A good Epiphany Stewardship Saturday – with a hardy crew getting stuck into clearing away all traces of Christmas, clearing ditches and chopping and stacking those fire-logs. Rewarded with very good chocolate brownies.
Photography by Beth Mercer.
An atmospheric night. Eerie industrial-themed drama, music and dance by Friday Club. The opening of the new Wood House by the youngest and oldest helpers – with celebratory tee-shirts designed and printed by member artist, Tiger Martinez of Hastings Art College. And then lots of delicious home-made mince-pies, jacket potatoes and contributions from members such as Greek honey cakes while we enjoyed music and poetry around another one of Dan’s famous big fires.
The first busy weekend of the Christmas season. And Friday Club’s answer to Sylvanian Families were for sale at our Made by Wilderness Wood stall. They were a big hit with the public – flying off their woody shelf. And Friday Club – the makers – are very excited about a nativity commission from a Hadlow Down villager which will keep them busy right up to Christmas Eve. They will be for sale again this weekend – 8th/9th December.
Since we arrived in 2004, we’ve wanted to stop vehicles driving right in front of the cafe where people are working, talking, playing, drinking coffee. It’s taken a lot of preparation to get to this point. And now we’re in the thick of the work. It would not be possible without Mike Stiller on the digger and Jake Reed on the tools and Frank Morrish on the roller – helping Dan to make this happen. Thank you. And we look forward to having a celebratory drink in the new courtyard soon. Apologies for inconveniences in the mean-time.
Our weekly group for home educating families is focused on preparations for Christmas and Winter Solstice celebrations. One of the parents has come up with a brilliant idea for creating a world of woody creature decorations – they will be coming to you at the Christmas Fayres in December. But people have been placing orders already so don’t hang around.
A really good turn out for the last Stewardship Saturday of the year. We made great progress on all fronts. And were rewarded with delicious lunch and warm cake. And a talk about my PhD: ‘Building a community together’: the meanings of manual work and outdoor play at Kilquhanity and Wennington, 1940-today.
Bat Park is an area in the middle of the wood where the chestnut coppice was diseased so we had to rethink the area. In 2016, we clearfelled the coppice and landscaped the area – including creating a giant stumpery circle. Last year, we planted saplings – mostly acacia. And this year, we’ve seeded a grass seed in the hopes of creating a typical Wealden grassland. Many thanks to David who is championing the monitoring and progress of this area – and led a fantastic team of volunteers in the sowing of the seed.
Our monthly working party for members was very well attended so we got loads done. Bat Park is ready for trying again with the meadow. A dangerous board walk has been removed. A sheep pen has been built. And the last part of the summer’s framing was completed. And we updated all the notice-boards on the front of the cafe. And picked lots of apples. Good work everyone.
Martin Brockman – local woody artist – joined our working-with-wood-week to create a pot out of local materials fired in a wheelbarrow with wood from the wood. He made a pot to add to his collection which he is creating over the coming months in different land-based projects and communities. And worked with the children to create and fire their own pots. It was a wonderful part of the week – in spite of the heat wave temperatures that Martin had to work in!
We’ve been chipping away at the new Wood House frame with help of return French architecture wwoofer – Anna Tombroff – and forthcoming groom at the woods – Sam. Wedding couples for 2019 have all been asked to come and contribute to the wood – Sam has definitely fulfilled his side of the bargain.
With the help of expert framer Jesse Mitchell, the home-team and various other volunteers of all ages, we’ve arrived at the historic moment of the first frame up. Celebrations. But lots more to do. Watch this space over the next couple of months. Andrew Coates Woodland Products should be in their new home from the autumn.
A group of 11 Uckfield College pupils between the ages of 12 and 14 came for a week of wood-work, stewardship, fire-lighting, shelter-building, pizza making and football fun. This was the first year that we offered the wood as an option for the school’s enrichment week. We very much enjoyed it and were really impressed by the skills which the kids brought to the wood – including blacksmithing – which meant we could make a metal pizza oven door – some things are better made of metal!
Another great team – and we’re so close to getting over the line on the 3,000 shingles we need for the new Wood House roof. Plus others looked after the Christmas tree field and tackled Rhododendra….all crucial work. Thank you.
Photography by Beth Mercer.
Great celebrations in the wood as the bees who arrived at Wilderness Wood last year and have been looked after so brilliantly by Jonathan, Roberta and Dave, have produced honey – and we, humans, have 12 pots of it – leaving them lots to keep them going through the winter.