Wednesday 29th Nov '17

Getting ready to decorate the Wilderness Wood christmas tree

Maddie Jessel, our current artist-in-residence, led a workshop with children of the resident enterprises, to make decorations for the tree which will go in front of the cafe this year.   It involved a lot of glitter, pasta farfalle and a ball of string.  Come and check out the results.


Friday 27th Oct '17

working-with-wood day – autumn half-term

A glorious sunny day.  Lots of people and projects and PIZZAS.


We made hurdles, shingles, signs, mini-wreaths, a new warming seat for the Meeting House in winter and PIZZAS.  Thanks to everyone who came and pitched in.


Wednesday 25th Oct '17

Uckfield College are coming to build a camp at Under Oak

Under Oak has always been the favourite wild camping spot of John Macbeth – DT teacher at Uckfield College.   And it’s about to get much better.  Mr Macbeth came to us with the proposal of bringing a group of 15 BTEC construction students to the site each Friday afternoon.  We suggested that they could help us make a new shelter at Under Oak which will allow small school groups to come and camp in this beautiful spot in the woods.  We have prepared the site ready.  And we are excited about starting work with the group after half-term.


Monday 23rd Oct '17

a sign

We have finally taken down the old sign on the road – after 3 and a half years here.  And with the creative and practical help of our friend and colleague, Remy Small, who brought us the much loved ‘stick sign’ in 2015, we have made a new 3-D sign to name the woods as you pass on the A272.   There will then be a more detailed sign with a basic welcome message and space to advertise the various enterprises based at the wood.   Hope you like it….


Saturday 14th Oct '17

Planting trees in bat park

A view from the air of bat park where we spent Saturday afternoon planting broad-leaf saplings to replace the diseased chestnut which we had to clear a couple of years ago.   We will be fund-raising for more saplings for the area at the Christmas Market.




Friday 13th Oct '17

Friday Morning Craft Group passes on their skills to the next generation

On Friday mornings in the cafe, there is a scene of busy hands.  And some coffee and cake as well.   For many years, there has been a Friday Morning craft group meeting in the cafe at Wilderness Wood.  Some of its members are also up for doing projects with our Friday Club children.  This term Jeannie Bates has taken on the challenge and is making a textile art-work to go up in the cafe.  Watch the space above the door between the two halves!


Saturday 7th Oct '17

October stewards make shingles and hurdles

Many thanks to everyone who came along – was another good day of working together.  Making shingles for a roof of a new wood house and shingles to create a thresh-hold in the woods.  Good lunch and cake as well.   We won’t be hosting volunteering days in November and December – unless you want to help with Christmas!  But back into the usual routine of the first Saturday of each month from January.


Friday 6th Oct '17

Friday Club restarts after a summer break

Friday Club has been running for 3 years now.  Nearly an institution.   Most of the families involved have been coming that whole time – and some new blood started this term as well.  The spirit of the day is that the families – who home educate or flexi-school – are on the team for the day and help out with work around the woods,  share skills and knowledge and have a lot of fun.   Each term is different depending on the season and the people on the team.  Wilderness Wood is very grateful for all the energy and creativity they bring to the woods.


Saturday 2nd Sep '17

September 2017 Stewardship Saturday

It was a good welcome back after the holidays.  Everyone full of energy for work!  We removed a dangerous board-walk, completed the Cook House decking, stacked wood, collected and cooked with apples and chipped away at the target shingle total for the forth-coming Wood House.


Wednesday 9th Aug '17

Pizza oven walls

And then paddling the mixture of clay, sand, straw and manure to make the walls.   Very good for the feet.


Tuesday 8th Aug '17

Pizza oven foundations

As part of our working-with-wood-week – Yann and Louise Kerbirou – a fantastic father and daughter team (hardly any arguments at all) led our volunteers in the construction of a new pizza oven in the new cook house.  It started with laying the foundations.


