New Forest evening


What is the New Forest?

Walk out of my back gate and you’re in the New Forest.  It’s one of the UK’s most recently designated National Parks, though it’s not new at all.  The history goes back nearly 1,000 years.  The history is pretty interesting.

William the Conqueror established the Forest – basically as his private hunting reserve – in 1079.  He also cleared villages to do so, making himself unpopular in the process.  Three of his successors later died in the Forest – notably William Rufus:  shot with an arrow whilst hunting.  What goes around, comes around.

The villagers demanded certain ‘commoners rights’ in return for respecting Williams punitive hunting restrictions.  Some of these still exist today.  When you visit, you will certainly see horses, cattle, donkeys and, in autumn, pigs running as if wild.  They’re all owned however.  Owners are the people whose properties still have these ancient rights.  Our property has the right of pannage – we can turn out pigs.

Check it out more here.

If you’re visiting and want to know what’s going on, use this link.

Where I live

Burley is in the heart of the Forest.  I have to pinch myself that I live in a National Park, with everything that I could ever have wanted.  Great wife, great daughter, great party house.

Time to count my blessings

It’s very grounding – literally I guess – to be able to walk out of your back gate into a wild environment.  Helps keep your head straight and your heart calm.

Evening walk outside the back gate 

I get a lot of enjoyment from knowing my environment a little bit.  One of the ways I measure that is the number of different mushrooms I am confident to collect.  I’m up to eleven, and counting.  Here is a small Bay Bolete.  Absolutely delicious.

Bay Bolete – breakfast is covered

I love to cook what I forage.  Here is the recipe for a mushroom sauce that makes a steak sing with joy.

Step one:  slice your mushrooms and fry in butter until they release their moisture into the pan.

Step two:  grate pepper into the pan until your wrists ache.

Step three:  add cream and simmer.

That was easy

You probably know NEVER to collect a mushroom unless you 100% know what it is and that is safe.  Ignore this advice and you can kill yourself.  Here’s one to avoid:  the fly agaric.

Fly Agaric.  Pretty, but leave this one well alone unless you’re Getafix or a Laplander

Fly agaric is very dangerous.  A little of this can send you into a coma – and you might die.  It contains hallucinogens and also a neurotoxin.  Prepared correctly and mixed in milk, it makes an effective insecticide – hence the name.

Getafix is always collecting these in Asterix books.  If you get the dosage right, you emerge from the coma feeling amazing because the effect of the neurotoxin on your muscles gives the illusion of having super-human strength.  Druids know a thing or two apparently.  One way of controlling the dosage – I’m told – is to feed the mushrooms to your reindeer.  After their digestive system, blood stream and kidneys have filtered the brew, you drink their urine.  I haven’t tried it.  And I don’t recommend it.

The good life

Living in the New Forest and having a bit of land is a recipe for the good life.

Here are some of the ways it plays out.


Chanterelle aka Girolle with white gold BENU Power Reserve

BENU 37 with cep aka porcini, aka penny bun, aka steinpfilz found just outside the back gate.


Birch boletes. Plus white gold BENU Index.  The mushrooms are underwhelming.  The watch is whelming.

BENU Enamel with oyster mushrooms for #halfwatchtuesday – yummy


Pumpkin ‘Munchkin” with rose gold BENU Power reserve – for budget Halloween (except for the watch)

 Red Cabbage with steel blue BENU High Art.  Vegetable art.

 Onion Squash with platinum BENU Power reserve.  Sultry. 

Chillis with rose gold BENU Enamel Roman.  Hot.

Home laid eggs with rose gold DATE.  Breakfast time.