On Sunday morning, we headed for the excitingly named Devil's Spittleful nature reserve to meet members of the Worcestershire Fungal Society (and their baskets) and go out mushrooming.
Our curiosity was undampened by the cold, misty weather. We were rewarded when the sun burst through and began warming us just as we entered the chestnut wood. The group scattered under the trees, poking under the leaf litter to locate choice specimens.
Humuhumu on her daddy's shoulders, removing her gloves in preparation for foraging.
It quickly became evident that the walk organiser, Diana, was the Fungal Oracle. Everyone brought her their mushrooms for identification, and for each one she would give the Latin and common names, and describe how its appearance changed from sprouting through to rotting. I didn't get to listen to too many descriptions, sadly, as Keiki was not in a good mood (cutting another tooth) and I had to keep moving to keep him from wailing.
Diana with a mushroom. I can't remember which one.
We departed the wood after half an hour or so of foraging. Most baskets stayed empty, as there weren't too many edible specimens about. Diana's was the only basket with a substantial quantity, but that was because she was collecting inedible items for her records as well. As we walked toward the open field, it was explained to us that the purpose of the baskets was multifold: to maximise air circulation around the delicate mushroom flesh, to facilitate trading of edible specimens, and to allow the spores to drop through to the ground and thus assist the germination of the next generation of mushrooms.
Glistening ink caps.
Hats and coats were thrown off as we left the shelter of the chestnuts for the open air and warm autumn sunshine. The more experienced mushroomers dove into the long grass, looking for the large white caps of tasty field parasols.
Immature field parasol. We only found two, but they were still pretty substantial.
It was nearing midday, and Keiki let us know that he would like to stop and sit down for a snack.
He very much enjoyed his PB & J and a crawl around the grass, as did Humuhumu.
Our oracle's basket was filling rapidly with all manner of beauties, including the very distinctive fire-engine red of fly agaric.
Humuhumu and Daddy walking the path. "Something bit my arm!" she said resentfully.
Although the fungus collectors' interest showed no signs of waning, we called time on the outing after about two hours. One final treat lay in store for us: we spotted the steam train that runs from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth pootling along the tracks running past the field. We waved our arms madly at the carriages and lots of the passengers responded enthusiastically, to Humuhumu's delight.