Saturday 31 January 2009

Framed woodland pictures

It was my Mum's birthday recently, and as a present I had a few of the photos I'd taken in the wood framed. The framing was done by a local guy I deliver logs to.
I've not actually given it to my Mum yet, so this post is a chance for to get a preview of it!


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A new woodland neighbour

My friend Alex was visiting yesterday - he's recently bought a plot of woodland next to ours, and this was his first visit since completing the purchase. So, I took a few hours off work in the middle of the day and we went up to have a look round the woods.

It's still pretty wet, after the rain earlier in the week:
and the seasonal stream in his wood is flowing nicely:
We found an interesting animal track, boar we think:
you could see where they crossed the stream, after which they head across the wayleave:
With the leaves off the trees you notice a lot more, and I loved this old coppiced hornbean:
We also took a rather precarious load of stakes back in the trailer for a customer at the allotment, though because the track was wet we pushed the trailer up to where the stakes were rather than driving. Thankfully it's a light trailer and easy to push!

Tomorrow we're off to a SWOG event to learn all about pest control, which in woodland generally means squirrels, rabbits and deer.


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Friday 30 January 2009

Carbon price crash

Carbon trading is seen as a mechanism to fund development of sustainable energy solutions, particularly in developing countries, but the effects of recession around the world are hitting the price, potentially cutting funds for some projects. The BBC reports:

It [the EU carbon trading scheme] seemed like a market solution to global warming in Europe, but initially many of these permits were given away for nothing.

Now, as recession bites, industries like steel, cement and glass may be polluting less, but only because they're producing less. So companies are desperately selling off the carbon credits they no longer need to bolster their faltering balance sheets. That has led to a big drop in the market value of carbon permits, and as the right to pollute becomes cheaper, there is less incentive for companies to stop polluting. (source)

Of course, this is not unexpected, and one of the few good things about the recession is there will be reduced pollution. However, if the result is reduced investment in renewable energy, then when (if?) things pick up economically we'll discover that global oil and gas production have declined in the intervening years and we won't have built anything to replace them. This is not just because investment in renewable energy may fall, but also because many new oil production projects are now on hold because the price of oil has fallen from $147 in July to about $40 now. But the potential supply from many existing oil fields is still falling in the meantime, and when demand picks up there'll be no new supply, or renewable alternatives, and the price will go through the roof (again).

If you're not familiar with Peak Oil, read about on PowerSwitch UK, TOD or Wikipedia.

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Tuesday 27 January 2009

After the wind and rain

On Monday it finally stopped raining, so Paul and Penny came to the wood to help with some more coppicing (and to eat the venison casserole that they brought)
After all the rain, our little woodland stream was flowing nicely. I wish it was there in the summer too! We did a quick check of the wood and there was no visible wind blow.
First jobs first - get the lunch cooking. Paul lit the fire using a fire steel and a piece of cotton wool. It lit first go!
Then the work began, I spent an hour carrying logs down the track, ready to sell at the allotment while Paul took out his frustrations on a tree!
Paul and Penny got a good amount of coppicing done along the ride, every bit of sunlight helps!
Rosie and Harvey had a really busy day running around madly - poor Rosie wore herself out!
All the bird food I had left out has gone, so I replenished it and in seconds the robin was back. Lovely to be in the wood again!


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Sunday 25 January 2009


Our plans to go to the wood this afternoon have been rained off. The 40mph winds don't help either...

Tomorrow looks better, and although I'm working, Tracy will be going up with our friends Paul and Penny to finish off some more of the odds and ends of coppicing that need doing, and also gather together the stuff we've been making for an allotment customer.

In the meantime I'm giving a friend a lift to Eastbourne with his stuff (he's moving house) later today, and that has to go ahead no matter what the weather's like.


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Sunday 18 January 2009

Ashburnham Place

We've just got back from a church weekend away, and I thought people might like to see some pictures of where it was, as the grounds were beautiful, even in winter. Its Ashburnham Place, if you want to look it up. The photos are just from a mobile phone, so sorry if the quality's not what it normally is on our blog.

