Saturday, 20 June 2009

In February, in the snow, I did a week long course in teaching Forest School. Have a look here if you want to know more! I had a great time on the course and was looking forward to starting to teach in this way. However, I did not account for the kind of delays I have no control over. Why? Because I think I must actually be an optimist and did not consider setbacks. I still have not started to teach Forest School but I am nearly there and will be starting the week after next. I think.
Anyway, this Thursday and Friday was the follow up skills days where we went to the woods in Kent and made food, cooked it on open fires, practised our tool use, knots and lashings, building shelters and other skills. It is lovely because everyone is very enthusiastic, and really wants to be there. Sadly this is not the case in many things I go to. This post has lots of pictures so I will stop waffling!The place where we did this training is a school journey centre in Kent and the children sometimes stay in these! Aren't they beautiful? Clearing up yesterday. Bye bye woods!
My group working hard on our shelter while I swanned off to take photos! I did do some good lashing though! We also got taught to do 'brashing' which is basically taking off the small branches of the tree you have just cut down (strangely satisfying) with a tool called a billhook. Quite a scary tool, but not if used properly. Needless to say, they had not even heard of a billhook in B and Q, let alone were able to supply one! The man said to me, "What is this billhook?" I tried to explain and he just looked at me sympathetically before going back to his conversation with his friend.
Trees are the funniest things.On Thursday our task was to cook for each other on an open fire we had made. In February we had arranged our menus but this all seemed very far away. Everyone remembered their ingredients though and off we went. Course one was French onion soup cooked by Becky, Suzanne, Barbara and Nicola. Mmmm! It was delicious!
Course two was not this slug.We found him living peacefully under a log and got him out to have a look. Quite beautiful really.
Course two was my group's. We made a vegetable tagine and cous cous. I take no credit for masterminding it-we had two great cooks in the group, but I did cut a lot of onions!
Course three was pears in red wine, cooked on this huge fire once it had died down a little!
It made me laugh when I saw June from the pudding group waving around her empty bottle! Below are the pears-the sauce was like mulled wine. We were also treated to bananas with chocolate which had been cooked in foil. It was all so tasty! A three course meal cooked in the woods!On the second day we could make things as we liked using the skills we had learned. I just made some stakes for my blue rope barrier but other people were more inventive.A woodland xylophone. A ladder for a squirrel. My stakes. Can you see the billhook in its little leather pouch? The most trouble I had with it was undoing the very strong poppers.
One of our shelters from Thursday. This is a Kelly kettle. It is hollow in the middle and you build a little fire at the bottom. The water is in the hollow walls of the cylinder. Once you get your fire going it is quite quick. Also very satisfying-to make your own hot water! Coffee made with the water!
Last but not least, this tree is two hundred years old. It is a beech. It is cordoned off to stop people trampling all over the roots. It has dignity I thought. Apparently if you put a stethoscope to a tree you can hear the sap rising. I don't know if this is just at certain times but the fact you can hear anything amazes me! I must try it, when I get hold of a stethoscope.


Sonia ;) said...


Oh I wish I was there..Looks like so much fun...I so love your posts and pictures.

Sonia ;)

Renee said...

Sarah I love this and it looks fun, so fun.

If I had to make something; oh my God. I would never ever be able too.

Love Renee xoxo

Anonymous said...


Those pictures are fantastic! It looks like you all really enjoyed yourselves. And that food... I never could have imagined all of that could have been made outdoors. I have not heard that about the stethoscope and sap. I have one and I may have to try it!

kendalee said...

This looks like a LOT of fun!

Anonymous said...

It looks like so much fun at the Forest School! Hope you manage to get hold of a billhook of your own!

That Beech is stunning. I love old trees. The Dorset Wildlife Trust (who I work for) are going to publish a book soon about the ancient trees of Dorset, it's fascinating how much history some of them have.

Good luch with teaching forest school yourself!