Monday 7th Aug '17

working with wood week – the fourth

Our annual working party for members was a great success.  Over 50 of us between the ages of 2 and 70.   With a huge range of talents, skills and experiences to bring to the woods. There were lots of great projects to get stuck into – Spanish Steps for the Meeting House; a balcony for the cook-house; shingles for the new wood-house – coming next year; a lovely new pizza oven; a green knight wood sculpture and a science fiction take on Robin Hood as the end-of-week entertainment.  And lots of enjoyable meals, cakes, workshops – such as gargoyle making and wildlife sculpture – and music – with a particular thank you to the singer-song-writer Bara Smekova for being part of the week again this year.  If you’d like to come next year, contact


Saturday 5th Aug '17

August Stewardship Saturday

We cleared paths. Closed other paths.  Made 100 shingles.  And had a good day together.



Friday 14th Jul '17

temporary shower in the wilderness

We are still working on the main wash-house structure.  But in the mean-time, Jake, Dan and Joe have created a very beautiful temporary solution near the yurt on the east side of the wood.


Monday 3rd Jul '17

Work experience kids help build the new wash-house and sort out the fuel supply

We were delighted that two work experience students joined us from UCTC and the Beacon for the week.  They helped out on lots of different jobs – including processing timber for fire-wood, building a new wash-house and helping out in the cafe.  If you’d like to do work experience, here just contact

2017-07-07 10.52.09

Saturday 1st Jul '17

a stag do joined stewardship saturday

Through their hang-overs, 15 stags joined the team for the morning – and helped us move the new huge table into position in the tea-garden.  They spent the afternoon in the pub – un-doing all the healthy activity and fresh air. Mean-while, less hung over volunteers made beautiful pegs and split shingles for our new Wood-house structure with wood-turner, Mark Smith.  And others completed Estonian fencing job up to the road.  Many thanks to everyone – it was a very productive day.



Saturday 24th Jun '17

Kissori school from Germany comes back for more work and fun in the woods

15 students and 3 teachers came for a two week stint of camping, helping out, craft workshops and keeping up their studies from the camp-site.  We really enjoyed their visit and appreciated their contribution to the wood and were very glad the weather was kinder than last year.   We also christened the lower paddock with some international basket-ball and foot-ball fun.

2017-07-07 10.57.59

Wednesday 21st Jun '17

Three sheep have arrived

They are enjoying life in the Christmas Tree Field – we think.










Thank you for respecting no entrance signs.  You can come back in when it’s time to choose a Christmas Tree and the sheep will take up residence in the Lower Paddock.


Saturday 17th Jun '17

Longest table ever?

Dan and his team were commissioned to create a table fit for Hadlow Down Village Fayre.  It is made from a Hemlock tree.  And it’s very, very long.  And beautiful.









It’s coming back to the woods soon – but it may have to be chopped in half for normal life.


Friday 16th Jun '17

Friday Club reinvents the wooden stool

We came up with some funky ideas for wooden stools for the meeting house – helped along by experienced architect and designer – Tom Westwood.  It was very interesting to think through all the issues and then we came up with a range of different ideas.  We’ll be trying some of them out over the next months as we furnish the meeting house with 12 hand-made wooden stools.  Tom and Frank got started straight away with number one.


Thursday 15th Jun '17

Wash-house for apprentices and campers is being constructed

Exciting to get started on a wash-house for use by apprentices and campers in the wood.  It’s long over-due as currently the only showers in the wood are in the Morrish home.   We’ve had all kinds of help – including from the highly motivated and skilled couple who are getting married here in mid-July and would like to use it for their matrimonial preparations!

2017-06-15 17.46.03

Monday 29th May '17

The new Cookhouse BBQ in action

Darren, of Wilderness cafe, initiated the new cookhouse with a bank holiday BBQ for the general public to enjoy.   The BBQ works a treat.  But still more work for Dan and his team to make a table, seating, sink, cupboards and pizza oven.  The work never ends….


Saturday 29th Apr '17

member’s annual bluebell party

At end of April, we mark progress, crown a new May Queen and appreciate the wonderful bluebells with a ceremonial walk, a pot-luck dinner, a bar, ceilidh and songs around the fire. This year, Rose Graham, took on the role of May Queen – aged 12 – she opened the new Cook-house and launched the party with a beautiful poem written especially for the occasion by Joe Skelton, our writer-in-residence. The ceilidh was great fun and songs around the fire were amazing. Thank you to everyone for bringing delicious food and getting into the spirit of the occasion. Photography by Beth Mercer.


