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New year, new beginnings

Posted Jan. 2, 2020, 11:44 p.m.
Written by Tracey Hall

I love New Year’s Day.  To me it is symbolic of moving on, forgetting what has gone before and being allowed to reboot.  Life is tough and it pushes the best of us to distraction. Putting a line under what has gone before just makes sense.

For the last few years I have got up unusually early to visit the beach with my dogs. While a lot of people are just going to bed, my alarm rings and off I go. There is something very tranquil and romantic about the good old British seaside with its wind breaks and bleakness, especially in winter, and although it’s not the Med, the south coast has its own beauty. I must be mad as this year, I made the trip as a solo human with all three of my (not very) well behaved dogs. I could have left one at home but that seemed mean! Situated just a 45 minute drive from the beach, we are so lucky that our farm is where it is and it feels like no hardship to only make a short trip there.

We arrived just as dawn was breaking and it was so quiet and peaceful. The tide was low and the sea like a millpond. I walked a little with all three dogs off their leads (a big risk with my three) then we all did our own thing. Mutley pottered around and although he doesn’t go far, I kept thinking that I had lost him. He’s the same colour as the sand and he’s now very deaf, so his recall is non-existent. Hettie spent her time paddling in rock pools and chasing birds, who obviously didn’t see her as a threat as they would just hop a couple of meters away. Jasper enjoyed stalking other people and their dogs in the distance, making use of his selective hearing. He then became obsessed with fishing boats, not quite understanding why they were there. I decided it was probably best for him to be on the lead with me!

Beach Foraging

I love to forage and am so lucky that living on the farm provides plenty of opportunities to do so throughout the year. Foraging has had something of a resurgence in recent years with books like the River Cottage Cookbook encouraging people to look at their relationship with food and how it is sourced.  Humans by nature are hunter/gatherers and have always collected food to eat.  To me foraging is mindfulness at its best. It allows us to slow down, concentrate and enjoy the moment fully with our senses. Since having guests to stay in our holiday lettings I have been pleasantly surprised with how many of them also enjoy foraging and it's great to share our little bit of nature's kitchen with them.

As a natural forager, it didn’t take me long to notice winkles in the rock pools. As a child living in Scotland, we had many day trips winkle hunting. We would return home with our bags of cockles to be boiled and eaten that night. People tend to be a bit more cautious of foraging nowadays but a quick Google confirmed that winkles were safe so foraging was on! Maybe I’m just really boring, but when I’m foraging it feels like time stands still. I can relax and it makes me really happy.

As I arrived back to the comforts of the farm with my three happy, but tired dogs and my stash of winkles, I felt really relaxed and content.  I would highly recommend beach foraging to anyone looking for a bit of fun and a different activity to do. It was a fantastic way to spend my new year’s morning.

Preparing Winkles

  • Rinse well to remove sand
  • Soak the winkles in salted water – this can be done for 10 minutes or overnight
  • Boil in salted water for 10 minutes.
  • Drain of water in a colander
  • A little oil can be added (this also makes the shells nice and shiny)
  • Served either on their own or with salt and vinegar

Once prepared the fun begins. You will need a pin so that you can lift  each one out of its shell to eat.