Monday, March 11, 2013

Signs of Life

Signs of life - moss sending up tentacles from the leaf litter in Fox Wood

A few days ago I returned to Fox Wood. It was a long journey to get there and I had to pass through six different countries - seven if you count Cornwall as its own land, and plenty do. 


On the way I almost froze - indeed the car and the trailer, which was carrying half of our worldly possessions, got caught in a blizzard in Germany and I had to spend the night shivering in the back. Luckily I had brought a nice warm duvet , some blankets, and a few drams of Irish whiskey. It wasn't so bad.

When I finally got to Cornwall it was warmer - spring was on the way. Some trees had burst into blossom and many fields, including those surrounding Fox Wood, were yellow with early season daffodils.


Fox Wood itself was wet and misty. When I got there I felt like I was intruding and a group or rabbits bounded away at our approach (I was with my friend Kate), showing their white tails as they scattered.


I investigated the forest further. On my last visit I hadn't been to all corners of the land, but this time I did, finding a few gnarled, ent-like oaks. They seemed to me like guardians of the wood. I look forward to getting to know them a bit better.

Signs of new life were everywhere. Most of the trees were coming into bud, whereas others had been green all winter.

I walked around the land, chatting with Kate, who seemed to be able to identify far more of the plants than me! Bluebells were pushing their way up through the earth beneath our feet, although I didn't take any pictures yet - that will have to wait for when spring really arrives. I have a feeling it is going to be pretty spectacular given the number that were poking their green leaves up through the forest floor.


I discovered a rusting old barbed-wire fence running through the wood. What was the purpose of that?



Everywhere was damp and spongy and dripping with promise. A woodpecker suddenly fluttered away from of us, its brown wings beating, although it was too quick for my camera.


I looked at the field where I am to plant the food forest and build some kind of dwelling. It looked pretty big - bigger than the last time I looked at it. Perhaps it had grown during my absence?


There is an interesting way in and out of the field, a very common feature in Britain's stony places - the rock stile.


All too soon it was time to leave. I had planned to camp out in Fox Wood, but fate had other plans - a rotten cold had got to me and I didn't want to make it any worse by sleeping in this damp, soggy, misty place. Not this time.


Instead I retreated to Penzance and popped into the Turk's Head, a 700-year-old pub, for a pint of Doom Bar ale and a Cornish pasty. It wasn't bad at all.


  1. Based on my experience, there is a really good chance that when that fence was new, there wasn't woods there, at least on one side.

    1. I think you are right, John. Much of the woodland, apart from the oaks, does not seem to be much more than about 30 years old. It was probably a farmer's field circa 1980.

  2. By the looks of those anciently shaped trees in Fox Wood...I want to be there.

    That place looks magical man. A real ripple in time.

    I only hope that the Foxstead remotely resembles that degree of nature.

    1. It does have a magical feel about it. I was very happy when I saw the oaks.

      So, when can we expect some information about the Foxstead?

  3. first location fell through due to no slaughtering allowed and a nazi vegetarian land owner who's mission in life it is to turn all of us spiritual savages into vegetarians.

    So we are looking to purchase some land as a group now. We're workin' on it but no idea on a time line right now.

  4. We are at a similar latitude, but it wasn't above freezing all day here, it won't be tomorrow, and there's a foot of snow on the ground. :( Asparagus will be up in 4-5 weeks though. :)

    Looks great. A very magical foundation. In three years I bet it will be truly enchanted.

    1. Yes, it's damned freezing back here in Denmark (temporarily until the big move tomorrow). All the locks had frozen on my trailer and I had to heat them with a lighter to melt the ice inside them.

      I'm looking forward to pseudo-tropical Cornwall, where people have banana trees in their gardens and palm trees are all over the place (really!) ... as long as the Gulf Stream holds out.

  5. Really nice to see your land. I love the green. I'm jealous. Here where I live, Perth, Ontario, (not to far south of Algonquin Park), winter is still hanging on tightly, as it does. My wife and I are making a similar journey, albeit with heavier doses of winter. We purchased an old farm a few years back and our process is slowly taking place. I look forward to vicariously following your journey over there. It is satisfying and exciting, building a dream and learning, learning, learning. One of our more enjoyable experiences so far is the sense of community that thrives so much differently in a rural setting versus you know what. I wish you and family all the best in your transition, and in the times to come. May the land love you as much as you love the land.

    1. Hi Rob - I know Algonquin Park. My parents had spoken so much of it (they lived in Ontario for years before I was born) so I went there when I was 21. I hired a kayak and went camping on my own - a magical experience!

      Thanks for your warm comments - I wish you the same.

  6. Those trees made my heart skip a beat.

    I shall wave to you from across the Celtic Sea where we´re going to be trying to set up our own refuge in Galicia.

    Thank you so much for your writing and inspiration during these worrisome times. It´s so easy to let fear overwhelm hope.

  7. It does look magical.

    Keep writing, please. You're giving inspiration and hope to more people than you know.