A Tale of St. George, St. George’s Mushroom & Morels

With St. George’s day in England just passed, and the festival of beltane / May day almost upon us, we turn our thoughts to the rapidly emerging vegetation all around and the appearance of spring mushrooms! First though, lets take a preamble through some of the foliage-festooned folklore that is associated with this time of the year. The themes that crop-up are held in common across much of Europe, Asia and India too…

St. George’s day (23rd April) heralds the beginning of spring revelry.  The Catholic St. George was a graft onto older stock and this slayer, or perhaps befriender, of dragons is found throughout Europe, the near east and Russia today as both a protector spirit and a patron saint. In earlier times he often took the form of the ‘green man’, representing the rejuvinatory power of spring and the mysterious balance of light and dark, growth, decay, winter and summer that is central to the farmers’ and the foragers’ year. In Orthodox Christianity as well as in Russian folk magic and even among the shamanistic people of Siberia, the protector George is often called upon for strength and luck, and consulted and prayed to before going ahead with any major undertaking.

Green man - by Grinagog

The Green Man
– by Grinagog (grinagog.deviantart.com)

Al Khidr, the Green Saint of Islamic folklore is perhaps another guise assumed by George, or perhaps more accurately another echo that has flowed on down to us via that same ancient river of belief.

In the holy-land, St. George, Al-Khidr and Elijah are commemorated together at the same shrines (for example in Bethlehem and Jerusalem) bringing the three major faiths of that land into the same places of worship.  Similarly, in parts of India the cult of Kwaja Khadir, another ‘Green Man’, is observed by both Muslim and Hindu. His cult centre is at Bhakar near to the Indus river bordering India and Pakistan


In some areas of south-eastern Europe the festivities of Green George (Gergiovden) are marked by decking a young man in foliage resembling very much the more modern Hastings Jack in the Green… and often he is paraded through the streets prior to being given a good ducking in the village pond or local river.  In Bulgaria, Gergiovden is one of the biggest cultural holidays accompanied by many folk rituals for obtaining health and fruitfulness for people, animals and fields alike. As in the May Day festivities held in Edinburgh, Scotland, it is customary to bathe in the morning dew at dawn, as this is thought to bestow health and beauty for the coming year. Herbs harvested at this time are thought to have particular potency for healing. This festival is very popular in many regions of south-eastern Europe, especially among the Romani, taking place over the feast of St. George as reckoned before post-mediaeval calendar adjustments subtracted 14 days; meaning that it takes place on the 6th of May rather than the 23rd of April.

Very soon, in English fields and meadows, it will be time to make May garlands and walk among the wildflowers of spring purely for pleasure and contentment. In the folk customs surrounding our old May-day the ‘Green One’ will be readied to marry the May Queen, his bride, at beltane. In England too we have our own ancient traditions to commemorate his life, as in the (probably now a bit garbled) Padstow Obby ‘Oss song…

“O’ where is St. George, O’ where is he O’?
He’s out in his long boat, all on the salt sea O’.
Up flies the Kite and down tails the lark O’
Aunt Ursula Birdhood, she had an old ewe
and she died in her own Park O’”

St. George then, is possibly the embodiment of an ancient idea, heralding the return to intense growth and all acts of fertility in the wheel of the year. Some might suggest he is an ancient spirit remembered through folk tradition, that is perhaps older than the religious perspectives that we hold today. In Christian mythology we learn that he could not be killed until his body was broken on a wheel of swords, ground to dust and scattered out onto the land, where it would have provided fertiliser for the next cycle of growing and harvesting, and so, in contemplation of these cycles of time and of the year, I like to take a walk out into grassy meadows and limestone woods to seek the plump creamy-white fruiting bodies of St. George’s mushroom. I take this as a sign given forth by the earth herself to warn us that night-time frosts should now be a thing of the past and for her foragers it is time to be industrious in both field and hedgerow. This… is my personal ritual.

Calocybe gambosum - St. George's mushroom

Calocybe gambosum – St. George’s mushroom

St. George’s mushroom, known in France as mouserron (a word that seems likely at the root of ‘mushroom’), smells pleasantly like new flour, as if it were freshly ground at the miller’s wheel. It often occurs in large rings in the turf. Remember: St. George himself was said to have been ground into flour or ‘broken on a wheel’ at his execution and spread upon the land by his Roman captors, as commemorated in the lines of the old English mummers play featuring St. George; “I’ll grind yer bones to dust and send you to the Devil to make mince pie crust”.

