First day of September, Paul drove into the woodland and parking among the nettles that cover the hard standing. His advice was sound: let’s work inside the wood and not near the entrance until we have a gate in situ. We commenced, Paul with his chainsaw, coppicing and cutting back the hazel tufts on the path, while I scraped the nettle root mesh on the hard standing, rolling it back like a carpet, the yellow roots bright on the fertile compost of soil. The hard standing is much larger than first envisaged.
Oaks dominate. A surprising amount are dead or appear to be dying, but Paul is not worried. There are plenty here, and the signs are not of Acute Oak Decline.
Virginia was the first of the days visitors turning up in purple, and giving the possible interpretation that if you can ring a tree with your arms it is 100 years old. She tells of Holton people, the local farmers, and I warm to her unexpected visit.
Barry was the next, immediately of the view that my nettle carpet rolling skills were futile, in the light of a tractor which could do the job in 10 minutes. I acquiessed, called Arthur and yes, I can borrow his tractor. It was at this point Barry said, ‘That’s a building over there’, and sure enough it was, a single skinned army building, small but a possible imprint enough perhaps to present a case to planners for a home. The woodland was taking form, and we hadn’t got near the place of beauty, the hornbeams near the ponds.