Archives April 2019

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Team Building Outdoors: Get back to Nature with your team

Studies suggest that spending time in nature can have a positive effect on our levels of productivity, creativity and ability to concentrate. So what better way treat your employees to an engaged, fun learning experience than by spending time immersed in nature on the farms of Europe.

Every business relies on effective teams to reach their goals. At Orchardsnearme, we know what it takes to build a successful team and have experience guiding groups in fruit picking and food related experiences across Europe.

With each of our tailormade team building tours you will build relationships, learn a new skill and give back to the community that you are in.

10 Reasons Why Team Bonding Outdoors Works

  1. Relationship building for your team
  2. Requires a leadership roles and other roles
  3. Be Immersed in natural surroundings
  4. Improve your creative thought process
  5. Increase productivity within a team
  6. Learn new skills to bring back to the office
  7. Put a fresh perspective on things
  8. Learn about a new culture
  9. Taste foods from the land
  10. Give back to a community

Here are some of our top outdoor team building experiences for groups.

Truffle Hunting and Wine tasting in Italy

Join an expert guide as we wander through the stunning landscapes of Italy on this unique adventure for nature lovers. We will spend two days hunting for the famous truffles of the region and learning all about the grapes of the land. Your team will have the opportunity to see the wine growing process from start to finish and explore some of the most beautiful areas of Northern Italy. This tour will give your team insights into farming culture, Italian culture, real life situations, fruit picking, foraging and bring your team closer at every stage.

Guided Fruit Adventure in the Douro Valley

Discover the distinct fruits of Portugal. A little journey outside the buzzing city of Porto will bring you to the natural surroundings of the Douro. From grape picking to olive oil tasting this is a truly amazing adventure. Any pick your own adventure is a fun filled activity to do with a group but the weather, the people and the terraced vineyards of the valley. Taking the road less travelled on the laid back paths of Portugal will allow your group time to celebrate being outdoors and enjoy eachothers company. Getting to know the land and colleagues at the same time. Our local guides will give you a taste of portuguese food with authentic experiences in the farms and vineyards around Porto.

Algarve Fruit and Farm Experience

Sunshine, seafood and coastal tracks await for you in the amazing Algarve. Get off the beaten track with this unique wine filled tour in one of the regions premier vineyards. With it’s vast beaches and white washed towns there is plenty to enjoy as you and your team escape into nature. Enjoy dining by the sea on fresh local produce, meeting the producers and getting to know perfect wine pairings on this food filled journey. Flying into Faro airport makes this tour easily accessible and ideal for a late summer company retreat.

The Fruit Harvest France

Harvest time is a special time of the year throughout Europe but in France you really see the fields come alive with activity. Enjoy picking fresh fruit from the vines in the morning and hunting for truffles in the afternoon. History oozes from this region of France and you will have time to discover the ancient castles and learn about traditional farming techniques. Grape stomping is a must if you are up for the challenge! For dinner you group can dine on locally prepared french cuisine and wash it down with a glass or two of delicious Burgundy reds.

HOW WE CAN HELP TO BRING YOUR TEAM TOGETHER

  • Experienced staff and local guides who will ensure you make the most of your time on the land.
  • Operating with partners throughout Europe.
  • Tailored programmes to meet your specific needs
  • Excellent accommodation, food experiences and opportunities to learn
  • Cater for groups of Accommodation for up to 40 people
  • Delicious food and drink

For more information on any of our tours for groups please contact one of our team travel experts.

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Delicious Homemade Seabeet Detox Smoothie

Packed full of iron, Vitamin C and healthy goodness, this easy detox smoothie is the perfect way to cleanse and repair your body after any long weekend.

We often forage for sea beet, using it as a natural substitute for greens in stir-fry’s, stews and more but on one Sunday filled with sunshine we were inspired to create this delicious smoothie that is now a monthly fixture in our ever growing plant based recipe list.

Never tried and tested making homemade smoothies before? Don’t fear, this is probably one of the easiest recipes to start with. Here is the short list of ingredients and a few useful tips when you plan to forage for this healthy plant.

INGREDIENTS

  • Three cups of freshly picked Sea Beet leaves
  • Two large pears
  • The juice from half of one lemon
  • Grated Ginger
  • Crushed mint leaves (just a few)

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

This is pretty easy. Wash your ingredients thoroughly. Cut off the stems from your sea beet leaves and chop into thin slices. Peel your pears carefully (save the skins and add them as a decoration in the end), finely grate a small cube of ginger. Slice a lemon in half. Now you are ready to put it all together. Blend these ingredients until smooth. After you have gotten rid of the lumps add a few ice cubes and 3 – 4 mint leaves. Blend gently for two minutes. Tadaa you have made your very own detox smoothie. Enjoy!