St. George's, chickweed and dandelion blooms

St. George’s, chickweed and dandelion blooms are a perfect combination in April & May!

It should almost go without saying, that you must be careful with your identification skills as there are some other whitish mushrooms that are very poisonous, though not many of them put in an appearance so early in the year. St. George’s mushroom is very tasty and highly prized and sought after in Italy and France. In Britain it has undergone something of a revival in recent years and it is to be found on the menus of many of the better restaurants and gourmet pubs. It can be sautéed in butter and goes well with shallots, asparagus, bacon, eggs and dandelion blossoms. It can also be pickled. The delicate complex flavour is easily overpowered by bolder ones and this is a mushroom to use as the feature of a dish, not a side portion, so take some care about who or what you partner it with.

A warm tossed St. George's salad

A warm tossed St. George’s salad

Also highly prized at this time of the year are the elusive morels, often appearing in limestone woods and on sandy soils during the spring. The caps of these fungi, (there are several species) have an irregular honeycomb like appearance and the cap and stem are hollow. They are difficult to find but highly regarded as a cooking ingredient.

Morchella esculenta - Edible morel

Morchella esculenta – Edible morel, and very tasty it is too!

Morels should be dried for storage and re-hydrated using warm water, herbs and a little salt for half an hour or so before cooking as this improves their flavour considerably. They go well with cream based sauces and add something very special to many dishes. Fresh morels can also be stuffed – one popular recipe uses crab meat, egg, mayonnaise and breadcrumbs – and baked for 15 minutes at 180°C. Be sure of your identification and do not confuse them with the poisonous gyromitra or false morel that looks a bit similar.

Oh… and NEVER eat morels raw or hover over the steam when you are cooking them, as just occasionally this has caused serious poisoning! Like most wild mushrooms, morels are not edible when raw and for the first few minutes, the cooking steam is not good for you either. It contains monomethylhydrazine, a component of rocket fuel, albeit in far smaller quantities than in the dangerous false morel (Gyromitra) species. Better to be safe than sorry. Step away from the pan for the first five minutes and let the steam be given off!

If you’d like to learn to find your own spring plants and mushrooms for the table, I’d LOVE to meet you on one of our Foraging Discovery Days!

Other links:

The Seven Herb Spring Cure Soup!

Ideally this is made in March, April & May from young, fresh ingredients. References to the ‘Spring Cure’ are often found in the literature documenting centuries past in the south-west of England, but it was doubtless employed in many other areas and would have gone under many different names.

I really love this recipe, and I hope you will enjoy it, as well as the botanical illustrations that I have used to illustrate it, as much as I do!

Seven Herb Soup prepared - ready for a swirl of cream and a leafy garnish! I have been taking people out to forage for spring cures for many years, and I look forward very much to making my own spring cure at this time. It is not essential to use all seven herbs, and substitutions can easily be made, but be sure to stick to stinging nettles for the base.

Young spring greens of various kinds are high in vitamin C and a range of minerals (including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, etc.), as well as being jam-packed with antioxidant bioflavonoids that help to mop up free radicals, preventing and limiting oxidative stress damage in the body.

These bioflavonoids help your cells to bounce back to their full fighting-fit metabolic health after dealing with the challenges of poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle. They may even assist the body to heal from viral infections and to deal with other difficult challenges; perhaps even chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

After a long winter with a lack of fresh green vegetable matter on the plate (remember – there were no supermarkets and no mass import of vegetables into the UK until the present era), the spring cure would have been consumed in the form of a delicious soup, daily, for at least a week or two, to help bring the body back into condition, restoring vitality and sparkle to skin, hair and eyes. It would have also helped more serious conditions like scurvy, which is caused by chronic vitamin C

 deficiency. These herbs have a reputation for assisting elimination of toxins by giving a boost to the liver, kidneys and lymphatic system, and nettles and cleavers in particular provide bio-available silica for healthy connective tissue and joints. Note that in general, the proportions should be 80% young nettle tops to 20% of all of the other ingredients found below combined (or whichever ones you can get a hold of in your area). It is also worthy of note, that if you are using wild garlic, you might want to tweak that ratio to increase the proportion of wild garlic leaves, as they are simply delicious! 

