8 : Wymsey Weekend

the tofu hunt

Will Shelf
Will Shelf According to it's adherents, the hunting of tofu has a long and honourable history stretching back to pre-Norman times. Those who abhor the activity put forward strong, and usually emotional, arguments as to why the activity should be outlawed. But it was with a determinedly neutral frame of mind that I set out from my cosy town cottage embraced by the urban security of Watchester, turned onto the bypass and headed for Wymsey.

Pulling up outside the Crown & Thorns I ran through what I knew about tofu - reclusive, small, no known predators, rather tasteless whether boiled, fried, roasted or baked and hunted in these parts from Easter to Guy Fawkes Night. Not much to go on but I was due to meet local tofu-lorist, pig breeder and small holder, Leslie Smith who had assured me that he would be in the public bar. Which is indeed where I found him holding an empty pint glass.

" It's not like it was when I was a lad and the old squire was Leader of the Pack. Although there seems to be a lot more tofu out there these days it's often hard to see."

I note the far away look in his eyes which I subsequently discover is congenital. Three pints of Winter Brew later Smith has a farther away look in his eyes and I am little wiser in the tofu department.
We set out for Wymsey Woods which lies west of the village on the Farthingdale road.
Wymsey Woods"This is perfect tofu country, mixed deciduous and traces of ancient woodland," Smith informs me and as we scramble over a discarded badger set I point out how sandy the soil is. "Typical." he tells me, "Do like that Tom Jones?"

We leave the woods and head out across open country in the direction of the Wymsey Navigation giant puffballwith Smith pointing out various aspects of the terrain. Ahead I see something white and about five inches across. "Not tofu," says Smith me as he sees it too, "that's a giant puffball, is that. Much tastier." Bending down he proceeds to cut the puffball and put it in his raincoat pocket. "That's my supper sorted, matey." Turns out he will cut it into one inch thick steaks and fry it in butter and garlic.

tofu houndWalking along the banks of the Navigation we bump into Major General Barking-Barking current Leader of the Pack. The General is walking Churchill his Old English Tofu Hound and studiously ignores us as we doff our caps and wait for him to pass. "Stupid old git, I could tell you a story or two about him," Smith says and I am sure he could. Smith turns to me with a smile and says, "Come on matey, we can get a couple of pints in before the pub closes.

"Tell me," I say, "do you get many wild geese in these parts."


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