Monday, 30 October 2017

Get Outdoors

Well, the clocks have gone back, we have had our first frost, Halloween is upon us and the kids have been getting creative with pumpkins.
It has been half term and we have not rested on our laurels - We started off with a walk from Woodhenge to Stonehenge, which was a beautiful and peaceful way to approach the awesome world heritage monument. The whole place is a great deal improved since the car park and road were removed.
Another day we visited Brownsea Island in Poole harbour, something we had not done before but will definitely do again. We walked around the island and the red squirrels were superb;  we literally had to drag the kids away when it was time for the last boat home.
Later in the week, we had yet more apples to press into juice. Fortunately the weather was with us and we got busy in the garden.

My daughter and I had harvested 110 Kgs from a friend's trees, the Sunday before and we  managed to fill about 40 more bottles with the golden nectar to store for use throughout the year.

Finally, we capped off the weeks exertions with a trip from Studland Bay to Old Harry rocks, by kayak, with St Deny's Sailing and Rowing Club (a very fine institution). It was a bit windy and quite a long journey but it was exhilarating.

I probably need a bit of a rest now but with kids about, I doubt I will get one any time soon!
Don't forget to put the Urbane Forager book on your Xmas present lists!

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Bite Sized Beauties

My son reminded me that we had not yet visited the Mayor's Pear tree on Peartree Green this year. So we zipped on up there and, sure enough, the small tree was loaded with ripe fruit.
These are some form of Asian Pear, we love them and visit each year. We reached up and picked ourselves a bag full of these bite sized, pendulous treats.
My children call them "Snack Pears" - to small to be practical for cooking but  sweet, crunchy and juicy. Last year we harvested several kilos and I made a gallon of delicious perry.
The house is now well stocked, with enough to last us through half term. Although, we may pop back to re-stock before the season is over, if our supplies are consumed too quickly.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Mansbridge Apple Day 2017 Community Orchard

As we waited patiently to see what the weather would do, on our Apple Day at Mansbridge Community Orchard, my daughter and I baked a scrumptious seasonal Apple Cake to take along. 
We did eventually set the start time back a couple of hours, to dodge the rain and this did catch a couple of people out but fortunately, they all came back later and stayed on until the end of the day. 
Despite the grey skies, damp ground and dripping trees, we had a good turn out, with lots of new, local children joining in. The trees were filled with fruit, as they always are and teams of pickers were shuttling back and forth between the trees and the tables.
At the Southampton Woodcraft Folk base camp, apples were being enthusiastically sliced, diced and chopped up into smaller segments, which were then tipped into the scratting mills, pulped down and tipped into the various cider press baskets.
Then the press screws were turned down and the tastiest golden nectar began to flow by the gallon. People were dodging between the presses filling bottles, various containers or cups and glugging back the delicious apple juice. 
Altogether it was a very successful and fun day for everyone concerned; some people even found time to gather some walnuts from the massive tree nearby (I collected five kilos, in twenty minutes, the day before). 
According to some sources, it was said that in the 'golden age,' when men lived upon acorns the gods lived upon Walnuts, hence the name of Juglans, or Jupiter's nuts.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Walnuts & Wooden Rain

Who can identify all of the tasty-looking Autumnal treats on the above tray? This is a selection of the items that I took along for my recent talk to the Highfield Women's Institute and, between them, they were able to identify all.
We have been focusing on gathering Walnuts recently, the green hulls have been splitting open and ejecting the nuts, like a delightful wooden rain. The children and I cycle about the neighbourhood harvesting them.
We can gather a surprising amount and add them to our bursting hazelnut hoard. The nuts will keep for a good few months if kept well ventilated and dry and we make all kinds of delicious things from them throughout the Winter/Spring months.
I have also recently gathered my first Chestnuts of the year, from an early shedding tree, near where I work. It is not really time for them to fall yet but seasonal variations are always to be expected.
My Cider has begun fermenting, it seems to be getting pretty over-enthusiastic and erupting through the bubblers in curious volcanic-looking sculptures in the kitchen.