Archive for June, 2010

Water at Westonbirt by Sophie Nash, Project Support Officer

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

As with most planning applications extra pieces of information have been requested from us. We have been busy digging holes in a variety of locations and pouring in water to see how well the water drains in the ground at the Arboretum, in some areas the water drained quicker than could be filled!
The tanker which was planned to be used for both days left early to be MOT’ed which meant the final hole needed to be filled with buckets, wheelbarrows and any other containers which could carry water!
We are also expecting a ‘time team’ like dig to take place to assess if we have anything interesting in the proposed car park, we don’t expect to find anything but you never know.
The project team recently enjoyed a brief break from the grindstone in Silk Wood with Paul Hayden, who normally leads a 6-day Windsor chair making course at the Arboretum.
We had a lovely day making rolling pins, stools, candlesticks and garden dibbers and all left feeling proud of our achievements but also very achy!

I am a ‘Woody Woman’, by Gina Mills, Marketing Support Officer

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
Coming from Westonbirt’s marketing office, I anticipated the Woody Women course to be something of a challenge.
Led by professional coppice-workers, Ruth Goodfellow and Jenna Higgins, the Woody Women course aims to give an all round woodland experience: from learning about woodland management, using tools such as axes and drawknives to thinking about how women can approach physically demanding tasks in woodlands using lifting and moving techniques.
For me making a spatula was really enjoyable, and the result now takes pride of place in my kitchen at home. A spatula may not sound like the most exciting thing to make, but believe me when you have carefully cleaved a thin wedge of wood for yourself, used an axe under such close control, and gone onto lovingly shape and carve it you will know better. I believe a wooden spoon is by comparison an altogether tougher challenge!
The fire-lighting task heralded much pondering of whether Ray Mears’ preferred brand of fire steel was in fact the best. I used small dry sticks collected in the hazel coppice as a base, a layer of Old Man’s Beard as tinder on top of this with a scattering of birch bark and last but not least a chunk of King Alfred’s Cakes (dry fungi) in the centre of it all. It was hardly surprising that it took only a few strikes of the fire steel to get this lot going with such a catch all approach, even after a downpour!
I now have a better sense of the woodland, gained by participating in this weekend. Camping in the woods and being awoken by the dawn chorus was a joy but I am not sure this feeling was shared by all in our party! In any case the Woody Women course is highly recommended as a way to get to know Westonbirt better.