A Jelly Good Forage

Okay, I know it’s an AWFUL pun yet again. But here’s the thing….I’ve decided I like awful fungus thememed puns. So brace yourself for a veritable flurry of fanciful and downright silly blog article titles.


Now, people seem to think that to go foraging, one must don an extra high pair of wellies, be waterproofed from head to toe and be carrying a large stick and a mammoth sized basket. Once these vital components are in place, you reach for your GPS and point it towards the nearest blob of green you can find on the map that is at least the size of a small county. Or maybe a Hamlet if you’re really unlucky, and go off while toting a copy of Roger Phillips’ Mushrooms. While there is nothing wrong with this….indeed I have been known to do exactly the same. And early on in my foraging life I used to drag friends and long suffering husband to all sorts of places in the hopes of finding a bumper haul. But you know what? Some of my all time best hauls have not been at the woodlands where I was sure I would find something, but on the way back. Or were spotted while going to the shops, or the post office, or uni, or…. So this is a gallery of sorts of some of my accidental finds.




This is the basket FULL of Giant Polypore that I found near my parents in law’s house in Devon. I went along the road hoping to find blackberries and instead found this beast growing on someone’s lawn. I went and asked for permission to pick it. They said to help myself as the grass was going to be cut the next day and I ran home to fetch my brand new basket and a knife. All of those clusters of mushrooms were about the same size as my head!



I remember the trip to Otley Chevin when I was convinced I would come away with a huge basket FULL of lovely boletes, and instead came away with a just a handful of bilberries and a few Yellow Swamp Russulas that I had to share with the slugs. Exhausted and trying to convince myself that it was okay that I hadn’t found anything as I’d had a wonderful walk I got in the car and got my hubby who had been roped into going with me to drive me home. That was when I spotted a huge patch of Brown Birch Boletes growing under a Silver Birch on the side of the road and when I excitedly got Peter to turn the car around NOW!!!!!!! I picked nigh on a full basket of amazing mushrooms.


Then there was the time when my mum, cousin and I hopped on a train to go to somewhere in Kent (I forget where) to meet my cousin’s future in laws for the first time. When we arrived at the train station, I spotted through a gap in the fence the most perfect specimen of a Dryad’s Saddle I have ever found before or since.  Then there was the HUGE fairy ring I spotted while walking home from my favourite charity shop in LS6.



Then there was the largest, most perfect Field Blewit I’ve ever found that was growing by the side of a busy road that I was cycling along to get to my new house from town.


Then there were the mulberries growing in a car park…






And the most recent, was while walking to my nearest post office, I spotted loads and loads of Jelly Ears growing on a coppiced Elder hedge on the side of the path.





So my point is this…..your walk to work could be just as fertile a foraging ground as your local woodland or forest. And MUCH more accessible! And this time of the year when everything is about to shoot, food is literally everywhere.



And because I am now a complete and utter chicken addict, here are some photos of my new babies. The cute little white hen with the quiff on the bike handlebars is Troy, the brown one is Nasdaq (I got overruled on that one’s name…much to my consternation)


This cute little thing on my lap is the as yet unnamed Light Sussex hen. She is the sweetest hen I have ever met. She was so scared of going in the box to be driven home that I ended up having to cuddle her on my lap all the way there.  She never moved or tried to fly away. She was captivated by the gear stick and kept watching it quite excitedly. One time she stretched out when we were nearly home then snuggled back down. Incidentally, my family was very pleased to hear that we have now reached the maximum chicken capacity of our garden. How we went from four hens living in a rabbit hutch to 12 hens living in two deluxe chicken hotels in 3 months is still a mystery to me.


And here’s a gratuitous picture of Attila the cheeky chook just after she decided to go and have a dust bath in a flower pot full of damp compost.In case you hadn’t guessed….she’s normally white.

Muhaimina Said-Allsopp