Doing Something Useful

I've noticed that I have a tendency to write about useful things you can do with this, that or the other. But sometimes you just don't feel like doing anything very much, so here's a post about not doing anything much. When we went to Surry last week, and collected the acorns I told you about, we also collected these

lovely sweet chestnuts. My husband hails from Surrey and has fond memories of collecting chestnuts as a child. I was quite amazed at how prolific they were - I don't know about other areas of the country, certainly a sweet chestnut in this part of Wiltshire is uncommon, but Surrey is heavily wooded and seems to support the growth of this lovely tree and its equally lovely fruit.  Naturally the nuts you pick in the wild are not so big as the ones in the shops, most of which are imported, in fact I think they are all imported. If you want English ones you have to go and get them. French chestnuts are delicious though. I'm starting to see that the further south you go the better the chestnuts seem to get. Anyway, don't despise the humble english offering, it's fresh, wild and free.

We collected quite a lot in the space of half an hour, and I had intended to do something useful and clever with them. But on Saturday night, it was cold, we lit a fire, David roasted the chestnuts, and we just ate them, What could be nicer than a roaring fire, the Guardian supplement, a glass of something, and a plate of roasted chestnuts.

PS Should you wish to do something more imaginative with chestnuts I can highly recommend Hugh Slightly- Annoying's chocolate chestnut truffle cake recipe


  1. Dear Kathy, Ah, these simple pleasures...never to be underestimated and never overlooked in my book. Your evening sounds to have been just perfect!

  2. SOunds like a wonderful evening! i just love finding free stuff from nature!

  3. Nothing is better than free if you have the get up and go to get up and go get them!

  4. Hi Kathy. Thank you for visiting A Rural Journal -- and your question about the potato bag was a good one. The bag captures steam -- and that's what cooks the potatoes so evenly and quickly. Without the bag, sometimes I would have potatoes with hard spots that cooked too much, or the potato became dehydrated and wrinkly.

    Sounds like you had a lovely evening! The chestnuts look heavenly!

  5. That's interesting about chestnuts being better the further South you go. We planted some chestnut trees in a mixed woodland we created and the chestnuts are nothing to speak of at all - just empty pods really.
    I thought they'll maybe get better as they mature (they're about 18 years old) but now I wonder if they won't. I'm in North Lincolnshire.

  6. This is another nut that we have never had the opportunity to eat but hope to someday in the future as we are growing a few of our own chestnut trees. What could be better than fresh, wild and free.:)

  7. Oh gosh, I am in Surrey I should keep my eyes out for these when I'm on one of my runs!

  8. Thankyou Edith, simple pleasures are often the best

    Hi Melodie, the "free" element does make it even nicer I have to admit

    Hello Sharon, as it was on our way, it was just so easy to stop and collect them

    Thanks Nancy, The chestnuts did indeed contribute to a lovely evening

    Hello Little Blue Mouse, I fear you may have some trouble with chestnuts, although I read recently that there are new more productive varieties available now. Hopefully you will get a good crop next time we have a hot summer....

    Hi Mr H I hope you climate is the right one for chestnuts, they seem to like it quite mild as far as I can make out..

    Hi Kooky Girl Do have a look out, I'm sure you'll have no difficulty, we were in the Hindhead area, and there were loads.

  9. Just found your great blog. I was intrigued by the chestnut post. We have two chestnut trees here on our farm in West Virginia. We collected a bunch of them this fall and are looking for recipes to use them in. Looking forward to more :)

  10. Greetings,

    I have a inquiry for the webmaster/admin here at

    Can I use part of the information from this post right above if I provide a link back to this site?


  11. Hi James, This particular post doesn't seem very information rich to me, but please feel free to use it and link back to me. Kathy

  12. The cottage garden farmer is showing the collection of lovely sweet chestnuts. This also explains the Seasonal Tips and Recipes.


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