Sunday, January 30, 2011


I was at the wood yard the other day 'helping' to prep wood for the wood burner. I was snapping bits of wood into kindling by kicking them in half, when I looked down at my mud-caked, sawdust-embellished Caterpillar boots and mucky coat and thought, 'Hm. They don't tell you about this when you buy a wood burner'.

They don't tell you about the filthy boot of the car, the sawdusty clothes you went out clean in, sawing in the cold, the endless dusting. They don't tell you about the fact that yes, you do have to keep getting up every half hour to put more wood on - or it'll go out and you'll have no hot water or heating.

No. What people envisage when you say 'wood burning stove' is a romantic, whimsical picture of an immaculate range in a country kitchen with three perfect logs piled up in some woven basket. There'll be a cat sleeping nearby and a picture-perfect cake fresh from the oven. Now you'll frequently see cakes emerging from my oven (if you read my blogs you'll already be painfully aware of this) - but the reality is more like four stacked old apple crates heaving with wobbly, mucky freshly-sawn wood, burnt splintery fingers and a permanently dusty floor.


It's wonderful. It honestly is. Taking some of the wood out of the car ready for burning the other day, we noticed these magnificent textures. I've recorded this wood as I collect textures for use in illustrations, but also because this is the magic stuff. This heats the studio (built it, in fact), makes the water hot, keeps us clean, cooks the dinners and dries the washing. It's amazing. Because of that, I don't care if I have to dust every day of my life till I leave here in a box made of the stuff myself. They're accompanied, incidentally, by an equally mesmerising smell - fresh-cut wood is different depending which tree it came from, but is always magical. In these shots you can see the hundreds of rings of its life, its knot root, its curves and weaves as it grew and formed over time.

Our wood is rescued from demolished buildings, which would otherwise be destined for pointless bonfires or skips. The trees from which these particular pieces come are hundreds of years old - they might have seen kings deposed, queens crowned, wars fought and won, been home to birds and sheltered wildlife. Our present government wishes to sell around 350,000 hectares of our Forestry Commission-run forests to the highest-bidding private companies, paving the way for 'golf courses, adventure sites and commercial logging operations throughout Britain.' No thank you.

The point is, the trees don't belong to the government. They don't belong to me or you. They do belong to everyone, including those not yet here to see them; after all, to quote an ancient American-Indian saying: 'We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children'. Once sold, the forests are gone forever. I don't want more golf courses. The only 'adventure sites' I want are the ones nature's already provided. I want trees. What kind of bald-earth nightmare vision could their destruction create?

Read about the government's plans in more detail:

Sign the petition against this motion:

Read about the government's plans in more detail:

Sign the petition against this motion:

Additional linkage:

Decide for yourself:

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