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Where's your Christmas pudding from ?

Where’s your Christmas pudding from ?

by Lewis ~ 22 December, 2018 ~ one comment

As the only one in the family who likes Christmas Pudding, I  usually treat myself to a commercially produced pudding.  Knowing that it is stuffed full of calories, I looked at the label to see if I could convince myself of its worthiness in terms of fibre or vitamins or  …….   The list of ingredients was significant with many items from different parts of the world.  As well as disregarding the calories, I also decided not to think about the air miles involved.

My Christmas pudding contains the following ‘plant-based’ ingredients : Read more...

Ten surprising facts about Christmas traditions and Christmas around the world

Ten surprising facts about Christmas traditions and Christmas around the world

by Angus ~ 18 December, 2018 ~ comments welcome

1.  In Brazil, where Christmas falls in the summer, Brazilians often put cotton wool on pine trees to represent the snow that often falls in  Europe and America

2.  When Christmas cards were invented in Britain in 1843 the first print run was 1,000 which were priced one shilling each, in today's money that would be equivalent to £6, though as an antique one of them recently sold at auction for around £8,000

3.  Christmas is associated with snow and lots of snowflakes fall in the US each year - typically one septillion which is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000  (one with 24 zeros) Read more...

A trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

A trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

by Chris ~ 6 November, 2018 ~ comments welcome

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...

the wand maker

Making a woodland Wand at Hallr Wood Forest School, Somerset

by Angus ~ 3 June, 2018 ~ comments welcome

"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.


Carving a spoon with "Barn the Spoon"

Carving a spoon with “Barn the Spoon”

by Angus ~ 29 May, 2018 ~ one comment

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...

Scrabble blog : Part 2 letters I – Q by Bella and Stuart.

Scrabble blog : Part 2 letters I – Q by Bella and Stuart.

by Stuart ~ 3 March, 2018 ~ one comment

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...

Barn Owls, rats and rat poison

Barn Owls, rats and rat poison

by Richard ~ 21 January, 2018 ~ 2 comments

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...

The curious question of how artists change our perception of woodlands

The curious question of how artists change our perception of woodlands

by Angus ~ 23 April, 2016 ~ one comment

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...

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