Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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We got rather wet. The plan was to go up to one of G's field study sites and 1) get the rainfall and soil through-flow recorders working again 2) survey a short section of the river and 3) collect bilberries. Last year, we stumbled into the most wonderful clearing full of bilberry bushes, but never had chance to really collect many.

So we drove up into the forest, and G made a comment about the gate at the bottom of the track being to stop Christmas tree rustlers and how it's locked at that time of year. We parked and then, after swapping the little electronic dataloggers with dead batteries for ones that were working, G suggested that we gather bilberries first before attempting the river survey. Several scrambly minutes later, we were amongst the bilberry shrubs picking furiously.

At this point, the heavens opened. Within a couple of minutes my legs from mid-thigh downwards were as wet as though I'd been wading in a river. But we kept picking until we had enough for a decent sized pie. Bilberries are fiddly to pick, which is probably why they're next to impossible to buy, even preserved, but when I was a kid, they were my absolutely favourite fruit for pies. I think they still are.

After a while, we floundered our way back to the Daihatsu (you get to the bilberries across a section of forest floor that sill has all the small branches left from the last felling operations, all partially overgrown with vegetation and starting to rot and break underfoot) and, deciding that surveying in the rain would not be a good idea (the paper goes all soggy, despite a plastic cover), we set off for home. This was where things got interesting.

Reaching the bottom of the track, we discovered we'd been locked in. A hefty very new looking chain and solid padlock secured the very solid gate. Also the hinges were arranged so that you couldn't just lift the gate off. "I know another way out," said G. So off we went on a long and scenic drive through entirely new (to me at any rate) bits of the forest. In the process discovering a whole new river valley that needs investigating and, eventually, a way out through a gate that looked locked, but in fact had the key in the padlock. We then wondered if the main gate had had the key in the lock as well, but by then it was easier to go on than back. Soon we were on a small gated lane, but as we were out of the forest, this is just normal and none of these gates were locked.

Our adventure almost over, just before we turned back onto the main road, we came across an unusual memorial in the form of a chunk of Mosquito aero engine mounted on a small plinth. It was warped and broken open. You could see the pistons within. The sign said that the plane had crashed there on Aran Fawddwy during the war and this was a memorial to the crew who had died.

Home and dried off, I made bilberry pie for dessert. It was delicious. I think food you've foraged yourself always tastes better somehow.

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