Well let’s be honest the Pallet that I placed over the stream was never going to last forever.
It has remarkably been in place for a whole year though and the mower and trailer have been backwards and forwards dozens of times.
But it has finally given up so it is time to build a replacement. It is very muddy so I am surprised I haven’t fallen on my ass so far while doing it.
One more day and it should all be finished and we can travel across the stream in luxury.
Paths, paths, paths.
A great piece of advice we first received when we met the manager of the woodland company was to establish your paths first and after a 18 months that advice still rings true.
It might seem obvious but without good paths you can’t access or enjoy the space you have been lucky enough to purchase.
Creating them is not a chore but can be great fun planning where you want to go, clearing the way and then being able to stand back and look down the path you have created.
Strangely enough the one other thing that the paths highlight is the need for more paths. As you make one part more accessible you become very aware of all the dead ends. Bramble walls which halt your progress or tie you up in knots.
We have around 7 key Oaks dotted around our wood and the plan is to connect them by a network of paths so much more work to do.
After a lot of reading and working out the finances we have decided that it is really time to get greener on our journeys in and out of the woods.
It seemed silly that we have a desire to take on a piece of woodland and promote bio-diversity and all the other aspects of engaging with the local environment and then emitting a bucket full of unburned hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx) or particulate matter (PM) getting there and back.
Going plug-in hybrid is unlikely to save us any money but should have a huge impact on our carbon footprint as we travel to the woods. If we are lucky the saving on fuel will offset the rental of the vehicle but hopefully the real difference will be seen in our emissions.
We have only done two journeys so far but at the moment it already appears that we will be using a quarter of the fuel that we have used previously, which must be good. The silence as you drive through the woods using only the electric motors is wonderful.
Only time will tell the real impact but as we learn how to get the most out of the electric side of the car hopefully our impact per journey will get less and less.
Autumn has really taken hold in the woodland now. Almost all the leaves have fallen and a carpet of burnt orange covers the floor.
The weather is still dry enough that the leaves crackle beneath your feet and fly into the air if you scuff them up as you walk. The dogs tennis ball is regularly lost under the carpet and she snuffles around trying to find it in both an excited and frustrated way.
It is time for us to really crack on with clearing paths and gathering fire wood. With the foliage gone from the trees and the bracken all dying back it is easier to move around and deal with felled trees as they have no canopy to add to the clearing up.
We want to clear an area for a new workspace / studio and another area to plant fruit trees next year so watch this space as these areas develop.
We have had an amazing summer in the woods. It has been so easy to be outside, lighting the fire only to cook and being glad to be under canvass and the dappled shade of the tree canopy.
You realise exactly how much we take water for granted in the UK especially when you are so used to just turning on a tap. We are not quite at this level of luxury in the woods but we have always had a supply of water from the rain water butts that are fed from the roof of the shelter. The stream disappeared and the butts dried up. We had to start collecting water from Malvern’s natural spring and bring the containers with us each time we came to the woodland. You are aware of every litre as you carry it across the woodland each time you arrive.
However normal service has resumed, those long warm sunny days are almost a dim memory and as the fire is lit for warmth and the whole woodland descends into darkness at 4.30pm it seems like a long time until it will be that way again.
The rain brings its own beauty though. My most favourite things is raindrops beaded on leaves, creating a sparkling wonderland. The stream is in full flow again and the water butts are overflowing.
Our shelter has been a blessing. It has provided us with somewhere to escape the rain, a place to host friends and feed family. The deck was a last minute addition but has also been surprisingly useful and with the amazing summer sunshine this year has almost felt tropical at times.
Building a shelter has also demonstrated that our basic needs can actually be met quite simply and sometimes we overcomplicate things at home. However we do struggle without some basic power and light other than oil lamps so the next project is to get to grips with solar power and add just a few things to make life a bit easier.
If I ever end up with a full barista coffee machine installed you will know I have gone to far.