Wooded wonderland


Saturday morning and the sun was shining, the wind was up but the temperature outside was tempting enough to don the walking boots and head off into the woods. The plan was to have a quick wander, maybe take a few photos then head on back, in time to watch the rugby.

I was taught that red means danger, right?

There wasn’t a soul around but when walking through the woods when there’s no noise, you focus more on what sounds there are, which seem to be amplified when there’s no competition from cars or people.

A carpet of leaves hides a few surprises

All along the route there were “bits” falling down from the trees, leaves turning colour falling from the branches, twigs snapping under the weight of fallen leaves, acorns plopping as they hit the ground, sweet chestnuts dropping like lots of mini green hedgehogs and all shrouded in a symphony of birdsong.

There were snuffling sounds coming from beneath the leaves and the squirrels had been having a field day munching through the feast of nutritious windfall and looking on the ground, in amongst the carpet of leaves, there were quite a few surprises.

All we need now are the pixies

I know you can get an app which tells you about everything under the sun, which would have been handy this morning as it would have been interesting to know which were mushrooms, which were toadstools and which were edible but, without the knowledge I chose to leave them all well alone and take a few shots for the album instead. What a huge variety of fungi: black with white gills, red with yellow spots, plain yellow, grey with white stalks, some with flat tops, some pointed or curved. Some with fluted edges others more rounded, many in groups and many on their own, all shapes and sizes with some bearing scars of being nibbled by something.

So well camouflaged it’s easy to miss it.

In amongst all this and scattered in the leaves was another surprise: sweet chestnuts lay everywhere – and what a size they were – and with pockets filled, I started to head back thinking: “That’s the festive chestnut stuffing sorted out this year”. The surprises didn’t stop there, as around one of the dew ponds were tell-tale footprints; a watering hole for the wild deer who we see regularly. I know they can be a nuisance but they are still magnificent creatures and as it’s the rutting season now, their mating calls can be heard, especially early in the morning.

Looking over the dew pond, as the acorns fell into the water from the oak trees above, the water rippled out to the edges but then something in the pond was disturbed by them or was it catching the acorns as they hit the water? Do fish like acorns? If it wasn’t fish then what was it trying to put in an appearance?

Chestnuts roasting in the woodburner –  mm tastes like Christmas

No time to think about this, as overhead a pair of kites were circling, talking to each other high up in the sky, and on the far telegraph pole, a competing bird of prey sat perched, no doubt looking for its next meal.

Such variety and all so different

Having finally arrived home, the rugby beckoned but there was just enough time to put a few of those fresh chestnuts in the oven, stuff the stuffing I thought, let’s taste the fruits of my labour and it’s a good excuse to go and find some more another day.

Image Credits: Nick Forman , Sue Forman .

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  1. Sounds like a good day out, Nick. I gather a lot of Penny Buns (Ceps/Porcinis) in early October, and I’m already missing them in my morning omelette! It was a good year for them this year. Also saw some beautiful Violet Web Caps last week, which are uncommon – beautiful but not edible! Loving the chestnuts too. I place them on top of the log burner to cook slowly. I might try your shovel technique tonight though as I get impatient!
    (PS: I froze chestnuts last year and they were ok by Christmas )


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