Tuesday, 26 November 2013


Is that woodland on fire!? Nope, its just the leaf colours catching the light of the sun – November is the winning month for Autumn colour and right now they are absolutely superb.  Beech, Chestnut, Acer’s, Birch – all look like they are aflame with glowing embers and sparks of fire and I urge people to take a walk through our woodlands round Mottisfont or up Stockbridge Down and see the carpet of reds, oranges, yellows and gold that is currently cloaking the landscape.

Talking of stunning views, I took this sunset picture from the top of Stockbridge Down looking across to Danebury hillfort and the fiery sky took my breath away.
Ancient View - no wonder Iron Age people built their fort here, with a sight like this to look out on!

We have caught up on ourselves after the destruction of the storm and are now busy with the usual Autumn tasks; volunteers have commenced scrub clearance on Stockbridge Down and have made a fantastic start in the clearance of scrub around the Juniper trees – looking at what was done last year and so far this year, I think we should get all the Juniper tree’s freed from the scrub this winter which is excellent news – next stop, regeneration!

Tree survey season is upon us again – so if you see me plunging into hedgerows armed with a clipboard you know I am doing the annual tree inspections – luckily for us the storm came before hand, so we don’t need to go round and re-check all the newly snapped limbs.

Deadly Saviour...Geoff and chainsaw lurk in the scrub around the Juniper (front branch).

Taking a breather under a newly cleared Juniper tree

Our firewood processing work has increased with the arrival of the cold weather – people have rushed to their woodburners to heat the house and realised they need logs!  We sell fire wood, kindling and charcoal here at Mottisfont Abbey in bags and in bulk truckloads so if you ever want some home grown quality firewood then contact David.chase@nationaltrust.org.uk - he even offers delivery, hows that for service!

Our Wiltshire Horn flock are doing well, chomping their way through the winter grassland and taking great pleasure in hiding in the depths of the scrub where we can’t find them…until Tony and Peter carved a new path that winds through the upper reaches of the slope and reveals all the hidden grassy glades where the sheep are enjoying hiding out.
We now have a brilliant band of volunteer sheep lookers, one for each day of the week and some, who help us check the animals on a daily basis so we know that they are OK - these are mostly local people who are helping serve the needs of their common land by assisting with the grazing animals here.

I have made my last creations of the year using nature’s ample bounty – rosehip syrup and cider.  The cider (well its currently fermenting apple juice, but give it a few months) is at present bubbling away merrily under my table at home looking like disgusting turgid fizzy baby poo – but believe it or not, in a few months time it will be beautiful golden cider with a strong sting in its tail - its not for the faint hearted…

Lovely bubbly cider - no need to call the RSPCA, the dog is dozing, not drunk on cider fumes....

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