811-1847) who lived there with is family from 1845 retired there and subsequently died inside one of the rooms of a lung complaint two years later.

Montague House Bath
Montague House, Bath

But we weren’t after the old man’s fossils…

We used to climb over a 20 foot mesh fence the owners had hastily erected to keep the local riff raff (me and my kind) segregated from their private little paradise.

We’d climb that fence like pirates aboard an ocean vessel,  scaling the fence like we were up the masts of a huge ship we’d just captured. Down the other side of the fence we’d drop in hiden amongst the canopy of the fruit trees. Armed with carrier bags and Hessian bags, and any type of bag fit for the purpose of (which in Somerset is known as) ‘Scrumping’ we would set to work.

I must of been about 10 years old at the time…

There were apples, pears, plums, gooseberries, redcurrants, rhubarb and all manner of fresh fruit and vegetables at hand, it was like the fresh food isle at the local supermarket, only the goods from this particular orchard were truly fresh, highly nutritious, and of course abundantly free.

Was once an Orchard.
Was once an Orchard.

It was the start of a wonderful childhood spent living close to a busy city but it was also a time where we were close enough to the countryside where not only could we enjoy the fruits (and other peoples) fruits of the land, but also spend our time as wild council house yobs acquiring the secret knowledge of foraging, passed down from generation to generation by poor buggers, the likes of whom would of liked nothing more to do than, ‘get one over’ on his rich neighbour, or lord who was more than likely so stinkingly rich, would horde everything like a dragon – To forage for wild foods, not only the ‘common’ types associated with land ownership as previously mentioned, but little known rare nuggets of free stuff growing wild that either escaped these rich peoples properties or was left growing wild since the neolithic hunter gatherer times.

In the next few days, weeks and months (when I can be arsed basically) – I’m going to gather some of this information about wild food and create a series of blog posts on the subject – I want to try and keep it seasonal so if you want to go out and forage yourself you can do. I’ll also try include a few recipes and things I’ve acquired along with the descriptions of the plants themselves.

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