Mid summer week

It’s now high summer in Century Wood and the place is full of life. I was here at the weekend, for the sun and the heat and the welcome downpours of rain. Today is Monday 20th of June 2022 and tonight will be the shortest night of the year. The Summer Solstice is tomorrow. At 10:14am BST the Sun will reach the end of its annual journey north, stop, and begin again to move southwards against the pattern of fixed stars and constellations in the sky. This makes tomorrow the longest day of the year.

Later in the week, the traditional Midsummer Day is on Friday 24th of June, which is also the saint’s day of St John the Baptist. Along with Christmas Day, the 25th of March and 29th of September, Midsummer Day was one of the Quarter Days which divided the year and on which rents were traditionally due. It was a day for many of our lost traditions of bonfires, maypoles, and fairs.

Mid summer features in one of my favourite Kipling poems, “Tree Song”, set to music by Peter Bellamy in the 1970s as “Oak and Ash and Thorn”. Of the trees the poem lists, Century Wood is only missing Yew and Beech.

Of all the trees that grow so fair,
    Old England to adorn, 
Greater are none beneath the Sun,
    Than Oak, and Ash, and Thorn. 
Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs,    
    All of a Midsummer morn! 
Surely we sing no little thing,
    In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

A walk to Walden Pond

In this video from May 2022, I walk from the busy crossroads into Walden Woods and to the site of Thoreau’s cabin, where he lived for 2 years, 2 months, and 2 days from July 1845. I add a stone brought from Century Wood to the cairn by the cabin site. I then look at the wildlife and views of the pond and the forest.

Felling winter firewood

In this video I cut down hazel, wych elm and ash trees for firewood, as I clear the edge of a woodland ride at Century Wood to let in more light and provide more varied habitats. I use the wood tractor, trolley, and chainsaw, and bring the logs back to the drying barn to season.

Snow walk through Dunham Massey

After the snow fall at the end of November 2021 I walked around the National Trust’s Dunham Massey estate in Cheshire, mostly in the oak woodland of the deer park. I made this video using a new iPhone Pro 13. We see fallen and decaying trees, fallow deer, the old brick slaughterhouse tower, ducks in the moat in front of the House.

Forests of Dune

The release of Denis Villeneuve’s wonderful film of the first half of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” has coincided with the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, but few reviewers have made the connection because the book’s ecological themes are largely absent from the screen version.

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Off Grid Toilet at Century Wood

The toilet shed was the first building I put up at the wood, way back in 2009. This post talks through the original design with photos I took at the time. All before it was ever used in case you’re worried 🙂 In short, it’s an off grid composting toilet set up with separate chambers and seats for liquids vs solids+liquids.

I based the building on a shed kit from Tiger Sheds. It’s an 8ft by 6ft apex shed which cost £248 in 2009. Since 2009 the average price rise across the economy has only been about 30%, but timber has sky rocketed. The equivalent shed now costs over £700!

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The Drying Barn

The Drying Barn at Century Wood has made a big difference since I put it up in 2018. This post shows how the barn was built and then some pictures from September after another good tidy up of the stuff it “accumulates” – like garden sheds do, almost by themselves.

These two pictures show the Barn as it is now and one of the sketches I drew in January 2018 before I started. It’s next to the Log Cabin in the Glade at the centre of the wood.

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Red squirrels at Allan Bank video

A few years ago I wrote a post about visiting the National Trust’s Allan Bank in the Lake District and photographing its red squirrels. In August I went back and made a video showing more of the squirrels and the interior of the house. Making this video gave me a chance to try out my new iSteady Mobile+ gimbal in a demanding location with a lot of rough ground and steps, and I intend to use it for more videos at Century Wood itself.