Latest News

This page updates on the Weaveley Furze as soon as there has been a visit or work done and there is something to report. Photographs especially welcome and please give the date.

Wednesday 20th til Friday 22nd September 2017

For the first time (ever?) two brave souls, Ashwiny and Olivia, camped in the Furze for two nights and survived. Traces of pseudo-dementia and camp fever can be detected in the final frames.   Next year, 2018, it is the Sestercentenial of the Weaveley Furze.....'events' being planned.
Early Morning Mist across the fields 
The same view in the evening

Ash cooking wholesome food and keeping warm.
Camping under the awning with the 'volcano' kettle for boiling water in the background.
Liv communing with nature.

Ash & Liv

Sunset from the camp

Wednesday 23rd August 2017

The Harrowing of the Hazel began today big time. Olivia and Lewis accomplished a major clearance of part of the copse, taking out the large, old and crooked stems to leave a good crop of beanstalks for next year.  A mountain of greenery needs to be turned into peasticks as soon as the leaves have fallen. There is still the majority of the copse to coppice and so working parties will be called for in the autumn and new year.

Lewis congratulating Olivia (and vice versa) on a job well done. 
Dried wood from under the shelter resurrected last year's BBQ.
Bridge Shop Bangers

Hot embers demand Marshmallows, none of this 'parkin and cheese' stuff .
A wren's nest?
And a 'Speckled Wood' butterfly (with thanks to Martin W's identification chart)

Monday 14th August 2017

MW finally found time to make good his offer at the AGM to titivate the notice board, giving it several coats of appropriately green wood-paint and putting up a laminated, slightly edited, copy of this website's two historical pages, History and The Re-awakening.  This leaves room on the right for a proposed sketch map of the paths in the wood, and for update notices about Trust activities below.

While at it, I also did a spot of whittling to make this sign for the gate.  I hope that it all helps to give visitors the feeling that they are warmly welcome.

The paths in the wood are getting very nettly and the initial stretch would have deterred quite a few casual visitors, I suspect. So rather than watch the paint dry, I sickled this bit.  More importantly, the footpath sign pointing the way to the Furze from the bridleway seems to have vanished. Does anyone know where it is?

Saturday 27th June 2017

In the searing heat Olivia and I went into the wood but quickly retreated, the temperature of the ecosystem being 2 to 3 degrees higher than outside making it unbearable. Also 'The Beast' refused to start so that apart from clearing the path of impassable black thorn, nettles and elder (see below, the buddleia has disappeared), and clearing some nettles and thistles from around the saplings, little else could be achieved. We retreated in the searing heat but may return when the temperature falls below 30. The Hazel has put on a great spurt of growth making the side of the copse that Lewis and Olivia were unable to thin out in April, a dark and intimidating forest of gloom . Much evidence of undisturbed badgers and rabbits with buzzards circling overhead.

Sunday 28th May 2017

Helen and Ivy, Tim and friends taking a well earned rest from exercising their statutory right as parishioners to collect Fuel from 'Poors Allotment' i.e. the Weaveley Furze. 

"After about a year of meaning to get over there we finally got ourselves over to the Furze yesterday and enjoyed the most wonderful picnic - we totally fell in love with the place!
Please can I be added to the list of volunteers.  If I am able to help with any of the planned maintenance over there I'd love to be able to contribute to such a wonderful place!
Please find attached a photo of the poor of the parish enjoying their picnic and playing some music!" Helen

Tuesday 23rd May 2017

I walked from Shipton to the Weaveley Furze in the cool of the morning. Green silage was being cut and baled on Shirley's upper field. Within the Furze all was benefitting from a lack of human contact of late.  The relative warmth and high humidity is resulting in much growth, especially of hazel and of blackthorn which needs cutting back. The flash flooding at the end of the previous week may have cleaned out the water courses but the stream is now back to a comparatively gentle trickle and is not backing up; the new drains laid by James and Malcolm doing an excellent job. There is no flooding where the spring water and the run off from Shirley's field crosses the main footpath. 
Another miracle: The Beast' started on the first pull! Thanks to Malcolm's wizardry the grass cutter is now reliable and highly effective. It may seem at first to be heavy and unwieldy but with the right balance it will plod on regardless, though it is not keen on old molehills.
Fresh badger prints by the sett entrance;  perhaps they are keen on the gooseberry patch. 
David's fine handmade gate to the hazel copse is in need of urgent attention or replacing, if an adze be found. Maybe we have to admit defeat on the bean sticks this year, but there will be a fine crop next season by which time we will all have regained our energy. 

The 'Beast' in the Hazel copse....
...and by the bench. Joan ad Albert's oak trees now filling out.
David's gate in need of attention.

A Badger Sett with fresh markings
Gooseberries enticing the badgers perhaps.
Bean sticks for next season.
Fresh holly spurs.
The Humber after last weeks flash floods.
Mr.Varney baling silage.

Here is the Chair (Margaret)'s report to the trust's AGM held on Monday, April 24th 2017:

I can’t believe that a year has gone by since my last report but it has and looking back so much has happened from a very successful tea party to confirmation that wildlife abounds in Weaveley Furze.

In May it was the 10th anniversary since the ‘Reawakening’ of Weaveley Furze took place and it was decided to celebrate by inviting all those who have helped in whatever way since then to an informal tea party in Weavley Furze on the 18th June.   Delicious ‘woodland’ style eats including a wonderful pastry tree were enjoyed by about 18 sitting under a canopy which was strung from the trees above in case the weather was inclement, but thankfully it turned out to be a lovely afternoon.  

Throughout the year the Blog has been splendidly kept up to date by the two Martins (Wainwright and Knops) with numerous photos and the work that has taken place.   It is now really informative, fun and interesting to look at and even has a very short piece of film.   The photos show how wonderful this little wood of about 4 acres is for wildlife from animals to birds, butterflies, flowers, berries and fungi.   

There is a very large mound with entrance holes in one area and it was felt it couldn’t be just rabbits.  In the New Year Perry Knight kindly put up his camera which is triggered by movement and has patiently been looking through several thousands of photos which have been taken.  This has certainly paid off because he has managed to capture deer, foxes and two badgers. 

Sadly there are a few draw backs to having certain wildlife, trees have been damaged from the ground to the top most branches either by rabbits, deer or squirrels and if the damage circles the entire trunk or branch it will die as can be seen on several of the Field Maples.

Work parties have been numerous mainly due to the enthusiastic e-mails from Penny and Martin Wainwright announcing when they will take place and always with the encouragement of cake, cheese and coffee being available to all.    Work is mainly done in the winter but also includes keeping the tracks open in the summer using ‘The Beast’.  Growth is extensive so this winter it was decided to concentrate on certain aspects of keeping the wood in good shape.  This has included - the river ‘Humber’ being cleared of debris, overhanging branches and fallen trees and one of the tributaries being opened up too; invasive blackthorn being cut back from each side of the trees in most of the racks; hazel being coppiced to encourage young growth from the bottom of the stools; large branches being cut off especially ones overhanging the hazel area and old Man’s Beard being cut off at ground level and if possible dug out.  It has certainly been a busy few months.

Over the last year or two Martin Knops has ensured that most of the equipment needed for the work is stored in the shed and this includes ‘The Beast’, a large and very effective mower which unfortunately due to a lack of engineering knowledge ‘died’ at the end of last summer.  It has now been restored to full health and is back ready for action.

A huge amount of hazel was cut last year for peasticks and bean poles but not all of it was used so it was hoped it could be this year.   However, it was felt the peasticks were too brittle but the bean poles were trimmed and all being well will be bought by family and friends as there were not enough bundles to take to Bunkers Hill Nursery for sale.

On cleaning out the nest boxes it was found that several of the wooden ones were in very poor shape.  The woodcrete ones have been brilliant and much used by the Tit family so another three were purchased.  They are more expensive than wooden ones but last a great deal longer, stay dry and are easy to access for cleaning.   A suggestion was made that we could ask friends of Weaveley Furze if they would like to make a donation towards the boxes and the response was incredible.  The Trustees are extremely grateful to all those who responded with such very generous donations which have more than covered the cost of the boxes.  A decision will be made as to what the rest of the money can be used for which may well include replacing some of the fencing.  

