Two beautiful ponies have joined us at the wood to drag chestnut butts from the bottom of the wood up to the work-yard where they are being milled into timbers for framing the new horreo cabins for families to stay in.
They are doing a slow but good job. And everyone loves them being around.
Thanks to funding from Lund, we have been able to plant 1,800 new hedge saplings around Bat Park, Marquee Meadow and The Paddocks. Hedges are excellent for biodiversity as well as protecting the acid grassland areas which we are encouraging in these areas. We also spent the day coppicing, rhodi-bashing, fire-wood processing, writing party invitations and drumming to welcome the spring!
In the school holidays, we run a working-with-wood day for members. This time, we made pegs for the new horreo-cabins and were joined by David Goulson and his son. David is a bee expert who works at Sussex university and lives in Blackboys. He was able to explain the benefits of supporting bees – and got stuck in with the practical work of drilling holes in the wood to make bee hotels. Everyone took one home with them! We also decorated the May Day party invitations and learnt how to turn wood on the pole lathe with Mark Smith.
At the winter solstice celebration, we were delighted to show members around our prototype ‘horreo’. We explained that it was not a biscuit. But a wooden structure on stilts made with chestnut from the woods and built with incredible loving craftmanship by volunteers of all ages over the past few years – including; the frame built by visiting cabinet makers, James Winby, James Gallagher and shaped inside by our current brilliant home-team – Nick, Shaun, Jake, Mark, Nisimo. We have planning permission to build 8 of these in the woods so you will see them being framed in the work-yard and then appearing in the woods – four for visiting families – looking out over the christmas tree field. And four near Bat Park for apprentices. All made by the materials and people to hand – so slowly, slowly…..
Winter Solstice was a wonderful occasion – in spite of the rainy weather! We immersed ourselves in celebrating the light and the dark with shadow puppets by Friday Club with help from the fantastic artist, Rachel Owen; a dynamic dance representing the light emerging from the dark by Movement Warriors; fantastic and huge lanterns made by sculptor, Simon Page; and traditional carols from Lucy’s Little Forest School. Thank you all.
Our geodesic dome was made with chestnut from Wilderness Wood, led by Jack, and helped by other members of the wood. It has had several incarnations but the latest is certainly the most dramatic as it was pitched outside the Treasury as part of the recent Extinction Rebellion protests. It managed to be arrested by the police but has been brought back safely to the wilderness where it came from.
It’s a work of art and collaboration – tiles by Adele Scantlebury and Martin Brockman, stove by Olly Hallett, design by Dan, framing by Maddie, Steve, Farinoz and Aiden, carpentry by Jack, Jake, Shaun, Nisimo, Mark, Ant, Richard, Nick, Hannah and shou-sugi-ban by Ares, Didac, Steve, Farinoz. Well done everyone. Is there a competition for most beautiful camping shower-block?
As the finale of our annual members’ working-with-wood-week, we were treated to a fantastic original play called ‘The Raven Sisters’. Written by Joe Skelton and Frank Morrish. Directed by Joe Skelton. Music by Sarah Nicolls. Dance by Karl Morgan. And props by Katherine Morton, Gretchen Heffernan and Sarah Waterfall. The cast were amazing as you can see from this photograph. If you’d like to be part of the play next summer, contact Emily and Dan.
Photograph by Coen Dijkstra.
Jonathan, Dave, Sarah and recent volunteer recruits, John and Steve, have been working really hard with the bees over the last few months. After the wasp attack of last summer, they have split the remaining hive in two and reared a new queen in the new colony, marked green for 2019 and nicknamed Dotty. They have run an introduction to bee-keeping workshop. And extracted the first honey of the season to much excitement amongst July’s Stewardship Saturday volunteers. This hard-working team were also joined by an uninvited non-venemous snake – which wasn’t a member so slithered away.
We are hurtling towards completion of the octagonal bath-house near the Lower Paddock. The floor is down, the roof is on, the walls are up, bundles of ‘faggots’ are being piled up ready and the technical elements are being put together for a wood-powered boiler. All designed and built by our home-team, Dan, Jake, Jack and much needed extra help from Friday Club volunteers, Quentin from France and Shaun from Uckfield. So. all being well, by end of July, you can have a hot shower – and even a bath – in a beautiful artisan building in the wilderness.
The Mount is a Camphill Community about 20 minutes drive away. Around 8 members of the community came to help out at Wilderness Wood this week as part of their external work experience programme. They helped peel poles for the bath-house, stack fire-wood, weed the garden, look after the chickens and tend Bat Park. It was great to have them here for the week.
We crowned Amelie Moore as May Queen. She graced us with a welcome poem, which she had written with Joe Skelton. And then Friday Club opened celebrations with a fantastic, high-energy dance – very loosely inspired by the May Pole tradition. We carried our new queen around the wood to bless Under Oak bunkhouse; tree saplings in the Lower Paddock; Jake’s new growing area; volunteer huts; Simon Page’s new sculpture and, of course, the new toilets. There was a lot to celebrate. And we did. A very fun ceilidh and delicious Old Tree bar. Everyone brought food. And we had music into the – well not very late- hours.