On one of my local walks there is a disused PILLBOX sited on the marshland and fortunately this one has not had the doorway blocked in so earlier this year i decided to have a little walk round the inside of it with my camera. I’ve included a link to the video on my Youtube channel below so head on over there for a watch and don’t forget to ‘LIKE’ and ‘SUBSCRIBE’ to my channel.
Now for those that don’t know what a Pillbox actually is here is a brief explanation of why they were built.
They were built in the ww1-2 as small fortified structures, made of steel re-enforced concrete to withhold small arms fire, and used as defensive observation posts in various locations around the UK that might be vulnerable to an attack. There are many located around Essex in large fields and along the banks of our tidal rivers and creeks as these were considered to be prime areas for enemy attacks from both air and sea. Entrance into these ‘buildings’ was via a small doorway and once inside the roof was barely inches above your head with the only light being from the small ‘slit’ type openings which were used to observe through and also to shoot through is an enemy was seen. Having been inside one now, usually the doorway would have been bricked up, i can’t imagine what it would of been like in there during the winter period as it was a dark cold place to be.
For the past couple of weeks i have been confined to the house as i unexpectantly came down with appendecitus and ended up in hospital for a few days whilst they removed the offending appendage and i recovered, this has meant that after being released from hospital i have literally been unable to do anything that involves too much movement or exertion. Now sitting in front of the tv watching crap all day may seem relaxing to some but for me its a nightmare as i,m a pretty active guy not to mention i,ve taken time out from my day job to finish of the work that needs doing to our house and extension, this is now on hold for another couple of weeks.
Yesterday however i was suffering badly from ‘cabin fever’ so decided that I, i mean the dogs, needed a nice walk in the afternoon sunshine. Off to a local area i call ‘Secret Fields’, they’re not really a secret but you’d only know how lovely the walk is if you ventured down a long overgrown track leading from a small one car parking area roadside, for a nice stretch of the legs as it really was a lovely afternoon. I couldn’t,t walk too far though as i started to feel a little ‘rough’ as we made our way from one small field to another, but the short time i was there really hit the spot. A few pheasants burst out of the long grass as the boys ran, pigeons were dropping into the sparsely leaved trees to rest, i saw a gorgeous kestrel hovering a short way of in an adjacent field, found some lovely looking Parasol Mushrooms and generally just soaked up the atmosphere of this peaceful paradise.
In total my walk barely lasted 30 minutes but i enjoyed every second of it, and so did my boys. Although short i feel totally refreshed today, body, mind and soul, and hopefully this feeling will last for a couple more days before i feel fit enough for another little outing. It just goes to show that you only need a short time in the great outdoors to re-charge the old batteries and relax….
So for a few years now i,ve been getting more and more interesting in foraging for wild food and this year has been no exception. From my teenage years through to my early thirties i was quite heavily into rough shooting both with shotgun and airgun, and at the same time i was also doing a lot of sea fishing from both shore and boat. Now a big part of both these pastimes/hobbies/obsessions was being able to eat what i had shot or caught and i thoroughly enjoyed setting out for the day with my mind set to return home later with my dinner. I’ve shot and eaten most of our legal game during this time, liked some, felt indifferent to others and hated many, but all were taken for consumption not just for fun, i never killed more than i, or my friends or family, could eat and nothing went to waste. The same went for any fish i caught, they were taken for the pot to be eaten or were returned to live another day. Now this, in my mind anyway, is a form of foraging, taking a small amount of natures bounty to fill my, ever growing as i get older, stomach, as much as searching for mushrooms and hedgerow gleaning. Nowadays i don’t shoot anymore, i do enjoy the odd wood pigeon or duck given to me by my Dad though, but i do still go fishing but unfortunately for some reason i now can’t stomach the taste of fish, so my better half gets whatever i catch, and much appreciative she is too, or i just admire the species of fish i have landed and slip it back to its watery home with nod and a thank you. Anyway, back to the point i was getting too and that was my interest in foraging wild food has increased lately and i,ve actually been active in hunting out something wild for my table.
It started of with the humble blackberry, i was on a quite a long walk with the boys and had run out of water and was feeling a little parched in the evening sun. Walking past a big bramble bush i spied some juicy looking fruits so picked a few and they certainly hit the spot. After that, for the next few weeks, i became a black berry picking monster spending a good bit of my dog walking time picking the little lovelies and thenturning them into crumbles and such.
Then, whilst in France carp fishing, i noticed a few sweet chestnut trees on the opposite bank so thought it would be rude not to pop over and harvest a few of its delicious bounty. Chucked on the bbq later that night, after my steak dinner, they tasted lovely as a little snack whilst i sipped a cold cider and watched the sun go down.