A note on selecting and sorting the ingredients:
Use only the young, tender, above ground parts of the 7 herbs below for this recipe. Where the stem is fibrous, be sure to perform the ‘turgidity test’ – so if it is still flexible and bendable then it is also tender enough to go in the pot. The stiffer parts of stems won’t bend in a nice curve when you apply sideways pressure, and they should not be used for this recipe as they will impart a fibrous texture that is not in keeping with the desirable creamy nature of the soup… and in larger amounts might even cause bloating and flatulence for those with sensitive digestion. The young tender green parts that you will use contain plenty enough insoluble fibre without adding lots more by putting in too many tough stems.

Method: This delicious recipe could not be simpler to create!

  • First wash and then chop the herbs, discarding any tough stems or damaged leaves, and set them to one side.

Soup herbs

  • Select a saucepan with a lid, and add a decent sized knob of butter or two tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.
  • Also add salt and pepper, according to your taste.
  • If you are not using wild garlic among your herbs, consider adding some grated garden garlic or diced shallots. A little grated ginger can be a nice addition too.
  • Add two tablespoons of water to the pan.
  • Add the chopped herbs to the pan until it is almost full to the top. Put on the lid and bring up to medium heat, slowly, over 3 or 4 minutes. Allow to simmer rather than boil.
  • After about 11 or 12 minutes, the contents of the pan should have reduced to about one-third of their original volume. Take the pan off of the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Use a stick blender if you have one, or transfer the contents to a food processor, and ‘give it a whizz’ to make the soup nice and creamy. If you like a thicker soup, you can also boil a few new potatoes to add at this stage.
  • Serve the soup in bowls, swirling in a little cream, crème fraiche or natural yoghurt, and garnishing with a few leaves of coriander, ground ivy, or even herb Robert, Geranium robertianum, also known as ‘Stinky Bob’!

Stinging nettle
Urtica dioica


stinging nettle, Urtica dioica


Calcium, iron, silica, vitamin C, and in addition, plenty of anthocyanin / procyanidin flavonoids, which are good for heart health and mitochondrial health, as well as promoting healthy skin and healthy hair. Stinging nettle has many other medicinal properties and contains lots of medicinal compounds, but these are the chief ones that we will be making use of in our nettle soup-base, which must not be overcooked or zealously overheated to gain the maximum benefit from them.


Stinging nettles are very common in the UK. The stinging hairs are little hollow silicate needles and each one is attached to a bag of venom, that contains formic acid (ouch), and neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and acetyl choline (that cause a creeping sensation in the skin). These are largely going to be destroyed by our cooking process. The finished soup will have no sting at all, I promise!

To pick nettles without being stung, the secret is for the hand to be already moving upwards as it grasps the nettle firmly. This is because all of the stinging hairs are capable of hinging upwards towards the tip of the plant, and so they fold over when the nettle is picked in this way. Rubbing your hand against the direction that the hairs fold in, i.e. running it down the stem, will result in being severely stung! You could always wear gloves.

If you do decide to pick nettles to use the leaves later in the year, then it is a good idea to cut them down to ground level first, and wait two weeks before harvesting. Mature nettles are not as tasty and they also produce small but insoluble, sharp, crystalline growths at a microscopic level that just might be an irritant to your kidneys or GI tract. The nettle seed and root does have other, completely different uses, but we will save these for another article at a later date!

Ramsons / wild garlic
Allium ursinum

Ramsons / Wild garlic, Allium ursinum

Note that this is correctly called ‘ramsons’, and not ‘ransoms’. In the US, the similar ‘ramps’, Allium tricoccum, can be substituted.


All parts are edible but the bulbs of A. ursinum are disappointing and best left to grow another plant next year. As well as the leaves, stems and flowers being delicious, ramsons, like garden garlic, has a broad spectrum antibiotic action, particularly exerting its influence on the respiratory tract, and by dilating the capillary blood vessels of the circulatory system, it directs increased blood flow to the skin. The quantities used in this recipe are not written in stone, so be prepared to experiment by adding extra ramsons to get the taste right just for you, especially if you adore garlic!