HOW TO PICK SEA BEET

Sea beet is a seaside plant we love to forage for all year round. It is easy to identify and will pop up at the edges of beaches in small bundles. Never pull the plant from the root. If you are picking sea beet just snip a small amount of the leaves and the rest will replenish itself.

Always wear gloves when you are out foraging and make sure to wash the leaves thoroughly before using them in any recipes.

We hope that you enjoy this easy sea beet detox smoothie and hope to see you soon for some foraging adventures.

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Coastal Foraging: Our shellfish and seaweed adventures in Ireland

This week we will take you to our stories by the seaside and do some coastal foraging. Before the rise of agriculture as we know it today, our ancestors were foraging for their daily meals. Many of the vegetables, spices, seaweeds and shellfish we find by the sea today will have been harvested by our ancestors in the past.

Historically people have always chosen to live by the sea as the shorelines offer plenty of nutrients for our diets. From the cliffs and sand dunes to the rock pools when the tides go out, there are food sources everywhere you look. Today, this tradition isn’t as popular as we have got used of the age of convenience where our local supermarket offers everything we need for our daily meals.

For those of you who haven’t tried it, please give it a go or join us for a unique experience outdoors.

There are treasures to be found in unexpected places and it is the ideal way to spend an afternoon by the beach. Our coastal foraging treks take place in Ireland with the clean Atlantic coastline and predictable tides. Let’s start with the weather. The weather in Ireland is always a good way to start a conversation. Sunshine, rain, wind and changeable weather patterns make Irish people fascinated by the weather. I should know, I’m Irish. My friends and family could spend hours just discussing the forecast for the days ahead.

You are never guaranteed to get warm weather when walking by the shore in Ireland. Raindrops comes in all shapes and sizes, tiny drops that sprinkle the ground, sideways rain that catches you off guard, warm drizzling rain that soaks you to the bone but all of these weather conditions combine to make it extra rewarding with you stumble upon some unique culinary treats.

From fresh muscles to pools of winkles, you will find everything you need for a warm cup of seafood chowder along the Irish coastline. My first coastal foraging excursion was fruitful. As a child my mother would buy us small plastic buckets and short fishing rods to scoop out the seaweed from the giant rockpools all along the Co.Clare coastlines.  Picking was part of every stage of growing up. From child to adolescent I made the transition from bucket to bag and back again when picking along the shore.

My grandfather would take the whole family to a nearby beach and we would eagerly wait until the tide had gone fully out, revealing the rockpools, seaweed and most importantly the shellfish hiding underneath. The art of picking was simple, patience was the only real skill required. Myself and my sister would spend hours scanning the shallow pools of water for the biggest winkles, crabs and mussels. Although all of the shellfish that we scoured for were easily identifiable, not all were easy to find.

Winkles were the easiest to collect. They tend to roll with the tide so it was not a matter of searching for them but more time was spent deciding on which ones to collect. I never tool the baby ones. This was my one rule for collecting winkles. Once you have avoiding the baby shells you can enjoy scooping out large handfuls of winkles alons most shorelines.

When it came to crabs I was always a little nervous to pick them up. Their claws would reach right out to stab pinch you if you were too quick. Sometimes we would just play with them for awhile before placing them carefully back in were they belonged. Laughing as they scrambled off to find their pals. Mussels were always considered the biggest treat. They clung tightly to the edges of rocks, making it more difficult to pull them off. Nothing can beat a pot of fresh mussels cooked in garlic and tomato juices. Give it a try. Believe me you won’t be disappointed.

Why not try a spot of razor clam hunting while you are by the shore. Simply bring some salt on your journey and seek out the small holes in the beach. Pour in the salt and watch in awe as the razor clams come to life.

Other favourites of mine include kelp and seaweed. These make delicious additions to salads. You can also use them to enhance the flavour of any seafood dish.

Let’s talk through how we spend an average day by the sea, foraging for some coastal treasures. We rise early to greet the sun. After choosing a meeting point we take some time to make sure we have all the utensils we need. Bucket or basket, check, pair of scissors, check, seaweed guidebook, check, hat and gloves, check. We prepare a picnic, stuffed with local ingrediants to give you a taste of the land. Fresh nettle pesto, brown soda bread, a flask full of tea and some fruit are the basics we need.


