Thursday, 14 October 2010

A few spoons old and new.

Just a short blog to post some photographs of just a few spoons that I have carved. A long way to go before I reach a good standard though.

Hazel,Hornbeam,Sycamore woods.

Woods as above these are some of my first attempts.

One of my favourite woods that I use a lot Blackthorn.

Blackthorn

Small Blackthorn spoon

Blackthorn

Two recently carved spoons. Spalted Blackthorn (never found this before) & Hornbeam.

Spalted Blackthorn

I found some lovely spalted Blackthorn that was incredibly hard to carve but the wonderful grain made all the hard work worth it.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Autumn

I have had an enforced break from the Blog due to technical problems with the broadband.  This seems to be at last working but for how long?

This blog will be a bit of a hotpotch of photographs and different walks.  However, within a very short space of time we have drifted into Autumn. I am unsure if other people feel the same as me, in that the seasons seem to have moved forward by 3 - 4 weeks?


The Sloes on the Blackthorn bushes seem to have fruited earlier than last year and are far larger. Consequently most of the Sloes are now rotting on the trees, we were picking them this time last year.

Blackthorn fruit (Sloe)

We collected about 6lbs of Sloes a few weeks ago and froze them. On Sunday last we put together our Christmas drinks of 3 litres of Sloe Gin & 2 litres of Sloe Whisky. I gave a recipe out on the blog Berry nice. Empty plastic 5 litre water bottles make wonderful fermentation vessels.  This needs to ferment for 12 weeks.  We plan to filter the Sloe Liquor's into fancy bottles, place a ribbon on and a nice label, lovely presents for the adult children.

Sloe Gin & Whisky
About a fortnight ago my wife, Pants and myself went for a evening / dusk walk to the cliffs. A wonderful time for a walk, no wind, a setting sun and not a ripple on the English Channel. Well worth a few long range pictures.  We sat on a convenient bench and watched the sun disappear how relaxing.

White Cliffs & English Channel

During the times that I have been unable to Blog I have still been snapping away.  I blogged about Fungi last time well I found the most enormous Fly Agaric the other day could not resist a picture.

Fly Agaric

I was out and about today and got absolutely soaked. The day had started misty and dank but looked like it might improve, wrong.  But i did manage to take some lovely pictures of some more fungi.  The elder tree has the most unusual looking fungi the "Jews Ear"  why its called that I have no idea! it is almost translucent, rubbery and moist to the touch beautiful my pictures do not do the fungi justice.

Jews Ear
The silver Birch is home to the "Polypore" a Bracket Fungi, again an unusual shape made me want to photograph it. The Polypore is not edible but can be used for a woodland plaster by taking the outer skin off. it can also be used to strop a razor/knife.  A truly edible Bracket fungi is the Beef Steak Fungus this was my second lucky find I posted previously about Beef Steak Fungus.  This was huge it went the same way as the last sliced and fried lovely. They do not taste like steak though! Whilst out today I did find plenty of young tender edible (only when young) "Common Puffballs".

Birch Polypore
Top of the Beef Steak Fungus
Underside of Beef Steak fungus

During slicing for the frying pan
Common Puff Ball

Not all things are dying away because of the Autumn! the Rose hips are fantastically large this year.  The Haw's on the Hawthorn tree are doing well,  and you can make a herbal tea with them.  I found a Yew tree with red fruit on which I thought unusual for this time of the year.

Rosehips
Haws
Yew
I ventured along the river Stour at lunchtime and for just a brief moment the clouds parted the sun came out.  I managed to take a lovely photograph of the river and surroundings. The cloud came back over within a few minutes and the heavens opened.

Stour
Whilst wandering around I came across a beautiful sight of a wooden arch made by the Blackthorn bushes not a good photograph I was a bit damp at this stage but a lovely sight.

Blackthorn Arch
My final find was a patch of horse radish plant I decided to take a little after seeking and gaining permission to make a home made sauce for my beef this evening.  I then used a recipe that I found on line to make creamy horseradish sauce

Horse radish
Creamed horse radish
Well that's about me caught up. However, they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

A walk in the park

Larch
Yesterday I went for a quiet wander in the park.  The sort of day where you realise that Autumn is approaching and Summer is dying away.  This time of the year is great.  Sun but no real warmth. Cold but not freezing, and no wind, a still day.


The land still has all its lovely full Summer colours but you know the Autumn is approaching the Sweet Chestnuts are falling to the ground, though still to small to eat but in another 6 - 7 weeks we will be hopefully in for a lovely bumper crop of my favourite Autumn food Roasted Sweet Chestnuts. I looked around for the Dragonflies but they seem to have all disappeared.  Whilst looking for the flies I came across a wonderful splash of colour in the form of a Pink Waterlily among all the green I just had to take a picture.