Also in France i found a few Cepes whilst having a little wander around the grounds of the fishery. A quick check with the owner to see if it was ok for me to pick a few, Cepes are a valuable commodity in France, and later that night i had a lovely side of mushrooms to go with yet another t-bone steak. On returning home those mushrooms have been forefront of my mind for some reason and i,ve been on the search for some of its edible cousins, although i,m still pretty wary of picking and eating fungi as i don’t fancy getting ill, and also been taking some cracking photographs of various ‘shrooms’. I did find a good crop of Horse Mushrooms on a recent dog walk so picked a few and had them with scrambled for my lunch, no more than two hours from being picked. They had a very strong mushroomy taste and i have to say that i couldn,t eat them all as i started to worry if they were actually an edible variety, they were, i double checked the ID, but i was just being a coward.
Finding and eating the above has got me more interested in wild food than i ever have been before, and i now find my spare time is taken up with either reading about foraging online or watching it on Youtube. Its a fascinating pastime, one i hope to learn a lot more about and i will definately be blogging more about it in the near future.
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So way back during the Easter weekend i took myself and the dogs of for a little weekend break to North Essex. I had no real plans as to where to go nor had i booked anywhere to stay for the nights as i,d planned to just keep n the back of my van, after all that was part of the reason that i originally bought the thing a few years ago. So with my fishing baedchair set up in the back and a back full of coffee making gear i loaded the pooches not the back and set off up country.
I won’t go into too much detail about the trip in this BLOG as i plan to do that in further entries to come. But i will say a good time was had, finding and exploring new places, by both myself and the doogles. Some of the places i visited on those few days included, ARLESFORD, BRIGHTLINGSEA, WIVENHOE, FRINTON-ON-SEA and MANNINGTREE, as well as a few smaller places along the way. The weather was definitely in our favour as it was bright, sunny and scorchio the whole time we were tripping around.
Driving along a small lane, on the way top a secret little river area i had found on the map, i drove past a derelict looking church hidden behind some trees so thought i,d turn the old ‘Rumble Wagon’ around and go and have a little explore. I,m glad i did as it was definitely worth it, and i,m also glad i took my camera with me to record it. I’ve posted the little video on my YOUTUBE CHANNEL BRYANS COUNTRYSIDE CAPERS
The church itself had been best part destroyed years ago so only the stone shell remained but it has been left open so the public can walk through and around the grounds to visit their deceased loved ones. I walked around the cemetery for a little while reading some of the headstones with many of them being well over a hundred years old, i read out some of the dates as i walk through the graves in the vlog, and the carvings on some of them are quite beautiful. It was a glorious sunny day and all that could be heard were the crows cawing in the distance and songbirds singing away in the trees and bushes that surround the church grounds. There was a very calming, peaceful feel to the place and although i,m not religious, or even interested in places of worship, i reckon i will return to walk the grounds again, but next time ill take my better camera and take some pictures to show ST PETERS beauty better.
Anyway please have a watch of the vlog on my YOUTUBE channel ‘BRYANS COUNTRYSIDE CAPERS’ and please leave a comment if you enjoyed it. You can also keep tracks of what i,m upto on my INSTAGRAM page ‘BRYANSCOUNTRYSIDECAPERS‘ and i,d love for you too follow me and i,ll do the same to you.
So its been a while since i last posted but i have been a busy boy with work and the house, that’s my excuse and I,m sticking to it. I have been out and about walking the dogs, and i,ve got some good footage from various walks which i hope to share with you in the near future. I,m always taking random pictures with my phone of anything that i might find interesting or pretty so i thought i would show you a few.
Just a few pictures taken with my iPhone Xr. I have to say that the quality is pretty good considering its just a phone after all. All the pictures were taken within 10 minutes of where i live and just goes to show that you don’t have to travel too far to be surrounded by the beauty of the nature, you just have to open your eyes……..
A few weeks back i was just returning from having a nice walk along Paglesham Creek with the 2 hairy hounds when i spotted something i,d not seen before. As i was crossing over a tiny little tidal creek i glanced down and there ‘swimming’ along with the current was a lovely looking jellyfish. I’ve seen plenty of jellyfish before but i,ve not seen one this up-close and been able to watch it movements. It was fascinating to watch as it pulsed along the creek and as you can see in the attached clip from my Youtube channel it actually breaks the waters surface as it ‘swims’.
I hope you enjoy this little video, it was only taken with my iPhone, and have a look at the other movies on my channel.
Please feel free to leave any comments, pictures and links of any similar sightings you may have had……
So a couple of months back we had a series of exceptionally low tides in the UK which resulted in the low water tidelines being further out than usual. On one of these tides i happened to be walking the dogs along my local tidal river and as i had my usual walk along the water line i spotted somethings i hand,t seen before. Just above the current tideline and below the normal one there were some curious orangey sponge like objects attached to the rocks.
