I thought it was about time I updated our website and was surprised to find I was last here on April Fools Day 2018! Perhaps I haven’t been able to find anything good to say since then – the last couple of years do seem to have been a catalogue of disaster in so many ways. However, they have also been a reminder of how lucky many of us are to have been born when and where we were and that, whilst pandemics are new to us – tragedy and misery have long been commonplace for many other people. Here’s hoping that the current unhappy state of affairs improves soon and that we all take with us into the future new ideas and ways of being that will help to improve the chances for the earth and her inhabitants as we go forward.
So how has the pandemic affected life in Yomer Wood? Well I think its non human inhabitants reveled in the chance to have free rein during the first Lockdown. A Mallard was successful in hatching 12 ducklings on the pond – the first time we have known one to hatch and keep her ducklings – and then proceeded to commute between our pond and two others in the neighbourhood via the main Lee road without incident due to the lack of traffic. There was an amusing battle of proprietorship of said mallard amongst several pond owners in the village – ourselves included – but as she hatched the brood on our pond, I think we can safely claim her as our own.
With the children at home and time on our hands, we pressed the kids into service helping us plant apple trees. We had a space where we had cleared a number of larch trees and wanted to replace them with some native trees. Through a group called Orchards live https://www.orchardslive.org.uk which exists to promote and restore orchards of traditional Devon apples, I had learnt how to graft apple scions onto rootstock the previous February and had a dozen standard trees ready to plant. Each tree required the children to dig post holes so we could cage each tree in its own personal deer proof Alcatraz. The trees did well last summer and we are looking forward to this years blossom display. There are a number of sloe and damson trees in the hedgerow in this area of the woods and we also erected a poly tunnel we had been given and had a summer self-sufficient in tomatoes. So this part of the woods is beginning to morph into our kitchen garden. Like so many people this year, we discovered the joy of growing our own as, for once, we actually had the time to weed and water and often just sit and inhale the scent of tomatoes and basil. This years seeds are burning a hole in my palm as I wait for the right day to start planting.
When lockdown lifted we had a busy summer with visitors quickly booking out the whole site in bubbles, keen to at last get away, but wanting to remain safely socially distanced. Yomer was perfect for this. As ever, our guests were brilliant – self sufficient, capable and very happy with the minimal facilities but the maximum peace that Yomer offers. Our campers always leave the site as they find it, generally the only evidence that there has been someone around is a few extra empties in the recycling bin. One group stood out this year – two young families with toddlers who had experienced a week of torrential rain. On their last day I cowered as they approached me, expecting to have to explain the unpredictable Devon climate, but they told me they’d had a brilliant time and asked to stay an extra night!
So we wrapped up the season in October 2020, and Angus has spent a winter of chopping, bagging and selling wood and managing the pigs and chickens that are busy rooting and scratching up the land. It is exceptionally muddy up there at the moment and as I look out now, the rain continues to fall incessantly. Last spring – and indeed most of the summer – was so warm and dry and we are looking forward to more of that in the hopefully not too distant future. We are now waiting to see when we can welcome guests for 2021. If you think you might like to bring a group to Yomer, get in touch. I’m happy to take provisional bookings whilst we wait to find out what we can and can’t do safely.
Meanwhile, here’s hoping for better times ahead for us and the other species we share this planet with.
Spaces are still available on another of our kids’ workshops over Easter – this time with artist Clare Russell.
Children 7 to 14 are wanted to join us on Friday April 6th to sketch, paint and weave responses to the spring primroses. Wear wellies and warm clothes and bring a packed lunch and we shall produce some lovely artworks to take home!
So we had lots more workshops in 2017. At Easter, Sea Green school worked with us to capture the glories of the spring primroses in prints and paintings and inspired by Andy Goldsworthy, we had a go at building a person sized nest as well as some little ones to take home full of easter eggs.
Then inspired by the bluebells that followed the primroses, we had both a childrens and an adults felt making workshop with Clare Russell. All the results were beautiful and it was loads of fun.
The grown ups:
In the summer, as it warmed up, Kim and Sea Green school worked with us and the kids to build stick people and rafts and float them on the pond. A few of the kids took the opportunity to cool off in the pond too.
And Now to 2018!
Well at Easter we have two childrens music workshops led by musician and teacher Joe Steer on 3rd and 10th April – see below – and another Primrose inspired Art workshop with artist Clare Russell on Friday 6th April.
Can’t wait – get in touch if you fancy joining us.
