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With all the rain we have had lately and it being Autumn we decided to go on a cep hunt, well anything edible hunt, but ceps would be preferable.

We went to Saint-Sauvant National Forest  near Lusignan and parked up. There were a few other cars there  and there were three French ladies, one carrying a wicker basket , so hopes were high.

Well there were a few Puffballs and some little brown jobs that I recognised but did not know the name of or know if they were edible. There was one that I am fairly sure was the fungus known as a Destroying Angel. As the name suggests it is very poisonous so I took a photo and moved on. We did find two mushrooms but that was it.

As we came back to the car so to did the three French ladies- the one with the basket was swinging it to and fro so I assume it was empty.  A bit later as we drove towards home we spotted the French ladies again, this time under a Horse chestnut tree. I suppose they did not want to go home empty-handed.

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I have never had a lot of luck with ceps in France. my neighbour gets them, or did-sadly he passed on earlier this year. He occasionally gave me some of his but as you would expect never told me where he found them. In Norfolk I know some good places and we used to get quite a good haul, most of which I carefully dried for use throughout the winter.

If you need help to identify a mushroom, then I would advise you not to eat it even if you think you have correctly identified it. As with most natural things they can vary in their looks quite a lot. Age affects their appearance as can where they grow-the type of soil, the amount of moisture and so on can all have it’s influence so be very cautious.

Some years ago when I ran a Field Study Centre there was a teacher who came with his students every autumn and towards the end of the week’s course we would visit a couple of places where there were always lots of fungi. This teacher did not know much about fungi so would pick anything that looked substantial and then in the evening whilst the students were writing up their day’s work, he would settle down with a couple of Fungi books and sort out his haul into edible and non edible. The edible ones were to be fried up for his breakfast the next morning. Generously he always invited me to share them with him.  What he did not know was that after he had placed them in the fridge for the kitchen staff to cook the next morning I would go along and have another sort through and reject another 50% of what he had deemed to be OK but which looked dubious to me. He never seemed to know what I had done but was always surprised at how much they shrank during cooking!

If you would like to try and identify fungi then this site might help http://www.rogersmushrooms.com/