Wednesday 26th Apr '17

Outdoor Kitchen – progress

Dan and his team have been squaring up the frame and bracing it ready to receive roofing planks.  They have also been building the central structure to support fire-bowl, grill and flu which have been made by local metal fabricator, Ben Floyd, and  Bristolian fabricator – Olly Hallett.    Thank you to them both.

Photography by Beth Mercer.


Saturday 8th Apr '17

Sheltered Fire Circle Frame Raised

We are creating a sheltered fire-circle deep in the woods where groups, such as our current Roots and Wings group for 11 and 12 year old girls, can gather and cook around a fire, even when it rains.  We made good progress over 2 days – collecting the chestnut poles from the nearby recently coppiced area, peeling them and framing the building around a metal ring.  Next step will be to put in the straw bails for the walls and the planks for the roof.


Saturday 8th Apr '17

Outdoor work is exhausting!

The kids (aged 8-17) helped peel poles and then hold them in place to create the frame for the new sheltered fire-circle.   And then they were tired….


Saturday 1st Apr '17

April Stewards sort out forest school area

We had a good turn-out – including lots of families who attend Lucy’s Little Forest School.  We set to clearing up the ‘Secret Path area’ which included some demolition (popular with all the family!), edging paths and creating more Estonian fencing!




Photography by Coen Dijkstra


Wilderness Wood april '17 - 064

Saturday 1st Apr '17

first ever AGM – with a twist

We held our first AGM on 1st April at 5pm.  It was well attended.  We had promised it would not be boring.  And I think we succeeded.  The progress report was presented as a pub quiz, mastered by Frank Morrish, so now no-one can forget the facts and figures.  We discussed in some detail the pros and cons as Pay As You Feel versus a fixed admission charge.  And then in smaller groups we brain-stormed ideas on organisational structure, play area, improving the woodland as a habitat for plants and animals and dreaded dog poo subject.  Thank you to all those who came and made us feel that we would want to do it again!

Photography by Coen Dijkstra

Wilderness Wood april '17 - 065

Saturday 1st Apr '17

Alphabet Trail is back up and running

Massive thanks to the indefatigable Sarah Kelleher who has re-done the whole alphabet trail so it makes sense with our new lay-out.  We’re now working on the new map and information but you can already walk the trail without getting lost!


Wilderness Wood april '17 - 024

Friday 31st Mar '17

Outdoor kitchen frame raised

After a false start, in which wood beat metal, we have raised the outdoor kitchen frame.  It was a lot of concentrated and hard work by Dan, Jake (our new apprentice), Will and many other volunteers.  Thank-you everyone.  It looks fantastic – a cathedral of an outdoor kitchen.  Just need some heat, water and a roof…last week of April, we’ll have another big push.

Wilderness Wood april '17 - 068

Wednesday 22nd Mar '17

Framing new outdoor kitchen

Our new apprentice, Jake Reed, and ex-Ben-Law apprentice, Will have been working hard to get poles ready for raising.  Will be great to have a place for the cafe and member’s meeting house to use – with new BBQ, re-worked pizza oven and running water!!!!



Saturday 4th Mar '17

March Stewardship Saturday

All about the edges.  We laid hedges. Finished the Estonian fencing around the work yard. Made hurdles for moveable fencing with the brilliant round-wood-turner, Mark Smith.  And made a celebratory poster/invitation for the upcoming members’ may day party.




Photography by Beth Mercer.


Friday 17th Feb '17

Estonian fencing in Sussex

A group of 25 members between the ages of 5 and who knows, joined us for a very satisfying working day in the February half-term.  Andrew Coates and Philip (aged 13) hung a gate for the new sheep paddock; a big team worked on Estonian fencing around the work yard and meeting house while others made posters for our Mothering Sunday event, planted seeds for the kitchen garden and cooked lunch.


Saturday 4th Feb '17

February Stewardship Saturday

We layed a new hedge – under the guidance of Tom Simmons, forester.  And stacked more wood…..Come and see what a difference it has made to the light and views around the paddocks and marquee.


