A small contingent set off from Woodlands HQ in SE London to visit Kew Gardens. A trip to Kew is always a pleasure but there were a number of things that had induced us to face the rigours of the South Circular - notably
- The restoration of the temperate house
- The exhibition of “a legacy of ancient oaks” by Mark Frith
- A visit to the gallery of Marianne North’s paintings / work
- It was a beautiful sunny but autumnal day
We arrived and accessed the car park near the river via Ferry Lane (where there are a good number of disabled spaces - which is not always the case at certain public venues / attractions). A short walk took us to the Brentford Gate and into the gardens. For those with limited mobility (or stamina), there is a Kew Explorer stop nearby. Here you can board the Kew Explorer Land train which runs each day between 11 am and 3 pm. A complete tour of the Gardens takes about 40 minutes and ticket holders can get on and off at any stop on the route, re-boarding the ‘train’ when ready. Read more...
"When you make a wand," explains Arthur, "you should describe it by the wood that it's made from, its length and then its core (if it has one). This one's a hawthorn 11-inch and I got the wood from Hallr wood, where we run Wilder Woods Forest School." Arthur made his first wands when he was 17 including one lovely long dark wand which he was carrying with him when we met - "it's an 'Ebony 12-and-three-quarter-inch" . Arthur turns wands on a lathe and finishes them with shaping and applying a finish.
Barney or "Barn the Spoon" has become an icon and cheerleader of the emerging hobby of spoon carving and spoon making. I met him at the Bushcraft Show in Derbyshire and was immediately drawn in by his obsession with the art - he must dream of nothing but spoons and knives. As Barn says, "think how many times a day you use a spoon and it's the first tool we learn to use as children." When it comes down to it, spoons are really bowls with handles.
Spoon making is about much more than just carving something useful - it's about the wood itself, the actions of an individual and making a thing of beauty. Becoming a spoon maker also brings you into intimate contact with wood and it makes you part of what Barn has called "the wood culture renaissance". Techniques that you learn from your spoon-carving tutor are "gifts that can never be taken away." Read more...
Some further woody related words to impress your scrabble playing friends with!
Iceni: A tribe of ancient Britons inhabiting an area of south-eastern England in present-day Norfolk and Suffolk. Their queen, Boudicca, led an unsuccessful rebellion against the Romans in AD 60. SCORE = 7
Igneous : A type of rock, formed from solidified lava or magma. SCORE : 8
Ingle: A domestic fire or fireplace. SCORE: 6
Inglenook: A small recess that adjoins a fireplace. SCORE: 14 Read more...
This Christmas I was given a felt rat. "Why ?" Well, my sister-in-law thought I’d like the sentiment behind the gift. We love barn owls but most of us don’t like rats!
Rats (Rattus norvegicus) like most other organisms have their place in the food chain, they feed on virtually anything, clean up waste food, take our food, feed on birds eggs - almost anything they can find. Read more...
Artists seem to have a profound effect on the public perception of woodlands. When we think of British woodlands many people will think of paintings by John Constable or Joshua Reynolds. But our view of woodlands is changing as new images are produced, whether in advertising or by contemporary artists. A couple of years ago David Hockney experimented with a new technique, producing a series of pictures of woodlands in the Yorkshire Wolds using an iPad which were notable in several ways - they used vivid colour and bold, stylised lines to give one perspective on Yorkshire woodlands, but they were also taken from a particular perspective. Hockney personally feels the cold and he isn't very agile now as he gets towards 80 (born 1937) so he did this series of paintings from his car and many of them feature the road itself and the verge. Hockney was consciously or otherwise showing trees as they are seen by the majority of the British public in a car-dominated society. Read more...
Treasure! I clambered up from the woodland pit with a bottle that to me looked very old, beautiful and probably precious. I'd been curious about what was at the bottom of one of those steep-sided holes in the middle of a woodland. It turned out to be ancient rubbish from many decades ago and my bottle was part of that - no plastic in those days, just some glass bottles and rusty metal. I went back down and found an old enamelled vase with rust-made holes and I knew it would look much better after a spin in the dishwasher - if I could sneak it in without objections from the family! Read more...
It's worth watching the latest Star Wars movie just for the woodlands scenes, but it's best to view the film in 3D. Somewhat reminiscent of the forest scenes in the film Avatar, the characters retreat to the woodlands to escape from the endless rounds of shooting and whizzy intergalactic travel. The first of these woodland scenes is full of ferns, mosses and creepers in an obviously deciduous woodland which turns out to be the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. This is also said to be the forest that inspired JRR Tolkien's "Middle Earth" vision. The Stars Wars heroine Rey escapes to the forest where fighters from the evil empire "First Order" don't expect her to be and even when they do start pursuing her in the undergrowth there are lots of craggy rocks and places to hide. It feels a long way from the planet Jakku, and indeed it is - because the Jakku desert scenes were filmed in Abu Dhabi.
But woodlands play a wider role in "The Force Awakens" as they are used to symbolise peace and tranquility and a secure earth in a universe of danger and explosions. At one point as a green planet is approached, Rey says, wide-eyed, "I didn't think there was this much green in the whole galaxy". Much of the green is in fact the woodlands around Derwent Water and Ullswater in the Lake District where a whole slew of the filming took place.