It’s been a funny old day, as Arkwright might have said; only it’s been a funny old several days. Months, actually.
Mark has been growing up a storm in the polytunnel, whilst we’ve been enduring enforced closure with lockdown and then the restricted number of guests allowed at weddings. It’s a strange feeling, witnessing triffid-like plants taking up all the space in the polytunnel knowing you have very little use for them.
Mind you, the hand-raised apple saplings are looking good and it will be incredible when the orchards finally start. And an upside of lockdown and the postponement of the bulk of our weddings to 2021 has been time. What a gift. The one thing you can’t buy and we’ve had it in abundance.
I’ve used some of mine to expand my low-level foraging skills. After the initial excitement of wild garlic and its seed pods (make capers, people!) and the buzz of realising you can use nettles like spinach (amazing in lamb curry…) I have recently had my eyes opened to the wonders of coastal foraging.
On the North East coast at this time of year, there’s a spiky bush laden with orange berries. This is sea buckthorn, which the brilliant Spurellis in Amble cleverly make into ice cream. This is clever because it’s bitter, but also sweet, and as you crush a berry between your teeth you can almost taste all the vitamin C and B12 bursting out of it.
A discovery near Low Newton last week looks like it could be sea rocket. It has a pale purple flower and is part of the mustard family. From what I can tell online, it’s used as a salty flavouring, but I couldn’t get close enough to pick any to see. Having said that, you need to be careful. I liked the look of a riverside plant resembling parsley the other week, only to discover via a quick Google that it was hemlock water dropwort, which can kill you, it being the most poisonous plant in the UK.
I’m off to Falmouth next week and looking forward to grazing the wonderful restaurants they have down there. I’m currently on hold for a table at one of Paul Ainsworth’s restaurants (number 22 in the queue!) – fingers crossed! In the meantime, here’s to more funny old days while we wait for busy-ness to resume.