Something for nothing: mushrooms, plants and more

Just when we had given up finding anything other than Field Mushrooms, the continued mild, damp weather has produced a flush of Boletes of all types. Two days ago we were looking at a property for a client near Montrichard and stopped for a walk in the woods with the dog. This trip produced a pair of Orangé or  Leccinum versipelle, L. aurantiacum  or perhaps L. quercinum, as we found them under Oak rather than Poplar. We eat them later with a chicken stew dish: wonderful!

Leccinum from the woods of central France

Orangé mushrooms

Today we were out in the woods at Chabris and came across a huge area covered with Ceps and other Boletus. We came back with kilos of the things which, at Euro 30 a kg in the market makes our little walk seem like a profitable venture. Chantal has spent the morning cooking, freezing and drying our haul and I am very much looking forward to dinner tonight.

A selection of Boletes

A selection of Boletes

Ceps and other Boletus on the kitchen table

Ceps and other Boletus on the kitchen table

Out in the garden another free find; I had rescued some wild Cyclamen from in front of a JCB digging a trench for a new water main and, on another occasion, a plant from the woods where felling had just started.  Checking on their progress this morning I remarked again on how different the two white flowering plants were when I spotted Cyclamen leaves pocking through brambles and weeds near our Sequoia tree. It seems we have our own patch of wild Cyclamen in addition to the two I have introduced. It will be fascinating to see how they perform in the next few years.

I have started to plant out cuttings I have rooted in our nursery corner. The first of these came from the local school garden: Artemisia Powis Castle. I like the silver leaves, the scent and the way that leaves added to Vodka turn the drink bright green. I’ll bet they didn’t tell the kids that! 

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Food for Free

Nature is bountiful at this time of the year, here in central France. We never fail to return from walking the dog without something in our pockets and at the moment, we are mostly collecting Walnuts.

 There are still plenty of Hazel nuts around and as we become accustomed to the area we are beginning to work out which trees are not picketed, where to find the largest nuts and which trees are the most productive. This morning we returned with a basket full of nuts and half a dozen ceps, our favourite edible mushrooms.

Cyclamen growing wild in the Robinia woods

Cyclamen growing wild in the Robinia woods

Locals are often very generous when they know you are interested. With a new kitchen recently fitted we have been testing out the equipment by jam and chutney making. Not having fruit of our own, people have been giving us bags of peaches, plums apples, pears and quince. Each of them receives a pot of jam from us in return. As I speak, Chantal is cracking walnuts ready to bake a cake this afternoon.

Colchicum - autumn crocus - growing wild in central France

Colchicum - autumn crocus - growing wild in central France

Autumn flowers are also much in evidence now that the weather is cooling, the day length reducing and the rains returning.

Where once the ground was speckled with orchids there are now wild Cyclamen, Colchicums and, an exciting find, Saffron Crocus.

 
Here on the edge of the Touraine the grape harvest is all in, picked last week when it was warm and sunny. Mostly the crop was machine harvested but, talking to local growers, they are increasingly hand picking to improve quality. We are great fans of the local white but are still to be convinced that the red is worth the effort to get to know.

We are still recovering from yesterday. We had a business meeting in Valancay at 11 am and on arrival in the town the temperature was 17 degrees C. An hour later it was thermometer on the car dashboard read 21 and by the time we reached home it was 25. 

The atmosphere was strange and people in the town reacted to it. Out walking in the afternoon we had hardly got to the end of the road when someone stopped us to show off his new motorbike and offered us drinks to celebrate. Staggering off to continue our exercise we were stopped a few yards on to chat with an elderly lady who was in tears recalling her dogs and admiring ours.

In the park a man had his head in his hands but beamed when the dog wandered over and gave him a lick. Prior to that we had been sitting on the beach watching the river, when our decorator came over to sit with us for a while. A strange day ended with a huge thunder storm, with a bright red sky and a game of scrabble.

Perhaps someone had drugged the water but according to the weather man a hurricane had moved up the Atlantic dragging hot African air up through France. Who needs alcohol with weather like this!