Driving towards the wood I was going to be working in, I noticed how the tree canopies on both sides of the road seemed to be welcoming me into their fold. I was excited to be working again with my friend Stuart in his private woodland; it has definitely been awhile since lockdown!
We had a few tasks to check off today. Firstly we filled a trailer with ash that had been taken down a few weeks ago, and transported that to another location for storage. Then Stuart showed me his proposed tiered veggie garden that he was keen to have someone take on as a project from scratch.
We then proceeded to the charcoal making area, where we dragged down a few more stems of coppiced hazel to fill in the gaps around the charcoal kiln. A Tawny owl, alerted by the branches crunching under our feet, flew off towards the next cluster of trees.
A bit of roundhouse building work was up next. Together we measured, cut and hammered in branches to finish up the basic roof structure. The clouds grew darker and more menacing, so although there was more to be done it was probably sensible to wait till the next spell of dry weather comes.
After a spot of lunch where we shared our experiences in lockdown (and put the world to right!), we worked on clearing the area underneath and around the roundhouse to tidy things up a bit. It was amazing how much the vegetation had grown prolifically after a few spells of dry and wet weather, so I got started on manually uprooting a large patch of invasive Himalayan balsam, an agressive-seeding species which outcompetes indigenous native plant species. However as the estate keeps bees, it was important as well to find a balance with retaining some of this Autumn nectaring plant for pollinators.
As I started up my car and waved goodbye, I felt immense satisfaction at having done a good day’s work, and sharing good conversation with an appreciative soul.
It was definitely nice to be back, working amongst my beloved trees again.