Monkey stole my apple!

Today we went to Gibraltar – I’d heard that the Upper Rock Nature Reserve is the only place to have monkeys in the wild, specifically Barbary Macaques. I wasn’t really expecting to see them, but there were loads of them! At one point, I was walking along, happily eating an apple when one of the monkeys came up to me, climbed up my leg and grabbed my apple. Unfortunately this all happened too quickly to get on camera, but I did manage to take the following pics of the monkey eating the stolen apple:

Fresh Fizzy Spring Water

Went for an amazing walk today in the La Taha area of the Alpujarras (Granada province, southern Spain). There are many places to collect fresh spring water around here, but the spring we found today was a little different: the water was sparkling. Yes, fizzy spring water, straight from the source:

There was even a sign telling us that the water is fizzy and explaining the health benefits of the water. If you can read Spanish, click on the photo to see a larger version you can read.

The spring is near Ferreirola, on the Ruta Medieval towards Busquistar. It’s a very beautiful area and there are lots of walks and of course you can taste fizzy spring water yourself (it’s delicious by the way!)

Photos from our travels: Part 3 – Mediterranean France

Getting into the swing of this now! Here are some photos from the first couple of weeks of August. As before click the map and photos to see large versions.

St-Quentin-de-la-Poterie was a fascinating little place. In the past it had been a commercial pottery town, making tiles and such like. Several years after the heavy industry closed down independent artisan pottery studies started opening up, now there is something like 23 studios. If you like ceramics, it’s worth checking out! Anyway, to the photos, this was a mosaic on the street. Cevennes National Pak. This is in Bédouès where our campsite was. We liked this area and the nearby town of Florac which had an interesting market.
We went for a walk from the campsite in Bédouès, Cevennes. We never like to take the same route back but we hadn’t got a map so we took a bit of a risk. Turned into the longest walk ever, didn’t get back to the van until sometime after 10pm! At the bottom of the campsite was this river and lots of wild greens for fresh juice.
Gorges du Tarn, on the edge of the Cevennes National Park. The gorge is over 30 miles long and very beautiful, went for a good walk, although the trees generally obscured the view of the gorge, we got the best views from walking along the road. Flamingos in the Carmargue area, not far from Montpelier.
The amphitheatre in Nímes, over 2000 years old and still standing In a little place called Ginac, campsite by the river.

Photos from our travels: Part 2 – Italy

Oops, I’m a bit slow with this, here are some photos from July. We were in Briançon, only 10km from the border with Italy so we decided to pop over for a quick visit. The first night we camped wild and saw the most amazing sight, lots of fireflys. First time I’ve seen them, they fly around flashing a little light on and off, the affect is best when there are a lot of them. I did take a photo, but it came out black! We covered a lot more ground in a short time in Italy, we whizzed down the motorways to get to a few interesting places, unlike France where we mostly stayed off the motorways on the smaller roads.

Click on the map and photos to see larger versions:

Santa Isola, Italy – This was quite a random stop (like many of the places we have seen), we were driving along and stopped for a little walk and found this beautiful lake and river. Wanted to go in the water but it was very cold (in the mountains), just got my feet in for a few minutes. Out of the mountainous area, we did find a beautiful river to swim in, really warm, but I can’t remember the place name or river name! The sea on the coast at Marina de Pisa was also lovely and warm for swimming.
In Tuscany we went to a few interesting towns and villages with old buildings, Volterra, San Gimignano and Siena. These three photos are from Siena. I’m not religious (far from it) but churches and cathedrals are often beautiful buildings and this one was one of the most ornate I have ever seen.
Back on the coast, this is Vernazza, one of the five villages known as the Cinque Terra. I thought we were in Russia for a moment, but it turns out we were in San Remo This is somewhere in the Alps on the border between Italy and France.
More in the alps. Back in France, Gorges de Daluis (Alps). This was a beautiful area, the photos don’t do it justice.
A place called Annot. Not the most amazing place, but the campsite was great.

France Photos part 1

If you’ve been following this blog, you will know that we set off on June 1st in a camper van. Below is an approximate map of wheer we went for the first five weeks of our trip, and below that some photos. From Briançon we went through the mountains over into Italy for a couple of weeks, I’ll put photos and a map of the next sections of the trip up soon.

Travels in France Part 1 map

Click on any photo to enlarge it.

Wimereux, between Calais and Bologne has some interesting buildings. Wild rocket near Paris! Gecko in Bourg-en-Bress
We stayed at Chavannes, near Bourg-en-Bress. beautiful campsite by a river and lots of walks in the area. Driving through the mountains towards Geneva we saw this beautiful lake. Bright and colourful architecture in Geneva (yes, we popped over the border into Switzerland for a couple of days)
St. Johns Wort flower at a herb garden in Geneva Stayed in Taninges in the Alps for a few days, it rained a lot but on the nice days we had some beautiful walks
Sculpture in forest at Taninges
A beautiful lake not far from the campsite. No rain on our last day in Taninges so we went for a long walk into the forest. Saw all kinds of wildlife and mushrooms (not sure what they were though) plus some fun sculptures.
Interesting mushroom at Taninges Another mushroom at Taninges Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in the Alps
Wild mushrooms, Taninges. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is in the Alps, about 15km from the border with Italy. It was amazingly beautiful…
More photos of Chamonix. We also found the best wild strawberries here.
Interesting flowers near Briançon
A final waterfall photo at Chamonix. Le Petit-Bornand-les-Glières was a random stop on the way to Annecy. Tiny campsite in a sleepy village, very pretty. In the mountains near Briançon, beautiful area and interesting town with great market and several good organic fruit and veg shops.