CAFBANK has been our bank for many years but last year began to charge £5.00 a month.   Interest was stopped a few years ago and with such a small balance we felt the annual fee of £60 was not justified.   At the beginning of this year the account was moved and is now with Barclays Bank which does not charge a monthly fee.  Our Public Liability Insurance is with RAP and the amount we are covered for has gone down from 10 to 5 million which the Trustees felt was adequate.

The Charity is now very fortunate to have many enthusiastic volunteers and I hope you will forgive me for not naming them all individually but I would like to give a very sincere thank you to all for keeping Weaveley Furze in good heart whether it is being a Trustee, coming along with great enthusiasm to work parties and providing sustenance, keeping the brilliant Blog up to date, patiently filming the wildlife and giving donations including the proceeds from the sale of produce.  Without you the wood would be very much the poorer and the diversity of wildlife for all to enjoy would be poorer too.

Monday April 24th, 3.30pm for the AGM in Shipton-on-Cherwell Village Hall.  All Welcome.

Many thanks to Malcolm & Sam for servicing The Beast (mower) and strimmer which will be deployed this coming weekend before the paths become impassable. 

Lifting, thinning, scoffing - Easter Week 2017
Easter Week saw the younger hands making light work of the oldies earlier efforts, though it was accompanied by a hot meal, a relaxing hammock and a take away.

Lewis, Olivia and Vicky preparing to tackle the new growth.
Dryad's Saddle - a favourite delicacy. 

Before and After in the Hazel Copse. 

Doing what comes naturally.....

Followed by a fry-up in the forest and meditation.

Holly Blue
Male Orange Tips
Whites on the wing
A badger sett entrance outside the boundary.

Pruning, hacking, gobbling - 31st March 2017

We had an excellent working morning on the last day of March, encouraged by plenty of sunshine, although clouds and the odd little showerlet were part of the picture too. Margaret, Anne and Douglas, Christopher, Perry and the two Martins were joined by Sue for a picnic meeting of the Friends of Holy Cross to plan various money-raising antics for the beautiful canal-side church in Shipton-on-Cherwell - the Facebook page is here.

Our main work was cutting enough bean poles to provide six bundles (11 poles in each to dorm five leaners and a crossbar at the top) to sell at Bunker's Hill nursery.  These still need bundling and sharpening.  We decided to limit peastick production this year as the nursery had some left over in 2016.

Anne, Margaret and Martin K did a brilliant job of nipping out hazel shoots in the coppice which is looking very well set up for next year's harvest. Work still needs to be done there on removing the remaining over-large stems, and anyone who can spare time for an hour or so's vigorous sawing would be heartily welcome.

Perry and Douglas meanwhile performed highwire antics with a very long ladder, stoutly footed by Christopher. This has removed a large ash branch which was overshadowing and stunting part of the coppice.

The usual victuals were greedily consumed and Perry gave a cinematic premiere of his fox and brock movies and photos on his laptop - more on those in a post coming soon.  Many thanks to one and all.

Perry also continued to clear the River Humber outlet

 Oh, and good news from the flooded-field front: Malcolm has dug down deeply and found that the river Humber (in the pipe shown in the pic) is joined just before the muddy pond by a rivulet from the direction of Weaveley Farm and Shirley's fields. Once this is put right and everything buried again, the epic crossing of the squelchy patch will be a thing of the past. A veritable Moses is Malcolm, for the Children of Weaveley.

Triumph for Patient Perry!  28th March 2017

Perry's assiduous photographic work, undeterred by hundreds of images of nothing more than greenery triggered by the wind fluttering leaves, has paid off. BIG TIME!  See below:

Yes, we have neighbours whose presence was suspected but never confirmed until now. Perry's hidden camera, whose earlier pictures and film of deer can be seen on posts below, caught this one last week. Earlier, our intrepid detective added to the growing archive of poo portraits on the website with the studies of, well, quite a mess. It's shown below. These convinced Perry that Mr B was around and now his theory has been proved.  Thanks ever so much, Perry, and looking forward to other examples of wildlife from your lens.

A sad coda: there was a dead brock on the Banbury Road last week, close to the Bunker's Hill turn.

Working party - Friday 31st March

If you're not exhausted by other things, you may enjoy spending a bit of time - it doesn't matter how little or how much - at Weaveley Furze this coming Friday, 31st March.

Friendly veterans will be there between 10am and 1pm and the aim is produce a good stock of beanpoles and peasticks to sell at Bunker's Hill nursery.

This will involve cutting already harvested hazels to length and sharpening the ends of the poles, plus sorting and tying them into bundles.

Cake, cheese and hot drinks will be on hand and you are welcome to take poles and sticks for your own use.

Lifts are available but there's no need to respond otherwise. Just feel free to turn up.  

If it's pouring or very cold, please assume that it's off (or that only very hardy souls will be there) 

Monday 20th March 2017 - by narrowboat to the Furze?

A moist and mizzly morning saw the River Humber in good form, apparently defying the best efforts of Messrs Price of Purdiswell, although doubtless Margaret, Malcolm and James will defeat it in the end. In the meanwhile, it looks rather as though a small dayboat from Thrupp Wide could convey our working parties and the precious beanpoles and peasticks on which our income depends.

The wood is worth a visit at the moment apart from harvesting. Look at the lovely blackthorn! Even better, look at it and sing loudly:

Spinks and ouzels sing sublimely:
"We too have a saviour born!"
And the blossom bursts untimely
On the blest mosaic thorn.

So it does indeed; and the violas are lovely in two colours by the Great Holly and on the grassy paths. I pottered about in the hope of appearing on Perry's hidden camera, which remained hidden, and to help his detective work, I took the picture below of some creature's poo - a possibly thoughtful creatures, as it seemed to have grubbed up a bit of mossy turf nearby, possibly to hide its doings, like a cat.

So to business. I cut a score of rather beautiful beanpoles and nabbed two bundles of resulting peasticks for Penny and my allotment and the holy Alllotment of Eden. By lunchtime, the latter were in place.

As to our money-earning, I would say that if as many of us as possible could manage two convivial sessions before Easter, we should be able to provide Bunker's Hill with a very respectable stock. I don't think we need to cut many more living trees - indeed, maybe none. As you can see from the photos below, we have large stocks of pre-cut poles waiting to be trimmed.

Finally, an encouraging sign that Youth is using the path - I initially hoped that this was a very rare baby snake. But no, it is one of those curly bangles.

WORKING PARTY Monday 20th March, 10-30am - 12.30pm

Martin W is going to be up at the Furze cutting beanpoles and peasticks. All welcome. Cheese, cake and coffee on tap (and plate)

Sunday, 19th March 2017 - More wildlife from Perry

Perry's motion-triggered camera has taken another 2000+ pictures remotely, which he has patiently and kindly analysed. They include the handsome buck and beautiful doe featured on the website's home page and reproduced here:

Perry's also knitted several shots together to form the very short clip below - it comes via YouTube so will end with a shift to some other, completely different film. To watch Perry's again, just go back to the home page and click on Latest News again.  Many thanks, Perry!

Thursday 9th March 2017 - Our FIRST film

Perry Knight has been monitoring wildlife in the Furze to try to find out what sort of animal is building an underground mansion. We're planning to show a short video here - a FIRST for the website provided that it (a) uploads and (b) works once posted - showing some normally hidden goings-on.  More soon.

Update:  Hooray!  Here it is, courtesy of You Tube. Click on the arrow to play it.  It's very short and when it finishes, YouTube offers you something entirely different, apparently changing each time.  To play it again, go back to our main page and then click again on Latest News.  Sorry for these technical issues. We are learning...

Thursday 2nd March - Slashing away

Sorry, we forgot to publicise the most recent working party which took place on Thursday, 2nd March, in two stages, morning and afternoon. The previously planned work party, on 23rd February, was cancelled because of foul weather.

Approaching the Furze - Margaret, James and Malcolm's drainage works are almost finished
This time, the morning saw Martins W and K (the latter bravely fighting off the remains of this year's devastating 'flu') join Anne and Douglas Macdonald to clear some of the remaining rides which are suffering from entanglement. Hearty clearing was done, assisted by coffee, cheese and beyond sell-by coffee and walnut cake, and there are now only a handful of rides still to do, to make them all accessible to the mighty mower.  Energy will then switch to hazel coppicing.

