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.