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Friday, 6 December 2019

Scottish road trip part 5 - firethorn

Another unusual plant find was this lovely looking thing, pyracantha or firethorn. When I first noticed it out of the corner of my eye I thought it was hawthorn but the berries were very crimson red, on a closer look the leaves were similar in shape to blackthorn, I'd never seen it before so had to do a bit of research on it. The berries are very astringent but good when cooked and made into pies or jam. It is often grown as an ornamental and I'm sure could be confused with cottoneaster. Still one I hope to find again and I'll make use of the fruit this time.




Phil.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Scottish road trip part 4 - yellow holly

Continuing on with the unusual plants to be found on this side of the pond, I found  in a graveyard overlooking the Esk, a holly tree bearing yellow berries. This I have never seen before. I had to do a bit of research on this and apparently its quite common in America and Asia but is a non native to the uk, lovely plant to find at this time of year and I would have loved some of it to put in a Christmas wreath, maybe next time.



Phil.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Scottish road trip part 3 - Dogs Mercury

One of the things I hoped to find on the expedition were a few plants that cant be found in Ireland, one of them  and one I'd wanted to find for many moons was Dogs Mercury.


Covering large amounts of the forest floor, this poisonous plant is quite common in lowland scotland but I've never found it in Ireland.



It's quite a non discript little plant with a rather unpleasant smell. Though poisonous the poisons can be negated with heat or by drying and it has been used in herbal preparations, though to be honest I'd avoid it.
You can get a blue or yellow dye from the plant depending on the mordant you use and lore has it that the sap was blessed by the god mercury and that it glistens a shimmering silver if extracted in moonlight.


Sunday, 17 November 2019

Scottish road trip part 2

I'm rather glad we took the wagon instead of tents as for the first days and nights along the coast there was torrential rain and strong winds, there was no way we could have stayed out all night under canvas in that. However the weather did pick up after a couple of days and we foresook the coastline for the woods.


We found a lovely little creek and decided to have a small fire and some outdoor cooking as a change from cooking inside the van


Fortunately we found we were not the only ones to have camped in this little spot. We used the fire pit that had been originally made by someone else but cleared it all away before we set off in the morning.



The sunsets through the woods were lovely, and as we looked to the west we thought of home.


Phil.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Scottish road trip part 1

For as long as I can remember I've wanted to tour around the sights of scotland incorporating a little bushcraft and wild camping along the way. After years of being let down I decided this was the year to do something about it, this journey is intended to be a recce for more and longer journeys in the future. At this time of year we couldn't really decide whether to go ultra lite or bring tents, but with the weather the way it was and wanting to cram in as much as possible we decided to just take the silver surfer and see where the wind blew us....


The mighty, all contained ( fridge, cooker, bed etc), silver surfer..  let the journey commence.

Phil.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Electric Mackerel

At this time of year most people have long given up fishing for mackerel off the shore and in the rare event they are targeted at this time of year its normally out in deep water from a boat, however there is a place along the Antrim coast that still produces in November. We headed up yesterday and had a great day with over 30 mackerel caught though they were all very small. The one thing special about them was their colour. Most mackerel we catch have a beautiful iridescent blue back but these ones were the most spectacular colour of electric green I have ever seen, not a single blue mackerel among them, all were vibrant emerald.. I have no idea if these were a sub species of scomber scombrus  but I really hope I catch them again, it was worth the trip for their magnificent colour alone!



Phil.