Clearing one of the smallest rides - only two saplings. Before, top, and After, below

In the afternoon, Martin K, Margaret and Trish continued with the clearing work after putting up three of the new concrete birdboxes which the trust has boguht, thanks to great generosity in response to a round robin funding appeal.

Nature notes, clockwise from top left: still no sign of who lives in these burrows; mini-fungus on felled treelet; is this a cosy little lie-up for a deer? And new life budding in a cocoon of moss

Details of forthcoming work parties will be posted here soon.

Clearing and cutting - Thursday 16th February

Sunshine blessed our quartet today - Philip, Christopher, Penny and Martin - as we set about clearing one of the racks towards the far end of the wood.  Here's how it looked when we arrived, with the two Ps starting work on a tangle of blackthorn and overhanging elders:

And here it is after an hour's hard work, nice and clear for the mower to keep in order until next Winter:

We found a selection of the usual treasures which await woodlanders, to whit: a gruesome skull (deer?), two forms of poo and an interesting Jelly Ear fungus identified by Christopher. A lovely selection of fungus pics by C are now on the picture gallery - see here. Meanwhile here are today's finds:

After the traditional drinks, cake and cheese, which I forgot to photograph, we did 20 minutes of vigorous coppicing on the hazels by the gate. Then we headed for home, pausing to examine this little orange fungus on top of the gatepost at the entrance to WF - a cheerful welcome for visitors:

Finally, it is GREAT to see the noble Price family at work on repairing the 'under-field' section of the river Humber - the possibility of Lake Knops being drained at last seems imminent:


Two work parties are imminent at the Furze:

Martin W will be there this Thursday, Feb 16th, between 9.30am and 11.30am. Tea and cake will be there as well.

Margaret, Martin K and Trish are going on Thursday 23rd February at 1pm. Refreshments unknown but undoubted.

Martin K's instructions are:

Cutting off blackthorn at the ground, especially in the upper racks is urgent.  Christopher pointed out that blackthorn attracts butterflies, but it also invades passage and growth of other life, like us! A few clumps of blackthorn which do not interfere with any new trees could be preserved. Cut blackthorn can be put round young trees to protect them from deer and rabbits. 
Hazel stools need thinning so that 8 to 10 strong untangled shoots have unobstructed growth. cf. blog site. Hug a tree. 

All hands most welcome! 

Sunday 5th February & 21st January

After a foray into the Furze on January 21st when Chris Hoskins identified some brilliant fungi and cut back blackthorn, Margaret and Martin counted the bird boxes and found tracks at the entrances of rabbit burrows - or could be badger? Roe deer are frequently sheltering in the wood.

A proliferation of rabbit burrows in the north west corner of the Furze . Margaret is pointing out indistinct tracks of what may be badger.   

Rabbit damage at the base of an ash. 

Deer damage on a hazel stool.

Tuesday 3rd January, 2017

Olivia and I braved the thick frost to visit the Furze. In the circumstances we decided to pass on cutting blackthorn and in preparation for the coming season, quickly clean out the bird boxes that we could reach. Two concrete nest boxes with old nests and lots of maggots, one with an old blue tit egg. It would be wonderful to replace the old wooden boxes with the durable and easily cleaned concrete versions.  

Boxing Day - 2016
On a cold windy but sunny afternoon, it was a relief to share in the shelter of the Furze. The lush green sphagnum moss providing a carpet of warmth for the young shoots which have already started to break the surface. At the centre of the wood, mature roe deer were resting in the sun while pheasants grazed near the perimeter fence. 
They squawked with alarm as I passed, heaving their fat bodies through low branches into safety and with two bounds the deer were gone. 
Because of the valuable work done in the summer and autumn it is clear that there is much to be completed in the Furze before coppicing begins.  The remnants of last season's hazel harvest is still to be made into kindling and the blackthorn have been encouraged by the warmer weather but threaten to smother access to the racks of new trees.  
Most surprising of all was to find hazel catkins flourishing on the sheltered south east corner of the wood. 
If anyone wants to work off their Christmas pot belly, arm yourselves with a flask of tea, take a  pair of lopers and cut off all the blackthorn you can find as close to the ground as possible. 
Some bird boxes have fallen and need replacing, maybe with the excellent concrete versions? 
Thank you!
A cold chill over the barren fields.

A carpet fleece of soft warm sphagnum moss inside the wood.

Blackthorn invading the racks. Please feel free to cut as much as you can close to the ground. 

Bird boxes for renovating or replacing with the 'des res' concrete boxes.
Please take last year's cut hazel for kindling.
The flattened leaves at the centre of this picture shows where roe deer had been resting .

Sheltered willow bearing the first catkins. 

Architectural shapes against the sun
A visitor to the Weaveley Furze with his 3 Labradors, one smelling strongly of fox.

Mushrooms growing next to mole hills and tunnels.

Pulling the Old Man's Beard - Friday 25th November 2016

The winter season has started with a merry morning of mayhem undertaken, by Margaret, Trish, the two Martins, Douglas and Anne. Rather more time than usual was perhaps spent on chatter and provisions, but this was Working Party No 1 and some of were rusty. I was anyway.

Supervised by Martin K, we tackled overgrown undergrowth on the mown paths, racks of new trees and in the hazel plantation where some saplings on the edge are to be layered this winter to start new growth. This involves bending one of the coppices stems horizontally and then earthing it up. From the little mound, a new coppice bole should emerge.

Here are some pics, starting with an unusual focus on sheep. This is to highlight the fact that a temporary electric fence surrounds the field between the main public footpath and the branch to the Furze. Don't worry. There should be sacks in place at the crossing places but if not, use a coat to cover the wires - which as a result will be weighed down much nearer the ground, and step across.

See you all at the next sesh, probably the week after next.  Martin W.

Preparing the weaponry...

...of which this is an example

Margaret in action against blackthorn

Trish trims an Old Man's Beard

Then it's time for tea...

...cake, cheese and fruit

Another time, maybe we could add a Weaveley Furze mushroom

You're never alone in the Furze

******Working party - Friday 25th November*******

Martin K, Martin and Penny W, Anne and Douglas McD, Trish and Margaret and possibly Chris are heading for WF at 10.30am to start the winter round:

Clearing fallen branches, cutting back brambles and anything overhanging rides and racks.
Putting timbers under cover
Pruning lower growth from young trees,
Removing split tree guards.

Tea, cheese and cake in abundance!

Anyone else warmly welcome - contact Martin and Penny W on 01865 374478 if you'd like a lift.

Monday 7th & 8th November 
A quick visit before the rains come, which will suit the Humber and the fields around but will soak the logs which were cut last year.  The awning will provide a useful shelter from the rain. The chainsaw seized up and in searching for a spanner I managed to sort out the shed! 
The awning which will be used to keep logs dry cut last year, is catching the heavy leaf fall. 
Freshly fallen leaves reveal tree skeletons in the racks and feed next year's growth. It is a dramatic change from the gorgeous growth of the summer.

The Great Holly flush with ripening berries.

Pink Spindle berry now bare of leaves.

Vibrant Red Spindle berry - food for the birds NOT for humans:
all Spindle is HIGHLY TOXIC.

Rose hips.

Sorting the Shed.

Wednesday 19th October
A long gap since the last visit. No mowing of tracks required but the year's growth especially in the hazel copse, now more evident. As the vegetation dies off the mess and damage left by high winds becomes apparent. Tidying up is therefore a help if anyone goes up there for a gentle walk. There is also much dry hazel material, twigs and stems, for kindling. James' mustard is flowering in the fields around, much to the bees delight who are also feeding off the ivy for winter supplies. The Humber is bone dry in spite of recent rain. And the awning remains for the moment as it covers the working area and provides shelter in a storm. 
Now the bad news: Old Man's Beard (or should it be 'Senior Person's Beard') again threatens the pastoral calm. Cutting implements are in the shed for those wanting to work out their aggression by digging up the roots. MK
New growth on hazel stools which were cut to the ground last Spring.

Spindle berry feeding the birds.

The Holly berries do not look quite so profuse as last year and may disappear before Christmas. 