Saturday 28th Jan '17

Luśka led a brilliant winter tree id walk

Luśka Mengham, ex-resident of the wood, led a guided walk to explore identification of trees in winter without their leaves.  They had a great morning of stomping around the woods and stopping at different specimens to look at different clues – including bark, buds and overall shape.


Friday 20th Jan '17

Andrew Coates shares some of his hard-won gate-making secrets with Frank

Andrew Coates has been coppicing and making gates out of chestnut at Wilderness Wood for 25 years.  He now runs his own woodland products business at the woods , including selling and installing gates, fencing, trellises.  Frank lives at the woods and is helping Andy make a number of chestnut gates needed for use at the woods – the chestnut will end up where it grew.


Saturday 7th Jan '17

January Stewardship Saturday

The hardy ones turn up for volunteering in January.  We were killing rhododendra (excellent work for 11 and 12 year olds), fencing the lower paddock ready for sheep and stacking wood.  Everyone was rewarded with extra big lunch and a small number of delicious cup-cakes made by the 7 year olds on the team.


Saturday 17th Dec '16

Winter Soltice celebrated with lanterns, songs, mists and a big fire

Members of Wilderness Wood gathered at 3pm on a day where the sun only seemed to be shining in Hadlow Down.  We lit the individual lanterns and huge sun lantern which had been prepared by Friday Club and After-school Club and then set off down into the woods guided by Tess Garrett of Suitcase Theatre and her flame-bearing family!  We chanted some of the way down to give us heart and then became silent as we entered the misty lower areas of the woodland.  Through the silence, came the sound of the girls in Roots and Wings singing to guide us to their camp near Woodglade, where they had prepared a huge moon lantern and poetry about the moon.  We then headed back in the dusk up to the area in front of the Meeting House where Dan had prepared a ‘pyre’ on which we set fire to the lanterns and sang the Halsway Carol about winter solstice.  The celebration of the longest night continued with home-made mince-pies, mulled cider and apple juice and lots of contributions by the community.  Steve Martinez started off the music around the fire and we had a lovely evening of songs and instrumental musics by musicians of all ages – including a surprise Russian song.  Many thanks to everyone for making it such an enjoyable way to see in the winter.  Photography by Beth Mercer.


Sunday 11th Dec '16

Christmas festivities were blessed with sun-shine

We have been really lucky with the sunshine on our two busiest weekends of the year.  Lots of christmas trees sold, chestnuts eaten, christmas decorations made.  As well as the sunshine, many thanks to all the stall-holders and musicians who helped create such a festive atmosphere.  And, of course, the amazing scout stewards who make it possible for so many people to get into the woods at all.


Friday 2nd Dec '16

Preparations for christmas market

Signage.  It always takes longer than you think.  This was a re-use of the template for the main entrance stick sign.  Friday Club set about christmasifying it for the Wilderness Wood market stall.  The results were much appreciated.


Friday 25th Nov '16

Preparations for the winter solstice party

Artist, John Woodberry, regularly comes to work with Friday Club on the latest project.  This time it was a poster for the Winter Solstice Event.  The process was simple and satisfying.  And the results beautiful.


Thursday 24th Nov '16

Coppicing begins down near stream-side

Andrew Coates Woodland Products is responsible for the maintaining of the coppice cycle at the woods.  Each year, he and Dan agree the next coop to be cut according to the plans laid out in the Yarrow era and taking into consideration any other new factors.  This year, the coop is down near Stream-side.  Most of the cutting will be done in the new year but local boy, Ralph Hissey on the chain-saw with help clearing and sorting from wwoofer, Joe Skelton, made a start this week.


Friday 18th Nov '16

Friday Club preparing the Christmas Shack for this year’s market

Dan and his helpers are working hard to get the ‘shack’ previously known as ‘Easter shack’ ready for its new role as the ‘Christmas shack’ for all the amazing craft stalls coming on the 3rd/4th and 10th/11th December.  Other children in Friday Club are preparing decorations, signage,their own stalls….come and see the end results.


