Foraging or filching?

I have been hooked on foraging ever since reading as a child about a family living in the country who never came home empty handed, even if it was just a bunch of dandelion leaves from the verge for the rabbits or the pig.

In my Twenties along came Richard Mabey’s Food For Free and I learned how to find wild garlic, rosehips and elderberries and goodness knows what else.

And I’ve kept on doing it. I only have to walk down my suburban road and I can find hazelnuts, blackberries and damsons without any effort. These spill over fences and walls and I reckon when in public space they are fair game. All right, I might lean over into the gardens at times when no one is looking . . .That’s getting close to filching

Further afield in Sheffield I can pick at different times of the year, apples, cherries, plums, blackberries, damsons, pears and even the odd fig. But I’m keeping the locations to myself.

It doesn’t have to be food. On holiday in a cottage by the sea my wife and I kept a stove ablaze for the night with driftwood from the sea.

I am still foraging when I go for coffee. I don’t take sugar but if I did I am sure I would have a sweet tooth so I pocket three or four of those little packets to use in the kitchen, sprinkling on scones, in sauces to heighten flavours and, only just this morning, to add to my bread mix. Three of those little tube packets are the equivalent of a teaspoon, by the way.

Now is that foraging – or filching?