5.10.08

Last of the summer...


Sitting here at my desk watching the rain sheet the windows, a hot cup of tea to hand, it seems strange to think that this time last week we were strolling through herds of nervous sheep enjoying the last of the summer. The landscape basked in the gentle gold of the autumn sun and we found a late crop of blackberries, which we hurried to pick. It has been mostly too rainy to pick this season, and they are of no use when they are wet.




We quietly harvested large juicy berries in the company of several fat garden spiders, feasting on blackberry marinaded flies...





...and a young roe buck, grazing downwind and almost oblivious to our quiet foraging.




At last he realised he was not alone, and sloped off quietly into the undergrowth. We picked a crumbles-worth of berries and returned to the main track, where Andy motioned silently to me, pointing to a spot before him, almost within touching distance...who could this be, hiding not-very-successfully behind the drystone wall?




After a few seconds, he realised he'd been rumbled.


video



Further along the fields, late elderberries were just beginning to fade, and we picked enough to fill a bag (I am turning into my mother; she never went on a walk without half a dozen bags of varying types and usually a shovel too, in case we came across a decent dollop of horse manure).




Andy proving to be the human equivalent of a picking machine; I am attempting yet again to make wine, this time I hope it might be even be drinkable as well as alcoholic. Descending into scrubby woodland, we found a bumper crop of shaggy parasol mushrooms, and picked enough for tea - cutting them with a pen knife, so's not to damage the roots. And taking no more than we needed.




My usual note of caution - we only ever pick what we are sure of. If there is any doubt, we will not eat them. Even if it is a familiar type we have eaten safely before, we double check with our books. I have a variety of identification books, even one I've had since I was eight. But (in reply to
Sea Angels enquiry) the best one so far has been 'Mushrooms' by Roger Phillips, which is jampacked with hundreds of species, displaying numerous variations and excellent descriptions to help you sort out your Russulas from your Lactarius. In all my years of amateur fungi spotting, this is by far the best guide I have seen.

Another - inedible - treasure found. Some kind of fossil. Sea urchin, sea anaeome, jelly fish - we don't know. But there are clearly veins running through it, and what looks to be a patterned shell. Fantastic to think that these lush fields were once great oceans, heaving with sea life. (I think...my geology is a bit foggy on these things...)




Onwards, through more startled sheep...




...and up the hill...the shadows lengthening in the deepening gold.




We biked homewards, satisfied with a good day's tramping and hedgerow harvesting. The day could not not possibly get any better - could it?

Oh yes, it could. We stopped the bike just in time to see some fat hot air ballons ascending into the evening sky, with ominous rainclouds blowing in from the West Country...
(music courtesy of Mr Camille Saint-Saens)





Feeling replete with memory, our return home was topped off by a foraged supper, courtesy of a roadkill pigeon, as seen in the post below. So farewell to what we had of summer...




28 comments:

Merisi said...

Gretel,
what a wonderful excursion and feast to the eye! Amazing, those fossil finds, hard to believe you found them in the grass.
Autumn air has taken ahold here too, summer but a sweet memory, but oh what comfort the golden October light!

tut-tut said...

Just lovely light there; you have a great eye for details. What inspiration will you find in that fossil, I wonder . . .

carolyn said...

Hello there, looks like you escaped the rain and how lucky to still have elderberries they all seem to have gone here.
Had to smile at your ginger cats as a ginger tom has recently adopted us. In fact we seem to be getting more like you everyday, there is a road kill pheasant in the oven right now!

Caroline B said...

What a lovely day you had, so different from today's rain & squalls. That is definitely a fossilised sea-urchin - my mother was an avid fossil hunter and we were brought up learning to identify what we found as we pottered round the beaches & quarries of the I.O.W. Lucky find for you!

Gigibird said...

What lovely photos - you have really captured autumn:)

Down here it has mostly been raining with wind!

Mary Beth said...

Fall seems to have come overnight. From warm, sunny days, we jumped to cooler temps and poof! reddened leaves.