We are ready to rock in the rockpools by the wild Atlantic sea. It is always best to go with a guide who has experience identifying the goods. After meeting up with our local guide we walk towards the sea, taking time to talk to fellow foragers and enjoy the fresh air along the way. We spend some time scouring the seaside to find the ideal place to perch. This can take some time but we have timed the tides so we know that the rockpools will be visible from the edge. FYI, always check the tides to ensure the tide is out before you get ready for your trip.

With our cups in hand we pour a hot cuppa while our guide gives us the lowdown on the items we will collect for the day. Mussles, peri-winkles, seaweed and seabeet are a must, everything else is a welcome bonus. We spend the next few blissful hours scouring the rocks, learning about the sea, picking shellfish and enjoying the sun shining down on us to provide us with a welcome bit of Vitamin D.

Once we have found our pickings for the day it is off to our local guides house to create some tasty wild dishes where we will use our recently found treasure to whip up some well deserved dinner. A glass of guinness in hand and a bowl of seafood chowder in the other, what more could we want. This is our perfect day by the seaside.

HERE ARE A FEW COASTAL FORAGING TIPS FOR YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE:

DON’T let the weather prevent you from your next adventure. Remember that a little rain never hurt anyone. If you happen to get a sunny day then take advantage of it, spending a few hours by the shore.

LEAVE enough for others. Everyday we hear warnings of over fishing so be mindful of this when you are foraging by the sea. Only pick enough for one days pickings, giving the shores time to replenish its goods over time.

WEAR suitable clothing. This is key to any foraging adventure. Waterproof shoes comes in handy when you playing in rockpools. Also, bring a spare pair of socks to keep your feet dry.

KNOW the tides. Most countries will offer websites that give you the times of the tidal currents. Keep a close eye on these. You don’t want to venture all the way to the beach to find that you have to wait five hours until the tide recedes.

DON’T be afraid of seaweed or crabs. The waves may look rough but the sea is gentle with many varieties of produce to try. You never know what treasures you will find.

Being near the sea, watching the tides, creatures, and plant life of the ocean can be a wonderful experience, away from screens and connecting with nature.

Enjoy every moment of your coastal foraging trip. If you need any more information on our fruit and foraging tours please contact us at Orchardsnearme.com

Until next time! Happy Adventures!

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HOW TO MAKE WILD GARLIC PESTO

If you take a stroll to the woodland or keep your eyes peeled in your local park you may discover some delicious wild garlic. Spring and Summer months are perfect for foraging this wild herb. It usually grows at the edge of woodlands, around damp soil. 

If you have just begun your foraging adventures than this herb is a flavorful find for beginners. You will smell them before you see them and they usually hang around in big bunches. 

The wild garlic flowers and leaves can be used in many recipes and salads but for today’s recipe we will focus on how to make wild garlic pesto which is perfectly paired with fresh pasta or toasted breads.


Picking and Preparation 
Don’t pick from the roots, leave some for others and be sure to wash the leaves thoroughly before you use them. 

  • If you are out foraging for wild garlic follow these simple tips: Never pick plants from the root, always use a scissors.
  • Make sure to wear gloves at all times.
  • Wild garlic is most commonly found from March to July.
  • Pick healthy leaves that are long and bright in colour! Try and pick the leaves from an area that’s less likely to have been crossed by animals.
  • The best way to check that what you’ve picked is wild garlic is to smell it. The smell is strong.

Here is a great and simple recipe for wild garlic pesto!

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How to make wild garlic pesto

INGREDIENTS

100g wild garlic leaves (a big bunch or a basket full will do)

50g nettle leaves

50g parmesan cheese

50g toasted pine nuts or walnuts are a nice alternative

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Lemon juice (at least half a lemon is needed)

A pinch or salt and a pinch of pepper 

METHOD

Wash wild garlic leaves and nettles thoroughly. Be sure to always wear gloves when cooking with fresh nettles. They sting until they are boiled.

Place the nettle leaves in a pot of cold water, make sure the nettles are covered and allow to boil. This should only take ten minutes.

Drain the water and squeeze the leaves in a dry cloth to get rid of all excess water and juice. Place the galic leaves, nettles, parmesan, and nuts into a food processor and blitz. Slowly add two tablespoons of olive oil.

