Good with words

Fear... distractions.... the efforts of a self-employed writer to pay the mortgage.... all that jazz.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The crazy chestnut race

Steve and I were innocently collecting conkers the other day when we noticed some other people who were taking it rather more seriously. While we had enough conkers to fill a small peanut bowl (a cute display for the cottage:-), they had binbagfuls.

We noticed another type of conker that didn't look as pretty and had sharper spines, but we ignored it. We have never heard of chestnut gathering before.

Seems like this is big business in Devon. Every day the gatherers become more and more dedicated, bringing equipment (rakes, bags, sticks, even a foldable chair) and spending hours beneath the chestnut tree. Even though I have bought those expensive, vacuum-packed chestnuts from Sainsbury's, I have never equated them with real things that grow on trees... or known that they could be added to my 'food for free' list.

Since spring we have collected wild garlic, blackberries, and elderberries from the National Trust land where we walk Holly. Now it seems there is a new item to add to the list!!

So I collected my first batch today. I was a little disorganised and forgot an extra bag, so I ended up with two bulging pocketfuls (and the spines dig into your legs if you do that, so not recommended). I noticed how all the collectors gather around the two trees down by the car park, and nobody (except the regular dog-walker) goes to the top of the hill. perhaps they don't know about the trees up there. Anyhow, Holly and I soon got to our chestnut spots, although you've really gotta climb to reach them. Piles of shiny brown chestnuts, abundantly rolling around on the grass (and in the cow poo). Some squirrels aimed them at us, but that didn't put us off.

I will collect another few pocketfuls tomorrow and then attempt to roast some. And report back...


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