Walk by the Rio Ebro

Today I walked from Tortosa to Xerta mostly along the Rio Ebro and then back along the Via Verde (green way) which is a dissused railway line which has been converted to a footpath, the roundtrip was about 30km.

Rio Ebro

Water wheel

Food for the day:

For breakfast I had a mix of sprouted seeds (hemp, sunflower and pumpkin) with soaked goji berries, figs and apricots

Throughout the day I had about 5 kakis, 8 satsumas, a few dates and cacao beans plus an orange and some carob pods I found along the way.

When I got back I had a custard apple and then a large salad with wild greens I picked during the walk, courgette, olives, a tomato, some fresh dulse, sprouted rye and some onion basil and olive cracker.

More photos on Flickr.

Photos from Tarragona

I’m currently travelling in Spain and thought I’d post some photos from my trip.

Cactus flower

I’m in Tortosa in Tarragona Province and I was very supprised to see Booja Booja raw ice-cream for sale on an organic stall in the market. There were two organic stalls, one with fresh fruit and veg where I got some delicious cherimoyas (custard apples). The fruit here is just divine, eating lots of kakis (persimmon) at the moment. Tomatoes with lots of flavour, so different to the UK!

Edible beech nuts from Epping Forest

I was walking in the forest when I heard a pitter-patter sound, like the sound of water dripping from the leaves after it has rained. But it hadn’t rained recently so I stood still and watched to see what was falling. Beech nuts! I’ve seen the empty outer shells before but never the actual nuts – I think the squirrels get them if you’re not quick.

Beech nut outer shell

The individual nuts were falling out of the outer shells onto the ground. I picked up a nut and found that unlike most nuts it was very easy to open with my finger nails. The nut looks a bit like a pine nut, and surprisingly it also tasted a bit like a pine nut.

Beech nuts in shells

I’ve done a little research and found that beech nuts (also called beechmast) are high in tannins and shouldn’t be eaten in large quantities. Soaking them for 8 hours or more and then rinsing them removes some of the tannins and probably makes them easier to digest.

Beech nuts

We opened and then soaked the ones we collected and made pesto with them, not quite as creamy as when made with pine nuts but still delicious.

The European beech, Fagus sylvatica, also known as the common beech, is part of the Fagaceae family which also includes oak and sweet chestnut (but interestingly not horse chestnut which is unrelated).

I found a public domain illustration of a beech branch with leaves from an old 1801 book and used it to create a t-shirt and shopping bag for my organic clothing website.

Photos from Fresh Food Festival, Sweden

I’ve been away for a couple of weeks, we went to Sweden and Lithuania with a day trip to Denmark – I’ll post photos from the rest of the trip soon, but I will start with the Fresh Food Festival, Scandinavia’s first raw food festival.

There’s only one place to start, and that’s the food – it was amazing! As you can see from the photos, it was top quality gourmet raw food – pizza, nori, flax crackers, pates, soup, etc, etc. The day started with yoga, then breakfast of a selection of fruits. Throughout the days there were a selection of talks, given in various languages with an English translation, a wild food walk and some food demos.

Apart from the food, the best part of the festival was connecting with raw fooders from a different part of the world – I know what is happening in the UK and US raw food world but I never really knew about the growing network just across the water!

The coast was about half an hours walk away and we found lots of local wild food including raspberries, red currants, various greens and a new berry for me, the June Berry (Amelanchier lamarckii), which is delicious, I’ll be on the lookout for that here in the UK. I have some photos but they are on Jolita’s camera so I will post them as soon as I can.

While I’m on the subject of festivals, don’t forget the Funky Raw Space of Love Gathering coming up very soon (15 to 18th August)…

Edible Wild Flowers – Colour and nutrition for your salad

Spring is here, brining with it lots of wild flowers, many of which are edible. Here is a selection I found yesterday. Click on an image to enlarge.

Hawthorn flowers are a good flower to start with, they don’t have a strong flavour. White dead nettles are another easy flower, not too strong and can be quite sweet. They are not related to stinging nettles so they won’t sting you!

Dandelion flowers can be a bit bitter and can take a bit of getting used to, but I like them now. Wild garlic (ramsons) flowers have a delicious sweet garlicky flavour while Jack by the hedge flowers have a stronger flavour – garlic and mustard with a little bitterness.

As always, take care when picking wild food and make sure you are certain about what you are eating.