Be VERY CAREFUL when gathering ramsons in Europe, not to gather the young leaves of Lords & Ladies, Arum maculatum. Take a note of the differences before you go foraging for them:

Fully grown Lords & Ladies leaves have a fork at the base of the leaf, and they are more or less arrow-shaped, unlike wild garlic. Mistakes tend to happen when it is very young ramsons being picked, because the young leaves or Lords & Ladies are NOT forked at the base, giving them a very strong resemblance to young ramsons! If in doubt, flip them over… ramsons leaves have parallel veins on the underside, but Lords & Ladies has a system of branching veins. Knowing that, one can generally forage for ramsons confidently, providing that one pays attention.

In the areas where it grows, wild garlic appears to be super-abundant, forming large swathes and carpeting broad-leaved woodland. It is fairly delicate however, so please try not to trample it. Possibly the ideal way to pick it is to pick a circular area about the size of a football. You will notice lots of much smaller leaves underneath, emerging from the ground, and these will soon grow to close the gap you have created. Doing it this way, means that you will avoid excessive trampling of the plants. Try to never pick more than 3 leaves at a time. This will make it easier for you to keep an eye out for young Lords & Ladies and stop it finding its way into the batch.

Cleavers / Goosegrass / Sticky Willie
Galium aparine

Cleavers / Goosegrass, Galium aparineFEATURES: .

This little member of the coffee bean family should be familiar to everyone. The little round seeds – from which a palateable and caffeine rich coffee can be made later in the summer – will get stuck all through your dog’s fur and your clothing too! The whole plant is covered in little hooked hairs, and for this reason it should not be consumed raw, as these can cause skin rashes in susceptible people, and can lead to a sore throat too!

The structure is said to resemble the branches and nodes of the lymphatic system, and cleavers is recognised as a good lymphatic tonic, for ‘clearing the lymph’, as was once said.

Little parcels of still-tender tips can be lightly steamed and served with butter, but like nettle it lends minerals, including silica, to our spring cure soup, as well as copious amounts of vitamin C, and with its’ lymphatic properties too… what a star!


You will normally find this species just about everywhere that you look for it, from early spring onwards. Be sure that it sticks to your clothing, otherwise you may have one of the other bedstraws, or Galiums… possibly even sweet woodruff!

Ground elder
Aegopodium podagraria

Ground elder, Aegopodium podagrariaFEATURES: .

Ground elder is one of the easiest members of the carrot family to identify, but you still need to make sure that you learn it properly before you go about eating any, as this family not only contains culinary essentials such as the carrot, parsnip and celery, and the herbs fennel, chervil and dill, but it also contains some of the most poisonous plants known to humankind, such as hemlock and hemlock water-dropwort.

That said, it is a fairly easy vegetable to recognise, in part due to its’ elder like composite leaf shape. The whole herb has a taste somewhat reminiscent of a cross between anise and celery, when fresh. It is a good salad herb, with a pungent flavour that becomes much milder once it has been cooked. 

Tradition states that ground elder was bought to Britain by the invading Roman army, around 2000 years ago. Presumably, with the business of an invasion going on, troops had to be fed and you would not want to grow plants that needed a lot of laborious tending to get results. Ground elder needs anything but. It is the bane of gardeners everywhere, propagating itself mainly via underground runners, but given a free rein over some otherwise neglected area, it can make attractive ground cover and a tasty crop. I also love it in salads.

Ground elder, like celery, has a reputation for being a bit of a diuretic and helping the kidneys with their job of elimination. Along with nettle and dandelion, it should be helpful where there are small kidney or bladder stones, and it should also help to chase away an attack of gout!


You shouldn’t have any trouble finding some ground elder to pick, but if in doubt, always ask an expert for their opinion. If you are brave enough to grow it in your garden, then give it a small island border all to itself, and contain it by mowing round it, or better still, grow it in a big tub. If you don’t wat ground elder popping up everywhere, then do not let it flower!

Taraxacum officinale

Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale






Like most of the plants in this series, this one is very common and probably needs no introduction to most everyone! It is a wonderful early season nectar source for pollinating insects such as bees and small beetles, yet you may be surprised to learn that dandelion seldom reproduces sexually over much of its range. It is a species complex comprised of many stable species, and these usually reproduce by parthenogenesis – something that has bee called ‘virgin birth’, where the female ovum just clones itself, meaning that all new seed are identical clones of the female mother plant. Apparently there are some exceptions to this rule too… in parts of south America and Spain.

Like cleavers, dandelion root can be dark roasted to make an excellent ‘coffee’, but it is the leaves and maybe a few flowers that we are interested in here, for our Spring Cure Soup. Dandelion is another ‘herb of elimination’ that benefits the kidneys and the urinary tract, supporting them in their action of cleaning the blood.


