Following on from the main event, young families from the surrounding area came together at Neroche forest to soak up the weekend sun and enjoy the many activities on offer.
Forest School leader Arainn delivered a highly creative workshop for the children which went down a storm. Whilst the original idea was to build sailing boats out of recycled wool and small branches, the kids had other ideas and dream catchers were made instead.
Later on in the day, visitors were taken by David West of the Forestry Commission on a little adventure to see the Neroche Scheme’s own herd of Longhorn cattle. A sense of adrenalin seemed to pass through the group as the cattle became less timid toward our presence and started munching through the dense bramble around us.
Throughout the day volunteers were on hand to offer people a chance to brush up on some traditional woodworking. Thanks to Tim’s enthusiasm to share his skills, the lathes hardly stopped spinning and by the early evening the site was scattered with chair legs.
Saturday’s visitors to Neroche will hopefully have gained a real taste for the spirit of the event, though evidently it wasn’t just humans that took an interest in proceedings.
Throughout the conference delegates and volunteers have been able to visit the artists in residence, Michael Fairfax and Gordon Field to create artworks to take away or present as an offering to the ceremonial fire at the end of the event. The opportunity to sit and whittle hazel while chatting (whittling) away made this a light hearted networking hub.
Michael would take each whittler into the wood to select a piece of hazel for their artwork. He got them to reveal and heighten the healed wounds of the hazel. Gordon was letting people tie and decorate found objects as potential offerings. As almost everyone wished to whittle, Gordon concentrated on constructing the sculpture for the ceremonial sculpture.
Whittling is very therapeutic, those who are trying it for the first time were keen to learn to carve safely so they can whittle away the hours. As well as creating the fire structure Gordon with the help of Neroche Conservation Volunteers cleared some of the ash and hazel beneath two of the veteran trees who were not happy with all the youngsters below them. The energy fields of these trees were soon moved out into the wood creating certain very intense emotional experiences for a few of their unsuspecting visitors.