The sun was streaming through the woodland canopy and bouncing of the water a real day to enjoy life.


Even in death beauty can be found, a dead tree that is being used by the Woodpeckers. Framed against a blue sky the tree stood out as I walked by.

Woodpecker Tree

I had to visit my favourite tree. Earlier in the summer I had picked Cherry Plums from this tree now of course all the fruit has gone, perhaps next year I may make some jelly jam from the fruit?

Cherry Plum Tree on the left.  Small hazel on the right.
This time of year in the UK edible mushroom / Fungus / Fungi are very much in season.  I found some lovely Beef Steak Fungus in the week which I sliced into thin strips and fried in a little butter served with salt and pepper, lovely. Today hidden away in an old but growing Oak tree was a small Beef Steak Fungus they only grow on old living Oak or Sweet Chestnut trees.  Be careful what you pick in the woods to eat if unsure please do not eat it some fungus's can kill. 
Small Beef Steak Fungus on an old living Oak tree.
Not all Fungi are edible but some I believe are just pretty in there own right.  Take this picture of the Common Ganoderma Fungi on an a very old Beech tree.  Beautiful for what it is I think?

Inedible Bracket Fungi Commom Ganoderma
Lots of Fungi, Fungus, Mushrooms etc around at the moment it seems like a bumper year? These Shaggy Ink Caps photographed at the side of the road are edible but must be eaten young.

Shaggy Ink Caps
As always I had Pants along with me, my companion generally on my walks and visits.


A thoroughly enjoyable walk in the Park.



Please before eating wild foods even if you think you know what it is check or ask someone who knows. Stay safe.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Fossil Coast



Gault Clay Cliffs
Today we decided to go to the fossil coast at Copt Bay, Folkestone.  The weather was warm with the sun breaking through the clouds occasionally. We made a flask of coffee, packed a small daysack and loaded Pants into the car.  The trip is about 5 minutes from home we could in fact walk there but to ensure we got the tide at the right time we drove. A short walk to the edge of the cliffs and a sharp descent down to the fossils embedded into the face of the cliffs.  I am no expert when it comes to fossils so much of the information has been taken from the on site information board that is located at the top of the cliffs.
Ammonite impression
We discovered the beach and fossil coast by accident. Despite being so close we had never stumbled on the fossil area, not being local or living long in the area. I have to say that it is now one of our favourite locations. The fossils date from the Albian stage of the Early Cretaceous epoch, approximately 110 million years ago. The fossils in general are found in the Gault clay. 

Ammonite

The best time to go is after a storm when the cliff face has been eroded, that was the first time we visited and we found plenty of nice impressions and fossils. We ventured up to the Gault clay cliffs and I soon discovered a few nice impressions in the clay. The area around the cliffs in general is littered with concrete Anti tank / vehicle blocks left from World War II to prevent landings these are now being overgrown with seaweed. 
Pants inspecting the Old WW II sea defences

The last time we came to the beach we found a fragment of old mug / cup dated 1852. To me these simple little things are quite fascinating. We proceeded along the cliff looking for fossils and impressions I found a few more examples in the clay.  

 Hoptitidae sp 
Neohibolites Minimus
However, we found very little on the beach area probaly due to the lack of heavy weather damage to the cliffs.
Hamites Maximus

 I have taken some pictures of previous finds of visits to Copt point.

Hoptitidae sp
Hoptitidae sp
Anahoplites sp and Neohibolites Minimus
The tide was at its lowest point when we arrived, the ebb is only about 35 minutes before the tide comes in it is quite easy to get carried away with the exploration and get cut of on the point. The small sandy beach area a little away from the cliffs is popular with people looking for prawns / shrimp we observed a man shrimping and actually met up with him when we were leaving he had a few pounds of fresh caught shrimps with him. We decided to wander back to the beach area and have a look around after a lady had commented that you could find some nice examples of fossils with mother of pearl inlay still on at low tide in that area. 


We duly had a look but to no avail, another location to check out the next time we visit. Time to stop for a cup of coffee. 


Pants had been swimming he really enjoys the water trying to get rocks out of the sea strange dog. Once we had drank our coffee we decided to head off back to the car.  Its truly amazing how quickly time goes when you are enjoying yourself we had been on the coast for over 2 hours and the tide was well on the way in.  I am going to invest in a small shrimp net and give it a go.  We love shellfish, I am sure that it will be fun and a bit of a laugh.  I might do a short blog on our first shrimping expedition it depends on how succesful we are.