Tuesday 15th Nov '16

christmas tree reservations all over for this year but yard trees still to come

After another sunny day on Sunday, we have reserved as many trees as possible for this year. But the good news is that you can still buy a tree at the woods as we will be selling pre-cut local trees from the yard outside the cafe every day  from November 26th onwards.


Friday 11th Nov '16

The Meeting House has been licensed for wedding ceremonies

It was a bit of a scramble to get it ready but just in time, the doors were hung and the windows put in.  The registrars really love the space and have signed it off as a licensed space for wedding ceremonies – even with the hay bales in!  Hurrah.


Sunday 6th Nov '16

christmas tree reservations begin

Over 300 families came to the woods over the weekend – one family in their pyjamas – to reserve a Christmas tree which they will come to collect in December.  Some families have been coming for over 30 years, others came to the woods for the first time this year.  They all seemed to enjoy themselves – in spite of some heated discussions about which tree to reserve.


There are still plenty of trees but head here as soon as you can to maximise your options on species and sizes.


Saturday 29th Oct '16

Flying Art in the woods

John Woodberry, artist and regular at Wilderness Wood, worked with Amy Coombes to create this brilliant flying installation above the fire-pit at Stream-side using materials to hand.  Amy is going to use it as part of her A level textile course work.  Mean-while, make sure you pay it a visit when you next come to the woods.


Friday 28th Oct '16

Japanese volunteers work with our more local members to repair bridges and dig ditches

Through the international network of wwoofers, we were contacted by a Japanese family with four young children who wanted to come and stay and help out at the woods.  They came for 10 days and helped on all fronts – even the three-year old!


Wednesday 26th Oct '16

Visiting artist, Becky Doe, works with member children to create clay heads and bowls

Becky Doe, usually based in Devon, joined us during half-term to work with a group of 12 member children between the ages of seven and thirteen on creating out of clay.  They got their hands in clay from 11am-3pm and made clay heads of each other.  Others made pots.  There was a lot of laughter and a lot of quiet concentration.  Becky was able to help the children individually and work with them as a group to start thinking about the possibilities of clay…The good news is she is willing to come again.  In the Easter holidays so contact Emily on if you would be interested in a clay workshop either for children or adults.



Thursday 20th Oct '16

Progress on The Meeting House

Brilliant team of local volunteers and not so local volunteers have helped us finish the floor, back wall and beautiful stairs up to the first floor.  Nearly there.  Just need the windows in and then we’re ready to host members meetings, classes, workshops and wedding ceremonies!  Please contact if you would be interested in using this beautiful and cosy new indoor space at Wilderness Wood.  Photography and dog-ownership by member of the wood, Beth Mercer.


Wednesday 19th Oct '16

After-school club creates a sun lantern with Tess and Jonah of Suitcase Theatre

At the last wednesday after school club session before the nights draw in, we started preparations for our member’s winter solstice celebration.  Tess and Jonah Garrett of Suitcase Theatre came to work with the group on making a sun lantern and rays out of willow and tissue paper.  We also worked on a chant which will open proceedings on Saturday December 17th before we process down into the woods as it gets dark.  The children worked hard and noisily.  Bodes well for the actual event.  We hope as many members as possible will join us.


Saturday 8th Oct '16

Stewards improve Stream-side area at bottom of woods

We met up top.  But then organised all the tools and food that we would need into the dumper and headed down to the bottom south-east corner of the woods to work on repairs to the main wooden structure, improvements to some of the outdoor furniture in the camping area, clearing the heath-land and paths to the Woodglade area where educational groups meet.  We had a delicious lunch cooked on our camp-fire.  And thoroughly enjoyed our stint deeper in the woods.


Saturday 8th Oct '16

‘Together they build a structure to suit their needs’: Emily gives a talk about her PhD

After a hard day’s outdoor work, members gathered in the cafe to  hear about and discuss Emily’s PhD on the relationship of self-build and radical education – exploring places where children have created and shaped their own physical environment.  We also talked about how the ideas from this research relate to what we are trying to do at the woods – creating a space and a community with people of all ages.  The discussion was lively – with lots of questions and ideas and challenges.  I attach a synopsis of the research.


