So 2020 was quite a year and 2021 has started in much the same way… The COVID pandemic hit and took the world by storm. Balancing home learning and our full time jobs, left little time for any updates and blog posts.
Thankfully owning a woodland allowed us to have somewhere to head in order to escape the usual four walls, give the kids space to run and play, and for us parents to attempt to relax and unwind. In fact, the end of the first lockdown in 2020 saw us purchase a petrol generator. This meant the woodland could also be our office without the limit of battery time on laptops and the mobile hotspot.
With the third and hopefully final lockdown in the UK getting ready for gradual easing, it was a good time to share the joys we’ve had from our garden away from home and to let those who check back regularly see that we are still here.
We have some plans for 2021, these include reducing our footprint in the area we utilise the most. The shelter was not the most comfortable for us to squeeze into for an overnight camp. So we mainly used our folding camper. 🙂
Last year, we’d planned to erect a cover over the picnic table we’d rescued from a neighbours skip. But instead we are going to move it inside the shelter, which will be opened up by removing the walls, turning it into a canopy.
But back to 2020. We enjoyed days in the sun having time as a family, in fact we did very little woodland work in the 2nd half of the year and just enjoyed it. Playing Badminton and football with the kids in the clearing, building dens and cooking over open fires.
We’re hoping that this year will allow us to do more of the same. Enjoying time as a family and enjoying our wonderful little piece of the world. We also aim to post more updates. 😀
Earlier we announced that you could shop for Bramble Bank items from our sister site www.argentartandphotography.co.uk.
We decided earlier this month that it would be best to sell the Bramble Bank Wood merchandise and apparel directly. In light of this decision, we have created a shop right here, exclusively for our items.
We hope you enjoy following our journey. All proceeds go back into managing this small piece of the English countryside.
We’ve finally built one, and it works brilliantly.
The great thing about the design we chose, is that it contains pea shingle to give it a thermal mass. This means even after the fire is out, there is heat safely radiating from it. We tested this in our folding camper, with the stove on a stone slab, and had a very comfortable evening.
The stove is made from:
2.5l Metal Paint Tin
Large diameter can (1 large dog food can or 2 Pineapple ring tins**)
Small diameter can (baked bean tin)
The pictures show just how little wood you need to burn to make a coffee. We’re going to make a couple more and may even put a video on our YouTube channel. 🙂
We’re always looking to rethink or refine the things we’ve done. For instance, you’ll have read we’ve done this in a number of places already. The latest of these has been the seating around the fire pit.
We started with low level logs, then substituted these for planked timber. But, these we’re all too low to the ground. The latest seating arrangement sees recycled tyres sunk into the ground. Not only are these less prone to damp or rot, they are also very comfortable to sit on.
We’ve placed five around the fire pit, leaving an open end where we frequently place a small table.
The 3rd major change was the kitchen. In part 1 we alluded that the toilet had moved to the original kitchen location.
The bush stove was getting little use it its corner, and the open fire place filled the shelter with smoke until it was burning efficiently. Additionally to this, two heat sources was overkill in the one space. The answer, move the contained stove to the fire place location.
The wood store had started life as a simple frame and had served its purpose well but was too big. As a result we’d become lazy with sizing the wood we were storing. The wood store was also starting to look a little unsightly. As with the toilet from our previous post, we wanted to bring it into the main shelter. Utilising part of our old garden shed we closed off a portion of the shelters open side to form a 2/3 high wall with a small roof. This made the new wood store less than half the depth of the original, it also puts the firewood next to the fire. 🙂
We’ve owned Bramble Bank Wood for a little over 3 years. In that time we have learned a host of new skills and we’ve made a few decisions that we’ve wanted to change. So 2020 is the year for us to make these changes.
The first thing we wanted to do is reduce the footprint of our ‘man made’ elements. The reason for this is two fold. Firstly this area is visible to our neighbours as its near to the access track. Secondly and most crucial of all to us, is that we haven’t been using the various element effectively.
The first structure we removed was the toilet, the tarp roof was leaking and it wasn’t pleasurable to use. You might think this a strange, but we have relocated it to where the old kitchen within the main shelter was.
The toilet setup we use has also been changed, from a HI-GEAR Portable Travel Toilet which is basically a bucket with a toilet seat, to a HI-GEAR Portable Camping Toilet (as pictured) which is a bucket that sits in a bucket with a toilet seat. 🙂 The new system brings the advantage of a removable collection bucket (with lid) enabling a cleaner emptying experience.
Camping in the woods is great fun, but we cannot take them with us to go travelling, so over the past few years (well nearly 7 years) we’ve trialed a few things. First we went for a folding camper to join other family members and their caravan at various places around our home county. We loved the space this gave us, but it lacked a kitchen and bathroom. One morning our toddler woke us and told us he was cold, so the camper was on the market by the end of the day and we were looking to upgrade to a caravan.
We had a couple of years out of our caravan, that needed a trek across the UK to collect, but that’s not a story for this woodland blog. The upside was that our children were not cold at night and there was very little setup, but in the first of woodland ownership we couldn’t bring it to the woods. 🙁
After selling the caravan we went back to basics, a tent. We preferred to sleep in the shelter, after all the camp beds didn’t fit in the tent very easily and that meant sleeping on the floor. 🙂 It also didn’t take us long to realise that if we were to take it travelling we needed to buy so much more gear.
So in spring 2019 we thought about it again… Caravan or Folding Camper. Well we loved the ease of a caravan, but it couldn’t come to the woods, but we loved the space of the folding camper, so that’s what we’ve bought.
We’ve owned our little woodland now for a couple of years. We have cleared countless brambles from various areas and allowed numerous trees to flourish. We’d set out on day one to see how the woodland worked. We wanted to work with the natural balance and restore it to a healthy and lush state. So we are now preparing to put our plans into action and replant a number of native species.
However managing and maintaining anything, including a few acres of woodland needs a little funding.
So Gem and Gav have put works from their second passion (Art and Photography) into a small online store to help towards the running costs of this beautiful piece of England.
We hope you enjoy what we have on offer and take a look at our shop*. We will be adding to it periodically. Every purchase will help to add a little funding to support the purchase of trees and materials. (*This will navigate you away from the Bramble Bank Wood main site, but we have provided a link to help you get back 🙂 )
This week saw the second visit from the butterfly man, or Ken as we got to know him as.
As a group of woodland owners we are keen to encourage our native wildlife to thrive in our surroundings. Our focus for this visit was the butterflies. We were keen to learn more about their habitat and especially what they eat, mainly grass it turns out 😊.
Ken had joined us to help identify the number of species that we have across the woodland as a whole. Following a few hours walking, the visit resulted in a count of 14 species including Red Admirals, Peacock and Common Whites.
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