Saturday, February 9, 2013

A New Beginning


Welcome to my new blog, Tales From Fox Wood!

Fox Wood is a peaceful seven acre wood in the heart of deepest Cornwall. It's pretty hidden away, like a secret world, and it's hard to find even if you know where to look.

On this blog there will be lots of pictures, a few thoughts, but not too many words. I'm letting the pictures speak for themselves. I want lots of people to read my blog and hopefully be inspired - everyone's welcome.



So, welcome to my wood. It's in Cornwall, as I mentioned. Cornwall, in most people's minds, is famous for one thing: pirates!




But the truth is you won't find many pirates there these days. There are lots of surfers, and lots of down-to-earth people who are making their own quiet way in the face of economic meltdown.



In short - it's my kind of place! That's why we bought a wood there. Next month we will be moving to Cornwall from Denmark, where we live now. That's me, my wife Michelle, and our two daughters Jasmine and Sofia. They are very excited.



We won't be living in the wood - at least, not yet. My plan is to turn it into a working wood, with coppicing, charcoal making, wood turning and all the rest of it. 


First of all we'll be living in the town of Penzance, where the children will be going to school. Penzance is a medium-sized market town. We all feel right at home there and it has lots of shops like this one.



Fox Wood is a little distance away, not too far from this beach. I should be able to get there by bicycle, if need be. I could even walk.



It's not awfully far from the fishing village of Porthleven, so we should be able to get fresh fish when the boats come in.



And not far away is Land's End - the very tip of southern Britain. Would you believe me when I said there was a cat who sat at the very tip of Land's End and looked out across the sea towards America? I'm not joking!



Cornwall is surrounded by the ocean, which can sometimes be wild and dangerous. It's a place of old magic.



It's also a great place to just sit on a rock and look out to sea.



In the middle of Fox Wood there's a large field and I'm planning to turn this into a permaculture food forest - or forest garden. I want to work with nature, not against it. This is what a food forest looks like on paper.





So, as you can see, I have a lot of work to do. 

It's been a long time in the planning. I have had time to read a lot of books about what we are planning to do. This is just one bit of my bookshelf (the most interesting bit).



People think you have to be rich to do what we're doing, but you don't. The woodland itself cost about the same as a new family car.  

I like to get things that other people don't want or have thrown out. Today, for example, I found a nice double-glazed window in a dump. A lot of energy was used to make that window - energy that one day we won't have so readily available. One day it might be part of a house. Or greenhouse. 



I also picked up five wrought iron windows from some stable blocks that had been demolished. If nobody wants them, I'll have them. They are old - they don't make them like this any more.



So, as you can see, even though I am not even in the same country as my woodland yet, I am preparing for it. I am even growing trees in my flat.



Those are hawthorn cuttings, a horse chestnut tree and a small apple tree, all growing merrily in plastic bottles I found chucked in a hedge. One day, I hope, they'll be forming part of the rich tapestry of my woodland.

Thinking about the long road of energy descent we have ahead of us as global oil peaks and then declines isn't half as scary when you are doing something about making that ride less bumpy. I saw this installation in a window in Mousehole, says it all really ...


  1. All those pics remind me of Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series, which was a lot more interesting to me than Harry Potter. Excellent choice, excellent place to settle. Hopefully in the next year or two I can drop in and lend a hand. Blessings to you and your family,


    1. I've never heard of Susan Cooper so I'll now have to check her out!

      It would be great to have you come by - you'd be more than welcome!

    2. I think you and your kids would love the Dark is Rising series. I did, anyway. A primer of sorts, for the magic of Cornwall.

    3. Okay, my daughter (and me!) is now reading Susan Cooper's books. Thanks for the recommendation ... I think she made more of an impact over your side of the pond than mine, but her writing is wonderful.

  2. I've never been to England - er, the UK - but based on what I've read over the years (and now this blog) if I were ever to visit, the Cornwall peninsula would be where I'd choose to hang out. Congratulations on a Great Choice! And a wonderful new blog.

    1. Hi Martin. Thanks - yes, Cornwall is a great place to visit (and live, hopefully) - although it gets a bit crowded in the summer.

  3. Good luck Jason, I'll be following this blog with interest too. I spent many happy years of holidays during my youth in and around Penzance, Mousehole, StIves and Hayle, so it's fascinating to see you locating there after reading your other blog for some time. I have a half-formed idea of asking you to come and give a talk at the university where I work (Bath Spa) next year, as I run an Ecology and Philosophy group there, where I bring some students up to speed on Peak Oil, collapse, ecological collapse, transition etc., and I think they would get a lot from what you might have to say. Good wishes.

    1. Hi Paul - I too spent most summers as a kid in Cornwall - mostly around Padstow and St Ives.

      I'd love to come and give a talk. It's been a while since I did anything like that, so if you would like me to then please give me plenty of warning!

