I knew something was rumbling in the undergrowth and in late July 2015, a journalist from the Bournemouth local paper asked me to respond to some surprising words delivered by my friend, Sarah Cadbury, to the Verderers of the New Forest. I duly responded. A day or two later, a journalist from the Times asked if I would write a 300 word rebuttal. On Saturday 25th I did a Google search on the story ... Read More >>
This is the second part of what will now be a three part treatment of conservation and foraging. On this page I have adapted the section on conservation from my River Cottage Hedgerow Handbook. The third part will deal with the fungi. People can become very disquieted over the matter of conservation and foraging. Surely, they argue, we should not be taking things from the wild for our own purpo... Read More >>
Note: this is the first of a three part blog entry. It deals with the unwarranted problems I have had when attempting to teach foraging. The second and third parts will explain why foraging is, in fact, environmentally friendly. I have always thought that righteous indignation should be the eighth deadly sin. It is enjoyable at an almost sensual level and self-indulgent to the point of inde... Read More >>
This is the first in a series of "Booze Extras" consisting of parts of my Booze Handbook which didn't fit into the pages allowed. I have some very bad news for you – distilling your own liquor at home is illegal, not even for personal use is it allowed. It can become legal if you get a licence but they won’t give one and if they did you would have to p... Read More >>
I have been very lucky recently to have been invited first, a couple of weeks ago, to Scotland to take a seashore foray, and then to Belfast to present a talk to the British Phycological Society on seaweeds. Both were very exciting though the latter was ta little daunting. Giving a talk about seaweeds to people who know vastly more about seaweeds than I ever will was a frightening prospect. I t... Read More >>
I had a bit of a lay-in this morning only for the phone to ring at about 8am. It was for me. Somerset local radio had called to tell me that someone had died from eating Death Caps and would I give an interview later in the morning. Not a terribly good start to any day. At 11:45 I duly gave my interview. Christina Hale, 57, from Bridgwater Somerset, died on the 19th November after e... Read More >>
I have been locked in my "office" for three months now writing a new book and I am starting to look paler and weedier than usual. But things are about to change as I prepare for my first serious organised foray of the year. It is going to be a shock getting in the water during a cold April but it is part of the job and no doubt some of my weediness will disappear. However I have cheat... Read More >>
Every year people ask me what the mushroom season will be like, that is – when it will arrive and how big the crop. I always tell them and am nearly always wrong. The fungi appear in response to wet weather, so fungi-forecasting is indistinguishable from weather forecasting, ie impossible for more than a few days. But I wish I could do it nonetheless. I have to arrange my forays to... Read More >>
I made a trip back to the Gower last weekend, retracing many of the steps I made while researching my Seashore Handbook. It was there that I photographed the mushrooms growing on the cliff edge at the Worm's Head, the sea holly and the crab hunting expedition. Also the sea rocket - which tastes just as awful as it did last time. I made it to Swansea market to see the cockle and laverbread s... Read More >>
It is slightly odd to talk about one blog inside another but the Guardian asked me a few months ago to write a weekly blog on homebrewing. A little daunting but fun - and the first regular job I have had since 1977. It has spurred me on to more foraging though. Yesterday, pondering the prospect of some unusual beers, I took a trip to my favourite beach and collected a huge, and I mean huge,... Read More >>
We have been doing a lot of "sorting out" in and around the house this year - upgrading the loft to accomodate the large number of bottles of booze I have been making this year (I have been writing a Guardian blog and have had to up the pace a bit) and building a shed in the garden to store all my tools and timber (I have finally given up my long term career as an unsuccessful f... Read More >>
I took another Seashore Foray yesterday, this time for River Cottage. I have always been fairly lucky with the weather on the forty or so such trips I have made. But not yesterday. The strong (force 6) easterly wind kept the tide in by about 30cms and this and the large waves made getting my pots out difficult and finding razor clams impossible. Nevertheless my guests were made of stern stuff a... Read More >>
We are now at the height of the birch sap collecting season and I am out every other day with my spiles and drill and hammer. I started collecting early this year - the mild, wet weather in Dorset encouraged an early sap rising. The early sap, however, is quite low in sugar (about one half of one percent) but is almost up to one percent now and with more flavour. Not that it ever has much flavo... Read More >>