I,ve not seen anything like this around the Essex coastline before, but i do remember seeing similar in rock pools when i was holidaying in Devon and Cornwall many moons ago when i was a kid. I have tried contacting a couple of Oceanic Institutes but have not had any replies. They were firm to the touch and quite abundunt attaching themselves to the scattered rocks which litter the shoreline.
I,ve done a little vlog about them so feel free to have a look as the video shows them a lot better than just the above four pictures.
So a couple sundays ago me and the better half were up at the crack of dawn to take Paddy and Choccie for a nice mornings walk as we usually do at the weekend. I didn,t really fancy the usual places we go to so i opted for a stretch of the River Crouch than runs from Battlesbridge through to Hullbridge, Sharon hadn,t been there before so this swung the decision also. Its a bit ‘hit and miss’ as to whether you can walk this area as you have to park in a lay-by which only has room for the one vehicle and there is nowhere else near to park if the lay-by is already taken. Fortunately we were lucky as there was no-one else there so we parked, got the jackets on and off we set.
It was a cold frosty morning, van temperature gauge was reading -4, but having stopped of on the way to grab a coffee we weren,t too bothered, and the boys definitely didn,t care as they raged around the undergrowth as we walked along the first stretch of sea wall. Its a nice stretch of river that can easily be walked from just outside Battlesbridge through to the outskirts of Hullbridge. On the opposite side of the river is a caravan park, which admittedly isn,t the most pretty of things to look at, but it does,t deter from the beauty of the surrounding area.
A heavy frost covered the ground but it was quickly disappearing as the suns warmth melted the ice crystals as it rose higher in the sky. The river itself was flat calm as there wasn,t even a hint of a breeze blowing which gave the whole area a peaceful feel to it. I tried to take a few fancy pictures using my phone of which some have come out ‘ok’ and others were just deleted. I say it every time but i do need to start taking out my dlsr camera as i,m missing out on so many oppurtunities to take some cracking shots. Anyway theres a few pictures at the end of this blog to have a wee looks at.
As ever the boys enjoyed their run, meeting a couple of other dogs along the way and having playful ‘zoomies’ everywhere. Sharon and i also enjoyed the walk as you can,t beat a nice fresh mornings walk to waken you up for the day ahead. Its a lovely, easy little walk along this stretch of the Crouch and i guess you can park in Hullbridge somewhere and walk it from the opposite direction that we did.
With a belly full of delicious Christmas food the need for a nice walk was as its greatest so i bundled the boys in the back of the van and pointed it towards Two Tree Island. A stroll along Benfleet Creek would help shift the lethargy that follows the days of Xmas revelry thought i…….
It started of being quite misty as we set off along the pathway heading towards Benfleet Creek, but as the morning grew the sun slowly started to illuminate the sky soon there was a glorious reddy/pinky/orangey hue creeping across the skyline. Unfortunately my iPhone picture just doesn,t do the sunrise justice but at least you get an idea of what it was like.
I,ve made a small vlog of the walk so have a little look at the link below, and any others on my channel, all constructive comments are welcome on how i might improve…..
So before christmas the weather took an upward turn and the temperature went up a few degrees so i opted to take the doogles out for a nice stroll. Now i have some beautiful places to walk the boys locally but sometimes i can’t seem to make up my mind as to where to take them. After wracking my braincell for a few minutes over a latte i decided on taking them to Paglesham marina and walk down river towards Rochford. I,ve made a short video of our walk and you can find it on Youtube via the link below.
Its was a lovely couple of hours walk as the weather was fresh but comfortable with only a slight breeze, one of those days that you could just keep walking. In fact i walked the furthest along the river here than I’ve done before.
The River Roach starts around Rochford and flows nearly 10 miles, i think, before it joins the River Croach at the outer edge of Wallasea Island. Along the way Barling Creek enters into the Roach as well as the River Roach splitting off just past the marina and flowing round to Lions Creek creating Wallasea Island. The river, and in fact the surrounding area, is a wildlife haven with countless birds of prey, song birds and wetlands birds present as well foxes, rabbits, and the odd deer which all add to making a fantastic walk at any time of the year.
Myself and the boys had a lovely time walking roughly five and half miles there and back. As you can see from the pictures they got covered in mud, as usual, especially choccie who looked like he buried his head in the rivers mud. While we were walking there was some large skeins of Brent Geese flying along the river and landing in the remaining water, the tide was out, which is always lovely to see and the sound of their calling as they drop in to land is what makes winter for me. I only had my phone with me so could,t take any decent pictures but hopefully i,ll have it with me next time.