Another fab summer in Yomer Wood with some lovely campers enjoying peace and tranquility amongst the trees whilst the North Devon coast laboured under the weight of a summer onslaught of visitors. Lee remains a relatively calm spot in the summer months by virtue of its single track lane from the bay towards Mortehoe which deters many from driving in one end and out the other. The benefit of free parking at the seafront, a pub and a beachside cafe and safe swimming, make it a great option when the Bank Holiday sun comes out and every 4 wheeled vehicle within a 100 mile radius seems bent on getting to the beach! Our two large groups of Bank Holiday campers certainly enjoyed themselves, camped within walking distance of all these treats and each with 5 acres to themselves!
Fun with the kids!
We had two fab kids workshops in August with Kim from SeaGreen school. We made stick people to sit on stick rafts and went to float them on the pond. There were some brilliant designs and very few sinkings. Some of the boys generously took it upon themselves to help retrieve the boats by getting in the pond! See some more lovely pics on our Arts and Crafts page and watch out for Autumn workshops to be announced soon!
So, hot on the success of the willow fish we made in our Awesome Autumn Crafts kids workshop, we decided to have a go at Christmas wreath making.
The children all made a willow wreath and then we wandered about the woods armed with secateurs, collecting cones, ivy, pine branches, holly and the like to decorate them with.
Once finished the kids went on to create their own range of natural decorations all starting with a slice of wood and involving paint and glitter! Hot chocolate, clever, creative kids and once again, beautiful weather, made for a great day. Looking forward to more of the same in 2017 – keep an eye on the Arts and Crafts page for details!
What an amazing autumn! I think I often miss most of its glories as I’m either hiding inside from the rain and cold or peering out of the windscreen of a steamy car watching the wipers slosh the wet away. This year, blessed with so many dry, warm days, I’ve actually seen the leaves falling gently to earth and have enjoyed walking over multicoloured carpets of crisp leaves in the woods.
It has been stunning and inspired us to have another youngsters art workshop where we used the beautiful colours of autumn to create some lovely pictures and the harvests of pine cones, acorns and conkers to make all sorts of peculiar things!
It was really good fun and loathe to be beaten off by the threat of less clement weather to come, we are going to squeeze one more kids workshop in before Christmas where we will make willow wreaths and tree decorations amongst other things.
This morning, the kids and I had a little practise run using more of those beautiful leaves and some of the Spindle tree fruit from the woods, which is so pretty. We were all rather pleased with the results and are looking forward to making them with the kids around the campfire!
Kim Smith Seaschool leader and bushcraft boff is offering children’s and family activities in Yomerwood and down in the rock pools of Lee throughout the summer holidays – please see her website http://www.seagreen-Ilfracombe.co.uk for more details.
Really excited to announce our first Spring time workshop on Wednesday 6th April 2016 for children aged from 7 to 12. Talented Bristol musician and teacher Alastair Brown has a fun packed day in the woods planned. Children can expect to collaborate on a composition recording the natural sounds of the woodland, make musical instruments from what they find around them, and compose music and lyrics for a group song amongst plenty of other activities. At the end of the day, parents will be invited to a mini performance!
No musical experience is necessary, but children are welcome to bring instruments if they would like to. Click on the link below and check our Arts and Crafts page for further details- And reserve places quickly!
So, as the snowdrops display cheerfully, despite the near constant downpours, we are looking forward to the spring and onwards to another great summer like 2015. If you’re reading this outside North Devon, don’t worry, we weren’t in a tropical climate bubble that you missed out on last summer, the weather was just as rubbish here, but despite that, it was a great summer in Yomer Woods because we welcomed a surprising number of wild camping guests and they were all so lovely!
I wasn’t sure what the appetite for no frills camping would be, but it seems that it is healthy and growing. Clearly, lots of people want nothing more than some space of their own to build a fire and relax far from the everyday and the crowds. Everyone so far has been delighted with their time in the woods and we’re looking forward to seeing many of them again as well as meeting lots of new visitors this year. In fact, we’ve already had our first two visitors this year who spent 3 damp January nights in hammocks suspended between the trees and left smiling! For now though, whilst campers are welcome, it’s probably still a bit parky for all but the most hardy.
It’s been a busy winter for one man and his chainsaw as the softwoods have been thinned and wood piles stacked. Now, as it hopefully gets a bit drier, there is some work to be done on the rides and a few further clearings to be created before the end of spring.
Our first 2016 workshops are in the planning for late spring. On 6th and 7th April there will be two woodland music events for children, hosted by brilliant musician, teacher and friend, Alistair Brown. Then, hot on the heels of the snowdrops, the bluebells are already poking their heads up and we will be repeating last years popular Bluebell Arts workshop doing something bluebell inspired in late April – exact dates to be determined by the bluebells! Please keep an eye out for further details.
So, as I sit typing this in bed on what had started as an ok day – following the torrential downpours of yesterday -but which is now, hammering hailstones on my roof, I hope the snowdrops’ optimism isn’t misplaced and that winter really is on the back-foot and we can all look forward to drier and sunnier times ahead.