The Night I Didn’t Get Ate By Zombies

Ha! We seem to have fungi coming out of our ears.

This is a story for those doubters who question the idea that I may have a Gorilla up my back passage, or an Emu for that matter, we will have to wait for the results of that one. So this is a story that is a bit more realistic.

This all didn’t happen about eight or nine years ago when I was camping out in woodland in East Sussex. I owned a little bit of land there and I had a regular camp where I would stay most weekends.

It was just a platform in a Sweet chestnut Tree.

Base CampThis picture was taken in winter, most of the time I didn’t have the basha up, I liked to sleep under the stars.

The animals made this place special for me. I had been feeding them here for years and my camp was always full of life. The Squirrels were the cheekiest.

Grey SquirrelOn this particular day I had seen something out on the track that I wanted. (The first of our mushrooms)

ParasolThis is a mushroom called a Parasol and it is good to eat.

If you are lucky enough to live in the UK then this is a good one for foragers. There are no Β poisonous mushrooms that look like this. The only possible exception is the Shaggy Parasol which many people cite as edible but is known to cause gastrointestinal problems in some individuals.

This information definitely does not apply to North America where there is a very poisonous look alike called the False Parasol that is the largest cause of mushroom poisoning there. They don’t occur in the UK.

The Parasol, Macrolepiota procera has dark fixed scales on a creamy background.

ParasolI am not saying go out and eat a spotty mushroom, it must have at least a passing resemblance to the one I am showing you.

Amanitas have spotted caps and some of them are very poisonous but they usually have light coloured spots on a dark background. Stay away from white ones.

Fly Agaric

Grey Spotted AmanitaAmanitas also have floppy fixed rings and sit in a cup although that isn’t always obvious.

As soon as the cap opens you can see that a parasol has a ring, it is loose and you can move it up and down the stem.

ParasolIt also has a lovely snakeskin pattern on the stem. If you want to avoid the Shaggy Parasol then look for that pattern. The Shaggy Parasol doesn’t have it.

ParasolSo here is the mushroom that has caught my eye today.

ParasolIn the US the advice is not to eat young caps like this because at this stage it is easy to confuse them with the poisonous False Parasol. In the UK they are best like this.

This one has a lovely pattern on the stem and I know that it is safe to eat.

ParasolOkay regular foragers will probably hate me for what I am going to do next. The Parasol has a very good flavour and it is best served on it’s own or with mild flavours so that you can appreciate the mushroom to the full.

However earlier in the day I had foraged myself a nice venison steak, some chillies, tomatoes, prawns, a few sprigs of rosemary and some strong cheese. It is just while I was out hunting the Deer I noticed this little mushroom and thought that would fit right in there beside my steak in my little pan.

So it is back to camp and prepare the food.

DinnerYes it is getting dark now but when you are out in the wild there is not a lot to do after dark, except cook and eat and stuff like that.

So discard that beautiful stem, it is tough and fibrous. Lose the ring obviously and chop your vegetables into reasonable sizes.

DinnerPop it all into a little pan and notice that the wild mushroom adds a certain visual appeal to an otherwise rather bland meal

DinnerOn this particular evening I served my meagre repast with a small bottle of the house Jack.

That little bottle probably saved my life.

DinnerAfter eating and cleaning up I settled down in my tree to enjoy the evening and it was a good one.

Stars twinkled in the sky. Tawny Owls called to each other. The old Badger came around and we drank some more whisky and told each other stories.

BadgerI remember that I was telling him about the old days when I used to be a Pirate, before I became a Big Game Hunter and Butterfly Collector. (Not all of my stories are true)

I drifted off to sleep with a strong feeling of peace and well being around me and I slept like a log. To this day I believe that it was that deep sleep and possibly the fact that I was up a tree that saved my life the night that I wasn’t ate by Zombies.

I was awoken by somebody pelting me with peanuts.

“Wake up Col! It’s Zombies,” his little eyes seemed to say.

Grey Squirrel(Bluebells? Tell the continuity lady that I need to speak to her right now!)

What is it little Squirrel, do you want me to follow you?

I jumped out of my tree and followed the Squirrel, there were brains splattered everywhere.

Purple Jelly DiscCould it be Ogres? They would crack your bones to suck out the marrow but then, they would definitely eat the brains. This was something else, probably Zombies. I took as many pictures as I dared and I got out of that wood sharpish.

Purple Jelly Disc

Purple Jelly Disc

Purple Jelly DiscI looked it up when I got home and you are never going to believe this…

It is another mushroom. Well it is a fungi called Purple Jelly Disc, Ascocoryne sarcoides. It is what they call a saprobic fungi and that means that it feeds on and breaks down dead wood and other organic matter. This one typically feeds on Beech Wood but here it was eating Sweet Chestnut.

This thing that Fungi do in breaking down dead matter is hugely important to the ecology of the woodland. If fungi didn’t do this everything would just stay where it died and we would be up to our necks in it.

