Mists & Mellow Fruitfulness

Autumn has finally arrived in Pondhead with the colours now changing daily and looking particularly spectacular when the sun shines. However, leaf fall is a little late this year and still has some way to go before the trees go into their dormant winter period. Great time to walk the circular trail even if it is a little muddy at present!

Hope you managed to catch our appearances on Channel 5’s “Britain by Bike” with Larry & George Lamb the other week. If not the show is available to view on the My5 website – click here to land on the episode featuring the New Forest and watch Larry and George making their chairs in Pondhead. While not shown on screen, Larry liked his so much that he bought it for £100! – pictured below negotiating the price with Perry.

P1000124Ahead of the programme, we advertised another four courses for 2018 and only a couple of weeks after it was televised we now have only 2 of the original 24 spaces remaining unsold. In view of this latent demand for woodland craft products we are currently working on a “Brooms & Spoons” course making besom brooms and wooden spoons and we will be looking for some “guinea pigs” in due course to try the course out – we’ll keep you posted.

October was a good month for Pondhead in terms of media coverage as we also featured in the latest edition of the New Forest Association’s magazine – click here for a printable copy. The New Forest Association is said to be one of the oldest conservation charities in the world and remains an influential lobby group in the New Forest. It was formed in 1867 to counter the threat to enclose all usable parts of the Crown land for timber production and sell off the remainder, a fate that had befallen many other Royal Forests. They were also influential in the re-establishment of the Verderers’ Court in 1877 to look after the rights of Commoners and keep the ambitions of the Forestry Commission in check. This year is their 150th anniversary and their guiding principles are to protect, conserve and enhance the flora, fauna and heritage of the New Forest – very similar to our objectives.

Our autumn/winter coppicing programme is now well underway with the chainsaw team working in the top corner of Crab Tree Close and the remainder of us putting in a sterling effort with hand tools along the gravel track by Rosie Close, which has exposed two mature yew trees and a small copse of Hornbeam. This latter coup is really looking good after just a few days work on it and an excellent staked dead hedge is progressing well along the grass ride at the side. Did you know that coppiced areas are known as coups, from the French word, couper, meaning to cut – a forestry fact for you!

We continue to receive help on our task schedule from outside organisations and during the last month we have received visits from the National Trust, Princess Trust and students from Brockenhurst College who were having a practical demonstration of safety in the forest by the National Park Rangers. Incidentally, the National Park Authority have created two apprentice ranger positions with the aid of Lottery funding. They came along to lend a hand recently and were very interested in Pondhead’s unique woodland landscape compared to the rest of the Forest and how we manage it on a sustainable basis.

There was a very good and informative Natural World programme on British Butterflies on BBC4 this week which is available on catch up for the next month. It’s worth watching and puts into perspective what we are striving to achieve in Pondhead. You may also be interested to see the annual transect results for Pondhead collated by Butterfly Conservation – click here to view. It makes encouraging reading with numbers increasing significantly, although it was generally a good year for butterflies across the Forest.

A new series of dates have been added to the Events Diary which takes us to the end of December. Bookings have been very good to date which has enabled us to make an excellent start to the work programme this season so please continue to sign up when you can. Next weeks visit by the NPA archaeological team has proved very popular and booked up very quickly so the number of spaces has been increased if anyone else would like to come along. We have also added the meeting point for our visit to Foxbury to the Events Diary.

With Christmas around the corner, don’t forget our Woodmans’ Christmas Breakfast on Thursday 21 December. It’s a social morning with traditional eats and drinks prepared al fresco and there will be some exercise by way of a bonfire afterwards to help burn off those pre-Christmas calories. If you’ve signed up to volunteer but haven’t been out yet, this is an ideal time to come along and meet the team.

Finally, on the subject of Christmas, if you do present shopping online, you can help us at no extra cost to yourselves by signing up to Give as You Live. We’ve raised over £120 so far from just nine supporters, which helps to purchase/renew our supply of tools.

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