Mid summer – what summer! This summer is hardly likely to go down in the annals of history as one of the sunniest and warmest on history but let’s hope for some dry weather and sunshine for the remainder of July and August. Surprisingly, despite the poor weather, charcoal sales are actually up on last year which means that we are well on our way to covering annual overheads and putting a little aside for those rainy days.
In view of the superior quality of our charcoal, people are now approaching us to supply them instead of us having to market it. Two recent instances have been Redcliffe Garden Centre in Bashley and Fairweather’s Garden Centre in Beaulieu who have been added to our list of stockists. The hole in the inside of the outer wall of the charcoal retort mentioned in our last newsletter seems to increase in size with each burn but charcoal quality is remaining consistently high and the manufacturers have agreed to rectify the problem at the end of the season at their expense.
For a little while now we have been looking at other possible income streams as we are wholly reliant on charcoal at present and we have now hit on something, thanks to Perry. He has designed a folding hazel chair made entirely of hazel rods and fencing wire which is remarkably comfortable and robust (see pic below). These chairs, known as the Folding Hazel Hi-back are individually numbered with the makers initials and a carry certificate of authenticity. The first sale has been made at £95 so we will be looking to get into production soon with the aid of our volunteers. Something else that we have in the melting pot is the possibility of running external “Make a Chair in a Day” courses with participants being able to take their chair home with them. Watch this space.
On the subject of chairs, the growing willow chair near the pond continues to sprout – see the latest pic below.
On recent rare sunny days, there have been large numbers of butterflies seen in Pondhead – species seen include White Admirals, Commas, Silver-washed Fritillaries, Gatekeepers, Speckled Woods and Skippers. For any keen butterfly spotters, any warm sunny day during the next few weeks should see more out on the wing in Pondhead.
Some new dates have now been added to the Events Diary, taking us through to mid August. As a result of holidays, Dave will be on his own for the next few weeks, so please book up where you can.
Last week we had a visit from the local National Trust Ranger and her team of volunteers who wanted a change from working on the commons in the north of the Forest. With around 20 people turning up, they moved a considerable amount of timber out onto the ride edges which will make it much easier to collect next year. We are still working on methodology for bringing out the timber in Stokes that is needed for charcoal production this year!
Finally, the New Forest Show will soon be upon us at the end of the month but unfortunately we will not be represented this year as a result of holiday commitments but we should be back again next year.