Monday, October 19, 2009

2009 Autumn Gathering at Taliesin

From October 9th to 11th, folk gathered at Taliesin to carve stones, make stools, crush apples, build shelters, learn woodcraft and make lanterns. The loo with a view also gained a new wattle privacy screen to replace the makeshift canvas, and the new pools were refined with a bit of dam building....
Clicking on any picture below
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The stonecarving course was led by Will Davies and we all learned a new background soundtrack - "Chip, Chip, Chip,...." Course participants were a study in concentration and some beautiful work resulted.












Andy Hurst soon had his students cleaving, chopping, shaving and turning ash legs for their three-legged stools and, for a change the ash was genuine Taliesin-grown instead of resorting to the more usual exercise of the wood-poacher's art.







The bushcraft and trailblazing course was, as usual, tremendous fun for the kids and some more mature folk, and the shelters built in Potterland wood are a joy to behold and rather tempting to one who enjoys sleeping rough.

I advise those who would see (or use) them to remember that thinning operations begin soon, and are likely to damage them.

Apples were chipped and pressed for deliciously fresh juice (no time to ferment!). Kids walked the plank to paddle the raft in the old pond; Lanterns were made and hung to illuminate the evenings, and the food and company were, as always, of the highest quality. A virtual pizza factory operated on Saturday night, and, after several years of experimentation, we've finally learned how to use the clay oven! Trevor turned up for the BBQ and was joined by several pennywhistles, guitars and such, and pretty soon there was dancing by lamplight. Apologies for video quality ;-)


Simon has posted a whole lot more pictures

We operate workshops and courses twice yearly at Taliesin Community Woodland Centre. For more information click here. or for general information about Southwest Community Woodlands Trust, click here
Do pay Taliesin a visit anytime and enjoy the space.
(click for map)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Coppice Working Activities

Photos by Simon Brooke, 2001/2

Starting in 2000, we began restoration of coppice working in part of the ancient coppice area on Potterland Hill.  Over three years we cut three successive coupes and protected them with dead and laid hedge materials, and they were doing pretty well.  Sadly, in 2004, careless thinning contractors destroyed our protective efforts and reduced our enthusiasm.

Mike Gardner came and led courses for our annual October gatherings covering coppice and related woodland management, as well as the various uses for the harvested material. Because the hazel stools had been neglected, the material recovered was not of the highest quality, but we still managed to make a number of hurdles, some continuous-weave fencing, chairs, and other articles over the three years.   Clicking on any of the pictures will take you to other pictures. Lizzie made a ball frame of hazel, and covered it with willow, and planted it in the upper area of Taliesin as a living sculpture.

Ali Jeffrey carved a big beech log which produced brilliant foxfire glow in the middle of one of the most varied nights in memory - a ceilidh under canvas with thunder and lightening, hail, and beautiful clear periods!  During the clear periods, excursions were mounted to see the wonderland of glow-in-the-dark chippings and Ali's log itself glowing in a strange graphic fashion.

Peter QuelchIn November of 2001, the Community Woodlands Association held their annual gathering in Dalbeattie, and a number of the participants paid a visit to our coppice project.  A number of Reforesting Scotland regulars can be seen in the photos, including Peter Quelch, who was just retiring as the Forestry Commission's Native Woodlands Officer. He and Godfrey and I had a very rewarding walk through Potterland Wood, and he confirmed that it has most of the features to be expected in (overplanted) ancient semi-natural woodland.  He was particularly struck by the bit just below the stone bridge, but that bit isn't part of the FE-owned wood.  Peter is brilliant with flutes and recorders, and the gathering also included several other musical folk, notably Henry Fosbrooke, so there were plenty of musical campfire sessions.

I've recently been checking out the felled areas, and reckon that the first coupe has some good re-growth and is ready for felling again. With any luck, we'll get into the wood sometime after leaf-fall this winter, and maybe also start on restoration in another area with big neglected stools. The material will then be useful for a Spring course in hurdle-making and other uses.

We operate workshops and courses twice yearly at Taliesin Community Woodland Centre. For more information click here. or for general information about Southwest Community Woodlands Trust, click here
Do pay Taliesin a visit anytime and enjoy the space.
(click for map)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Potterland Wood


About two years ago, the stands of Corsican Pine, Larch, and Sitka Spruce on Potterland Hill were clear felled, leaving the steep slopes and top of the hill bare with a fringe of older Scots Pines.


At least that's what one sees from the main A711 road between Palnackie and Auchencairn...

But coming down the glen from Gelston, the hill appears still clothed on its Northwest face, and what is more important, clothed with native broadleaf trees.

(NOTE: Map on left rotated to face Southeast to match photo - click to enlarge)

Potterland Wood appears as woodland (probably managed) on the earliest maps, and if one takes the time to explore this remnant, one finds hazel coppice stools of considerable age along with many undergrowth species indicative of continuous woodland cover.

There are also tubed trees, planted more than ten years ago.   Many are oak, and some (unbelievably!) are sycamore.   Happily, most of the oaks have done well and many of the sycamores haven't. Everything else, aside from the odd conifer belongs here, but the sycamores beg for removal.   There are very few large older timber trees, but a few oaks have come back from stumps, presumably from the time an attempt was made to "coniferise" this "obsolete" coppice area in the misguided sixties.  Fortunately, the Old Wood's life force prevailed.   The area is rich in fungi as well.

Moving out into the recently felled area, there is a good amount of natural regeneration, and the Foresters have left a good few seed trees standing.   I hope this is the intent, as these areas should be allowed to return to mostly native forest.