February is not exactly a prime month for foraging so when someone asked me last week to take himself (Tim) and Em on a foraging trip to celebrate her birthday I enquired if he was absolutely sure. Well he was, so I did my best to find as much as I could for them. I seldom get out and about this time of year so I rather looked forward to the challenge. If foraging is a silly thing t... Read More >>
Before Christmas most foraging would have required a pick axe and x-ray vision - everything was frozen solid and, mostly, hidden by snow. A winter forage is hard at the best of times, but these were the worst. The snow and extreme cold are behind us, for the present, to be replaced by grey skies and rain. I am preparing my accounts at the moment, a much dreaded annual chore of mind numbing ... Read More >>
It has been a very good year so far and I just hope it will continue to be good until at least the first week of November. My forays are in full swing at the moment with a foray nearly every day. I have taken three at River Cottage so far and they have all been great fun in their different ways. We have been finding 60 or more species on each foray. Yesterday, after an underwhelming first coupl... Read More >>
On Friday I went to Clarence House to take part in a forum on sustainability. I was part of a panel which included Lord Marland and Paul Heiney, and was chaired by Jon Snow. I have a recurring dream that I am put on stage in front of several hundred people and have to talk for an hour on a subject I know absolutely nothing about. On Friday it came true. We all have opinions on the subjec... Read More >>
I spent the last half of August in Tunisia on a family holiday. It was our first sun and sea holiday for five years so I think we had earned it. I bought a netbook to take with me so that I could keep in touch and update this blog while I was away. Well it lasted three days before deciding that the weather was too hot for it or something. Back to Currys this afternoon. Even on holiday it is... Read More >>
Many species are hard to come by and when you do find them are found in depressingly small quantities. Strawberries, redcurrants, raspberries all seem to come in little pots, barely enough for a mouthful sometimes. But there is one species that is found in such huge quantities that the basket and even the car can be easily overloaded - the Cherry Plum. I have been out with my girls this week an... Read More >>
It is very exciting to have my new book "Hedgerow" in the shops. Always a worry though - are there any mistakes? I am assured by a fellow author that there always are, you just have to hope they are small ones. And will people like it? Sales have been very good so far - I hope they stay that way for my own peace of mind. Anyway, if you have a copy, I hope it is just what you wante... Read More >>
It has been a dry spring and I have seen very little in the way of fungi this year. The recent rain should bring a few of the early species up - look out for Oyster Mushrooms on fallen beech trees - watch out for maggots though - it is notorious for them. Also a friend has just told me he found some Giant Puffballs - June is very early for them so this is an exciting find.... Read More >>
Come and book on one of my own forays. Other forays will be posted elsewhere with links to the organisation running the day.
Latin names - frequently unpronounceable, all too often wrong and always a tiny puzzle to unravel - have been annoying the layman since they first became formalised as scientific terms in the eighteenth century. Why on earth has the entirely land-loving Eastern Mole been named Scalopus aquaticus, or the Oxford Ragwort been called Senecio squalid...
In the first of an exciting new River Cottage Handbook series, mycologist John Wright explains the ins and outs of collecting, including relevant UK laws, conservation notes, practical tips and identification techniques. He takes us through the 72 species we are most likely to come across during forays in Britain’s forests and clearings: ...
In the fifth of the River Cottage Handbook series, John Wright reveals the rich pickings to be had on the seashore – and the team at River Cottage explain how to cook them to perfection. For the forager, the seashore holds surprising culinary potential. In this authoritative, witty book John Wright takes us on a trip to the seaside. But be...
Hedgerows, moors, meadows and woods – these hold a veritable feast for the forager. In this hugely informative and witty handbook, John Wright reveals how to spot the free and delicious ingredients to be found in the British countryside, and then how to prepare and cook them. First John touches on the basics for the hedgerow forager, with ...
What could possibly beat a cool pint of beer down the pub or a lazy glass of wine at your favourite bar? The answer is: home-brewed beer or your very own brand of wine. With this, the twelfth in the River Cottage Handbook series, the inimitable John Wright shows exactly how easy it is to get started. You don't need masses of space to make alcoh...