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Sunday 10 December 2023

Saturday 21 October 2023

Natural soap from plants

 Some plants contain high amounts of saponins and these are basically soap forming compounds, the higher the level of saponins the more 'soap' the plant will produce. This can be handy for basic hygiene when out in the Bush.

Two of the more commonly found ones are horse chestnut and soapwort.

Horse chestnuts ( we call them conkers) contain a lot of saponins, crush them up, and add to soft water and leave for 24 hours, the result is a good soapy liquid 

Discard after 3 days or it will start to ferment and smell pretty bad, this obviously defeats the purpose of the whole idea.

Soapwort, as the name suggests is good too,

It aslo produces plenty of suds but to be honest, horse chestnut is better, again discard after 3 days or it begins to smell like mushy peas! 

Saturday 26 August 2023

Proof that God exists

 So many people deride and mock the idea, but I defy anyone to spend time outdoors and genuinely study creation and not see the hand of the creator in nature, the mere existence of the variety and complexity of life calls out that there is a God.

Sunday 13 August 2023

Poison Hemlock in Northern Ireland

 It's not as common here as it is in the rest of the UK but it can be quite abundant in the areas where it is found.

Probably one of the 3 most toxic plants in Northern Europe and the plant Socrates was said to have ingested. Once you know a little about umbellifers it's quite easy to recognise. It has been said in times past for the root to be made into a porridge and used in the treatment of lunatics! 

It contains a neurotoxin which will stop your heart and breathing and is said to be quite a painful death, study the pictures below carefully and never eat any plant you're not 100 per cent sure of.

Thursday 27 July 2023

Its Samphire Time

 Time for a trip down to the salt Marsh to gather a little bit of samphire, this will be pickled and used for our recipes on courses and events over the coming year, always a nice special addition to a foraged meal. 

Wednesday 14 June 2023

Hawthorn web

 At this time of year you sometimes see lots of hawthorn hedgerows covered in silken webs, on closer inspection you'll find millions of little caterpillars stripping the leaves and spinning the silk all over the hedgerow, this year its particularly noticeable. There are a number of caterpillars that can do this including various species of ermine moth and hawthorn moth caterpillars. 

Its an incredible sight to see and I've seen miles of hawthorn stripped by these little monsters, however it's part of the creation cycle and the hawthorn will replenish.


Sunday 28 May 2023

Lichen dyeing - xanthoria sp.

 Thought you might like to see the result of one of the lichen species we've been working with lately

This jar has been fermenting from September last year and is just about ready to use

What a fabulous colour!!! But what makes this lichen even more special is that it changes colour when exposed to sunlight, so we kept one piece indoors and put one piece outside for and hour, and the result...

Top one kept out of sunlight, bottom one in sunlight for a short while,
What an absolutely stunning thing, creation is utterly amazing.

For more indepth analysis and details about lichen dyeing check out our sister site at 

Sunday 30 April 2023

Uses of Honeysuckle bark

 Honeysuckle is one of those handy creepers you can find in the woods, from making lovely Hazel twisty sticks to simple cordage it has quite a few uses

      A potential twisty walking stick !

Strip the bark off the climber

Dry it, coil it and keep it handy

For cordage

                             Or as a tinder bundle 

It's one of those handy wee things to keep in mind when you're in the Bush.

Sunday 9 April 2023

He is Risen


And he saith unto them, be not affrighted, ye seek Jesus of Nazareth which was crucified, he is risen, he is not here, behold the place where they laid him. 

Mark 16 v 6

And behold he lives for ever more.

Thursday 9 February 2023

Preparing lichens for natural dyes

 We've been doing a little experimentation with different lichen species, mostly ramalina and xanthoria varieties, to see what dyes we can come up with. Some of these we know will be photosensitive so that's exciting. The preparation times for these is normally around 16 weeks and we are nearly at the end of that now so stay tuned and hopefully we'll have some nice colourful  swatches to show you in the not too distant future.

Sunday 5 February 2023

Gravalax, a simple recipe.

 If you mange to catch a salmon this is a nice way of preparing it that doesn't require cooking. Fillet the fish making sure you remove the ribs and pin bones.

First prepare your mix, a half cup of salt, a quarter cup of brown sugar and a quarter cup of white sugar. Tradition has it that you add fresh dill also but I actually prefer fresh fennel, so a few sprigs from the garden and we are ready to proceed.

Place your salmon skin side down on a layer of your mix then pour the rest over the fish making sure its well covered.

Place in the fridge for 12 hours, the thicker the fillet the longer you may need to leave it for.

12 hours later you can see how much moisture had been drawn out of the fish.

Rinse it in cold water and pat dry quickly to stop it reabsorbing any moisture

It's ready to go, cut thin slivers off the meat and eat as is or on wheaten bread with a home made mustard sauce..  delicious.

Though salmon is traditional it also works well with trout or char. 

Saturday 28 January 2023

Dandelion root coffee

 I'm obviously a glutton for punishment, making all these weird coffees when there's perfectly good teas out there! Anyway, Dandelion root coffee is made in pretty much the same way as most other coffees.. 

The root is cleaned and chopped and ready to be roasted 

Again I pan roast rather than oven roast as it gives me more control over the roasting process and I can get the root to the exact condition I need it to be in to make the coffee.

This is a handy wee contraption, it's a spice grinder and it's a handy thing to take into the woods where you might have difficulty in finding a socket to plug your coffee grinder into! Small, simple to use and one fill of it makes about 2 cups of coffee.

Into the strainer and let it infuse for about 3 minutes.

Very dark, quite a coffee like smell and a sort of coffee taste but highly bitter, something that might be better with milk and sugar. As for me, I'll stick with a mint, linden and balsam fir tea.

Monday 16 January 2023

Chicory root coffee

 Now as you know I'm not a coffee drinker but it is useful to experiment with foraged plants to see what uses they have, chicory is one of them, we all know its a coffee substitute but is wild chicory different than shop bought?

5 minutes picked enough roots to use

Chopped and ready for roasting, in the oven for about 45 minutes till dry and slightly golden brown

Fully roasted and into the blender

Once blended it was mixed with hot water, allowed to infuse for 3 or 4 minutes then poured through a coffee filter

We then tried it black and it was ok though a little bitter so the addition of some milk and a spoonfull of sugar made it quite acceptable, nothing like shop bought chicory coffee at all and more like a malted drink like horlicks. I think I'd still prefer tea but in an emergency situation I think most people would find it quite acceptable and certainly more palatable than shop bought.

Thursday 5 January 2023

We beat Ray Mears!

 Feedspot have just released their 'best UK blogs of 2022' and we were very happy to be amongst the best, as a matter of fact we came in as the 6th best in the UK, however we did steal a wee bit of glory as Ray Mears came in as 7th! All good fun.


Better luck next time Ray!