Thursday 13th October

First visit in a long while. Had rained recently but no flowing water in ditches yet. Searched for chestnuts but nothing, or nothing of any size anyway.

Continued slow progress on the next shelter. Tried a new way of supporting an existing beam but pushing a Y from a trunk under the beam and then hammer a wedge under the ground end to push the support up. The wedge can be chestnut to give better weather proofing. The main trunk is willow so not very weatherproof. Also just needs a peg in the top end to fix it.

And starting to cut roof poles that will support the tarp. Surprisingly hard to find suitable trunks that are not too heavy and straight enough.

Cleared some more trees around the Black Poplar which is looking quite healthy. Its unfortunate there is a nice hawthorn too close to it which I dont want to cut/loose but is probably too big to move.

Came back with another car load of logs for winter. Really need to start felling trunks for next winter and get that sequence started.

Sunday 3rd July

Took the EGO mower and worked on the track and verges for a few hours. Got 2 new batteries – a bit better than the old ones they’re replacing (its a good warranty deal!) but still only last 30mins in the mover with constant usage.

Now all 3 bags full of the cuttings but its not composting down very quickly (some of its 2 yrs old now and easilly recognizable as the original stuff).

Using the Stihl to mill a sweet chestnut. Amazingly discovered using a standard and blunt chain is a lot harder work than using a new ripping chain. Also, its much better to cut on the top side of the bar, so the debris goes away from the cut, rather than the usual underside which simply blows it right up at you. the longest guide plank I have down there is only a 3m ex-floorboard … so had to do this trunk in 2 goes, which always means the cut is not as clean as it could be where the 2 meet.

Need to make a stronger board for this that will not bow so much when screwed to the trunk, which of course will not be flat at all, the aim being for the guide board to stay flat to give straight parallel cuts of course.

The off cuts from the trunk would make good cross braces for the next gen shelter still under construction

Pulled up (literally) a 10ft silver birch (3 yrs old maybe) from the entrance gravel area and will try potting it at home to see if it survives. Significantly pruned all side branches and soaked in a bucket of water first.

Getting exceptionally nice friable compost by using the mower on places where my brash piles from few yrs back have broken up…remove the large chunks of wood and its very fine stuff. Basically chopped leaf mold and composted wood I guess so wont be full of nutrients, but maybe very good for a sowing compost.

24th Feb 2022 – After the storms

Checking for damage after the storms (eunice, franklin) last weekend. A lot of debris but only a few fallen trees — also they seem to lie in different directions than previous fallen trees… so maybe the wind direction helped reduce impact. Also, 2 had broken off on trunk:

rather than as usual tipped over with all the root plate mostly intact (this one right on border with plot to the north):

but at least now plenty timber to work on without having to choose a tree to fell.

24th Feb 2022 – Latest Table

Using various milled timber to create a table for the parking area to help loading and working around there

Table top is halved trunks, rebated to sit on 2 bits of pallet wood (i.e. rebated to counter irregularities in underside to give level top). Frame is the recently milled pine (still very wet) and legs are chestnut – a quartered log, brought home and planned to get nice square corners.

All the joins are pegged with my oak dowels created from ex-flooring, and as its so wet, easy to drive a square end peg into a round hole…

So no metal anywhere.

Improvements for the next attempt:

  • its a pity I used some pallet wood — better to just stick all to my own!
  • the table is resting on a bar fixed sideways into the legs frame– would be stronger if legs taking full weight of table top without any shear.
  • maybe its better if no pegs are end-grain facing upwards — this is bound to just suck up moisture and be fist place to rot. BUT countering that its much easier to drill and peg holes all way thru.
  • not sure if I want to fix this table to the surrounding trees — that would stabilize it enormously but then unmovable of course.

Free advice from Sylva foundation

Useful session with Colin funded by Sylva foundation. Some useful links for geographic based information and mapping the woods:

defra details, land usage, boundaries, gov:

land information – soil data:


Forestry Commission map browser:

natrual biodiversity network:

ancient tree forum (veteran and notable trees):

12th Feb 2022 – Planking the fallen pine in SW corner

Finally getting round to planking the fallen pine in bottom corner (from spring 2021). Its not huge (12″ diameter max) so aiming to just quarter it, with a single plank on the pith line and leave each remaining quarter as a sort of 3×3 post useful for table leg or something like that. Alternating vertical and horizontal cuts using the smaller planking jig and push or pull cuts depending which way round the saw is relative to the guide bar.

Also trying free hand milling (i.e. no mill or jig…just following a line by eye) — splitting another trunk vertically down the middle using the top of the chain saw bar i.e. so pushing against the trunk and using weight of saw to hold it down and keep it balanced. Seemed to work quite nicely – but only any good for smaller trunks –nand even worked with electric saw on a fresh chestnut log, 8″ diameter.

Sat 17th Oct

Took my sweet chestnut seedlings from collected and self grown seed from last year. This is a mix from colony wood itself, Broxbourne woods and a market stall in Annecy. About 16 in all and planted in top corner. Some still pretty small so left them in pots.


Looked around for nuts for next year but nothing left from the squirrels other than very small or unripe ones.

Started clearing the area from the shelter that collapsed and sorting out the trunks to use in the next attempt.

Also now bringing firewood back to burn at home BUT really need to be preparing and stacking logs for next season.

Tues 26th May

First visit since lockdown. Lots of deer damage including the large transplanted stump wiped out again…but showing regrowth so doubled up the chicken wire to try protect.

Planted penultimate Field Maple which had been in a pot for last few years, replaced one of the Black walnuts in centre circle, which had not survived. in fact Black walnuts not looking too great, only one looking like it will survive.

A dugup Sweet chestnut that I’d potted last year looking very healthy so planted. Other sweet chestnuts looking OK and not much damage considering fresh shoots, perhaps deer don’t like the more open space.

Mowed the centre and verges on track, mostly bracken and nettles …2 full batteries used up to do that and filled half of a bag with the cuttings which should make some good ericaceous compost…

Brought back 2 potted hawthorns for planting in garden against fence to create a bit of a hedge at home.


Tues 18th June 2019


Keith over from Oz, so he came to help with the next shelter construction. Found very nice straight pine to use as a ridge pole. Think not enough slope however for the tarpaulin to not start pooling.

Also, good news on the Ash stump roughly transplanted from back garden last Autumn and has now sent out some new growth so looks like it survived. Only need the deer to stay away now and then the dieback also.


Thursday 21st March

Spring equinox, afternoon visit in the van, taking 3 remaining saplings in pots from home, plus 10 more bags of digging spoil from the (ex) patio.

Planted a Whitebeam between car park and stream, also next track half way along, with a field maple too, however didn’t look took healthy when it came out of pot so maybe it wont survive. Not great photos…just twigs really with a bit of brash to try keep the animals at bay.

Ground was very waterlogged in places, with most ditches having standing water in them.

Up in the Sweet Chestnut corner plenty evidence of animal damage to 4 or 5 of the smaller plants. Looks like rabbits eating through the orange netting — because damage is at ground level … odd as they could just walk round to get in, if they went a bit further. Its clear the best protection is the chicken wire style all way round.