Growing back

In the 80s and 90s when I grew up I could tell you what my neighbours Forsythias flowers smelled like, how the bark felt as your tried to grab a branch to climb up it (painful and bobbly). I can close my eyes now and remember what lawn grass tastes like and that the best, sweetest part was at the base, just above the crown. When chit-chatting with my dad whilst he was digging out the vegetable patch for the years’ trial plantation of potatoes, tomatoes for mum and courgettes; I was told to never eat or touch ‘that’ (pointing at an innocuous plant) because it will kill within an hour. I listened hard and could feel my stomach flutter if I came within a metre of the plant that was especially terrifying as it was called ‘Deadly Nightshade’ (Atropa belladonna), yes those berries looked absolutely delicious but I daren’t look too long or too hard just incase it poisons me by looking at it too much.

However, what I can’t remember is actually appreciating the beauty of the nature around me. Again, it was my father who showed me a secret spot in Hartsholme Park he found when he was a policeman in The Lincolnshire Police where sweet chestnuts (not a common plant at all in Lincolnshire compared to now living in Nottinghamshire and them being everywhere) could be found and dissected accordingly. ‘This is cool’ I thought, finding a secret spot in the middle of a busy public park was thrilling and learning what a

raw sweet chestnut tastes like is with me still. I went back to this little spot when I was pregnant with my daughter on one of my daily hour-long dog walks. I found the same spot and although it took me a few times to walk up and down the path to find the way down to the side of the lake where the sweet chestnut was growing and discreetly shedding its nuts, I found a truly picturesque spot where a fallen log lay with at least 10 mosses and lichens making themselves at home, a carpet of orange and pink from the falling leaves of cherry and chestnut and the campions, dead nettle, willow herb giving a show with only me to watch and another fallen branch was straddling the lake and the bank with geese and ducks taking a rest in a line like bench at lunchtime. It was perfect, it was new and yet I’d been before- I just hadn’t seen it like I was now.

I’ve been thinking lately about how you change from what you want to be to what you really are. At 22, I wanted to be the girl at a gig every weekend and a pint of cold lager or Jack Daniels in my hand looking cool and standing out. Now, at 33 I enjoy being the woman in a field or wood or beach looking down, around and up and seeing what is on offer today to taste or photograph. I like going home and researching what I have found and then trying to remember it for the next time. I like writing about it and I like reading about what others have to say about this piece of nature I will never just ‘see’ again. So with my daughter, I can’t expect her to be as engaged as me about everything we do. I show her what I know, I’m present in her company when we are out and I show her things that she may not have seen. I walked my daughter home from school yesterday picking out what we often ignore ‘what do the clouds look like today?’, ‘have you seen the colours of those leaves?’ and ‘I wonder what bird was in that nest, what do you think?’. It took 20 mins as opposed to 7 mins but then she warmed up to the idea and became present with what she was seeing, observing a group of 6 starlings in the sky, then a gang of 10 darting and dancing in the twilight of a November sky. She may not, right now, appreciate an Earthstar (Astraeus hygrometricus) as this amazing construction from the natural world like I do- but maybe, when she’s older she will come back to nature, like I did, and then be blown away.IMG_2905

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Thoughts on a season, another year

I don’t know what it is about autumn that makes me want to write. When I started this blog almost a year ago I wrote about running and autumn and how I never really liked this mucky season, but now I do. Then winter came and I battened down the hatches of writing and they never opened back up again.

A year on and here I am doing the same, just back from a run with my dog after a summer sabbatical from running and reflecting that I love this season again. I love it. I do. Apart from the long nights. I’m sat at my table with a post-run coffee writing a blog piece for the first time in a year.

Much has happened in the last 12 months, I’ve moved to Nottinghamshire and now live in centre of Creswell Crags, Clumber Park, Sherwood Forest and Sherwood Pines. The nature here is every bit of the nature I grew up with in Lincolnshire but in HD. The small fields of wild flowers and grasses of Lincolnshire are here vast and sprawling. Train-tracks with gorse in Notts just go on for miles. Woods are connected with 10-15km cycle paths. My eyes are darting around all the time and have started to identify the plants, trees and shrubs and if and when they can be eaten. I think I spent most of my days off in Spring looking for wild garlic and ended up going 20 miles towards Sheffield to Anston Woods and found it in abundance in the usual spot of chillaxing next to fresh moving water.

I’ve even joined the Nottinghamshire Fungi Group and they’re wonderfully informed and keen to share the extensive knowledge they have. I absolutely adore fungi and mushrooms, but they are little nightmares at the same time.  From remembering the latin names for mushrooms to spotting the subtle differences lovingly but absolutely frustrates me as I’m flicking through my ‘Collins Mushroom and Toadstool Guide’ finding it most spectacular that I’ve either found yet another undiscovered mushroom in The United Kingdom or I really am useless at ID’ing these critters. Even my eyes don’t spot mushrooms as well as other people I’ve been out with. Apparently its been an epic year for Chicken of the Woods, Ceps, Blewits… I wouldn’t know as I saw about 8 boletes, 0 COTW and Blewits in the hands of another forager. Maybe next year I’ll get better. But I do love the mystical little devils and their tempting tags of ‘eat me, if you dare’.

