Our campervan needed an outing. Its battery needed charging and its not a good idea to leave it for too long on the same patch of tyre and without wearing the accumulating layer of rust from the brakes. We only had a few hours to spare and neither our son or daughter wanted to come with us. We mentally drew a thirty minute radius around home and decided upon Delamere Forest.
We had intended to walk, but our stroll was seriously curtailed by the abundance of sweet chestnuts on the forest floor. Most of the cases were still resolutely closed. My husband was muttering and 'Ow-ing' and couldn't understand how I was managing. The technique, perfected during many happy autumns gathering conkers, is to put your toes together on top of the case and, gently, press down and drag your feet apart slightly. It works better on a hard surface but I am something of an expert in these matters , and I managed. Goodness knows how my husband spent his childhood autumns! The wild chetsnuts are smaller than the ones in the supermarket and, therefore, more fiddly and time-consuming to shell - but FREE!
Two years ago, when the van was new to us, we camped in the forest during autumn half-term and gathered chestnuts - everything seems early this year and I thought we would have missed them. When we were camping we pan-fried medallions of pork cut from tenderloin. Leeks, apples from our garden, and the chestnuts were added. Creme fraiche was stirred in before serving. We have our holidays in a plastic box on wheels but there is no reason not to eat well. These chestnuts will be split between a venison stew and a repeat of the pork tenderloin.
There were also numerous acorns on the ground - I've often wished I could think of a use for them. This year my Brownies made little creature from horse chestnuts, acorns, pine cones and beech nut cases - held together with white tack.
This embroidered brooch featuring acorns, is available from Lynwoodcrafts at Folksy (click the image to see the brooch on its shelf!)