If you intend to weed dandelion out of a garden or allotment, then this provides an ideal opportunity to pick the leaves and harvest the roots for use in making coffee, as a roasted vegetable, or as a medicine. Any small section of root that gets left behind in the soil will grow back. In practice this will happen often!

Dandelion can be found all year round but it is at its prime in the spring. For salad use – very popular in Belgium and France – the leaves are first blanched for a week under a terra-cotta bell, making them sweeter and more palatable. For our soup, a few wild harvested leaves will be fine. The bitterness of dandelion stimulates the vagus nerve and in turn this results in bile secretion, an increase in digestive enzyme production and an increase in peristalsis, meaning that dandelion is not only a good kidney herb, but it is also a good tonic for a sluggish digestion and could improve nutritional absorption too!

Red deadnettle / Purple archangel
Lamium purpureum

Red deadnettle / Purple archangel, Lamium purpureum


Like other members of the mint family, this plant has square stems, and bears flowers in the leaf axils that are tubular and have a prominent lower lip. This lip feature gave the mint family its former name of Labiateae. Though it doubtless has many other uses, it is included here for flavour and texture predominantly. Like all of the plants in this section, it is rich in vitamin C and a range of minerals.


Very, very common and often considered to be a weed species in gardens and allotments, yet the young tops are actually quite tasty and can add interesting texture and flavour to mixed salads.

Ground ivy
Glechoma hederacea

Ground ivy. Glechoma hederacea


Ground ivy is a prostrate creeping herb in the mint family. It is not even distantly related to its namesake, the ivy, which should not be used. With an obvious square stem and tubular, prominently lipped flowers that are born in the leaf axils, as well as leaves borne in opposite pairs, this is an obvious candidate for the mint family. Every now and again it throws up erect stems on which to bear its pretty lilac to blue flowers.

Once upon a time, this was a flavouring for ale, before hops became popular in Britain, and that lends to it another country name, which is ale-hoof. The flavour is somewhat like its distant cousin in the mint family, the sage. In mediaeval cookery, ground ivy was finely diced and made into a “mint-sauce” style sauce using vinegar, to be served with red meat and game.

Ground ivy has a unique ability to dry up mucus secretions in the sinuses, and for this reason it makes an excellent herb tea to enjoy in hayfever season, particularly if you are sensitive to oilseed rape / canola flowers. At a push, even eating a small handful raw will often bring considerable relief! Although it is doubtless full of vitamins and minerals, it is included in this recipe predominantly as a flavouring herb – imparting a herby flavour to the soup.


Like all of the herbs used in this recipe, ground ivy is very very common, and found just about everywhere! Shady spots can often produce the lushest of plants, and I always feel that it is an added bonus to add a few that are in flower.

Other plants that could easily be added or substituted for the above (except for the stinging nettles – retain those):

White deadnettle, Lamium album

White deadnettle, Lamium album


  • Chickweed, Stellaria media
  • Greater plantain, Plantago major
  • Ribwort plantain, Plantago lanceolata
  • White deadnettle, Lamium album
  • Wall pennywort, Umbilicus rupestris
  • Spring beauty, Claytonia perfoliata
  • Sea purslane, Atriplex portulacoides
  • Sweet violet leaves, Viola odorata
  • Three-cornered leek, Allium triquetrum
  • Crow garlic, Allium vineale



Chickweed, Stellaria media

Chickweed, Stellaria media

If you found this interesting, then The Wild Side of Life runs a series of foraging courses in the spring and summer, and a Spring & Summer Forager’s Club, both of which have healthy eating as medicinal herbs as their focus. The Yellow Emperor, from Han Dynasty China, the classical Greek Hippocrates, and the Persian scholar Avicenna, were all credited with the important philosophical tenet “Let food be thy medicine”. On our courses, we explore how to make that a reality in our daily lives.

During August we also run our Summer Herb School, and our 2 day Herbal First Aid course will be exploring how to wildcraft the healing virtues of these herbs and others in greater depth!

