When I was younger it was never a big deal, but the global spread of Americanisation and commercial pressure seems to have propelled it high in popular consciousness. Even where we live, deep in the heart of rural Cornwall, it’s now not unusual to see “Trick or Treaters” roaming the country lanes on the evening of 31st October…!
If you keep your eyes open though, there are many more scary, weirdly beautiful and indeed deadly lifeforms to be found around the woodlands of the British Isles.
I’m talking fungi!
These fascinating lifeforms burst from cover as the days grow shorter, wetter and before the first frost occur. I love their variety and colours, from pale ghostly white through to vibrant orange, red, blues and browns.
Walking through the woodlands, I love to see how fungi magically appear from the leaf litter on the forest floor; theres a silent eeriness about them….yet at the same time a beguiling beauty.
2022 seems to have been a spectacular year for fungi. This Autumn around Dookes H.Q. we have enjoyed harvesting a wonderful bounty of tasty field mushrooms, Agaricus campestris.
The important thing when foraging wild mushrooms is to get your recognition right. There are over 1400 different varieties of fungi found in the British Isles, some are edible, but many more are not and some are deadly if eaten…you have been warned!
Then, almost a quickly as they appear, their fleeting visit is over and they degrade into a wet slimy and often smelly mush…!
Farewell spooky friends, until next year!
Catch you soon, Dookes
PLEASE do not eat any wild fungi unless your are 110% sure what it is. Check with a real expert or better still don’t risk it, a mistake could be fatal.
Yeah, I know….”Where the heck have you been Dookes?”
When I took on the whole, “I’m retiring” thing, I thought that it would lead to sunlit uplands, keep that thought, time to do things as and when I wanted, lots of “free” time and a general slowing of the pace of life.
Let me tell you, forget that thought, even if you are only mildly toying with the idea of retirement!
When I was a young Dookes, just starting out in my working life, I remember various retired members of staff dropping by to say hello to their former workmates and the common theme always seemed to be “I don”t know how i ever had time to go to work!” Young Dookes thought this was extremely funny and that these old timers had somehow lost the plot with their transition into retirement…little did i know!
Now please don’t misunderstand me, i’m not complaining and yes retirement is great. The hours are certainly good, even if the pay isn’t quite what it was previously, but sunlit upland nirvana and time to do my own things whenever I want it certainly isn’t!
I’m always so bloody busy! I guess thats a direct result of being one of those people that finds it hard to say “No” if someone asks for help! Which kinda explains the lack of blog activity….
Certainly one great advantage of retirement is the ability to do things without much forward planning. A couple of weeks ago, Mrs Dookes decided to take a week off work; yes Mrs D is still working. On the spur of the moment, grabbing a window of nice weather, we decided to head for Dartmoor, only 30 minutes away from Dookes H.Q.
Dartmoor is the highest and biggest upland area in Southern Britain, covering 368 square miles and has been protected as a National Park since 1951. The landscape consists of moorland with many exposed granite hilltops known as Tors. It provides a wonderful habitat for wildlife. It’s hard country, with bogs and cliffs to test the adventurer that sets out to explore, add into the mix classic mountain weather changes and it can be dangerous for the ill prepared.
The highest point is High Willhays, 2037ft above sea level and on a clear day this peak is clearly visible from Dookes H.Q. and is somewhere I had been promising myself to visit for a long time.
Parts of the moor have been used as firing ranges since the early 1800’s so whilst the public is granted extensive land access rights on Dartmoor, its always essential to check if the military are going to be active where you plan to wander; fortunately for us they weren’t!
Dartmoor is known for it’s Tors, high hills topped with outcrops of bedrock granite, which are usually rounded and weathered formations. The Tors are the focus of an annual event known as the Ten Tors Challenge when around 2500 people aged between 14 and 19 hike for distances of 35, 45 or 55 miles between ten tors on varying routes. For our day out we weren’t looking to top Ten Tors, just a couple of the big ones!
Over the past few months the UK has been experiencing abnormally dry weather and the infamous bogs of Dartmoor have certainly dried noticeibly, not good for bog dwelling animals or plants, but it certainly makes the life of a walker a lot easier.
What a glorious day we had. Starting from Meldon, we skirted the reservoir, with worryingly low water level. We started climbing and headed for West Mill Tor, one of the Northern most peaks, where we paused to take in the view, before turning South West to Yes Tor for a lunch break. After lunch we followed the plateau South to High Wilhays before cutting back across the contours towards the reservoir and our starting point.
Great to be back on high ground again, good to be writing too, even if this isn’t very good, but hey I’m out of practice…!