I have started to write a column for Sixpenny Handley’s Downsman magazine I hope you enjoy it. There will be instalments every two months.
I like to think of myself as a woodsman a man of the woods; but I am reluctant now to do so. Handley has a history of woodsmanship stretching back generations and I feel a little uncomfortable sitting within this title while I still have so much to learn. I can’t even claim I come from Handley as I grew up in Silverstone in Northamptonshire. Silverstone is obviously famous for its Motor racing circuit , but its name is derived from Silva as in silviculture the original term for forestry. Silverstone is in the heart of Whittle wood forest and next to the village is the largest wooded part of this. There are now no sawmills in the village but when I was a child there were four. I grew up surrounded by wood and I loved it. The smell of fresh sawn oak still reminds me of playing in the saw dust, I used to spend hours just lost in the woods and suppose I still do.
I have a background as an educator and love nothing more than introducing children and adults to woodland as a places of beauty a natural resource a place to relax, to enjoy, to feel settled.
The modern age has obvious advantages too numerous to mention; but there is something just under the surface, something innate, primal a connection or belonging when it comes to woodland. This is of no surprise as the people who first colonised these islands after the last ice age followed the march of the trees northward, it is if you like our natural habitat.
Its only after the industrial revolution that we began to loose this connection to the woodland, but strangely in this digital age we are drawn back to the natural materials used in the past there is more and more interest in the crafts, produce and fuel resource that the woodland provides. We are also finding more ways to spend time in the woods for leisure and learning. We are perhaps trying to reconnect with our natural habitat.
In this column I will talk about all sorts of things woodland related, to feed this reconnection. From produce and its uses old and new to some of the experiences I have had trying to get established, seasonal observations, new ideas for old products, poems, wild food, woodland recipes etc. etc.
I do hope that you enjoy my ramblings feedback would be greatly appreciated, as this is my first foray into article writing, if you have any subjects you would like me to include please do not hesitate to contact me.