The sun beat down on us as we walked through the field, sun hats bobbing, hands trailing through the long grass. We stopped every now and then to point and then set off at a quicker pace towards what we’d spotted. Then we’d stop and begin to harvest, sometimes crouching down and sometimes reaching up. Our chatter floated away on the slight breeze.
The salad we were planning to make was a picture of summer colour. With thirteen different flowers of red, orange, yellow, purple, blue, pink, white and cream and five types of leafy greens, this was going to be a work of art.
We set up in the shade outside Clarabella, our vintage train carriage. We laid out three pretty china plates and three elegant silver forks. Then three glass mugs, one with a sprig of self heal, one with a floret of meadowsweet and the other with a few creeping thistle flowers.
But there was two of us, Alice and I, who was the third person?
I laid out a sheet of dirty white paper on the wooden table and then put all of my specimens out on it. Then, in my neatest, black , loopy handwriting I labeled them with all of their beautiful names.
Soon our mystery guest joined us, Rebecca from the Viva Magazine. Viva is local to Brighton and Lewes. She was here to interview me and Alice.
In the interview I made sure I was bold and enthusiastic, as I wanted to make the most of this great opportunity and not ruin it by being shy.
The first thing Rebecca asked me was: what is your job? I replied that I was Alice’s student and that she taught me everything she knew about foraging and herbal medicine.
While Alice went to get the hot water for the three different teas for our journalist to try, Rebecca quizzed me on how I thought each of them tasted. I told her that meadowsweet is vanilla-y, creeping thistle has a gentle and honey like flavour so is soothing and self heal tastes green, bit like green tea.
Alice arrived with the water, smiling her usual wide smile. Rebecca liked self heal best.
Then we ventured out of the shade and into the baking heat again. We walked around the field again showing the reporter the plants growing in the wild. All the while Rebecca snapped away with her big, black, fancy camera. Photos of the sunshine, of me holding the creeping thistle tea by the creeping thistle, of the creamy meadowsweet flowers and the delicate yet prickly thistle flowers.
When we got back I read out the whole list of ingredients for the salad and together me and Alice told Rebecca a bit more about each plant, its medicinal properties, how to identify it, along other useful facts. Rebecca scribbled it all down in her notebook, me glancing over at her trying to make sense of her shorthand.
Then, after a load more photos, we tucked in. The salad was like a rainbow of tastes, from hot and spicy nasturtiums to cooling, cucumber-y mullein flowers. The array of textures, mucilaginous to crunchy. With a drizzle of sweet, pre-prepared by Alice, blackberry vinegar, the salad was just what we all needed on a summer’s day.
Overall, the interview went really well and I’m grateful to Alice for inviting me along to help out. Rebecca was friendly and keen to learn and I think she enjoyed herself. I can’t wait to read a certain article in the August issue of Viva Magazine.