Upon reflection of a very cool year of development in my nature identification and understanding, I’ve signed up for a degree with The Open University. I start in January and I’m as fizzy and excited as you can get about studying. I don’t know where I want to take this degree, to say and admit its for absolute personal pleasure not only sounds frivolous but it doesn’t ring true either. Then again, to say I want to be a park ranger or a ecologist wouldn’t be true either. So, even though I may just end up a very educated nature instagrammer and forager, I’ll be as proud as punch (especially if I can understand and remember a bit of latin by the end of it, too).

The pictures adorning this  blog post is that of the Purple Brittlegill (Russula atropurpurea) an edible mushroom that I didn’t realise was edible (or indeed, what it actually was apart from pretty impressive) when I was down south in The New Forest for the weekend as some of the candidates I spotted had gone ‘over’ and looked like Funnels rather than Russulas. OK, in all honesty I thought that the conker-looking mushroom was actually a bolete and different from the others. Understand now why I am not eating a single mushroom until I really, truly, utterly am confident?! Anyhoot, this is one for next year, when I have more of a clue, as there were absolutely loads of them. OK, how to remember atropurpurea? actually purple purple-ear. Test me in a month and we shall see.

Running out of Autumn

After a bout of illness, I’m back to running after about 3 weeks off. I’d previously got to covering 10km in intervals but I’ve regressed somewhat to 5km all-in-one runs the last few jaunts.

What I’ve noticed is that suddenly the season of Autumn is not of distain to me as it used to be. I used to recoil at all the leaves shrivelled and mushed up with footfall and natural decomposition. I have memories of soggy school trousers slapping the back of my legs and the 10 year old me desperately avoiding the city puddles but only to be hit with a spray of swamp from an inescapably dirty November car roaring through a puddle on the road. Traipsing back from school in the cold dusk twilight, I remember just wanting to get home and out of this filthy mess.

Now however, nature reclaiming its nutrients and the ground having a quilt of leaves covering its earth is nothing less than beautiful. What was formerly the crowning glory of summer is now the ground’s insulation, a home for a whole ecosystem and part of the cycle of the land and I enjoy being in it and sensing it shifting.



I have a few spots along this run of 5km in which I see the shifts of time prominently  and I plan of capturing these every few weeks and sharing them.

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Swans and Geese in the distance of the Beet fields.


A view that will surely change with the seasons. The cold harsh sleep of Autumn/ Winter on show here.

Listening to: At Home: A Short History of Private Life – Bill Bryson

By far not a quick run, but considering I was snapping all of the above pictures- not bad. I love the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction after a run. On this run I decided that I was going to write another blog (this one) and thought thoroughly about what I wanted out of it. As mentioned before, I used to write about just sewing and craft but after two years- my life felt bottlenecked into this and I wanted to write about a lot more than just craft. So, img_1434I laid my blog dormant and went out and just lived and learned what I was newly excited about. I have missed blogging though. Cathartic, therapeutic, organised. Logging my life and sharing it with the unknown is exciting and  even though throughout my blogging absence I have kept abreast with instagram and twitter, the process of writing is what I truly love about blogging.

So here we are as Autumn walks away down the path and up walks Winter, here are some more pictures from the towpath I run down and lets look forward to how it will change over the next 12 months and indeed, how I will change over the next 12 months.

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Badger sett hidden along the towpath, only just spotted this so hopefully the gaze of the culling gang will overlook it. Having read and heard opinions on the culling of badgers, the science and research appear to show that this culling is of little use. Family systems blown to pieces mean that badgers are dispersed and decimated.

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My running buddy, Clive. 7 years old and almost mockingly trots next to me.

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Note to self: next year do more (edit: do SOMETHING) with Rose Hips.

C x

 

Hello.

 

 

(Photography circa 2011)

I am Cathy… a 33 year old mother, dog owner, crafter, forager and newly enrolled OU student studying BSc in Natural Sciences (Biology). I just love the natural world and y blog will reflect and discuss that.

So, here is Bundana blog. Bundana because I’m Cathy Bundy and blog because that is what this is.

Hobbies. Well, to say that I enjoy life and have tried lots would be an understatement. I am a hobby hummingbird.. I have a basic knowledge of:

Photography, Cycling, Running, Sewing, Knitting, Embroidery, Chicken maintenance, Allotments/ Veg growing, Yoga, Canoeing, Kayaking, Baking, Foraging, Collecting CDs, Art Collecting, Jewellry making, Nature identification, Walking/ Hiking, Travelling, Red wine

<edit> Best friend Laura added… Taekwondo

This list is by no means exhaustive and as I am reminded (by my long suffering loved ones) of dormant hobbies I have stoked with passion and then moved on to the next one – I shall update appropriately.

So what now? Well, in all honesty… now I am getting to know myself and love who I am. In my twenties I would enthusiastically be discussing photography even though, in reality, it was 3 hobbies ago and I was now sewing. Now, I am happy with my fleeting shifts of passion. It is who I am and I am still as eager about life and what I am interested in as I was in my twenties and I hope I shall be in my forties and beyond!

So now, expect this blog to be a documented exposé of my current interests and break-down/ build up of them. Currently, I’m enthused by:

Running, Cooking, Being a Parent to my 3 years old daughter, Scuba Diving, Nature identification, Foraging, Learning Spanish (thanks to meeting Antonio 🙂 ), Knitting and Art

So that is what I shall write about. I have just come back from a run and saw some lovely nature… that would be a typical blog from me.

Welcome back any old readers from my serious sewing days and welcome any new readers.

C x