Perfect Glamping Weather
Wow! What a difference since our last newsletter, which went out at the end of the storms in February.
Without wanting to tempt fate, the recent months have been simply perfect here in the woods with plenty of warm sunshine and a gentle breeze through the trees. This is perfect glamping weather and ideal for snoozing in your hammock, cool drink to hand, with just the noises of woodland wildlife for accompaniment.
A perfect get away from the 'real world' it may be, but we don't rest on our laurels. Behind the scenes we are always working to make things better, not least in response to the lovely write-ups and feedback that we get in the visitors' book in the field kitchen. And of course nature does its bit to keep things looking good too. While the bluebells and wild garlic are long gone, the Gunnera is now massive and oversized foxgloves abound along the woodland paths and boardwalks.
Spoon Carving And More
While there have been lots of chilled-out woodland glampers snoozing in their yurts, tents, tipi and Shepherd's Hut, there has been plenty going on in the Woodland Workshops too. This year has seen more green wood craft courses being booked than ever before. Adam's spoon carving courses are proving particularly popular which I think is testament to the endless hours of work he's put in during his spare time to hone his already considerable skills in this wonderfully accessible and rewarding area of green wood craft.
Among the many guests, we particularly enjoyed teaching one of our honeymoon couples how to carve a pair of spatulas that they will no doubt enjoy using for the rest of their lives - despite the ongoing discussions on whose was best ... It was also great to see our regular course attendee Martin C return with some friends to stay and make some lovely rustic stools to celebrate his 60th Birthday.
Talking Of Friends
Talking of friends, and relatives, and work colleagues - Crafty Camping makes a great venue for group bookings - be it a birthday celebration, company outing or simply a group of friends getting together for a relaxing break with a difference. Add in a course too if that appeals. The one thing to bear in mind is that if you have a specific date in mind then do please book it up as early as you can. We are already taking bookings for 2015 and once they are gone they are gone. Last week one couple booked up for their honeymoon next year - very wise for occasions that can't be moved!
Timber Harvesting With A View
Now that the trees are well and truly in leaf and birds are nesting everywhere (including in the field kitchen and a couple of the tree showers) our timber harvesting for course materials has stopped for the season. We only fell trees that are being thinned within a woodland as part of a long term woodland management programme. One of the highlights of this year's raw material collection was in a small sycamore plantation above Golden Cap, high up above the cliffs here on the Jurassic Coast. Driving the Land Rover and trailer full of sycamore back over the top of Golden Cap looking out to sea was certainly one of those moments when we count our lucky stars to be working and living in such a special part of the world.
Walls And Ceilings
Other projects in the woods over recent months have included re-building the log walls around our parachute shelters. I'm sure there is something deeply satisfying about a well built log wall, but it might be just me that feels that way! Either way, we can now lower our parachute ceiling so that it sits just above the walls, hence making a very cosy space in which to work. It seems difficult to imagine as I sit here on another gorgeously warm day, but I am sure when the snow comes in the winter we'll be very grateful for having this one under our belt.
Whilst rebuilding these workshop spaces we came across some very old bowl carving course demonstration bowls that had somehow been left out and forgotten about. I have to say I think they look rather good with their moss and semi-decaying patina - a touch Andy Goldsworthy perhaps. They now have pride of place sitting on the new log walls.
Portable Parachute Shelter
We do sometimes get out of the woods and even out of Dorset ... A couple of weeks ago I headed off to The Glastonbury Festival with our new, prototype, portable version of the Woodland Workshop parachute shelter. Crafty Camping on the road may well be the next thing. I have designed a lightweight, demountable rig based on our workshop shelters that can now be set up anywhere, offering shelter from the sun or rain and featuring a large central fire pit and shiny new flue.
This year we were based in the Rabbit Hole in The Park at Glastonbury, where our parachute shelter formed the centrepiece of the backstage VIP area. This meant that Boo were lucky enough to have a very memorable few days enjoying some great music and all that Glastonbury has to offer. A big thank you to Sean, Hamish, Posh and Isla for inviting us to put up what became known as 'Hot Club' during the festival, and we are really looking forward to joining the crew and other new furry friends again next year.
We were delighted with the reception that our new structure received - a very successful first outing by any standards going by the enquiries from other festivals and party organisers since. There is a bit more R&D to do following the lessons learned at Glastonbury but the plan is to be renting them out for other events early next year. If you would like to know about prices and timing for this new venture, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back In The Woods
After that trip away, the peace and tranquillity of the woods was particularly welcome. You don't have to take our word for it though - we've been delighted with some very positive press coverage lately.
We owe a massive thank you to Natalie for a great piece in the Weekend Telegraph -
- and thank you, too, to The Times for naming us the 'Number 1 Reason To Visit Dorset' - that can't be bad!
Joining us soon will be the winners of both the River Cottage and the Dorset Cereals competitions that we ran recently - congratulations to both, and I look forward to welcoming you here in the woods.
By the way, we always announce any competitions on our Facebook page and on Twitter, so if that's your thing then do please keep an eye on these:
If you're not a competition winner, you can of course join us here in the woods - but please do book soon. Bookings have been quite simply amazing so far this year and now that we are into high season we are getting close to capacity. As always, book quickly to avoid disappointment because once we are full that's it for another year!
I think it's time to head out of the office now in order to make the most of it while the sun shines. I hope that you can come and join us here soon, whether for a craft course, a luxury glamping break, or both.
Guy and the team