"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Oak and Shires Event, Books and Christmas Baking

D and I went along to an "Oak and Shires" event at Yorks Wood last Saturday afternoon.

Yorks Wood covers around 11 hectares and is ancient semi-natural woodland comprising mainly Oak and Birch plus some Ash and Willow. Invasive species are controlled within the woodland. It was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 1991. The wood, originally known as Kingshurst Wood, was first mentioned in 1456 when it was owned by the Mountford family. The wood became known as Yorks Wood from the 19th century named after the family who then owned Kingshurst Hall. Birmingham Scout movement bought the wood and surrounding fields in the 1920's and set up a permanent County campsite. But during the 1970's the site was sold for housing development although thankfully most of the wood was left untouched to act as a buffer between housing estates.

There were several displays of traditional woodland craft including pole lathes turning wood and hurdle makers and this display by a company from Malvern who make products from locally coppiced wood.

These beautiful gypsy flowers were made in a couple of minutes.

Good to see the Green Man there providing music and storytelling.

There were various activities for children including face painting and the RSPB had a stall.

Tan Tan, a working heavy horse, was demonstrating how horses can be used to help manage woodland.

Babbs Mill LNR is adjacent to the woodland. Sadly, currently part of this area is under threat from possible housing development.

I've put my gypsy flower in among the dried flowers I bought from Tewkesbury Abbey.

I've just finished reading the Green Road Into the Trees where the author Hugh Thomson walks ancient ways from Dorset to Norfolk (highly recommended) and was about to start reading Claxton by Mark Cocker and Inglorious by Mark Avery until I got sidetracked. Recent visits to Herefordshire together with reading the Merrily Watkins books reminded me about these two books. I bought and read "The Old Straight Track" by Alfred Watkins back in 1979 but "Timpson's Ley Lines" is a more recent purchase albeit 15 years ago. Its been lurking on my pile of books to read since then! Apparently Timpson also wrote a book on Country Churches unfortunately now out of print but I'll be keeping an eye out for it in second hand bookshops.

I finally started my Christmas Baking yesterday - Christmas Puddings first of all. I use a recipe by James Martin - note the pen scribbles concerning cooking time experiments!

Ready to be steamed.

Those of you who've been reading my blog for a few years might recognise the mould on the right - it makes a canon-ball shaped Christmas Pudding!


Margaret Adamson said...

what an interesting event to attend. Love the horse

Ragged Robin said...

Margaret Adamson - Thanks Margaret :)

David Turner said...

An interesting looking event Caroline, these old woodcrafts are amazing to watch in action aren't they. The rather handsome heavy horse must have also been a delight to watch as it worked away and I know a few woods up this way where horses are still used as they can get to places where machinery can't, plus they also don't damage the woodland floor quite as much.

Worrying to read about the threat to the LNR :-(

The gypsy flowers are rather awesome whilst I believe my mother was making much of her Christmas fare earlier this week. Needless to say I am very much looking forward to Christmas Dinner!

Hope you are well and best wishes to you and your family :-)

Ragged Robin said...

David Turner - Thanks very much David. Yes, I do love to see traditional crafts in action - the Company from Malvern also have a stall at a Christmas market I am hoping to go to so will try and buy some more of the gypsy flowers :) The one I got was just given to me and I didn't like to ask for more but I have a copper jug that would hold quite a few of them :) It was good to see the horse in action as I've read about them being used in woods for the reasons you mention.

It is worrying about the LNR (I think some of it may possibly be de-designated which makes a nonsense in my view of the whole concept :( ) There is an action group doing their best to fight the plans.

I do enjoy Christmas baking and the smells that fill the house as you cook :)

Hope you are all well too David and best wishes to you all.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Love the green man, there was a great TV adaptation of Gawain and the Green Knight in the 80s, I think

Ragged Robin said...

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thanks Simon. Must admit I can't remember that tv adaptation so have googled it. It looks as though you can watch it on Amazon Prime though sadly not a subscriber :(

Deb said...

What an interesting event. I love the green man and Tan Tan. I do like your cannonball tin too, I must look out for one over here.
Such a shame about the LNR. :(

SeagullSuzie said...

I hope the Green Man had a hotwater bottle under his smock to keep him warm! The woodland crafts look so interesting, I've seen the story of using horses again in woodland on Countryfile I think, but it would be great to see them close up and in real life.
Since I'm not one who enjoys cooking, I will marvel at your skills but leave my Christmas food to Waitrose-they do it so much better than me!
Very sad to hear about the potential loss of some of the nature reserve. It seems as though it's OK to chop off 2 hectares-but then what, a bit more next time and the time after until there'll be hardly anything left and there won't be anything worth saving-just terrible. Why can't they find land somewhere else!
It's the same here-all over Torbay, especially Brixham and the bit of Paignton near Brixham, it's nothing but house building. Where are all these people going to work?
Anyway, a very interesting post on an marvellous subject, thank you.

Toffeeapple said...

I remember those gypsy flowers from my childhood! I do like to see woodland crafts being maintained as you show. The chest is filled with delights isn't it?

As for looking for books, try Awesome Books and Abe Books. Awesome comes with free delivery, always a bonus, I feel.

Ragged Robin said...

Deb - Thanks so much. From memory I got the canonball tin mail order from Jane Asher's company. Not cheap about £25 but son and I went halves on it and you can use it to make ball-shaped cakes and bombes too. The Green Man and Tan Tan were my favourites too :)

SeagullSuzie - Thanks so much :) lol re the Green Man - he had disappeared when we walked back I suspect he'd gone for a warm drink!! Its a wonderful idea using horses in woodland - the horse had been there all week and various schools visited to see him in action.

Must admit I do occasionally think it would be easier to buy Christmas stuff ready made and to be honest I think it does work out cheaper. By the time you've bought all the sherry, brandy, dried fruits etc. etc. it is expensive to make. Its just something I've always done (well the cake anyway, Christmas pudding and mincemeat making doesn't go back as long!).

House building in areas like this is awful - the green space is so needed for the local community. Years ago I did a post on some fields in nearby Marston Green which had ancient ridge and furrow patterns but the appeal was lost and now its just fields of houses :( I know they have to put them somewhere (not always easy just to use brownfield sites either as some of these are so rich in biodiversity) and I don't really know what the answer is. Although I think more should be done about so many properties standing empty. Sad about your area - seems to be going on everywhere :(

Toffeeapple - Thanks so much. I was amazed at how quick and skilfully he made the gypsy flowers - a real delight to watch :) I loved the chest - I bought one of the Christmas tree decorations on display in there.

Thanks very much for the suggestion re: Awesome and Abe Books. I've bought from the latter before but will definitely check out the former!! I did see one of Timpson's books in a local charity bookshop this afternoon but it was one on Towns and I managed to resist the temptation to buy!!

Bovey Belle said...

I loved seeing the woodland day out. I love to see old skills kept alive.

I managed to get a copy of the Old Straight Track in hardback this past year (pleased with that find). I don't think I've read the Timpson book so will look out for that one. Will second that Abebooks is a good place to track things down and MUCH cheaper than Amazon or Ebay listings!

Great Christmas pudding bomb by the way!!

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle - Thanks - it was an interesting few hours :)

I am enjoying re-reading the Watkins book - and the Timpson one is well worth looking out for - his sense of humour appeals to me :)

Millymollymandy said...

That looked like a very interesting event - I like those flowers.The green man looked like fun but the horses steal the show for me!

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks :) I found the same Company with a stall in Worcester (of coppice work) but only one gypsy flower (looking the bit worse for wear) so sadly couldn't buy more:(