Deep mid winter greetings to you from all at Windsor Hill Wood. We have had some beautiful sun filled days, though much fewer recently, and even then, as you can see, most of the leaves on the trees have gone.
As the days have grown shorter and colder; as Covid has continued to mutate, we all need to continue to hope. And to be grateful, even in circumstances which are beyond our control.
We are indeed very grateful for the opportunity given us by Hazel and Ian to have an extended sabbatical during the summer. We spent time in Cornwall and the Lake District and returned to Windsor Hill Wood with our energy levels on the up and our vision renewed. We definitely plan to hang around for a while yet!
One of the simple things that we continue to keep re-learning is that Windsor Hill Wood is a place where all give and all receive: wardens, guests, trustees, local supporters, distant friends. It may be by coming alongside guests, enabling the warden team to have time away, financial support, teaching a new skill to those of us living here, and much more besides. The simple gift of the cushion (below),given by someone who stayed here made everyone very grateful. A big thank you to you (you know who you are) and to all those who support us in so many ways.
In particular, we would like to thank Ian for all that he brought to Windsor Hill Wood in his year or so with us. His hospitality, wisdom, practicality and flexibility (not to mention his tech skills without which you'd still be receiving this as a PDF) have been so helpful. We wish him well as he adjusts to life in Taunton.
A very big thank you too to Hazel, who having helped hold the fort with Ian while we were away in the summer, has chosen to continue in the assistant warden role and given her previous experience in social work and her adaptability and listening skills, it's not surprising that she has settled in really well.
At the moment, it has to be said, there is a feeling of mutual support for one another among all of us who are residing here. The warden team and the current guests all feel able to be open and honest with one another and help the community in whatever ways we can.
It's always good to feel part of a wider community and having had an open day and a stall at a Good Life Project's event over the road, as well as hosting a wreath making afternoon, along with holding our weekly volunteer afternoons, the creativity that many of our guests and visitors manifest is a joy to behold.
Of course, not everything goes to plan, though I would like to point out that the fallen tree hanging over the pond is not due to some inexpert chain sawing by the warden but was a result of a recent gale.
In the last newsletter we shared a picture of the hut that had previously been burnt down in the first stage of being rebuilt. A massive thank you again to those who so rapidly raised the funds for the parts for it to be rebuilt and to Gavin for giving of his time and expertise to actually do it. It's looking pretty good!
At this time of year when most of the earth seems dormant there are always signs of life if we are able to keep our eyes open. In Windsor Hill Wood there is often the odd berry if you look hard enough. Or if you wander through Shaun's fields (where he lets us keep our sheep) now and again you'll find some fungi.
Of course, one of the things that makes Windsor Hill Wood what it is, is the animals. Our piglets have grown and our sheep are happy!
It's great that we are still able to eat our home grown salad as well as looking forward to, among other things, garlic in Spring.
One of the highlights of the last couple of months is the emerging of our incubator born chicks. You can see who's boss now.
Our other main news is that thanks to so many of you who have donated or offered loans, we are in the final stages of the process of buying the land and property from Toby and Fra. We are close to being at the point of being able to pay the equivalent amount of money to a mortgage rather than as rent. We still hope to raise some more money to be able to refurbish parts of the property as well as the very pot holey (as all of you will know who have visited) drive. So should you wish to donate to the Purchase Project or to general running costs, please take a look on the website at our general giving page, or our Purchase Project information page.
So, in the darkness of mid winter, the bleakness and uncertainty of Covid... Is there hope? What can the sheep see? What may the shepherds see?
What do you see?
Wishing you all faith, hope and love.
With all our love,
Chris, Katharine, Josh, Natty, Hazel and all at Windsor Hill Wood