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A Hazy Sunday Morning

Early mornings in Summer by the coast tend to be a little hazy, a glorious respite from the heat of the day. Its the best time to be out exploring.

I woke up on Sunday morning and knew I just had to get out into the woods. It's been raining on and off almost all week, which I thought might give me a little bit of help in searching for Summer's choice wild mushrooms. So we headed to the woods and meadows near Nelson Village, with a basket in hand to see what treasure's they might provide.

The advantage of having two small children, is that I get the 'privilege' of getting up most mornings at about half five, which means we can be up, dressed and out of the house while there are very few other people about. The early morning air was wonderfully cool, meaning we would ramble about the meadows without suffering too much from the heat.

Ox-Eye Daisies in an English meadow
Ox-Eye Daisies

It seems strange to think of these fields as meadows, to think that Cramlington has such a thing. 'Meadow' conjures up thoughts of clouds of butterflies, wild flowers and grasses as far as the eye can see and the chirruping of birds and insects, not old abandoned football fields and paddocks. Over time, nature has worked her magic and truly transformed these spaces into something spectacular, and to truly be in awe of. There are a few open spaces in Cramlington, but I have yet to see anything that rivals the variety hiding in these meadows, not without going to the very outskirts of town.

Yarrow in an English meadow
Beautiful Yarrow
Meadow Sweet
Meadow Sweet

I was incredibly excited to spot Meadow Sweet growing here; with a strong, sweet smell, not too dissimilar to Elder flowers (but without the cyanide smell!), they certainly live up to their name. The grow tall, with their frothy white flowers towering over most of the other meadow plants, making them very easy to spot. It has its own set of medicinal properties, but for flavour can be used much the same was as you would Elder flowers, making it great for syrups and cordials.

Rose-Bay Willow Herb
Rose-Bay Willow Herb

Its not very often I get to see butterflies other than the cabbage whites which like to leave their offspring to nibble away at my beautiful kale plants, so it was a real treat to spot so many different species fluttering over the meadow. This one, a Skipper of some kind I think, I have never seen before, although a quick Google search tells me its not particularly rare, it just prefers expanses of long grassy meadows, and I can’t quite blame it.

Meadow Cranes Bill
Meadow Cranes Bill

I had my heart set on foraging up some mushrooms, but instead I ended up filling my basket with the bounty from the meadow. Meadow Sweet, Zigzag Clover, Yarrow, Mugwort and a few wildflowers gathered by small hands - just as well as we didn’t manage to find any mushrooms once we reached the woods. I still have hopes of finding Chicken-of-the-Woods somewhere local, so I shall keep trying different places, and no doubt I shall stumble upon it when it is least expected, which tends to be the way when you’re foraging.

Foraging basket

Sunlight through the trees
Sunbeams In The Wood

I wish I knew how old this woodland is. It is not planted in rows like some of the newer woodlands are, and there are some gloriously tall oaks standing guard, their gnarled trunks old, but not yet showing signs of any great age. It is always quiet when we visit, and I feel it holds it’s own secrets, as many of the best woodlands tend to do, and which I’m sure will be revealed to us in time. I’m very much looking forward to watching the transition to Autumn here- not too long now.



The Cramlington Forager

Here I share my own recipes which I use to make the most of seasonal wild food. You'll find handy foraging guides and plant profiles to help get to know the plants which grow all around us, and to start you down your own foraging journey.


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