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10 tips for preparing for an exhibition

This is the last working day to make sure I've got everything ready for the Farm Shop and Deli Show.  The first time the snails and I exhibited ourselves I got hold of one of those invaluable lists of how to prepare. Well, to be honest it wasn't quite the first time because I only thought about it after I was standing behind a badly designed stand having left everything I needed at home. But these days I make lists with dates on it by which each important task has been completed. Today I can claim I've done all those important things: got everything printed, washed and ironed the tablecloth, prepared all the Mini Snail Farm and Grow Your Own Escargots boxes and put everything into crates ready to load into the car. H&RH Escargots BoxH&RH Mini Snail Farm Box

Now I've just got to do all those other things that aren't on the list:

1. Give Bugsy the guinea pig a bath so he's ready to go to April Lodge for his holiday. I think he likes being there with all those other friends he's on squeaking terms with, but I nearly forgot to book him in because it wasn't on the list.  Yesterday it unexpectedly rained after I'd put him out into the garden for some exercise and instead of retreating into the shelter, he sat out there grabbing grass as though his life depended on it and got wet through. I dried him off with the hair dryer but he still looks a bit like he's been pulled through a hedge backwards. So it's bathtime for Bugsy this afternoon with special shampoo.


2. Bathtime too for Dusty and Freddy ferret before they go off to the ferret lady. I need to make sure they aren't taking any 'little visitors' with them. They won't like being bathed - they never do - but it has to be done! This is Dusty wondering if the camera is edible:

Dusty 05.08.10

3. Cook some food as I'll be a guest in my daughter's house and they will be at work too so I want to make it easy for them. Getting a meal in the evening is always an extra pressure we could do without when we just want to collapse in front of the telly.

4. Get snacks to eat while I'm standing for endless hours talking to potential customers. It's usually round about 3pm that I start to get really hungry and then sleepy. I've developed an unreasonable passion for wasabi peas which ought to wake me up, a handful of mixed nuts can keep me going for ages, 85% dairy free chocolate is a must and I'll need lots of bottled water. I may not be able to get a hot drink unless someone on a neighbouring stand takes pity on me.

5. Do the last load of washing and ironing so I've got the clothes I need to take and there will still be something clean left for when I get back.

6. Put a notice on the website to say the office and online shop are closed for a few days. I'll have to check the orders while I'm away and let customers know when their orders will be sent out.

7. Prepare the orders I've already received ready to go out the day I get back and email each customer explaining what's happening.

8. Clear the kitchen because the worktop is being replaced while I'm away. The new one arrived yesterday, with only a small chunk knocked out of the ceiling as they brought it in! And the fitter is picking up the back door key today - I hope. I must remember to take the key out of the inside of the lock when I go otherwise he won't be able to get in.

9. It's my mother's birthday tomorrow - I've got the card but need to make time to take her out. She'll want to go to the shops to buy chocolate I guess and I can't pack the car until after that so I can get the wheelchair in the boot. It is interesting how one's life shrinks to focus around such essentials as chocolate as one ages.

10. and last but not least ... what about the snails you ask? Well the snail sitters are all organised. I've just got to make sure they've got enough snail food to keep them going and know what to do in a crisis.

seedlings April 2015

I can't do anything about all the little seedlings at the allotment growing in the snail pens ready for the new season's babies to go out in a month's time. I just have to keep my fingers crossed that the weather isn't too hot and there is a little bit of rain from time to time.



Migrant snails with migrant people

I’m amazed at the number of people who heard this snail story on radio 4 a few days ago. It was about a piece of fascinating research into the distribution of Cepaea nemoralis – the brown lipped banded snails - which has been a food source in the Eastern Pyrenees for thousands of years. ImageThey are pretty little snails which come in a variety of colours and can be kept as pets.( This one has a lot of stripes but the number of stripes varies and I also have yellow ones in my garden. (Note: the snail pictured is Cepaea hortensis - they mainly differ by the colour of their lip) The experiment involved looking closely at their mitochondria – those energy generators of every cell. The results suggest that a human population in Mesolithic times migrated from the Pyrenees to Ireland and took their favourite food with them. In a wave of colonisation 8,000 years ago it seems Cepaea wasn’t the only thing the people took with them because they also seem to have transported the strawberry tree, the Kerry slug, and the Pyrenean glass snail. They’ve even worked out how they were transported from the Pyrenees down the river Garonne and across the sea - amazing!

Migrant people have taken edible snails all over the world with them as they travelled.

(Grindon AJ, Davison A (2013) Irish Cepaea nemoralis Land Snails Have a Cryptic Franco-Iberian Origin That Is Most Easily Explained by the Movements of Mesolithic Humans. PLoS ONE 8(6): e65792. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065792)



19 May 2013

19 May 2013

On 22 November 2006 I took delivery of my first edible snails and the real adventure began. After more than six years of writing the book about that experience it is nearly ready to be published. At the moment I’m waiting anxiously for two of the people featured in the story to finish reading it and let me know if it’s alright to include them. As soon as I’ve incorporated their feedback the manuscript will go for final edit and preparation to go to print. It has taken such a long time to reach this point and now I just want it to be finished.


I write everyday early in the morning while I’m eating breakfast. Today I shall be off to Slow Summer Snail Farm for the morning to try and get everything ready for opening in a week’s time. There’s such a lot to do still because of the cold months in early Spring when I should have been busy outside but couldn’t bear to venture out. I’m making wire mesh pens planted up with spinach for the snails to live in during the summer months. The wire mesh is to keep predators out. Small furry animals were such a problem last year that they ate more than their fair share of my profits. Even Dusty and Freddie ferret couldn’t keep them at bay. As soon as we went home the mice and shrews and rats came out to play. Let’s hope the new pens do the trick. Fingers crossed the cold weather is over now and you can look forward to a warm summer with the molluscs and me.