The dreaded 'OMB' smothering a young bush.

The east side of the Furze towards the Humber is dominated by OMB.

Monday 5th September

Meeting of the Trustees , Margaret , Tricia and Martin under the awning (which must soon come down) fortified by Perdiswell Energy Cakes.  We marvelled at the growth over the summer and identified various tasks to be done in the coming months. Especially grateful to all those who came to the July Grand Tea Party (see way below). This will not be a good year for Sloes but there is only sloe much gin that can be drunk every year. 
A coming expense will be fence mending as a number of posts need replacing.

A profusion of berries.
Margaret showing Tricia the clearance work undertaken by Perry where the Humber meets the culvert under the field.
A cull of OMB (old mans bear) is needed again around the Great Holly Tree  and next to the  Tall Apple Tree.
Almost all the cherry trees are beginning to die off and have not lasted, something we were warned about by David when they were planted. 
The forlorn sight of a blackthorn twisted by the wind. Something for Martin to get his chainsaw into  over the winter. 

Tuesday 16th August

MW pottered up to and round the Furze this morning, partly because he'd promised MK he would (to admire the jungle-bashing described in the bulletin just below this one) and partly to check on butterflies, this being their high season and the day pretty sunny (though not the heatwave madness forecast by inter alia the Daily Express.

The Furze is now a green island in a straw-coloured sea after James and Malcolm's successful harvesting (soon to be returned to us as Warburton's very tasty bread). Here, however, are some ears which they missed. On the final stretch beside the field with the Furze's main entrance, I saw a magnificent buzzard which rose from the trees, circled about and then flew back into the wood, low down. Here is my not so magnificent photograph. I promise you that the little thing in the sky IS a buzzard.

The wood itself is lovely and tangly but excellently accessible thanks to the Knoppsian Paths maintained by MK, Olivia and Lewis, of hammock fame. The racks of recently-planted trees are also good and clear, while avoiding the park-like look which can attend such landscaping. I found one of the buzzard's feathers, so at least I got a close-up of that. I left it on an elfin stool in the Faerie Glade.

Here are a couple of pictures, below, of the said racks plus some evidence of the abundant mammalian and bird life which goes on in the Furze. Just after taking the picture of the digging, I looked up and saw a big russet deer making off at the far end of the path, near the bench, but it was too quick for my camera.

Somebody's tea

Somebody else's leftovers

Deer digging, I think

There were goodly numbers of wildflowers on the field edge and in the Furze. Good to see a buddleia introduced into the latter, in terms of butterfly and moth happiness, even if our mediaeval ancestors would have wondered what it was. Also the promise of a fine Christmas holly berry crop (birds permitting) and excellent toadstools, one cheekily trying to block a Knoppsian Highway, the other sticking its fat tongue out of a hollow tree:

And the butterflies which were part of my mission? I saw Hedge Brown, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and Small White. Here are pictures of the first three:

Finally, and admittedly somewhat in the buzzard photography mould, here is a hawker dragonfly which resolutely refused to perch during a seven minute stalk, so busy was it catching flies. I tried to get it with one of the many helicopters which were buzzing about from 'London Oxford' airfield, but simply getting the insect in the frame was hard enough. And a Grass Veneer micro-moth, which was happy to sit and pose:

If you have time, it's worth a wander up to the Furze at the moment. But I have to be honest and say that in wildlife and plant terms, a walk round the edge of the big field between Thrupp and Shipton-on-Cherwell will be more rewarding. Why not do both?

The 'Beast' at work in the hazel copse......

Monday 8th August

Olivia and Lewis tackle the jungle. 

Snicker snack, Olivia's vorple blade decapitating the Great Thistles
from around a struggling young oak.

Meanwhile Lewis makes good use of two ash trees before....

.....setting to work on clearing the footpath with the deadly brush-cutter.

Foraging for Dryad's Saddle fungus, or Pheasant Back mushroom,  an edible fungi growing in Ash boles, which they fried up in the evening and had on toast. Allegedly delicious. 

Perry has done great work clearing out where the stream meets the culvert, so that when the rains come the Humber should flow freely again. 

Feral bees drinking water from the mud around the stream to take back to their colony which is hopefully somewhere in the wood.
So rested he by the tum-tum tree and 'slept' awhile in thought.....

Wednesday 3rd August

Left alone for a few weeks, the explosion in growth at the wood is testament to the hard work put in earlier in the year by so many volunteers. It is now a question of keeping all the paths clear ready for the end of the season. 

 Clover and yellow ?

Blackberry blossom is profuse and will generate a good crop within the next two weeks. 

Powdery Oak Mildew, common throughout the UK, on oak leaves of a sapling in the Furze. Hopefully it will not cause dieback which has in the past affected other oak trees in the wood.

Sunday 3rd July
A post tea-party recce revealed a calm and tranquil Furze with only the remnants of the bbq and rain-cover as evidence of former revels. The blue awning has been left in place for the moment in case anyone would like to camp out, shelter from a storm or, perish the thought, start making charcoal.
A few photos follow and at the end is a commemoration of Theo Olive a former trustee, whose memorial stone in Holy Cross churchyard has been completed to include his wife Meryl, recently died at the age of 102. 

A honey bee appreciating a Great Thistle, protected by a Priceless preservation order but which is now under imminent sentence of death as the seed pod develops.   
Deep in the jungle a hornbeam has twisted under its own weight of foliage  and now waits to be cleared.
The last of the Elderflow crop now fermenting in its own natural yeast before its transformation into explosive champagne. 
The 'wild' gooseberries are slightly bigger this year and by mid-July will be ready for jam-making (all profits to the Weaveley Furze of course).
Ash Keys (seeds) hang in large bunches and are more plentiful this year. Useful for flatulence (not sure if that is for causing or curing) . 

The memorial stone which has just been placed with the ashes of Meryl Olive in Holy Cross churchyard.  Theo Olive was a former trustee of the Weaveley Furze, who with Pam Matthews kept the wood viable after the original trustees retired.  Theo was an eminent art teacher whose coloured etchings of local scenes have been hung in the Royal Academy. Meryl was a superb artist and sculptor in her own right. They were born within a week of each other in 1914 and grew up in the terrible aftermath of that time. In the Second World War, Theo then 'fought' in Italy though admitted that he spent most of his time visiting churches in the Italian countryside. Eventually they settled in Shipton-on-Cherwell where they are remembered with great affection and lived in Canal Lodge for 25 years. 

May they rest in peace. 

Saturday 10th June - the GRAND TEA PARTY

One of the great pleasures of being involved with Weaveley Furze is the company of lively and imaginative woodlanders - a small group but one which is growing and which gives a warm welcome to newcomers. 

This reached a peak for the year at the Thank You Tea Party held on Saturday in the main glade under MK's famous awning, strung with bunting and wafted by sausage-scented barbecue smoke. Margaret performed amazing feats of organisation and cross-country transport in advance, while Martin K and Perry mowed the paths to form inviting green tunnels to the Great Holly Tree and river Humber through the wood's rampant summer growth.

The Heavens were with us too as sunshine and warmth made the awning a cool refuge rather than a vast rain umbrella we had feared it might have to be. The furze's central core of path-mowers, hazel coppicers and nesting-box fixers were then joined  by friends and guests who plan to get more involved in future.

It was great to see former trustees Pat Woodward, only recently retired from the post,  and Pam Matthews, along with her husband Tony, who chairs Shipton-on-Cherwell & Thrupp parish council.  Our cheery vicar Gareth joined us, having done his bit with the weather authorities, and it was good to welcome our local Cherwell district councillor, Tim Hallchurch, his partner Jan and a friend of theirs, Sue. Tim is a bird man and particularly good at identifying calls - on this occasion, loads of willow warblers, whitethroats, blackcaps and a sandpiper. Sue is an enthusiastic woodlander, as is her grandson who recently celebrated his 12th birthday with friends doing a woodland crafts day. On that score, we hope to rekindle interest in local school outings to the furze.  

The food was amazing, especially Tricia's 'Tear and Share' pastry tree whose branches were succulent with pesto and parmesan, and her ladybird (and other bug) buns, served on spot-on tablecloths featuring foxes, owls and other woodland creatures. Martin K cooked succulent Lincolnshire and Staffordshire sausages on the barbecue and Martin W's celebration cake - eccentrically but essentially accurately decorated by granddaughter Emily - was marvelled at, especially when a strange mega birthday cake candle (the revival campaign at the furze is ten years old) unfolded pink plastic petals amid smoke and flame.

