Pulling into the car park at Symond’s Yat it was there in a patch of sunlight, beckoning. I stopped the car immediately. My knife was in my pocket so I cut it out and brought it into the car with us. I wasn’t sure what it was. I probably would’ve been a bit more circumspect if I had been sure. Now I’m pretty sure it was a fucking Death Cap. I pulled the top off and it bled purple. It smelt of raw potato though so might have been a false death cap. Either way, after a while the smell in the car bothered me so I threw it out the window – after photographing it to identify at leisure later. The reason I have strict rules about three positives is because I know some of these things can be killers. This one first among them, but it was my first near positive on Amanita Phalloides. Little bastard. If it was, i’m pretty sure inhaling the spores won’t take me out. I’ll know in a day or so one way or the other. It’s a pretty slow but inevitable way to clock out, so it’ll make the last few blogs … interesting. Here it is:
Apart from that it was a lovely day.
We went walkies. Up and around the Yat, which is a big rock with views. Then into the car and over to Tintern Abbey. I had an appointment with Wordsworth. A little over a year ago I read “Tintern Abbey” to a rapt Texan audience in Austin. It was ferociously hot, and a little tear surprised me as I read it, more for appreciation of the clarity of his expression than from any deep emotional personal connection. Despite my pragmatic / stoic streak – (see previous paragraph for reference) – I can be a right snowflake for old words well spoken.
We walked up to The Devil’s Pulpit where Lou had to hear me read it to the abbey. The pulpit is a jut of stone overlooking the skeleton of the abbey with a beautiful aspect. It’s where legend has it that Old Nick stood trying to lure the monks into the pleasures of the wild. It’s as good a shot as any other at being the place where Wordsworth stopped with his sister and had a rare moment of spontaneous poetry writing – rather than his usual emotion recollected in tranquility stuff. I honoured his spirit as I read his thoughts, and a little robin came and hung out right by my foot as I read. It stuck around, hoping no doubt for crumbs.
And now I’m in the bath. On balance, so long as I don’t die, this has been a delightful mini-break…
(nb for those of a nervous disposition: “You can even chew and spit a small piece of deathcap or any other poisonous mushroom and be totally absolutely fine. Eating and swallowing the mushroom is the dangerous part, smell, taste, and touch are not.” Reddit. WHICH IS BETTER THAN SOME OF THE NEWS SOURCES YOU SWEAR BY.