Frances said...

Again, I so thank you for taking me out doors to a place so far from mine.

Your dinner must have been scrumptious ... well done on the gathering and imagination.

I do agree with an earlier comment that all this surely does feed your eyes as well.

xo

Sweetwater Designs said...

Thank you for sharing the absolutely beautiful country you live in..
I haven't seen such fat blackberries since we left Vancouver Island years ago.

vikki said...

May I suggest the addition of an umberella to your forgaging kit. I am 'vertically challanged myself & find the by hooking the hook over the higher branches you can double your yield. My parents used to do it with damsons :-)

Eric Orchard said...

Gorgeous pictures, Gretel! I love it when you share these things with us.

Jennifer said...

Hi Gretel-- I love those landscape pictures, and the quality of light. (Oh, and the spider, too!) ;-)

Francie of The Scented Cottage said...

Thanks for the walk..I really needed it and it was great fun.

Nice to see Andy too.


(())

Sarah Laurence said...

What gorgeous countryside! Blackberries grow in the US, but they are never as sweet. That’s so funny about the buck. I do miss the English countryside (if not the rain.) Your photos are a lovely reminder.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

My soul. You do live in fairyland, don't you? And, aren't tall men the best? They can always pick the berries up high!

Kala said...

I miss the cotswolds, grew up always wanting to leave, now I've left I want to go back lol!

tlc illustration said...

I love your foraged dinners (and that the cats get to participate). They somehow taste better than almost any other kind.

What a lovely photographic ramble. I'm feeling the need for a Cotswold autumnal wallpaper coming on...:-) Are your trees turning at all yet? We had to take an outing this afternoon in the pouring rain and I was surprised at how colorful the leaves were despite the grey day.

Rima said...

Just beautiful Gretel... what lovely pics and balloons (you must've been chuffed to find them - tho they'd be even better without the advertising on them eh?) and delightful to hear of your successful foragings and roadkill eateries. I have Roger Phillips' books too - mosses, ferns and wildflowers as well as mushrooms... they are excellent aren't they :)
We'll be doing more of this wild eating I should think when we are on the move... tho perhaps no pigeons... I think it's great to eat the poor runovers but we might rather be on the look out for roadkill tofu... ever seen any? :)
Hugs for autumn xx

Elizabeth said...

What a super photo essay.
I was in England for some of those glorious late summer days.
My mother used to take the dogs for a walk in the woods in Essex and pick up sticks for kindling.
she said children must think she was an old witch!

Quail said...

The blackberries on the south Devon coast are pathetic! Small, rip apart when you pull them off and the branches have over ripe berries mixed with ones that are still green--odd! So I'm very envious that you managed to "pick a crumbles worth"!

belinha said...

Lovely photos!

Jackie said...

OHHH!!! Sigh!! That was a lovely post. The video was perfect with that music. You are clever.

Cindy said...

The scenic vistas of your countryside are breathtaking! What a lovely "walk & ride" you had. The mention of the blackberries has my mouth watering.

Gail said...

It looks so lovely with you Gretel - thanks for sharing a slice of your life ;-)

acornmoon said...

Gorgeous countryside, very Samuel Palmer.

We have had hot air balloons very low over our garden, all the neighborhood dogs have been terrified, I think it is the sound of the gas burners!

liZZie said...

Like your new blog banner and especially like the pics of roe buck beyond wall. Been down a couple of hilly lanes on my old bike having been inspired by you. Watch out - crazy old moll on cranky bike going wheeeee...

walk2write said...

Finding your blog was like finding a treasure. I thoroughly enjoyed walking with you and learning about your environment.

Mlle Miracle said...

Oh, Gretel, thank you very much for all these posts. We miss the countryside so much and watching your images it's like being there with you! You and Andy are very lucky!

Puddock said...

I absolutely adore the pic of the deer hiding behind the wall, with just his antlers and an eye showing - gorgeous!

And the view down the valley with the low sun casting long shadows - beautiful!