Everyone helped clear away and a bonus afterwards was a visit to Shirley Clothier who lives at nearby Upper Weaveley Furze and has been a friend and supporter of the wood for many years. Tricia took Shirley a plate of buns and cake from the feast and reminisced about earlier teas - ones with cream, jam and scones served by the Clothier sisters at Upper Weaveley when Tricia was a schoolgirl on outings with her mother and grandmother.

Tuesday 7th June

Tricia & Margaret in the new military style truck, arrived to slash and contain the weeds around young hazel stools, while Martin K cleared over-hanging blackthorn from around the young oaks.
Then successful on-site discussion with coffee and delicious Perdiswell Parkin, to plan for the TEA PARTY for supporters to be held in the Furze on Saturday 18th June. Food and drink on a bring and share basis, plus special cake, Twiglets, barbecued sausages and mille feuilles. Starts around 3pm, finishing by 6pm.

Sunday 5th June

The path through the hazel and the rides have all been freshly cut but it was blooming hard work. If anybody goes up to the Furze, please make cutting the giant thistles a priority together with hand cutting the growth around young trees. There is a long armed and a hand sickle in the shed. 
Furry animals and birds are not appreciative of trimmer and chainsaw noise this time of year.

There is a nasty smell coming from where the stream goes underground - the water looks vile. Maybe the culvert has become blocked. 

Tuesday 17th May
If you go up to the wood today please see if you can clear some of the exploding flora from suffocating young saplings and hazel stools. Simply give them more light and air. No equipment needed but lopers and saws in the shed if required.
Fresh funghi also much in evidence (see below). 

Cutting a narrow clearance in the rampant vegetation from tree to tree in the racks. 
Large Beefsteak fungus
Young specimen growing on felled Ash.

Tuesday 10th May

Emperors in the Furze

 Galvanised by Martin's report on Monday, MW plodded over to the Furze from the Banbury Road in soft, refreshing rain - nice and warm - circling the reassuringly large waters of the field lake en route.

My mission was partly to have a look at the ever-increasing vegetation and partly to release 15 Emperor Moth caterpillars on hawthorn, one of their favourite food plants. I hope that this was not an act of bio-terrorism - apologies if so - but Weaveley Furze is just the sort of place they like and I would be surprised if the species has not already found it. These caterpillars' granny came to the light trap in my garden only a couple of miles away, which is easily within the range of an Emperor, especially a male seeking a mate.

The catties' Gran. The Emperor is one of the UK's biggest and most beautiful moths

While tucking them away out of sight of the birds - many twittering but none on the wing, perhaps because of the rain - I disturbed this pretty little Green Carpet moth.  My was caught too by the many snails out enjoying the damp grass stalks and twigs.

Lastly, the blossom in the furze is well worth going to see and Martin has done a fantastic job mowing the paths. He will be posting and emailing details of when he next plans to go, in the hope that others may be free to come long. 

Monday 9th May 
For those who may have forgotten what the Weaveley Furze looks like, some studied views taken today and suggestions for useful tasks:
The secret of managing grass is to cut it before it needs cutting. This is the second trim of the Rides this year but the new growth is already threatening to swamp the bug-hotels in the LivLew Glade.   
Though the established saplings have matured and can cope on their own in the racks, the small whips which we planted last year are now struggling to survive. Any help in clearing around them is appreciated. Here is a two year old oak sapling about to be strangled by giant thistles, cleavers, dog mercury and dock. 

It takes only a few minutes of clearing for the young oak to have space to thrive. 

The Racks, so carefully cleared over the winter, now need one simple path cut from tree to tree. 
Too late to save this specimen.

The translucent fresh leaves of this Maple are now beyond harm's way.

The swollen Humber shows no sign of decreasing as the soft rain continues to fall.  

Oil seed rape in the adjoining field, provides plenty of pollen for bees,
but not the best of honey. 

A strange lichen has appeared on a blackthorn tree. 

Possibly 'Pascha Pullum Minimis'

Monday 2 May update

More good news from the retail front. ONE customer has bought 10lbs of rhubarb, famously sold in Thrupp at irregular intervals in aid of the Furze.

Monday 2nd May 
At 10am there were only three pea stick bundles and five bean pole bundles left in Andrew Leeming's Bunker's Hill garden centre. 
Quickly re-stocked at the farm with fifteen new pea bundles only to find on return to the 'Good Value' garden centre that there were now only two bundles of pea and three of bean left;  more beans will provided later in the week. Amazing what a spot of sun will do to draw out the gardeners and if the weather holds then this coming weekend should be a sell-out. Buy now to avoid disappointment. 
Saturday 30th April 
In preparation for May Day and Beating the Parish Bounds a quantity of beating or walking sticks were cut. If any are left over they may be sold at the garden centre. 

Tuesday 26th April
At 9am the cold gales buffeted the perimeter of the Furze, while sheltered inside all basked in the warm sun. Malcolm's 'Beast' of a mower started first time and methodically trundled round the rides revealing lush grass and the debris of winter.
White is the colour of the moment as we approach the end of April and the darling buds of May.

The Wild Cherry in blossom at the meeting place.

The Hazel Copse rapidly filling with Dog Mercury which must be kept at bay to give the new hazel shoots a chance. 

It's a fight between white flowered young nettles and cleavers straining for dominance. Both are good herbs for relieving stress and dandruff. Another possible source of income?

 White blossom on Blackthorn getting ready for Mayday. 
 Freshly mown paths after the first cut of the year. 

Can you find the Weaveley Furze Easter Chick?

Sunday, 17th April

Spring has sprung in the Furze, relieving the rigorous but sometimes rather bleak austerity of Winter with patches of colour and light.

Martin W was there this morning to cut himself some peasticks. He was accompanied by a Peacock butterfly and lots of small and randy-sounding birds. Here are some of the current delights.

The AGM of Weaveley Furze Trust is tomorrow, Monday 18th April, at 3.30pm in the upstairs room at Shipton-on-Cherwell Village Hall. All welcome.

The Weaveley Furze Magnificent Rhubarb Stall is running today outside The Barn and Stable Cottage at the Thrupp end of the public footpath to Shipton across the fields on the western side of the canal, not the towpath which can be used on the return journey to make a great, modest, circular walk.

Celandines massed beside the Humber

Wednesday 30th March

The first violet of Spring in the Weaveley Furze, found by Olivia this morning.

Piles of cut stems still need processing.

On a recent walk in Wytham Wood, the concrete bird boxes were suspended from brackets.

Wednesday 23rd March
Its off to market we go with the newly harvested crop of bean and pea sticks ready for the Easter weekend. This is the charity's only source of income and so an especially significant event. Many thanks to all those who have taken part in this year's crop.
There is a great pile of stems still to be processed so willing hands are welcome. 

Loading up the harvest in the Weaveley Furze.

The bundles of bean and pea sticks are on sale at the Bunkers Hill Garden Centre through the kindness of Andrew Leeming. 

Monday 21st March

Et in Arcadia duo...

The two Martin's beavered away in glorious sunshine this morning, accompanied by a Brimstone butterfly and the first beginnings of wildflowers in the Furze and on the way there.

Christopher took the lovely photograph of Blackthorn blossom above while Martin W's granddaughter Emily is responsible for the (not unattractive) blurring on the rest of the photos.

We worked happily and quickly while maintaining at the same time a high level of theological and political debate. As a result there are now 16 bundles of beanpoles (11 in each to allow the construction of two wigwams and a joining pole), to add to the enormous peastick mountain at Perdiswell Farm The first sales expedition to Bunker's Hill nursery takes place this Wednesday.

Many thanks to the Knops household for healthgiving crunchy bikkies and bottled water supplies.

Saturday 19th March
Successful husbandry is achieved through good management and today was an excellent example of both. The Team of Christopher, Douglas, Anne, Martin W & K, sorted, measured, cut and sharpened a satisfying pile of hazel staves into bean poles, a total of ten bundles so far. A substantial pile remains for further work on Monday morning. Grateful thanks to all taking part.
The Team
A warring Thruppie preparing a spear to ward off Shiptonite attacks, or pointing up a beanpole. 

