A first timer’s guide to… Foraging
FORAGE LONDON, HAMPSTEAD HEATH
The first rule of foraging: Only eat something if you know what it is. The second rule of foraging: Prepare to have your mind blown. And that’s what happened to this city slicker one wintry Saturday afternoon on Hampstead Heath when I went on a guided forage with Jason Irving, organised by Forage London.
This might seem obvious if you grew up in the countryside or if you’ve ever made your own jams or gins; but there are plants all around that we can collect and make delicious things with.
GIN AND BEAR IT
It turns out foraging in London isn’t munching on insects or hunting for syringes and jonnies.
You’ve heard of elderberry cordial and sloe gin, right? Well elder trees are pretty easy to find, and sloe berries grow on black thorn bushes all over Hampstead Heath. But you have to be pretty quick off the mark to harvest them as gin-lovers will be out in force as soon as they appear.
There are dangers out there – like the yew tree. Looks like a Christmas tree but whaddayaknow, it’s berries’ seeds are flippin’ deadly if you eat them! (A good foraging book will tell you what each plant could be easily confused with.)
Our group covered a small corner of the Heath and Jason showed us all sorts: hawthorn berries (make great jam), gorse flowers (good for clothes dye and flea repellent), hairy bittercress (edible straight off the ground), mugwort (good for tea and lucid dreaming), hogweed (in the same family as hemlock so beware), burdock (nice with dandelion) and rowan berries (lovely wine).
We might live in a polluted metropolis but wash the city off and underneath there are berries, flowers and leaves waiting for you. Just stay away from hemlock, yew seeds; and the jonnies.
HAVE A GO
Suitable for everyone
Read more: A first timer’s guide… Hot Yoga Society
LIFE COACH CORNER
‘Couples can improve their love lives by changing their bedroom habits. Try to hit the sack at the same time – but if that’s not possible through the week, make it a weekend treat. I don’t think how you sleep reflects your relationship, though – my sense is that sleep posture isn’t really based on science or facts. We sleep in a set position as that’s what we started off in as a child. You should remove technology from the bedroom, too, as it prevents you from communicating properly. Keep the boudoir for sleep and sex only.’
Dave Gibson, thesleepsite.co.uk