IMPORTANT: Never eat any plant or wild mushroom without being 100% certain of its identification… ok, I know you all know that already 😉

The Wild Side of Life was voted Best Food Foraging Education Provider in the Food & Drink Awards and features in BBC Countryfile Magazine’s ‘Best UK Foraging Courses’. Fred Gillam (also known as ‘Fred the Forager’) has appeared on national television foraging for porcini with Gino D’Acampo, in For the Love of Britain presented by Dame Julie Walters, on BBC radio 2 with Jeremy Vine and on Radio 4’s Farming Today programme. He is the author of Poisonous Plants in Great Britain.

Wild Side of Life – Spring Newsletter 2015

Hello Wildsiders!

Spring is here and as the soil begins to warm up, things are also warming up in the foraging world. I’m going to tell you about all the exciting things we are up to this year in a moment, and I am also going to share a recipe with you… a simple recipe so good that having just drained my second bowl I am left wanting more! 

Wild garlic, young stinging nettles and the herb known as cleavers are to be found in many many places around the UK at this time of the year, and I am going to tell you in a minute how to make a truly rewarding thick soup using just these three common plants. It is so ‘moreish’ that you will want to go out picking the ingredients every single day!

I’m just pausing for a little more of that soup… One day they will invent a ‘click to taste’ button but right now there is only one way to taste this and that is to go and make it for yourself. Once you have checked out the offerings in this newsletter, scroll down and check out this beautiful recipe… and thanks go to the talented Natascha Kenyon for having created all three bowls full 🙂

First, here are my spring offerings to you from The Wild Side of Life. Click the links to find out more:


St. George’s Mushroom Champagne Picnic (only a few places left)
We will forage for this beautiful spring mushroom that sometimes grows in HUGE rings, cook it together with other wild foraged ingredients, then enjoy with a glass or two of champagne! Delicious! Happening on the 26th April so book now!

Secret Sunday Spring Forager’s Club (only a few places left) 
An in-depth foraging experience where you will receive 18.5 hours of expert tuition in different habitats over the spring season. Bring a guest along for a feast, and send pictures of the foraging finds you make outside of the course to our private mailing list for identification. Starting in 2 weeks – book now!

Pignuts, Fiddles and Burdock
A special day focusing on finding and cooking these 3 ingredients in imaginative ways… it’s all about the taste and there will be plenty of it as we combine these exciting foods in a multitude of ways! We will also be walking through some stunning scenery on this day and will stop to eat out packed lunches in one of Wiltshire’s remotest spots near an ancient burial chamber of the Marlborough Downs.

Private mentoring in sap tapping and spring wild food cookery is also available, contact me to arrange: Fred@thewildsideoflife.co.uk


Herbal First Aid Weekend 
On this weekend you will learn to identify many useful medicinal plants from the English hedgerows and use them to make between 15 and 20 remedies to treat common ailments that most of us encounter at some time or another. You will take home tinctures, elixirs, teas, electuaries, infused oils, capsules and salves for your own home pharmacy, along with the skills and knowledge to make them again and again.

Winter Remedies Weekend
Many of us tend to suffer a bit in the winter in our temperate climate. Coughs, colds, influenza, chilblains, aches and pains brought on by damp. Lots of conditions are exacerbated by the damp cold of winter and on this weekend you will learn to identify many useful medicinal plants from the English hedgerows and use them to make between 15 and 20 remedies to treat common winter ailments. You will take home cough remedies, immune enhancing mushrooms, anti-inflammatory teas, elixirs, capsules and salves for your own home pharmacy.

UK First Medicinal Mushrooms Conference
A conference held at a 5-star venue in rural Lincolnshire with practical woodland foraging & remedy making, guest speakers include Roger Philips (author of “Mushrooms”), Matthew Rooney (Biodynamic Mushroom Cultivator at ‘Mushroom Table’), Martin Powell (author of “Medicinal Mushrooms – A Clinical Guide”), Cristina Cromer (Medical Herbalist and former Lecturer at the University of Westminster) and Fred Gillam (author of “Poisonous Plants in Great Britain”) and Natascha Kenyon from The Wild Side of Life. Please send an email if you are interested to… Fred@thewildsideoflife.co.uk


Family Bushcraft Camping Weekend
A weekend for all the family to learn the basics of camp-craft, putting up a ‘basha’ shelter, purifying your own river water, learning techniques for lighting the cooking fire without matches, making cord from tree bark, and much more. An idyllic woodland clearing with a clean flowing river awaits your adventure.

