Nothing like foraging for breakfast this morning – eggs from our girls, some smoked salmon, and wild garlic leaves and capers, plus garlic mustard leaves and flowers. Also a great excuse to leave the weeds growing in the garden!

I’ve been into foraging for as long as I can remember, influenced by a background whereby we had next to no money, and my dad would take me out at 4am to forage for mushrooms in the fields or to shoot rabbits (I’ve never recovered from that trauma). He never took me on the pheasant shoots though – I realise now of course that they weren’t the gentile shoots of the estate behind where I live now – they were probably of the kind where he had to put his old running skills to good use if a land-owner turned up.

And my grandfather would cycle to the local tip and see what he could find to sell or use. A bit of a rag ‘n’ bone man side-line, I think. And he did find some treasures such as gold jewelry. I remember my grandmother and mother would be slightly embarrassed by this, but it’s socially acceptable now – upcycling, recycling, pre-loved, and recycling centres with shops on site, and charity chops. Obviously a man before his time. actually, I realise I’ve referenced this penchant for bargain-hunting and recycling at least twice in ‘In Sickness and in Health’.

‘ …Rory and I had both bulldozed any doubts about how things might go on our wedding day. And after all, weddings are for lists and lists are for weddings, so he joined in, adding items to checklists and even keeping his own. He didn’t need a lot of encouragement.

     No wedding present list for us. There were plenty of things we wanted, especially as we wanted to get to the stage of furnishing the house with our own joint belongings, and not just the remnants from previous relationships. I’m talking things, here, not us.  

     But someone once wisely said, ‘Want is greed, not need’. Though my capacity to break that self-righteous rule for something like shoes is not lost on me, and in mitigation some are pre-loved. Nothing gives me a greater thrill than a good bargain and upcycling, so ebay, charity shops and the local Re-Use shop at the dump are Aladdin’s caves to me. Rory has taken to calling me Stig, and he doesn’t mean from Top Gear. (Actually, he’s going to some event soon where The Stig is the speaker. How do they know?)’


  ‘ …I decided on a ceremonial flinging away of the right shoe which had served me so well over the past weeks and which, by now, was worn through and therefore made its mate redundant. It would be a gesture reminiscent of the end of my girls’ school days when we all went to the Tyne Bridge and flung our detestable brown felt hats into the water and didn’t give a thought to the fact that we were further polluting the river, only that they were boater style and it seemed symbolic and appropriate. We’d already expressed what we thought was rampant rebellion and rubbed holes through the felt – though making sure they were still hidden underneath the brown and yellow ribbon band. For years afterwards I loathed the colour brown.

     Obviously the years had imbued me with more regard for the environment, so I settled on the dump which had become a regular destination of ours. Well, we did spend a good few Sundays there in the lead-up to the wedding, getting rid of stuff lying around the garden and garage. Families used to go out for a drive on a Sunday with nowhere in particular in mind as the destination. Have you noticed how many appear to go the dump nowadays? I’m almost expecting to see picnic areas there soon. You even have to queue up at times, behind every conceivable kind of vehicle crammed full of junk or garden waste or thousands of glass bottles, (‘Do they really drink that much or have they just had a party?’), and of course you might risk the wrath of the operatives if you dare to deposit the wrong goods in the wrong bay. But there is something immensely satisfying about hurling anything, not just worn-out shoes too bad even for the charity shoe-bin, into the containers. It’s a feeling of relief, of release, of lightening the load, of…..well, just like its namesake really.’



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