Christopher photographing early blossom.

The legendary Spring of Eternal Youth, source of the Humber.  

The Ides of March (Tuesday)
There are now 6 bundles of bean-sticks. Suggest that when we get to 10 it is tuk-tuk time; hopefully this weekend? More can then be cut in following weeks.
The bean bundles take, all in all , about one hour each to prepare. This includes getting there, wielding the whetstone, sorting out suitable poles, slaking thirst, clearing up etc. 
I hope that this is borne in mind when they are being sold as the peasants will turn revolting if there is not fair gain.

Monday 14th March

Peasticks are now available from Margaret at Perdiswell. Here's Penny speeding on her way to a couple of customers in her bright red Peastickmobile.

Saturday 12th March

Gaudeamus! Jubilate! Nunc dimittis...   For the coppicing of the hazel plantation is at last COMPLETE!

A misty, moisty morning saw Christopher and the two Martins hard at work on this, and on cutting and sharpening two more 11-strong bundles of beanpoles plus trialling the amazing new Knops Peastick Bundling Jig (pic above).

The most impressive part of the morning, however, was Martin K's use of almost supernatural powers to lift, single-handed, a huge chunk of Perry-sawn trunk on to a trolley. This was then towed with the help of Christopher and Martin W to the elfin glade and lifted off on to two logs. 

It now forms a second bench and, once sawn horizontally by Martin K, will provide a third. Could Weaveley Furze be more comfy?

Remaining tasks now are getting more beanpole and peastick bundles ready for delivery to Bunker's Hill nursery in good time for Easter. News of mass sessions will be posted here and please feel free to go up any time, if you are confident of your elvish/woodlander skills.

Thursday 10th March
Another day in paradise and two hours in the WF. 
 More stools cut leaving a remnant for Saturday morning 10am. 
 Yet more piles of cut stems in the coppice for processing into pea sticks at a future date. Bean poles now the priority.
 The Humber is now flooding from the gate down to Wainwright's Pond on the bridlepath.
A duck and drake on a recce. 

Tuesday, 8th March

Hands up who remembers Steely Dan's multiple Grammy winner of 2000, Two against Nature? Its theme was repeated this morning as the two Martins made hay, or rather potential beanpoles and peasticks, out of all but a pocket of the remaining hazels.

Dodgy weather forecasts proved unfounded and it was a lot warmer than recent, icy days; a perfect preliminary to a mass session this coming Saturday - see above - if the masses can be mobilised. Four or more of us could get the cutting of big hazels completed plus having a good, morale-boosting go at beanstick cutting-for-length, sharpening and tying, and more peastick bundling.

Our supplies of peasticks are already copious and two lots of 11 beanpoles are tied up and ready to go. Supplies of cheese, cake and coffee also continue at a high. It looks like being a record-breaking year.

Saturday , March 5th

Having been hijacked by a leaking old geyser in the Village Hall, I abandoned the bee-fest in Stoneleigh, fettled my billhooks for pointing up bean-poles and had a slash in the hazel copse with the chainsaw. Quite a lot more stools to get through but the end is in sight, even though it creates new mountains of stems for processing (see pic below).  We aim to have finished by Easter and here we are 'Laetare Sunday', the 4th of Lent already. So volunteers very welcome. 
Martin K

New stacks of freshly cut hazel.

The Humber is blocked at the culvert (right hand side). Potentially serious if there is a prolonged deluge.

Wednesday, March 2nd
Until beaten back by icy hurricanes, Tricia completed cutting pea sticks. The first bundle of 8' bean poles were tied, having been expertly prepared by Winnie and Chris at the weekend with sharp spear-like points which Uther Pendragon would have approved of.

Martin K meanwhile continued to cut larger stems from the stools but there are a good number remaining. Anyone with an hour so for sawing would be very welcome.

Sunday, February 28
Imogen Knight (daughter of Perry) communing with the Humber: 

Modge the Water Sprite flying through the air. 
"Water sprites are elemental creatures, able to breath water or air, and can sometimes fly. They are mostly harmless unless threatened".(cf.Wikipedia) 

Saturday, February 27
Workers of the shires united this morning when a skilled and enthusiastic pack of volunteers made a herculean difference to the mountain of cut hazel. Jobbing coppicers were drafted in from Leeds (Jessie & Winnie),  Birmingham (Olivia) and Kidlington (Christopher).   

Olivia, Margaret, Martin W, Christopher, Winnie & Jessie

Margaret, Olivia and Jessie with nimble dexterity filled the truck to overflowing with trussed bundles of pea sticks. Winnie quickly mastered the ancient art of cleaving and pointing up stems with a double edged Staffordshire billhook while Christopher applied his empirical expertise to measuring the cut stems into bean poles. The two Martins continued with coppicing the stools which remain, though there is still about a quarter of the copse to cut. 

There was a small hiatus over refreshments which led Martin W on a mercy dash back to his and Penny's kitchen and the very welcome retrieval of coffee, cake and Wensleydale cheese to fortify the troops.

Many hands made light work of what could otherwise have been a tedious chore - and grateful thanks are due to all.

Tuesday, February 23

MW slotted in another sunny stint this morning and sliced further into the remaining uncoppiced hazels on the right-hand side going out of the wood. Another pile of stems has thus appeared and another line of peasticks awaits Saturday's bundlers. And the Green Man of Weaveley put in appearance; see pic on the left - a strange little stuffed gnome stuck in a hole in the field behind the Hazel copse.

I remembered to take the camera this time and here, above, is an aerial, or at least ladderborne, shot which shows the increasingly industrial scene in the elfin glade.

Here too is our deadline-maker: a hazel bud. Eek! Sorry it's blurred. And below are the answers to the time-honoured question: which hazel?

Miss Hazel
Mr Hazel
The catkins came out early this year and the flowers a little late. Let's hope that some of them get it together.

Now for a pictorial tribute to Perry's epic work along the Humber which, to my surprise as a newcomer, has two feeder streams within the wood - presumably the Trent and the Ouse.

The amazing bug palace mentioned yesterday, at the confluence of the Humber and 'Ouse'.

This is deeper than Perry's wellies

An indicator of the scale and toughness of the work Some of these will end up as stools and benches in the glade

Finally, I went in search of Martin Thorn's artificial fox earth, built in the old Weaveley days, and found it - first pic below.  As you can see from the other pictures, there is plenty of muscular underground activity in that part of the Furze.

I walked back to the hazel copse along the field edge, setting up three cock pheasants as I trundled by. I noticed how very differently the crop was growing in different parts of the field - see contrasting pics below. Is this a consequence of some of the land being part of the old 'furze ground' - poor quality soil and terrain? One for Margaret and Malcolm.

Monday, February 22

MW and Perry had a wonderfully destructive morning in their separate spheres of influence. Perry's amazing work on the stream continues and he has also constructed the biggest bug hotel ever seen. I forgot my camera again but will try to remember to take it next time I go, to record the edifice.

As for me, I cut the big, old stems on the hazels all the way along the track on the right hand side - the first row only - and varied this superhuman task with some gentler work removing peasticks from the ends of the felled stems and also from two of the piles of previously cut hazel in the elfin glade.

The newly cut wood is in two piles at the woodland end of the glade, one on the right whose stems have been de-peasticked and one on the left, which still requires trimming because I ran out of time. My stash of new peasticks is also on the right in front of the old, mossy stump.

There is now loads of opportunity for :

1. Sawing (coppicing) the remaining uncut hazels on the right hand side, which are mostly thin (I had some brutes this morning).
2. Bundling peasticks
3. Cutting peasticks
4. Beanpoling in all its many forms

Hopefully a substantial number of woodlanders may be mobilisable on Saturday?

Saturday 20th February morning:

Tricia and Martin K arrived to find Perry working to great effect at decluttering the stream and clearing it of obstacles (cf. pic below). Finding where the water drains into the original culvert may be tricky as it has not been cleaned out possibly for over 50 years.
Martin W was hard at work cutting stems in the hazel and treated us to Wensleydale and mince pies at the break with Tricia's coffee. Both Martins continued on the coppicing, which needs to be completed before the sap rises. Faced with the growing mounds of raw material Tricia cut a large stack of pea sticks ready for bundling.
The next task, preparing the bean sticks, may have to wait until next weekend.
And at the same time layering or pleaching the hazel to propagate more stools in the gaps needs to start, again before new growth gets underway.
All help at any time appreciated.