Tuesday 13th Sep '16

the reed bed is up and running

We switched to our new reed bed system today.  After months of very hard work to dig out the area, set out the pipes and sand, fence the whole area, we finally planted out the reeds and the sewage is now being processed through the sand and reeds.  You can read all about how it works by the expert on these kinds of systems, Chris Weedon, in edition 3 of Wild Times.


Saturday 3rd Sep '16

home grown and built gates to protect the new reed bed

Andrew Coates has worked at Wilderness Wood for 25 years and runs his own woodland enterprise based at the woods.  He often takes his skills and chestnut wood to sites in the local area.  But over the past month, he has been contributing to projects at the woods itself, by making gates for the new fence to protect our new reed bed filtration system.  He has made the gates with help from volunteers of all ages.   He started hanging them on Saturday and they look very happy – made from local wood and local hands.





Photography by Beth Mercer.


Saturday 3rd Sep '16

September Stewardship Saturday

Another big group of willing helpers.  We worked on gates, protecting trees in the car-park, stacking wood, harvesting apples from the orchard and making new steps up to The Meeting House.  In the evening, we celebrated with a BBQ in the tea-garden and sat around our new fire bowl.  Very cheering on a rainy night.


Photography by Beth Mercer.


Thursday 25th Aug '16

Summer Forest School at Wilderness Wood

Lucy’s Little Forest School  has put on a great summer programme this year – including lots of new activities such as Hapa  Zome (dyeing fabric with leaves) and Wild Jewellry with Mel, bug hunt and sculpture with Lyn Merrick, Saxon’s quest and hedgehog trail, Explorer days and all the old favourites such as cast-away and bear hunts….next year, we are thinking of a week-long holiday programme for younger children so let us know if you’d be interested.


Friday 12th Aug '16

Working-with-wood-week day 5 – Four Million Wasps Flew into Town

The Giant Jam Sandwich premiered as a play for children in the Meeting House building in its new position- written and directed by Christy Hawkins, based on the book by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway with original music by Bara Zmekova. After a week of fun but hard work rehearsing – and with an additional moving stage challenge – the children put on a brilliant performance.  We had a fantastic audience of 80 people sitting on hay bails – family, neighbours and those who had been working hard on other projects all week.  It was a wonderful way to end the week.  Thank you to all those involved.









Christy Hawkins, the director and script-writer, would love to hear from people who are interested in future productions or collaborations at



Thursday 11th Aug '16

Working-with-wood-week day 4 – four new shave horses

Mark Smith, local wood turner, has helped member families build the woods four new shave horses.  They are absolutely beautiful and fit-for-purpose.  Great work.  And now we can have more volunteers helping us shave wood and turn pegs for future projects.  Please contact or Mark directly at if you would be interested in making one for your own carpentry projects.


Wednesday 10th Aug '16

Working-with-wood-week day 3 – we moved a building

After some terrifying false-starts, we did it.  We moved the Forestry Building.  Dan described the process as ‘unbearably stressful’.  But it worked – the building is well-made and survived the process.  It is now The Meeting House  – looking out over the woods rather than the work yard – and to be used for licensed ceremonies, indoor workshops, meetings and who knows what else.  And looking much happier where it is now – thank goodness!  Martin Lilley not only was a crucial part of the team that moved the building, he also somehow managed to make a film about it.



Tuesday 9th Aug '16

Working-with-wood-week day 2 – we made a see-saw

Ed Heusser and his team were first to complete a project in this year’s working-with-wood-week – a wooden see-saw for the tea-garden.  The children tested it within an inch of its life that evening.  And Ed had to introduce some new safety features the next day.


Monday 8th Aug '16

Working-with-wood-week day 1 – 50 volunteers of all ages gathered…

We were a group of 50 adults and children from as far as the Czech Republic, South of France and as near as the home-team at Wilderness Wood.   A huge mix of skills, talents and previous experiences.  And a huge amount of willingness to get stuck into the various projects going on including – building four new shave horses with Mark Smith, carving a new Green Man, moving a building, making a seesaw in the tea-garden, building new gates and putting on a play to entertain the team at the end of a hard week.


