Tuesday, October 26

Fungal foraging

In the event of a lack of posts over here I would like to point readers over to the Icehouse for a fabulous report on a fungal foray in Thetford Forest.

Leezz has posted some beautiful and inspiring photos of fungi picked on a forage in the local forest a week or so ago. The stinkhorn is particularly gross - not for nothing does this type of fungi go under the name 'Phallaceae'.  I have never seen one of these in its 'erect' state but came across a couple of eggs a few years ago - took a while to work out what they were, it seemed like someone had buried a couple of peeled, hard-boiled goose eggs in the beech leaves!

Sunday, October 17

Nature's bounty - Cliffe Pools

With good weather promised for today I was up early and off for a walk on the Hoo Peninsula (although I did manage to make a few jars of spiced beetroot chutney first of all...!).

I decided to go to Cliffe Pools RSPB reserve on the Thames in north Kent to see if I could spy any interesting waders. One of the main (birdwatching) lessons of the day was that my binoculars are not a great deal of use for such a huge reserve. Many of the birds were on the far side of the water from the pathway, and I could only identify the most obvious (Egret, Lapwing, Coot etc). But it's a great place to walk - very flat and you can stay on tracks all the way round so you don't even really need your walking boots. 

It's a curious place, with Tilbury power station looming across the Thames at one end and Coryton oil refinery at the other. Ships drift aimlessly along the river making you do a double take at first when you hadn't realised where the river was, and there are curious ruins dotted around - the 19th century Cliffe Fort and the remains of the launch tracks for the Brennan Torpedo. The ruins of an old munitions factory still stand at the north side of the marshes - Danny McL has some great photos in his Flickr set here.
There's also plenty of foraging to be had. If you need sloes - great big juicy buggers, loads of them - then get yourself to Cliffe and walk down the track to the bird reserve. You will find enough to start a business making sloe gin! There were still quite a few blackberries, albeit rather bland in taste, as well as acres of hips and haws.

I also came across some Shaggy Inkcaps - one of the few fungi that I am confident enough to pick and eat - although I left these as there were only a few.  Shaggy Inkcaps, also known as Lawyer's Wig due to their resemblance to aforementioned, have a very distinctive shape and there is no other fungi that looks like them. Pick them before they open fully, and fry in butter.

Many beautiful seedheads were in evidence, such as teasels and bullrushes, and these lovely umbelliferous seeds, so dark and dramatic. I'm not sure what plant they come from - any idea?
The site is pretty flat all round, but at one point near the RSPB car park a little knob of land has survived the quarrying behind it, and a lookout has been built from where it's possible to get the best idea of the site layout.

Monday, October 11

High rise adventures

My work takes me to some very interesting places. A few weeks ago I found myself at the top of one of the towers of the Humber Bridge near Hull. It was rather a grey day but the views were still rather fabulous.

Sunday, October 3

Top tip for a pleasant Boris bike experience

Don't forget to bring some wet wipes or tissues if you are going to use a bike from the racks at Northumberland Avenue. Last week there were only two left and this was the one with the least/driest bird shit on it. It was on the handlebars too!

Masham sheep fair

A bit late posting about this one, but it's been a bit of a crazy week and I've barely had time to catch my breath, never mind keep up with the blog. Sometimes life just gets in the way a bit too much!

Last weekend I was lucky enough to get up to Yorkshire for a break, and my friend took me to the Masham Sheep Fair - a fab day out for someone who loves yarn and sheepy things so much!

We witnessed the intricacies of the judging process...

..wished I hadn't come north by train so I could have bought a Teeswater fleece to take home... 

Had a laugh at the sheep show (Nobby the ram was being a bit of a sex pest to poor Susie who was next to him)...

...definitely a date for next year's diary. We missed the sheep racing and the sheepdog rounding up the geese, so plenty to go back for!  I did manage to score some Alpaca sock yarn from a knitting stall and some fabulous moisturiser from Oakwood Aromatics (who make the wonderfully-named Oomilegs soap).