Add an extra spoon of olive oil if the mixture is too dry. 

Add in your salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.


Once you have your wild garlic pesto prepared you can use it with pasta, as a dip or add to sandwiches for extra flavour. You can store fresh pesto in the fridge for up to one week. If you want to keep it longer, freezing it will hold the taste for 9 months. 


If you are interested in embarking on a foraging adventure or learning more about the wild foods we work with contact our team anytime.  Join us on any of foraging adventures in Ireland.

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Why you should travel with a purpose

Think of the last time you had an amazing travel experience? Most people remember the people, the place and the food. If you travel with a purpose you will create life long memories for your travel diary. Travelling with a purpose makes us appreciate the little things while also contributing to worldwide causes and industries.

Orchardsnearme partners with responsible travel experiences that will take you back to nature. The activities connect you with the stunning landscapes of Europe and allow you to get a taste of the local culture and foods.

Learn as you go

Are you curious about the land around you? Learning whilst you travel is the most uplifting experience. From the history of coffee plantations to the sun soaked vineyards in Italy, we can all benefit from meeting the local producers and getting some inside knowledge of the natural landscapes around us.

Go to grow

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed at work and underwhelmed with mass media then this form of travel is a great way to clear your mind. Start each day with a mission to grow. In every activity you enjoy your mind will be absorbed in hands-on experiences.

Lifelong learning

In college and University we associate lifelong learning with older adults. Perhaps lifelong learning isn’t just for people who have the time in later life, it is about drinking in the facts, listening to the tales and basking in the knowledge of others.

Meet the Experts

Discover the art of wine making and producing delicious fruits of Europe with the experts. When you travel with a purpose you have the opportunity to get to know the people at the heart of a region. Farmers who take care of the land, vineyard owners who proudly showcase their wines and food lovers from around the world.

How you travel and where you travel too is a reflection of your values, your feelings and your personality. Travelling with a purpose can connect you to your inner voice and child like self that has always wanted to learn something new.

6 Ways to Travel with a Purpose

Grape Picking at Harvest time

Olive picking in Greece

Truffle Hunting in Italy

Star gazing in Portugal

Foraging in Ireland

Investigate Medieval history in Spain

Perhaps the next time you travel with a purpose you will find out something new about yourself, learn a new skill or discover a unique aspect of a different culture that you want to take home with you. Whatever your reason go to grow and you will meet like minded curious travelers along the way.

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6 Places for a Digital Detox in Europe

What is a digital detox holiday?

Are you surrounded by screens everyday? Maybe you check your mobile phone the minute you get out of bed, scroll through instagram several times a day, sign into Facebook for a scroll, read up on the top new stories for instant hits from your favourite news sites and get lost on pinterest for at least half an hour.

Can you relate to this? If so, like me, you deserve a digital detox. Simply put, this is time out to give yourself a break and get some control over how your time is being spent.

Reasons why you should take a digital detox holiday

  • Leave work behind. Don’t feel guilty about the e-mails building up in your inbox. Put your off of office message on and sign off from all emails. What you think is urgent in work terms, rarely is in life terms. They will be there for you when you get back and if it is truly urgent your employer will find a way to get in touch.
  • Be mindful. Living in the moment is something we all strive to do and tell ourselves to do but it is becoming more and more difficult. We get lost on screens and have to schedule our time around them. By turning off and tuning into the land we can reconnect with our senses and learn to appreciate again.
  • Do it together. A digital detox can be shared. Everyone has a friend or family member who is a slave to the screens so why not ask them to go along with you. As well as encouraging eachother to stay offline, you will be sharing the experiences together.
  • No news is good news. Did you ever hear of this saying? Well, it could be applied to anytime we get off our many new sites today. We might think we need to stay updated by the hour but we really don’t. We can survive without the news for a couple of days.
  • Facebook and Instagram won’t miss you. Say to day but true, nobody but you wants to see endless photos of your fantastic life on instagram and Facebook. Yes, it is nice to keep up with friends and the original concept was inspiring but selfies are boring and if you wait to post an album when you get back people will be looking forward to seeing your updates. When it comes to social start thinking less is more.
  • Health benefits – Less stress

Top Tours for a Digital detox in Europe

Now is the perfect time to turn off and get some time for you. Whether you want a break from a hectic office life, a bit of the headspace to come up with some new ideas or would love to learn to appreciate the land around you and live more mindfully, there is a detox to suit your needs.