On a brief descent of the steep Southwestern slope, I noted seedlings of hazel, beech, hawthorn, oak, ash, holly, elm, birch, rowan, hemlock, and Norway spruce.   Also left standing are several dead "perch" trees for owls or raptors.

All in all, a rather fine prospect as a neighbour for Taliesin!   I'd be happy to lead a guided walk and fungus foray during the October gathering.  Stout footwear (and walking-stick) advised, and we'll make sure to choose suitable weather!

More pictures from my recent stroll are here
And here for some of the understory plant life...
And here for some of the Historical context of the area...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Letters and Bows

In the 2008 Spring workshops and gathering at Taliesin, there were letter cutting and longbow making courses as well as general improvements and, of course, good food, good company and good times:



We operate workshops and courses twice yearly at Taliesin Community Woodland Centre. For more information click here. or for general information about Southwest Community Woodlands Trust, click here
Do pay Taliesin a visit anytime and enjoy the space.
(click for map)

Paper Making

In early October 2007, while some folk were making coracles, others were learning the joys of creative papermaking, using various found materials.
A brief set of pictures to illuminate:



We operate workshops and courses twice yearly at Taliesin Community Woodland Centre. For more information click here. or for general information about Southwest Community Woodlands Trust, click here
Do pay Taliesin a visit anytime and enjoy the space.
(click for map)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Coracles!

At Taliesin Community Woodland Centre
In Early October of 2007, at our autumn workshops and gathering, we made coracles, engaged in papermaking using found wild materials, drank gallons of hot beverages and cold spring water, ate excellent food (as usual!), and finished it all off with a party. These slides are mostly the coracle course, but the papermaking will feature in another blog.



Sit back and share (or remember) a pleasant few days...




We operate workshops and courses twice yearly at Taliesin Community Woodland Centre. For more information click here. or for general information about Southwest Community Woodlands Trust, click here
Do pay Taliesin a visit anytime and enjoy the space.
(click for map)

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Waterworks Continue to Develop

Creating a "water feature" as a means of draining the accumulation
behind the sand martin bank.



About half the rainwater falling on Potterland hill drains into the meadow above the new pondworks. A small amount percolates under the bank and emerges as a small spring, but a good deal more accumulates behind the bank. It seemed a good idea to give it a way around.

A video taken one day after the creation of the "water feature":



And a short close-up clip of the waterfall:



And another, taken in sunshine a dozen days later. The inlet from the burn has been choked down to a trickle, and is probably supplying about the same amount of water as the waterfall and spring. A few oaks have been planted on the "bump" and willow cuttings have been put in along the burn bank to reinforce it and guide any overflow further down...



A reminder of "The Plan": (click to enlarge)

Drawing by Robin Ade

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Spate

After two days' worth of rain, Taliesin is in spate.
Some pictures of the flow in the new pondworks:


Enjoy the show from the comfort of a dry chair!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Digging in

New pondworks at Taliesin
The creation of enhanced trout (and other) habitat involves diverting a small portion of our main burn's flow through a series of deepish pools and small ponds before allowing the flow to spread over a lower meadow on its way to rejoin the original course of the burn.


We've recently been having great fun with a large digger - gardening with hydraulics in both senses of the word - A project of Southwest Community Woodlands Trust



The high banks are provided in the hope of eventually being colonised by sand martins, and we have the good fortune of being advised in this matter by one of the recognised experts in the behaviour of the species, the Sand Martin Trust

We also hope to attract native trout and perhaps other aquatic life to add to the varieties already present on the site.

Taliesin - Whitehill Muir, to give it its proper name - is an ancient woodland site replanted by Southwest Community Woodlands Trust. As part of the trust's activities it runs courses on traditional timberworking skills, and both structures in the pictures here
- the log cabin on the right and the cruck-frame on left - were built on such courses, as was the Loo with a View!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Perishables

Grave thoughts
"I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me,
That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly,
and my blood is part of the sea...
There is nothing of me that is alone and absolute, except my mind,
and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself,
it is only the glitter of the sun on the surface of the waters.
--D H Lawrence"

I've made a willow coffin (April 2003), and can only hope that when I perish, it will be deemed not to have, and that said appearance is proved mistaken somewhere halfway down the rocky path to the designated hole.
True friends will be the ones ROELOL.


Photos by Simon Brooke


That much canvas did indeed prove an hostage to Fortune, and a gale-gust brought down the tipi end with me inside busily doing work I should have done (as principal designer/erector) long before. A tent stays up in exact proportion to how well it's tied down, and it wasn't.

I, of course was unmarked.
The God(s) often protect fools, as I have ample experience.

Fortunately, there was only one minor injury (mostly shock), but I took my failure (due care, etc.) very seriously. We have had no further failures.


"This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls."
--
"When we try to pick out anything by itself,
we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."
-- John Muir

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Feast of Lichens - And a Windfarm

A collection of lichen photographs taken since going digital...




and some pictures of the Robin Rigg Windfarm as it grows...


From November 2nd to August 27th (so far)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Just Mom


Just a couple of wee pictures of a lactating female. I hope to glimpse one or more of her litter in the next couple of weeks as she leads them out of the dray for weaning - Sunday April 19th, 2009


You can see her teat just under her right elbow. That makes you an expert spotter of a lactating Sciurus Sciurus!


Blackthorn (Prunus Spinosa) in bloom at Taliesin,
Saturday April 25th, 2009


Prunus Avium (wild cherry, Gean)
North Glen, Saturday April 25th, 2009