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Field Of Dreams

1st of May 2014

My 500+ trees are all planted and have just been nicely rained in. All they have to do now is grow! I have left a wide maintenance track curving through the middle which I hope will, in time, become a haven for butterflies. I have tried to make it catch the sun for most of the day and planted 10 walnuts and some of the hazels on its borders. The walnut way, or just a nutters path? The planting took a bit longer than I had hoped, just over a week, but some of the hazels and the limes had such good roots that they needed a proper hole, not just a slit trench. I don’t think I would want to do it for a living and I wouldn’t earn much on piece work that’s for sure, but I am glad I did it myself; they feel like my trees now. All of the trees have to be protected from the muntjac so my field of dreams looks like a field of plastic tubes right now, but Rome wasn’t built in a day!

The day before the trees arrived I went on a one day Woodland Archaeology course in a wood near Speen. It was very interesting, we learnt about the sawpits that are so common in the Chiltern woods and the charcoal platforms that are often found nearby, not to mention the old quarries where chalk, flint, sand and clay were taken out. Scatterdells Lane and Scatterdells Wood get their names from these so as soon as my planting was done I ‘took the afternoon off’ and went to the woods. There are more than a dozen sawpits in Scatterdells and my bit, The Wings, where I found 2 possibly 3 charcoal platforms and of course the 5 big dells or quarries. The saw pits are the most interesting to me, as children we would play cowboys and Indians in them, trying to capture the big dell, whilst using the little dells for cover. I never dreamed that men had worked so hard in the little dells, sawing trees into boards close to where they had been felled. One man would have to be in the bottom of the pit getting covered in sawdust, the underdog, whilst the top dog would have balanced on the tree trunk as they pulled the big saw up and down. The ‘dogs’ were metal spikes used to keep the trunk in place.

I have always loved being in the woods; playing games, harvesting firewood or just quietly walking the dog and trying to imagine what it would have been like 100 years or more ago. I feel very privileged to own a part of history.
Wendy Bathurst

This page is edited by Tony

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