First, a few pics of the grounds in general, which include two lakes:
Below the lower lake is a stream with an old weir in it:
and alongside it are the rusting remains of an old ram pump, which I assume used to supply water to the house:You can see the pipe the pump used to feed behind the remains of the old waterwheel:
Apparently there's some ideas about restoring some of this old machinery - I'd like to see it again if they do...

OK, now on to the woods! Here's a sweet chestnut way older than the ones we have in our own wood:
We've singled a few of the coppice stools we cut this winter, to let them grow on as standards, but it'll be decades before they're anything close to this one! Next, a giant redwood:
OK, I know it's only a baby one...

An oak with epicormic growth:and a variety of trees (mostly oak) that are dead or dying, resulting in a diverse habitat:That's all for now, I've got a busy week ahead with a few trips to London for work, and Tracy wil be busy with SWOG, which is expanding into Wales now.


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Tuesday 13 January 2009

Now that Mike has helped me sort out my 'I forgot my password' problem, I can post again!

Just to remind those who read our blog and who might be interested...

I co ordinate the Small Woodland Owners Group - SWOG that is sponsored by

It is free to join, take a look at our site


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Intelligence Squared Green Festival on Climate Change

The Ashden Awards (who I work for 80% of the time) are partners for the Intelligence Squared Green Festival on Climate Change taking place on Sunday January 25th at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Click on the link below to register and use the promotion code ‘Friend’ to get 20 percent off tickets

Svati Bhogle, director of TIDE in India, who won the 2008 Ashden Energy Champion award for their work on biomass stoves, will speak, and you can visit the Ashden Awards display of low-carbon technology from developing countries.

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Sunday 11 January 2009

Coppicing in a neighbouring wood

Yesterday was cold - again!
The pond at the bottom of the wayleave has grass poking through it (it doesn't have water in it for much of the year), but that's now frozen:
We had Dudley, who I know through PowerSwitch, and his friend Laura visiting. After hot drinks we went for a walk around the wood, and went into one of the neighbouring woods where the owners have arranged for Tim and Sal to do some coppicing.
They were splitting the chestnut to help it dry, just as I'd been (it was Tim that gave me the idea for the firewood processing method), but I saw Sal doing it with a maul instead of wedges:
I'm going to have to give this a go, as it looks much quicker.

Tracy, Dudley and Laura stood warming themselves around the chainsaw - though I think they might have been better off round the fire... ;-)
And finally, does anyone know what this is, because we don't: Mike

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Friday 9 January 2009

Last weekday coppicing...

Today was the last day I have off work for coppicing - any other odds and ends we want to do will have to be done at weekends now, or possibly late afternoon as the days get longer. For now, the days are still short and cold, but sunny.
While we were working today we spent much of the time surrounded by a flock of Great Tits, and later on a Robin was following me around, just a couple of metres away, waiting for me to disturb the ground and wood to reveal his dinner. Here's a few photos of the Great Tits:

I was particularly fortunate in getting that last one - the bird took off just as I took the picture. Wish I'd had it on a faster shutter to avoid the motion blur...

Anyway, we were coppicing by the pond today, and very nearly finished it. The lower section is all done, here's a before and after picture (the difference in colour is because the first one was taken in a morning and the second in the later afternoon):
You'll see in the above photo that we've left one larger chestnut tree. This is hopefully to grow on to be a standard, and maybe yield some nuts one day...

Looking down from above the pond you can see a few stems on the left that still need cutting, and one stool on the right. Once these are done we think there'll be a lot more light coming down to the pond this summer, hopefully bringing even more life into this little area.
Just opposite the pond is an old ride leading into Sweep Wood (which my parents own). Now we've cut the coppice along the edge it's a bit more apparent:
Tomorrow we have some people visiting at the woods, and it looks like it's going to be a another sunny day for it.


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