Wednesday 22 June 2011

Stratford 2011 - Stratford

Stratford 2011 - Foraging in Bancroft Basin
17 May 2011

Wand'ring Bark in Bancroft Basin

We spent yesterday evening in the company of Jamie and Sarah of The Book Barge in the Dirty Duck where pints of Old Speckled Hen awaited. The pub was strangely deserted which can probably be attributed to: 1. it was a Monday night and 2. it was after theatre curtains up time - either way we spent a pleasant couple of hours supping our beer under the watchful eyes of Dame Judy Dench (well, her photo anyway) and Miles Richardson ("he's a friend of Belle's... don't you know..."). After a couple of pints of OSH it was time to go and Belle falls off her bar stool - not due to inebriation I would add - her peripheral vision tends to let her down, quite literally in this case. I laughed so much that I walked out without my fleece or brolly so I guess the last laugh went to her.

Sarah of the Book Barge

We returned to WB and drank coffee whilst thinking up likely locations for the Book Barge. It was an odd exercise, they want high footfall whereas we all want quiet and solitude. In the end we concluded that Crick would  be a good destination, till the idea of the BCN Challenge reared its head!

Hamlet in Stratford - and Yoric!

Bancroft Basin is a bustling spot, even at 7.00am when Belle rose to start preparations for  the soiree in the afternoon. I guess that this is the price of a town mooring but the incessant stram of tourists wanting to be photographed beside, and sometimes on the boat was a major pain.

They say that a blow to the head can change a person. Well that has certainly wrought some changes in our lives with her extended recuperation and her impaired sight causing her to seek a diversion away from the book one usually sees in her hand. As an alternative she has fallen back on another love of her life - cooking, but with a twist. She has embraced foraging for free foods and where better than along the unpolluted hedgerows and towpaths of our canal network. Suddenly a humdrum descent through a flight of obscure locks becomes a huge gathering opportunity with each day having its objectives. One day its fresh Beech Leaves (fresh, soft and only just unfurled mind you) then its Elderflower, again fresh, selected heads only - followed by Dog Rose petals. I suddenly find myself in the midst of a crash course in British flora and fauna.

Now its Dandelions which seem to have gone into a temporary decline and Wild Comfrey which is supposed to be everywhere at all times - which means we cant find a bit of it. What I could find was Lavender - there is lots of it in Bancroft Basin and I was dispatched on an undercover foraging expedition before buying a day pass and dropping onto the Avon to moor just downstream of the foot ferry.

More of the Mad Hatters Tea Party another time.

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