Our local National Trust park is laden with Sweet Chestnut trees. A couple of weeks ago we went out foraging and came home with bagfuls of the things! We seemed to be the only ones picking up the loot until a few curious children stopped by and started to imitate our strange chestnut hop as Fina calls it. As the prickles on the chestnut shells are too prickly to handle you must place the chestnuts between your feet and push down with your toes till the lovely little chestnuts pop out. This technique works easily on ripe chestnuts.
They are delicious roasted in a pan over the fire ( make sure you prick them with a knife first to stop them exploding)
You can also cook them in a roasting pan in the oven!
My very own hippy: Emmy with feathers in her favourite hat!
Now there is a story here. The little red breasted chap above made quite an acquaintance with my aspiring ornithologist Boo.
After chestnuting the girl's went off into the woods to explore while I sat down on a bench by the lavender gardens with a well needed cup of tea. About 25 minutes later Boo comes running over to me asking me to come quickly. I follow her into the woods slowly and quietly. As I approach Emmy and Matilda I notice a robin pecking at the ground about an inch or so from her foot. We all sit on the lovely dark, barky earth and watch in awe as the Robin flits about, alights upon a branch only inches from us, cocks his little head to observe us better and proceed to sing us the most beautiful chittering little lullaby. It seems as if he is trying to entertain us or communicate with us in some way. Boo offers a few twittering noises in response ( hoping of course that they translate into some polite bird conversation) and he responds with more interested chatter!
We are not sure what the conversation was about but it was certainly animated and, as far as we could discern, amiable.
Boo plucked a few small worms from the ground and unearthed a few little seeds while she was at it. The robin's eager eye spotted the meal laid before him immediately and flew to the ground to eat without a care in the world. Mister Robin had a Missus in the woods with him but she was a little shyer than her husband and spent the whole time flittering about in the denser shrubs and bushes. We could hear her nagging at her husband all the with in no small degree of exasperation. Boo translated her: "Dear Mister Medlar, do please come quickly now for our nest is nothing but a bundle of twiglets and these riff raffs will trample my folded linens with their big, clumsy feet." I thought Miss Potter would be proud of that! Apparently, (according to Miss Boo) Mister Medlar's wife is called Missus Quince :)
We must have stayed in that wood for 40 minutes or so till our bums were numb and are fingers frozen stiff. When we emerged from the soft light of the leafy woods into the park grounds we were all in a bit of a daze. It truly had felt as if we had been in a different realm all together. Boo said that it was the single most amazing experience of her whole life thus far! Quite a statement for a nearly 10 year old!
So far we have since visited Mister Meddler and Missus Quince 3 more times and on each occasion the little male Robin came and chatted with us for as long as we stayed. Boo certainly seems to have a way with animals!
Yes the video's below are named Sparrow1, 2 & 3. Please ignore. Tani (our resident techie) clearly doesn't know a Robin from a radish :) We love him all the same.