BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘nuts’

#365daysofbiking Going nuts

Saturday January 23rd 2021 – There was cold weather coming in, with the possibility of snow. I could feel it in the afternoon air as I nipped up to Walsall Wood.

The hazel katkins were having none of it, though: They were coming out and although sparse, were a very welcome splash of light green in a grey winter landscape.

These blooms are the male flowers of the tree, the female ones are tiny. Hopefully the nut crop will not be too sparse this season, despite the thinness of the number of katkins on display…

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#365daysofbiking Just nuts

October 19th – The sweet chestnuts have had a good year. In this country wild or urban trees rarely get the conditions to produce edible fruit, but on a journey to Tipton I found these near Brunswick Park, Wednesbury – still very thin but some of a size that contained a thin, edible nut.

I’ve not seen that before.

The boughs are laden and the windfallen fruit litters the footpath, the spiny husks looking like debris from some dinosaur shedding its skin. The nuts, however, are proving a delight for the squirrel population who are busily engaged in eating and planting the next generation of sweet chestnut saplings.

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#365daysofbiking Community chestnut

September 12h – Also on my way back from Shenstone, at the bottom of Main Street in Stonnall, a different type of chestnut is absolutely profuse this year.

Sweet chestnuts in their spiny shells don’t really grow edible fruit in this country due to the climate, but they are beautiful ornamental trees with their shiny leaves and fascinating, almost prehistoric looking fruit.

This tree is always impressive.

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#365daysofbiking Just nuts

July 27th – A miserable Saturday of work, bad weather and not getting done what I planned to. My health wasn’t great, either. I headed out to Chasewater in the evening but nothing was inspiring in the dull, overbearing grey.

I did note however one thing – we have an excellent hazelnut crop this year; and this tree at Chasewater I’ve never noticed before was absolutely laden with nuts.

Wonder if the squirrels might leave a few to ripen for the humans this year?

That thought, at least, made me smile.

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September 14th – A real sign of autumn, my first conker finds of the season, and this year it looks like there’s a large, voluminous crop waiting to fall to earth.

This tree, spotted in the backlanes of Stonnall was laden, and the fruit fresh from the husk as beautiful and shiny as ever one could wish, despite the tree being hard-hit by leaf miner.

Like most men, there is an inbuilt genetic urge to collect fallen conkers and I still can’t pass them in the road without popping a few in my pocket.

September 26th – On my way home in the road in the backstreets of Walsall, I spotted these large acorns in unusually hairy cups. Not having seen the like before, I assumed there were some kind f insect gall.

Looking it up when I got home, these are actually the acorns f a turkey oak, and quite normal for the species. I’ve never seen them before, and they’re quite alien after the familiar gnarled, knobbly normal acorn cup one usually sees.

An interesting oddity.

September 18th – Ah, the season of the conker.

Every year, I point out the same truism: that few men can pass a conker lying on the ground and not pop it into their pocket. It’s a primal instinct from childhood, when they were seemingly so rare, and highly prized. 

Despite the leaf-miners and cankers, the horse chestnuts have had a fruitful year and the beautifully shiny, leathery nuts lie in their split spiky husks on the ground beneath many a rural tree. This one, spotted near Burntwood, ended up in my pocket too.

It’s be rude not to.

July 23rd – Pleased to see again that the walnut tree, appropriately situated in the village of Wall, has a great crop again this year. It’s the only such tree I know of locally, and the only one I’ve ever seen that reliably fruits.

A few more weeks and I might grab a couple of handfuls of the still green nuts to try pickled walnuts. Always fancied giving them a go.

September 14th – Also prolific at the moment are the squirrels, who are eating for winter. Near the Watermead estate on the towpath by the hazel  hedge, the way is littered with expertly nibbled shells, harvested for their fatty, milky goodness by the grey, furry nut-bandits.

There’s a real feeling at the moment of nature preparing to shut down for winter.

September 23rd – Labouring up Shire Oak Hill at Sandhills, a familiar crunch crackles under my tyres. The beech mast is thick this year, and it’s been a good year for beech nuts.

The husks are hard, prickly and dry as old bones; the little brown nuts shiny and hard. Some years, the nuts are fatter and more oily than others, and this is part of the growing cycle of the tree, not a factor of the weather. Edible but harsh, they were used as a substitute for coffee in wartime and gave their name to a chewing gum.

I collect a few, split them open with a pocket blade, and suck out the kernel, and chew them determinedly for the remainder of my journey. 

A palatable taste, not unlike a slightly sharp hazelnut. But it’s hard work to get a decent mouthful!