Sunday, April 14, 2013

Foraging, digger and firefighters.

1. I escaped this morning to attend a foraging event on Hargate Forest. It was put on by the Woodland Trust but run by Sunrise Bushcraft (which is an inspiring organisation in itself). It felt so good to be out in the open air and it felt great not to be thinking about the needs of another person (the conveniently packaged Little Tiny Baby doesn't count). We took a two-hour stroll and then ate a sustaining lunch (our guide, as well as having a herbal medicine qualification, was a regional Masterchef finalist). I didn't expect to find much food out there: our spring is very late this year, but even small specimens tell great stories. I got a name and some properties for a familiar but unknown plant: avens, which has roots that can be used as cinnamon. And our guide made a startling observation about primroses (all parts good to eat): until the flowers are out it is very hard to distinguish them from foxgloves (all parts poisonous).

2. The bushcrafters' dog is a brown and white spaniel who is obsessed with digging. Every time we stop she disappears into the mulch with such enthusiasm. There is something about her waggling hindquarters and muffled wuffing that makes me think of Alec.

3. "Alec has had the most exciting morning ever," says Nick when I get home. I had left them watching YouTube videos of fire engines zooming through London and it seems that Nick had the brilliant idea of taking a walk up to the firestation to peer through the windows. While they were hanging around an actual firefighter came out and invited them in for a better look. Which is how Alec got to climb up into a fire engine and wear a helmet... and then the firefighter turned on the flashing lights.