Ancient Pewter Smithing 
Using the ancient ‘cuttlebone’ technique known to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, you will be guided through all the processes needed to cast your own item of unique and attractive jewellery in English Pewter. Some say the look of the molten metal in the fire is like a magical window on creation itself – it is certainly a memorable and inspiring experience. We will do this in a small group over a native hardwood charcoal fire. You will take home a beautiful and unique item to cherish forever.

Coracle Making Weekend
Coracles (skin covered, wooden framed, tensioned boats) of differing designs were once widespread on rivers in many parts of the world and originally covered in animal hide. Since the industrial revolution in Britain they have been covered in calico cloth and waterproofed with tar. Still used for salmon fishing, these versatile and fun craft carry a surprising load and can take you to places inaccessible on foot. Make your own and take it home!

Woodcrafts of the European Nomads (flowers, pegs, baskets and more) – details coming very soon, please drop me an email if you are interested… we will be creating hand crafted items in the woods using the centuries old methods of the gypsies and travellers… baskets, clothes pegs, wooden flowers… and sharing Romany stories and cookery around a roaring camp fire! Fred@thewildsideoflife.co.uk


As featured in BBC Countryfile Magazine’s Top 10 UK Foraging Courses

The Secret Sunday Mushroom Club
Acclaimed foraging experience where you will receive 18.5 hours of expert tuition in different habitats focusing on how to locate and identify with confidence most of the best UK edible species. Fred the Forager regularly uses more than 100 species and there will be plenty of advice on how to build you own repertoire safely. Bring a guest along for a feast on the last day and have the finds you make outside of the course identified by sending your pictures to our private mailing list. Places go fast so book early.

Gourmet Mushroom Discovery Days in Wiltshire, The Gower and the New Forest
If you are looking for an exciting and special one day mushroom experience these days are for you. You will be introduced over the course of the day to some of the finer gourmet mushrooms and shown how to spot the poisonous lookalikes. We will cook our finds in the forest at the end of the day. These courses take place in some of the best locations in the region for fungi, and time will be spent discussing how to pick mushrooms sustainably without detriment to future populations. Take home some wonderful memories and feel free to come back for advice when identifying you future finds.

Gift Vouchers

Did you know that you can buy vouchers for mother’s day, birthdays, Christmas day, practically any day you like from my website? If the course voucher you need is not already available on the shop page, all you have to do is email Fred@thewildsideoflife.co.uk and I will prepare one especially for you with your recipients name on it! 

Here is what people have had to say about receiving our vouchers as gifts…

“My Gourmet Mushroom Discovery Day has simply been a wonderful birthday present. When I first received the voucher I wondered what it would be like but I have had an amazing time and have learned so much! I will never look at the woods in the same way again and I even feel confident enough now to go and pick some of the mushrooms for myself!”

“My son bought me a voucher for Mother’s Day for a day’s foraging tuition with The Wild Side of Life. I have had a lot of fun and I never realised just how much tasty food is out there for the picking. I enjoyed my present very much and I would definitely like to go out again, perhaps on one of the courses next time.”

There is a new loyalty referral scheme that you can join too, meaning that you can get your courses for less if you share the joy with someone else – which is a win-win situation. I am going to email everybody about this very soon so if you are one of our subscribers keep an eye out for it in your mailbox.


We will be attending a number of food and festival events this year so pop in to our stand for a chat and a foraged fruit leather… we love to meet you all! We will be at the Great WIld Food & Chilli Fair at Molden in Essex on June 27th & 28th. The website for this fabulous event is here. As Fred the Forager I will be running workshops in ‘de-mystifying mushroom identification’, ‘tree foods’ and ‘herbal first aid’ as well as giving a talk on Poisonous Plants. You can find out about all of them here, where you can also pre-book your workshop places at this event.

On May 16th watch out for my talk “The Mushroom Forager’s Tales” in The Real Food & Drink Theatre at the Marlborough Food & Drink Festival in Wiltshire. There will be lots of other talks by well known foodies too, so check their web page to find the schedule.

The Wild Side of Life will be providing foraging workshops and medicinal mushroom talks at both the Green Gathering and Heart of the East festivals / gatherings this year, as part of the AVALON RISING programme.

…and now for the recipe, mmmm enjoy 😉 and don’t forget to check out our presence on Facebook and Twitter

Click here for the Wild Garlic, Stinging Nettle and Cleavers Soup Recipe

Best wishes and happy foraging!
Fred the Forager