Thursday 18th February
Bright and spring-like morning, terrorist hawks wheeling above the frightened fauna as the vorpal blade of the chain-saw slashed through more sturdy stems. Another pile for trimming. The 'Greasy Chip' in the lay-by was going great guns dispensing carcinogenic snicker-snacks.

Monday 15th February

After Martin K's excellent work on Saturday - see pics below showing the contrast between the left and right-hand sides of the hazel copse - Martin W sallied forth with his samurai saw this morning. It was another glorious day with a safe passage over the frozen swamp in the field and a red kite wheeling around in welcome above the notice board.

The lefthand side, all done and dusted
The righthand side - sawyers needed
Versed in the sacred texts of Knops, I had a happy time coppicing the first two rows on the right hand side from the gate, piling the felled hazel near the picnic bench and taking breaks from sawing by clipping peasticks from the newly cut wood.

Blood on the hazel - the
age-old price of coppicing
At around 11.30am a cheery cry announced the arrival of Martin K, unexpectedly but to my great joy, especially as he had brought a chocolate biscuit. (Because I thought I would be on my own, I hadn't bothered with the usual lavish food and drink). Amid much chatting, we continued the work until midday, making good progress although there is still much to do taking out old or too-large hazel in a limited time before the trees start buddding.

Plenty of peastick material is now there to be cut from three piles of large hazel stems - and of course, hugged, squeezed and bundled etc. Anyone willing to saw has a world of opportunity in the remaining uncut part of the right hand half of the copse, following the Laws of Knops, set out below.

The Not-so-grim Reaper with three piles awaiting peastick experts

Many a beanpole in these piles
And here's the special beanpole-measuring device, ready for all to use

Saturday 13th February 

Another pile of stems have been added to those hand-cut yesterday, the main aim being to take out the old and unproductive original wood. Stools are being cut as low down as possible in order to encourage new shoots. Short pollarded stems are left only where there is a viable rod which will be ready for next year at which time the new pole and its old stem will be taken out.  
As an example there is a stool next to the gate on which some short thick stems had been left after pollarding but have now been cut (see pic) because there are some good whips and rods emerging from the base which will grow straight and true this year. 
Those stools which were cut flush to the ground last year, ie. coppiced, are doing very well.  Unless the old wood is taken out now it will be impossibly thick next year and meanwhile take energy from the new shoots. 
So, almost the whole of the left half of the copse has now been pruned. The right had side should take a little less time to process but again be productive if there are willing hands to harvest it. 
The small chainsaw has a damaged chain which must be replaced, Albert’s big saw needs to be stripped down. Sadly therefore some expense will be involved. MK

Friday 12th February

The Friday team

And their weapons
And their twine

Four of us - Margaret, Martin and Penny W and David E on his debut visit - were unexpectedly blessed by sunshine for a two-and-a-half hour morning session.  We picked up on Martin K's work - see report immediately below - and crammed the Tonka Toy to bursting with incredibly tightly wrapped peastick bundles. 

"Hug, squeeze, bundle and squash" was Penny's enticing suggestion for a recruiting slogan for Furze coppicing gangs. All four talents were in overdrive and we had four bundles left over for taking home on the next motorised trip. Margaret reckons we've now got some £200-worth of peasticks.


Using Margaret's deadly and beautifully curved hacksaw, Martin meanwhile cut down another large pile of hazels, a la Martin K, which now await stripping for peasticks in their turn. There is a goodly stack of potential beanpoles for the next stage of the operation.

Potential poles, left. Hazels for peastick-stripping, right.
The mobile canteen mentioned last week has set up permanent HQ in the Banbury Road layby, serving hot and cold drinks and snacks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Another good reason for furzing.  David enjoyed his introduction to the furze and christened Perry's critter path across the stream the 'Humber Bridge'.

No session is complete without tea, coffee, cake and cheese
Although some other Furze-dwellers have a different diet

Thursday 11th February
Chainsaws can be petulant beasts and this afternoon Albert's self-starting model was having an off day. So it was back to the energy efficient, quiet, sustainable, low-cost pruning saw with minimal collateral damage to new shoots.
Like so much else the trick is to so saw accurately but gracefully, without straining the saw or your arm. This can be tricky when several 20ft potential flagpoles collapse over your head pinning you to the ground.
However, after a couple of hours there was a substantial pile of stems which should be sufficient for a working party on Friday to cut into more peastick bundles.
Approximately one third of the Furze has now been pollarded so providing the opportunity for more work over the weekend, depending on time and the weather.

Wednesday 10 Feb

Peastick production continued apace, with Trish and Margaret cutting up hazels from Martin K's latest work the day before. Thirteen large bundles and three small ones were carried off by the truck and the remains of the old blue rope used by the Forestry School were also cleared up. Margaret has 12 customers before we even start on Bunker's Hill, so the market is looking good.

A closer look

Friday 5th February

Before and after of Perry's work on the stream:


Thursday 4th February 
(feast of St.Eutychius - patron saint of springs & wells having been thrown down one)

Pea stick processing continues - with a break for coffee and the last crumbs of Christmas Cake:

Tricia on the Bench.

Tuesday 2nd February (Candlemas)

More thick hazel stems have been cut ready for processing into pea-sticks on Thursday and next week ; it is aimed to have a stock ready and waiting for later working parties. 

Below is the valuable work that Perry has started in clearing the stream. The nearby Spring is flowing but then blocked by fallen trees and debris in feeding the Humber . 

Monday 1st February (White rabbits)

The biggest work party of the year so far assembled in mild but breezy conditions to take up the baton where Martin left off two days earlier. Margaret, Anne, Douglas and Martin sliced the ends of his sawn-down hazel stems into peasticks and assembled 17 bundles. If we sell these to Bunker's Hill nursery at last year's price, that's a handy £76.50 and possibly more if we get a premium for the taller bundles (which so far number seven of the 17).

Perry meanwhile did brilliant work in the hinterland of the entrance and noticeboard, using his chainsaw to clear larger chunks of wood. The 'communal glade' may benefit from this in the form of log stools and benches. He's also adapted a fallen tree as a 'critter bridge' and stacked logs by the boundary for removal later in the year.  

The new Weaveley Furze teapot was much-admired and a nourishing snack of tea, Christmas cake, mince pies and cheese kept spirits merry. We had a superb siting of a weasel which snaked out from a pile of brush in a headlong manner, failing to see us until he (or she) was quite close. In a state of confusion on suddenly realising that we were there, he/she raised his head, showing his lovely white bib, before speeding back whence he had come.

Talking of food, on Saturday there was a mobile tea bar parked in the blocked-off layby opposite the layby where we park on the Banbury Road. Let's hope it reappears to sustain future expeditions to WF.

Saturday 30th January 

Sunny and warm out of the wind after a deluge yesterday and alleged storm coming tomorrow. Some wee beastie has dug under the hazel coppice gate which needs repairing with wire mesh.

A small oak planted last year and sheltered in its own micro-climate next to the meeting place has remarkably sent out its first leaf of this year. 

In the hazel coppice, work has begun taking out the original stems (now some 10 years old) which are now either the size of flag poles or misshapen spurs and so are diverting strength from the up and coming young whips. 

                                     Before & After

With limited time cutting the old stems, it was not possible to clear up. The cut stems need to be carried out of the copse, trimmed and bundled into pea sticks, bean poles or lengths. About one eighth of the copse has been cut and these quite roughly. There is a lot more to get on with by hand especially where it has been difficult to manoeuvre the chainsaw - Mr.Wainwright's Samurai Saw skills required.