Fungi fill many other roles as well. There is a huge amount of fungi in the forest but most of it we can’t even see. It lives underground and in the bodies of fallen trees. The bits that we do see are just the fruit of a much larger organism.

Kingdom Fungi is so diverse, just as much so as Kingdom Plantae and Kingdom Animalia but sometimes harder to study because we can’t see it. What we can see fascinates me.

Purple Jelly Disc

Purple Jelly DiscWell thank you for reading this nonsense. Now it is time to walk the Dog. πŸ™‚

We have to just leave the Gorilla Cam where it is for a few days. Animals can smell when we have been around and our best chance of getting anything lies in staying out of the way for a bit. I will post results later in the week hopefully.

 

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61 thoughts on “The Night I Didn’t Get Ate By Zombies”

      1. Oh they really do that! I remember the night I first heard a fox voice. It was right behind my window and I had no idea who it was. I was petrified and immediately thought about the banshee, and it is not a joke, I truly did think. I was in mortal fear. Then my curiosity took over and I sneaked to the window and saw the bloody animal πŸ™‚ What a joy! It was like I would have got a second chance πŸ™‚

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  1. I had to smile when I saw your tent in the trees. My son is exactly like you when it comes to raw living. I love that about him. He’s a man’s man. And I want you to know that Fizz is making a great hit on Scrapbook.com. The ladies love her and want her to come visit them. Thanks so much for creating happiness in my neck of the woods! Happy Trails!!

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      1. I didn’t have much time to read your entire post yesterday, so I went back and finished it today. I love your stories. And I thought the mushrooms were brains too. So thanks for clearing that up for me. We have a lot of zombies in our neck of the woods too, but I’ve never seen there brains before. Good to know they have some. Happy Trails!

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    1. Thank you Crystal πŸ™‚ I may have lived well in the past but these days I live on air. I believe that the way to achieve everything that you want in life is um… not to want very much. I am preparing myself for old age πŸ™‚

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  2. I hope you gave that continuity lady a good talking to. The jelly disc fungus is fascinating. I’ve never seen fungi like this but that is probably because I don’t walk in woods regularly. I’m looking forward to the gorilla cam video.

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  3. Very enjoyable post! That jelly fungus looks very like the guts I cleaned out of my bathtub this morning. We’ve got a very conscientious bunch of zombies around here. That or the damn cat got another chipmunk.

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  4. Oh, they look so awfully yucky!!! But it makes for a good story!! πŸ™‚ I like that you live in the forest! Are there any trolls there? or do they only live in the norwegian forests? πŸ™‚

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  5. Fascinating! I loved your story and all the great info contained therein. It’s hard for me to put together the picture of you hoboing around out there and then going home to consult your library of invaluable reference material. Loved the zombie tale, too! Thanks for all the likes on my posts. I love seeing them. I’ve been away for a while–on vacation. Yay! Glad to be back and able to visit my Bloggy Friends.
    Elouise

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  6. The food looks delicious, but the Purple Jelly Disc doesn’t look pleasant, it looks like a brain. It’s great that you usually camp, sleeping under the stars, and have nature friends.
    Kind greetings,
    Marianne

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    1. Thanks Marianne πŸ™‚ I only use a tent when I have to be able to confine an animal, a Dog. (For it’s own protection from Boar)If I am alone I use a bivi-bag, A waterproof sleeping bag cover but they are no good in bad rain, zip one up and it is like lying in a coffin. So I carry a basha, a waterproof sheet, that way I can sit under it and watch the rain fall and the bivi-bag keeps my kit dry πŸ™‚

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    1. Please do. All of my pictures are posted free of copyright and watermarks and are free to download and use in any way that you like. I am basically a bit nuts and believe that when I take something then I should give something back to the spirit that gave me these things.Like the hunter who make a kill and leaves something of it as an offering of thanks. If any one can use my pictures to spread appreciation of nature then I am happy, job done, spirit fed. πŸ™‚ If there was a particular subject or idea that you wanted pictures to illustrate then I may be able to help with that too. I am very happy that you asked that question πŸ˜€

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  7. This was fascinating, if totally out of my experience and my world.
    I love looking at mushrooms, especially if I come across them in the wild (since I’m not often in the wild, this is a rare occurrence). They’re so interesting to look at, and sometimes beautiful. But I draw the line at your brain fungi, which I’ve never heard of or seen before. Zombies indeed!!!!!

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  8. Fun Story! Wow, those mushrooms are freaky. The weirdest ones I’ve seen are the bridal veils, beautiful, but stinky. I really enjoy learning about mushrooms this way.
    Have you heard that if you cook mushrooms with a clove of garlic and it discolors, the mushroom is poisonous?

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  9. I am allergic to mushrooms, but not the steak and Jack Daniels. It is good to know more about mushrooms even though I do not know why I am allergic to them other than I am also allergic to molds….

    Regards and good will blogging.

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