Inspiration can be found in the most unlikely of places, looking back I think mine was stumbled upon at the Giant’s Cup in the Southern Drakensburg, South Africa. Granted the place itself could quite easily be inspiration enough: the flat topped, jutting peaks and the grassy plains full of howling baboons echo exploits of Hemingway- especially striking out in a boat in search of Trout, the great white hunter lives on….
But it was not so much place, but a person. Wolf Avni the proprietor of our breath-taking surroundings was a fisherman foremost and writer second. His eccentricity was only matched by his wit, and it was only after getting a copy of his book “A Mean-Mouthed, Hook-Jawed, Bad-News Son-of-a Fish” that I realized this chap spoke like he wrote- bizarre perhaps, but certainly unique. His prose was magical- Shakespeare meets Izaak Walton and then goes on a bender with Bill Hicks and a couple of Trout. I liked it a lot- I wanted to write…big time.
My brother and I spent plenty of time flogging the water chasing the fish- from the enormous lake to the pleasant trickle of the Umzimkulawana River; we had three days of wonderful South African landscape, but very little bite. The Trout of the Southern Hemisphere were too cunning for my liking. It wasn’t until sometime afterwards that I noticed Wolf had added a brief inscription in the front of his book that said:
“For Nick. Nil Illigitimi Carborundum.”
Now whether it was a reference to our fishing or a valuable lesson for life, the common Latin phrase translates as “Don’t let the Bastards grind you down”. And I think it was then that my life began to take a more alternative route that I wasn’t entirely prepared for and quite frankly never will be. But such is the rich tapestry of life!
So after living on a desert island, a Tree house and a cow barn, this year is all about two things: Hunter:Gather:Cook HQ and the Frenchies and their food. Bouncing between two countries is perhaps not the most settled of living arrangements, but with a ‘river cottege-esque’ pad in rural Sussex and an apartment and fiancée on the beach in Southern France- I can hardly complain.
Heavy- Serious Cable laying plant.
This weekend saw not only the start of the great British summer, but also a flurry of activity in a small corner of Sussex woodland. Starting a business is not easy- as many will no doubt agree, but in this case a weekend frolicking in the woods building your office is a perk to say the least. Having just finished a rather regal composting Thunder box for a private client it was time to begin work on my own grand design.
Trying to define exactly what Hunter:Gather:Cook is all about ain’t easy. First and foremost it is a foraging and cookery school, dedicated to educating participants in the rich variety of food that exists around us in the wild, but I wanted it to be so much more than that. It’s about lifestyle: wild food isn’t just about plants, fruits and fungi, its about protein and how to catch it, its about cooking it and how to create and utilize fire for more than just a BBQ. It’s about understanding the landscape you are in and how to create a comfortable existence within it in the most simplistic of ways. And that, ladies & gentleman, is what Hunter:Gather:Cook is all about- sometimes its useful to look to the past in order to see where you are going and our Hunter-gatherer ancestors have led the way. This is about learning to live off the land and how to live with it.