Lots of cut stems for the Monday group to get on with. MK

Wednesday 20th January

Thick and icy frost meant walking over, rather than through the mud across the field in bright and welcome morning sunshine. Should have taken a pic but overladen with tools.
I took one of Albert's chainsaws and set about the wind-broken crab/cider apple tree next to the notice-board. There are enough spurs to ensure that it will grow well this coming season from the pollard but for the moment there is a clear view across to Shirley's barn.
There is also a large piece of Ash which could make a seat next to the stream and another to replace the rotting bench at the meeting place, but hands are required to lift it safely.
The 'map' of the furze, an original from Olivia, has been blown off the board and lost, so we could be thinking of a replacement.
A broken sycamore on the west side has been cut up as well as several overhanging blackthorns in Rack 1 where M&P have been working and also a large over-hanging hawthorn across the path at the end (it was painted with a large red 'X').
Because time is at a premium I tend to wield the chainsaw until it runs out of petrol. This means that there may appear to be greater mayhem and debris to clear up, but I hope to do so this coming weekend.
All hands always welcome and if sufficient, then large logs could be transformed into seats.
The mediterranean hoe (cypriot in fact from the 7 Sisters Rd in Tottenham) has been taken away for repairs - it was no match for the old man's beard.
No furry creatures in sight nor fowl but all doubtless keeping their heads down at the sound of the chainsaw and to keep warm. MK

Friday 15th January 2016

Four of us - Margaret, Penny and the two Martins - had our faith in the weather gods justified when uninterrupted sunshine took the edge off a very chilly morning and we spent a useful hour-and-a-half clearing Rack 1 and rooting Old Man's Beard out of the area on the left as you turn into the wood from the path along the edge of the field.

Only Rack 2 of the main racks now remains to be cleared, although there is work to be done on the side ones and the ones at the top of the wood. Once cleared, they will be kept down by Martin the Mower.

Work on hazel poles and sticks will start within the month and dates are being sorted and will be posted here. It's going to be an interesting year for the hazels; the warm weather after Christmas has brought the males out early - lovely catkins everywhere - but the little red female flowers have yet to emerge. So it may be austere on the propagation front.

Now for some pics of the latest antics/work:

Rack 1 before work started. A small inroad had been made but beyond lay blackthorn whips and Old Man's Beard
Getting there: a distant Penny hacks her way through
Tra-la! Martin demonstrating how to stand when singing 18th century lieder in Rack 1
And it's done. The rack clear from path to path
Now here's the heroic team
And here's the Christmas cake and cheese which sustained them

Homeward bound. If you are visiting the furze at the moment via the Banbury Road layby, bring wellies (or skates).

Saturday 2nd January 2016
The aggressive winds of this past week have snapped off two trees, the sour apple next to the notice board (it was due for trimming) and a youngish sycamore on the west boundary.  There is also an amount of debris from fallen branches and uprooted elders etc. throughout the wood which needs clearing up.  Plans are afoot to root out some of the Old Man's Beard with a mini-digger. If walking to the Furze from the Banbury Rd wear waders as the Humber is flooding the neck or isthmus between the fields. 
 A young sycamore snapped off by the gales; it might respond well to pollarding.

 A sour apple next to the notice board,  possibly an old cider apple rather than a crab,  has the top broken off by the wind. It was due for pruning. 
The flooding neck connecting the footpath from the Banbury Rd to the WF.
The general mess across and between racks needs clearing up - for those stuffed with Xmas pud who could do with some fresh air! 

Sunday 27th December
A little light work with Olivia tidying up rack no.4; some pheasants around (but maybe not after tomorrow Boxing Day) and fungi thriving in the mild dampness. 
Any ideas on this, found in newly shriven rack 7 where a hawthorn was felled? Presumably a Brittle Gill probably the common yellow but could be the uncommon 'gracillima'. Like most of the other fungi in the WF, especially the Jew's Ear, fairly tasteless. 

Friday, 25th December:  

Here is a Knopsian

diagram for pulling

out Old Man's Beard.

Merry Christmas all!

Wednesday, 16th December

Margaret and Tricia continued with pulling on the Old Man's Beard by the Great Holly and next to the Ancient Apples near the Hazel , much impressed with the progress on Rack 7. Continued with chainsaw-ing the fallen Giant Ash, aided by Perdiswell Comforts. Martin K
Notes to below:
The politically incorrect funghi (Auricularia auricula-judae) that you picture are common on the elder. They are quite edible if disguised with some butter and herbs. 
The fungi growth like a hard lump looks a bit like a ‘King Alfred’s Cake’ and I am not sure of its name; I wish it was a Hoof fungus because that is fairly rare and the insides excellent for kindling. 
The berries are I assume from a climber but I’ve never worked out which , maybe a nightshade.  
The calcified slug is a picture of contentment! Martin K 


I have just got back from a happy time in Rack 7 (counting from the main glade) but also - I noticed for the first time - helpfully labelled under the Knopsian System; see photo left. The rack was very tangly so I swished away at infant blackthorn, nettles and brambles. I also tried to clear away the mini-canopy which looked as if it might have been taking light away from the specially planted saplings in their plastic sleeves.

Here below is a contrast between the rack when I arrived and the scene when I rambled off back to the Banbury Road. I have added a tasteful seasonal twist, courtesy of the Great Holly.


This means that within the first loop formed by the paths from the main glade, Racks 3-8 are now clear, at least to my way of thinking, but 1 and 2 need work, though not too strenuous. I put all my debris in the tangles between the racks. I wasn't sure whether to block the end to annoy deer etc, but decided not to. There's plenty of debris around, if anyone wants to do that.

Finally, here are some pics of velvety fungi, seasonal berries and something curious - a poo, a pellet, a mummified larva? - on Joan's bench.

MONDAY 14th DECEMBER:  Martin W will be pursuing his vendetta against scrub in the racks from 11am 'til about 1pm. Coffee available, and gingerbread cake if P and I haven't eaten it over the weekend.

Priorities: Pulling the Old Man's Beard, Clearance of blackthorn in Racks (and elsewhere), where possible stack offcuts to make accommodation for furry fauna. 


Young Hazel already budding:

 Ash cut so far stacked up for use in 2017:


Some impression made today on the large Ash fallen across the stream and over the notice board. In cutting through to make it safe, disease of the core was clear. A lot more work to be done including the main trunk - lovely pink/white timber where it is sound, suitable for carving? Brilliant work done on the racks last week by elves - v. impressive. Martin K

Friday 4 December: 


Friday 4 December: Penny, Martin W, Douglas and David spent a happy morning clearing racks 5 and 6 (numbering from the main elven glade). This mostly involved nipping out invasive blackthorn and putting the debris into the tangly divisions between racks. Coffee and ginger cake were part of the deal and we met very nice friends from Tackley - granny, mum and small son - who were out for a walk on a lovely fresh, sunny morning.  That meeting is shown in the picture above and here are some workforce snaps, below, plus an elven seat on the left into which, sadly, none of us could fit.

Rack 5, before...

Typical elves
And the one who took the pic
There she is again in the distance, having
 a break after we'd cleared Rack 5

Artistic afterthought: Lichen and nicely detailed
metalwork on the Banbury Road gate

Working party to clear scrub from tree racks - 11am, Friday 4th December. All welcome. 

Sunday 29th November: Cleared rest of fallen hawthorn ready for splitting and storing - should be burnable in 2017. Dead cherry sapling had infestation of what looks on the surface like a woodworm. Can anyone identify?

 Squirrel drey at top of neighbouring blackthorn:

Thursday 26th November: Clearing fallen and damaged trees.

Towards the north end of the furze, in ferret territory, a mature hawthorn blown down by recent gales  finished off a struggling cherry (on the right) and damaged a young ash (cf on the left) which has now been pollarded. 

In this picture the straggling blackthorn in the centre threatens the oak sapling in the foreground and the ash on the left. It also provides a launch pad for bark loving squirrels and so needs to be partially taken out. If anyone is free this weekend for clearance work not only in this area but also of the invasive Old Man's Beard , please contact (07818-032233).  26/11/15


  1. Brilliant work M! Penny and I are hoping to be up there next week - sorry can't manage this weekend cos of various family dos.

    Keep hacking! (which, for anyone else stumbling across this, is great fun and good for body and soul)


  2. 'Interesting' self portrait as sword-wielding indiscriminate slasher. Your viking forbears perhaps, though I assumed Martin W that you were makers of hay-wains.

  3. Any time you require a wain, I can provide one. Delivery: two years (Premium Express: 18 months)