It is fair to say this years festivities did not go to plan. I was only able to spend a brief time with the winter solstice sunrise before being called off to work, also a number of other factors seemed to conspire to ensure I was kept busy over the Christmas and New Year break. These are not really festivals for me but the chance to relax for a while is appreciated, however this was sadly nothing but a distant dream (I will save these experiences for another post).
I did manage to make a woodland trip on New Years Day to blow away the cobwebs and refresh the spirit. A small woodland near me is run as a social enterprise. As well as providing training for children who have had difficulties fitting into the mainstream education system, they also work on their own craft and architecture projects using the natural resources of the wood. The woodland is also open to the public and is also populated by the rangers during daylight hours ensuring it is a welcoming place for families and children. The gates are closed at night to prevent the social problems I occasionally encounter when walking other public woodlands (I should point out that the closed gate at night is something I respect even though it excludes harmless nocturnal ramblers such as myself).
Even a short wander can take you through organic gardens, over bridges and through paths winding among the trunks of native trees and undergrowth. Dotted along the way are small shelters to provide a break from the winter weather and encourage a relaxed stopping point for a moment to enjoy the sounds of wind and rain within the branches.
From my perspective it offers a possible glimpse of the integration of people, ecology and landscape. A better way to be and an encouragement of empathy. I took the time to put together a few sketches and enjoy a coffee within a cafe they run there to promote the place and pay a few costs. We are starting to use the services and products of this place ourselves. It seems sensible to encourage such ventures as well as enjoy the craft and skill a local woodsman can bring to those of us who live nearby.