Saturday 6th Aug '16

August Stewardship Saturday

Our members brought renewed energy to the seemingly never-ending job of fencing around the new reed-bed so that when we plant the reeds (on the september stewardship sat) the rabbits cannot undo all our work.  We also pruned the Christmas Trees – some people love that job!  We were also joined by Lyn Merrick, local artist, scientist and member of Wilderness Wood, who shared some of her tricks for how to identify and draw illustrations of trees.  Thank-you Lyn.

2016-08-06 15.04.28

Saturday 23rd Jul '16

Golnessa and Glen’s wedding

Golnessa and Glen were blessed in a woodland clearing, barn-danced in front of The Meeting House and had a delicious meal in the marquee cooked by the Wilderness Cafe.

Photography by Georgina Piper.
Music by Dusty Bees.


Thursday 7th Jul '16

German teenagers come to help out at the woods

A group of 12 teenagers with 3 teachers from an alternative school in Germany, called Kissori, have come to camp and help out at the woods for a fort-night as a way to improve their English and have new experiences outside of the classroom.  The weather has been shockingly bad but they have resisted the temptation to check into a youth hostel in Brighton.  And we have managed to do lots and lots of work with them to look after the woods and progress various projects: fencing the new reed-bed, storing fire-wood, creating a shower in the yurt area, weeding the garden, cooking on fire, chipping and chopping, clearing paths and helping in the Christmas Tree field.  It was the first time we have hosted a residential school visit.  Not sure if the Kissori students will want to brave our weather again, but we’d love to host them or other groups like this again.



Wednesday 6th Jul '16

More French super-wwoofers

We were staring at the Christmas Tree field in despair.  Weeds – fuelled by fertiliser and unbelieveable rain – were overwhelming all our newly planted Christmas Trees.  Everyone was telling us to bite the bullet and use pesticides to get the weeds under control.  And then along came Mattieu and Marie.  They contacted us via the volunteering website –   they have come to England to travel around and have new experiences.  They have a beautiful camper van and two really well-behaved dogs.  We invited them to come and tentatively asked them if they minded tackling the Christmas Tree field.  They not only didn’t mind.  They set to work with strimmer and billhooks and occasional teams of young volunteers and transformed the field.  We just need to tempt them back in another few months…


Saturday 2nd Jul '16

July stewards fence and chip and chop

On Stewardship Saturday, members learnt how to to make traditional Sussex post and rail fencing – which will keep the rabbits away from the reeds.  Other volunteers fixed a hand-rail across ditches, chipped the play-glade and tea-garden, chopped up pine wood and created new sleeping policemen to try and help the rainwater run-off – not a job we expected to be doing in July.  Also, Christmas Tree field very nearly under control.  We ended the evening with delicious pizzas cooked by our chef-in-residence, Yoni Suissa.  And a raucous football match in the front of the cafe.  Thanks to everyone for all your help and enthusiasm. If you would be interested to join the team, contact about our membership scheme.

Photography by Beth Mercer.


Sunday 19th Jun '16

Father’s Day wood-work and BBQ

A break in the rain gave us a lovely day in the woods yesterday – Mark Smith demonstrated his pole-lathe, Dan Morrish made a picnic table with help from fathers and children, Lucy’s Little Forest School built dens and the Wilderness Cafe laid on a delicious BBQ.


Friday 10th Jun '16

Friday Club tackles the list of signs

When we arrived at the woods 2 years ago, we took down quite a lot of signs and thought that we didn’t want so many.  But now, every single meeting ends with the decision to make a new sign about something or other – up-coming events, pay-as-you-feel, opening hours, dog poo, explaining the reed-bed  – you name it, we need a sign. Friday Club often has to make signs too – Halloween, Concerts, Plays.  So I commissioned Friday Club, helped by Sam Purton, to come up with a beautiful new sign for the cafe.  She has started by teaching the children some basic sign-writing calligraphy.  I’m hoping to hand the long list to them soon.


Friday 10th Jun '16

Friday Club debates European referendum

Usually our activities are out and about and practical and related to the woods.  But this week, we felt we needed to join in the wider debate about Europe.  We had two speakers for and against leaving Europe.  The group were majority in favour of staying.  The debate was good.  And a few people even changed their mind through the course of it.


Where adults and children work and learn together