View from Pilsdon

View from Pilsdon

The view from Pilsdon today – the second highest hill in Dorset, and site of an ancient hill fort.

It looks a lot nicer down towards the coast – the hills further inland were covered in snow.

Black Mustard

Black Mustard

A fantastic wild edible – Black Mustard (Brassica nigra)

It packs a real punch in much the same way that wasabi does, and one of my favourite ways to utilise it is to crisp up the leaves in a frying pan with a little oil. It makes an excellent accompaniment to a seafood dish.

Medicinally, it’s pretty good for coughs and colds too.

Basking beauty

Basking beauty

Won’t be long before these beauties are back out basking again.

Adders are frequently seen in the places I roam, and completely harmless if treated with respect and left undisturbed. Absolutely stunning creatures.

I love finding a sign like this

I love finding a sign like this

I love finding sign like this.

It shows years worth of wear and tear. It’s where badgers have been travelling up a bank – the moss can’t grow there, the fissures in the bark have been smoothed out and there are numerous claw marks.

Pignuts

Pignuts

Another wild edible has just started to poke through amongst the bluebells – The Pignut: Distinguishable by its feathery leaves, care must be taken not to confuse with other members of the same family i.e. Hemlock, although if you saw the two side by side, the differences are apparent.

The part of this plant you’re looking for is the tuber, and it can be somewhat labour intensive to dig for them but, in my opinion, quite worth the while. I’ve always had a penchant for water chestnuts (like the ones you get in a Chinese takeaway) and these are not dissimilar. Digging requires care as you need to follow the stem downwards, being careful not to break it. The reason for this is because they’re sneaky buggers and don’t go directly downwards – the shoot coming out from the tuber heads outwards before heading upwards at 90 degrees to the surface. Whether this is a simple defence mechanism, I don’t know. The skin of this dark nugget can easily be rubbed off with a thumbnail to reveal a bright white, nutritious morsel. Eaten raw or as part of a stir fry, they’re rather moreish.