  4. You're an inspiration to me Jason. I hope to do the same thing on this side of the pond one day soon. Just gotta get the means.

    If I ever get a chance to visit, with a name like "Fox Wood," I should fit right in. You wouldn't even see me ;)

  5. Replies
    1. The inspiration came in fact from your own blog ... so thank you!

      I'm still remaining focused on my wordy blog at 22 Billion Energy Slaves, but there is something about the exposition of clear and detailed images, accompanied by short texts, that gets through to people a lot more than reams of text does.

  6. What great and wonderful idea !
    What power, what spirit !
    Simply awesome.

  7. I shall enjoy watching your woodland retreat! Sending cheers from over on Dartmoor where we're doing a similar thing, on wheels :)

    1. Thank you Rima! I'm honoured that you are reading and I love your artwork!

      Dartmoor - wow, what a place to live :-)

  8. The photo at the beginning is so evocative of spring and new beginnings ... seeing it in bleak February drew a sigh and a longing for spring, then a remembering that winter needs its time of pausing and gathering strength too. Thank you for the reminder of beauty and what needs to come before it.

    I will be following this blog too and taking pointers from you as a fellow blogger. It is great to have excellent writers like yourself to learn from! Plus I will be very interested to follow the evolution of your woodland (as we say on this side of the pond) and food forest. I am doing something along those lines and as time allows will be posting more on my blog on the food forest aspect of our acre.

    I have been reading the book Coppicing and Coppice Crafts by Rebecca Oaks and Edward Mills, which my husband gave me as a birthday gift. What struck me is that people on your side of the pond used coppice in the same way that the indigenous peoples on this side of the pond used fire to maintain woodlands. A similar response of the understory happens in the aftermath of fire as it does in the aftermath of coppicing. Fire was also rotated through areas as coppicing is because as the woodland grows back it goes through different stages and different products are harvested in those different stages. Since I live in an inner suburb it's not feasible to use fire on the wooded portion of my acre, so I am glad to learn that coppicing will have a similar though not identical effect.

    1. Hi Claire. Thank you ... and sorry to shatter the illusion but the picture was taken last October! Well, maybe I shouldn't have told you that ;-)

      I suppose the difference between coppicing and fire is that over here there was less land per inhabitant - plus, fire doesn't make so much sense unless you are at least semi-nomadic. Hard to get going, as well, due to ambient dampness.

      Still, the dampness is useful to me as there's little chance of a forest fire destroying my woodland!

  9. Some very inspirational photo's indeed Jason, I have Simon and Jasmine Dales "hobbit house". Set as my background on computer and it never fails to make me smile when i first see it each day.

    Good luck on your adventure in Cornwall, I will be eagerly following along here in Tasmania.

    I am quite jealous of (well for now in the middle of summer when bushfires are at the greatest risk to us) your damp woodland.
    Unfortunately my piece of paradise will always have to have bushfire management and awareness built into what we do.

    Please keep the photo's and your writing coming, I am sure they are appreciated by many people.

    1. Thanks, Stewie. Simon Dale's house seems to have an effect on people - about 50% light up and start looking all misty-eyed and the other 50% say "Urgh, who'd want to live in a mud burrow?"

      I got to know all about bushfires while living in Spain. Can't say I'm not happy not to have to worry about that kind of thing again ... it used to give me sleepless nights!

      Good luck with whatever you are doing with your piece of paradise!

  10. Thank you so much for offering your new website "Tales from Foxwood" to us. It is also great for children. My youngest daughter (13) can get very worried about the future, but after I showed her these pictures, she began to see some light. From now on, she will follow this website.
    As I commented earlier, we are also changing places, and have also chosen a remote peninsula as our new home base, Nova Scotia. It is the kind of place where a sign saying: Keep calm and carry on knitting" could be expected as well.
    I am curious to read about your key to this new life, the local building codes.

    1. Hi Jeannette - I'm very happy that those pictures allowed a bit of light to enter your daughter's view of the world. My view is and remains that things are going to get very bad in some quarters, but will actually be much better in others. Now is the time to choose whether you want to go with the good or the bad. There will always be beauty and light in the world whatever happens.

      Nova Scotia sounds very interesting - I do hope you write a blog about your experiences!

  11. I love Simon Dales house, it is really inspirational. My friend Carol and her son Sam build beautiful strawbale homes. (See and They have a strawbale eco-cottage and cabin that they built as holiday lets, and I love staying there. The deep windowsills make it feel like an old stone cottage, yet they have lovely warm bright rooms. Plus the cottage has a bookshelf full of natural building/ renewables/ permaculture/ forest garden books to read. The cabin has a compost loo, and I wasn't sure what my kids would make of it. But they both needed to go 2 or 3 times an hour, because it was such a novelty! I digress....

    I am very envious of your lovely woodland in Cornwall :)