LIFE ON A FARM IN PORTUGAL

Give yourself other things to do with your body and brain. A fruit picking experience is a great way to spend time out from the screens. Join us to experience life on a vineyard in Portugal’s Douro Valley region.

TRUFFLE HUNTING IN ITALY

Wine tasting and hunting for truffles are two activities often associated with luxury. These are two ways to take your mind off the future and into the present.

GO WILD FOOD FORAGING IN IRELAND

Step back in time and learn to forage like our ancestors did. This wild food experience is just what you need to get back to nature and enjoy the fruits of the land around us.

VINHO VERDE DIGITAL DETOX

Northern Portugal is packed full of delicious grapes to taste. The Vinho Verde is the most famous wine in the region. This tour will give you a taste of the Portuguese lifestyle.

DISCOVER THE LANDSCAPES OF BURGUNDY

As one of the most famous wine regions of France you will be perfectly situated to experience all there is to love in the area.

OLIVE PICKING IN GREECE

This is the ultimate way to get back to nature and reconnect with the land. Enjoy fruit picking for 1 week in the most stunning landscapes of Greece.

Tips for your Digital Detox

  • Practice at home – start by leaving your phone at home while you go for a short walk. Increase your time away from the screen daily.
  • Manage your updates – do you need to update your facebook feed or instagram account everyday? No, you can minimize your updates.
  • Buy a handheld map – Instead of using google maps to guide you everywhere you go.
  • Invest in a guidebook – a well written guidebook can be more of a tool than any website.
  • No screens before bed – try to stop checking your phone before bedtime.
  • Social doesn’t mean social media – Give yourself time out to reflect, what happens on social media will stay on social media. Leave it there and give yourself time to think.

Enjoy every minute of your digital detox. Savour the time away from the screens and discover the beauty of the land around you.

For more information on any of our fruit and foraging tours contact one of our travel experts.

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48 Hours in Alba, Italy

Planning a visit to Italy? Spend some time in the beautiful Piedmont region, renowned throughout the world for it’s truffles and wines. This is a real slice of the high life.

The centro storico or historic centre of the town is compact and easy to nacvigate on foot or bike. You will find yourself strolling through the streets aimlessly. If it’s one thing the Italians can teach us to do more of, it’s sitting back and enjoying the moment. If you have two days to spare, Alba is a great place to get a taste of the Italian lifestyle. 

DAY 1 

Morning
Start the day with breakfast at Vicolo dell’Arco. enjoy the cosy atmosphere right in the historic centre. Enjoy sipping on a creamy cappuccino outside on a sunny day. 

The sights, smells and sounds of the market are calling from Piazza Risorgimento. Now is the perfect chance to get a flavour of the region. Alba is often quoted as Italy’s gastronomic gem so be sure to taste all of the produce on offer.

Afternoon 
Spend some time exploring the old town. Stroll through the cobbled streets.

Focacceria di Budego is the perfect choice is you want to grab a bite while walking around. Try the delicious focaccia. 

Cattedrale di San Lorenzo and Chiesa di San Domenico are waiting to be explored. Learn about the history of the region. Unwind over a coffee in one of the town squares.

Evening 

Sample the local wines and cheeses at Voglia di Vino wine bar.

DAY 2

Morning
The sights, smells and sounds of the market are calling from Piazza Risorgimento.

Get up early and head to Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè in the Centro Storico for your morning coffee. No takeaway cups in Italy. Coffee time is relaxing time. Savour and enjoy. Take a seat outside this humble cafe and relax under the sunshine. This is your chance to soak up the local atmosphere.

Afternoon

After breakfast stroll to enjoy discovering the stunning baroque style architecture of Chiesa di San Giuseppe, a colourful church in the city centre. Admire the frescoes and murals that have been beautifully restored. For spectacular views of the city climb the church tower.

In the afternoon pay a visit to Bono Nella E Pagliarino where you can sample some of the best Italian cheeses. Castelmagno is simply delicious. For some required resting time enjoy sipping sipping a glass or two of the local wine at one of the many casual cafes in the town centre.

Evening

For dinner check out Caffe Umberto. This fine dining restaurant will leave you with a true taste of Italy. After dinner enjoy a nice walk to Gelateria La Romania for the best gelato in town.

In the evening get dressed up and ready from some cocktails at Hemingway in the city centre.

This is the perfect way to spend 48 hours in Alba before or after your Truffles and Wine of Italy tour that will delight your senses.

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