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Christmas quiz with prize for the first 40 valid entries

Christmas quiz with prize for the first 40 valid entries

by Angus ~ 9 December, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Christmas is a good time to go for a woodland walk .... and for presents.

For children, there's nothing better as a motivator than a quiz.

So we are offering to send entrants a prize of a woodlands notebook and tree poster which we will post to you as soon as we get your entry if it's valid - maximum 40 prizes. Read more...

The Botanical Gardens in Lausanne.

The Botanical Gardens in Lausanne.

by Angus ~ 2 November, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Don't go to Lausanne without dropping into the gardens - Lausanne's botanical gardens are free and central, and just a short walk from the train station.  Despite being by the centre of town, they extend to over 4 acres and they house hundreds of plants from around the world and from across Switzerland.

They call it a "living museum" and there are actually 4,000 species growing here by Lake Geneva - in rockeries, in the arboretum and in the large greenhouse.  Though when I was there,  the greenhouse was being used as a recording studio for a band - but that sort of thing is typical of Lausanne - arty, impromptu and using their space well. Read more...

shave horse

A shave horse, my kingdom for a shave horse!

by Angus ~ 20 June, 2019 ~ 2 comments

"Traditional bodgers and woodworkers would have spent the first day in a new woodland making their equipment such as a shave horse "explains Adrian Dennett a supplier of wood bodgers' kit.  These are stools where the craftsman (or woman) sits at one end of the 'horse' and uses a foot-controlled lever to hold their work in place.  It's remarkable how firmly this device holds the wood in position and allows the operator safely to shave down a piece of wood.

Shave horses are mostly used for green woodwork (using unseasoned wood) to make items such as spoons, kuksas (small bowls) or chair legs.  Typically they are used to hold rougher bits of wood which are being moulded into shape using a two-handed draw knife. Read more...

"Make me something beautiful..."

“Make me something beautiful…”

by Angus ~ 7 June, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Ever since neolithic times humans have been making beads.  Gareth Riseborough is copying the methods that stone age man (and woman!) would have used to make beautiful jewellery.  By studying archeological remains and by experimenting with what works he has shown that you can use stones from your woodland, or from a beach, to create fashionable ornaments.

At the 2019 Bushcraft Show in Derbyshire Gareth showed me how he makes beads from Kimmeridge Shale which he found in Dorset on the Jurassic coastline.  Read more...

Paddle-making course at Sylva's Wood Centre, near Oxford

Paddle-making course at Sylva’s Wood Centre, near Oxford

by Angus ~ 22 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

"Why did you spend two days of your life and about £200 to make a paddle?" asked a friend after I got home from this weekend course in Oxford.  Obviously I'd failed to explain that this was about much more than just planing and sanding a single piece of ash wood into a nice paddle.  For me, it was more like a holiday - getting away from computer screens for two days, spending time with my grown-up son (who made his own paddle) and learning how to use edge tools properly.  It was also about meeting a group of half a dozen like-minded individuals each hungry to learn new skills in woodworking.  When I showed my beautiful paddle to my sceptical friend and told him about the people I'd met, he understood better and even said he wanted to go on the same course. Read more...

Bird by Bird - about the threats to wild birds

Bird by Bird – about the threats to wild birds

by Angus ~ 17 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Jayne Ivimey and Julia Blackburn have put together an amazing exhibition that makes grown ups cry.  It describes the plight of wild birds in the face of human activities from oil spills and pesticides to loss of habitat from climate change.  The official RED LIST is the list of seriously endangered species and the number of birds on it has recently grown from 36 to 70, so that extinctions now seem almost inevitable for some with humans as the perpetrators.  But this is more than just a lament: it is also a celebration of what the authors call the "miracle of the gift of flight" and the magic of birdsong.   Woodland birds play an important role in the roster of the 70 birds that Jayne has recreated in clay. 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...

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