Covid – 19 stopped us running courses during the autumn, which given the weather, would probably have been extremely productive even if wet underfoot. The weather throughout 2020 was record breaking, spring was very sunny – sunnier than most British summers. As this coincided with the first lockdown it was helpful in allowing people to cope with the restrictions by spending time in gardens and parks. A lot of people began to really appreciate nature as never before.
Summer was not quite so good. October and November were some of the wettest months on record for the southeast of England. Rain is always good for mushrooms and there were a lot around then, but not being allowed to run courses was frustrating for Clifford and myself. We just managed to squeeze in two forays in early December. This was very late in the season, getting frosty at night and wet by day. We had never run any collecting sessions in December before and we were doubtful as to what we would find, though fortunately the weather on the two days was excellent.
As it turned out, we found a lot of Deceivers, mostly the pink variety, Laccaris tortilis and some amethyst ones, Laccaria amethystea. There was very little else, except some Meadow Waxcaps, Hygrocybe pratensi (including one giant example), a couple of Charcoal Burners, Russula cyanoxantha and a Common Yellow Russula, Russula ochroleuca. We also found some ear fungus, Auricularia auricula-judae which has no flavour but is good for thickening soups, stews and casseroles when dried. Sadly, it was too late for Trooping Funnel, Clitocybe geotropa, one of our favourites, the few we found were too old to be edible and affected by frost.
The sloes on the Blackthorn bushes were frost-nipped and wrinkled and the very few blackberries sour to taste. We left these for the birds. Some of our clients did take some sorrel leaves home, these can be found all year round and make a good addition to spinach as a green vegetable.
We are receiving a lot of enquiries for courses this year. People seem to have developed a greater appreciation for nature through this year and this may well be the reason for this surge in demand for our courses. It is a long time until next autumn but we hope to be running several courses then.
Provisional Dates for 2021
- Taster Days Saturday 2nd October &/or Sunday 3rd October
- 1 Day Courses November 6th, 20th & 27th
- Afternoon Forays Sundays 7th & 21st