Sunday, 18 October 2009

Autumn Sunday

Autumn seems particularly beautiful this year. The red and yellow hues of the trees in our area of Edinburgh seem unusually strong.  This is the view out of my window. Who needs New England!

At this time of year it seems a sin not to get out into some woodland and make the most of the season. It's not just the way it looks, it's the way it smells. A potent mix of leaf mulch, damp earth, blackberries, the fusty scent of misty air, with an (imaginary I suspect) hint of woodsmoke.

We had intended going along to a 'fungus foray' out at  Almondell and Calderwood Country Park in West Lothian. This area is a new discovery of ours. As well as walks in the woodland along the river, there is a great little visitor centre serving coffees and teas which you can sit and drink in the pleasant walled garden. It also boasts a small aquarium with examples of local river inhabitants, including a fairly scary, and it must be said, quite cramped looking pike.

For one reason and another, we decided against the drive out to West Lothian and instead embarked on our own private fungus foray in the Hermitage of Braid, a nearby beauty spot and nature reserve.  The colours of the leaves were stunning. More yellows than reds and oranges. My photos don't really do justice to the intensity of the colours. There was a carpet of ochre leaves covering most of the ground.

As for the fungus side of things, well nothing too amazing to report. To be honest, I can only recognise about 3 types of edible fungus - penny buns, giant puffballs and horse mushrooms. None of these were lurking in the Hermitage today. But it's always fun to notice the mushrooms and flick briefly through my mushroom book before accepting that I haven't a clue what I'm looking at. If anyone knows what these are, do let me know - especially if they're edible!

Here's some evidence that I can do some useful foraging. These are dried slices of the very highly sought after 'penny bun' mushroom or what the Italians call 'porcini' that we found in the woods up near Dunkeld, north of Perth, a couple of weeks ago. Don't be deceived by the scale. The jar is about 4 inches tall with about 1 oz of dried mushroom in it. Maybe enough to make one tiny bowl of wild mushroom soup.

This is what they look like 'in the wild' as it were. This isn't the one I found - but it looked just like this, honest!

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