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Three Good Things

Yesterday was fab! We had a productive day in the garden and Spring had truly sprung with temperatures in double figures and the boys in t-shirts and sunglasses riding their skateboards down the driveway. But today is Monday, it's back to school/work and the rain is back with a mean grey sky. Instead of mourning the loss of the weekend I'm going to link up with Enchanted Pixie and focus on three good things that have happened recently.

Our Vegetable Patch
Our veg patch has come along leaps and bounds and once we've sourced some topsoil we're ready to start planting. I've been holding off with the recent cold weather but we've started sowing under cover. We have so much planting space and I'm looking forward to nurturing all our little seedlings and watching them flourish in their new home.
Workshops At Wild Oak Wood
I launched our Spring Workshops series recently and I'm hoping that there will be some interest as I think what's on offer is so inspiring and the teachers are fab! I'm running the first workshop on all natural balms and from next month there are mindfulness days such as meditation, astrology and zen painting!

Cards From Freshly Pressed
I won an Instagram giveaway! I won a beautiful set of cards from Freshly Pressed with lovely pictures of dried flowers on them. It's not often I win something so it was a treat to receive these in the post over the weekend. I have a friend to write to this week so I'll be posting one off soon!

What three good things have happened to you recently?

Workshops At Wild Oak Wood

It's been an exciting week as I've officially lauched our first series of Spring Workshops to be held here at Wild Oak Wood. Although we're mainly all about camping, I love learning new skills. There are so many inspiring people round here with interesting talents and it's my dream to become a place where people can share their knowledge to those who want to learn.

Our workshops are on the themes of crafting, mindfulness and bushcraft. In the first workshop I'll be showing people how easy it is to make their own naturally scented and tinted balms with 100% natural ingredients.

You'll find details of all our current courses here on our website workshop page, and I'll be introducing our other courses in the following weeks.

I'm really hoping there'll be some interest so do spread the word if you're local. If you would like to book a place, give us a call or send us an email! You can also sign up to our mailing list through our website to be kept up to date with all Wild Oak Wood news.

Half Term Plans

It's half term, and there's a whole lotta work to get done round here. Unlike in the UK where half terms are a week long, here in France they last for two. Two whole weeks where we are setting ourselves the challenge of creating the veg patch, rehousing the animals, clearing the barn, shifting chopped wood, and getting brutal with the overgrowth in the woods round the back of the house. I'm not one for cold weather but I'm breathing a sigh of relief knowing that there's a cold snap forecast next week. It holds off Spring growth for just a little while longer giving us time to chop back before everything madly sprouts back to life.

The kids are at club for three days each week. Unlike school days where they seem to come back with more energy at the end of the day, kids club wipes them out completely. They're off to the cinema this morning and even Jacob announced that it was going to be a 'looong day'! I've been reading this post from Enchanted Pixie and getting ideas for when they're at home. We've been baking weekly recently and have bought some new paints. We're also really getting into board games, Labyrinth is the favourite right now.

Evenings are for chilling out by the fire. I bought this pattern recently from Amuru Toys on Etsy and have been hand sewing just the cutest little bears. In fact...I like making them so much I have decided that all the children that come and camp here at Wild Oak Wood over the Summer will receive one in the welcome basket! I've also been catching up on magazines my mum brought over from the UK. Do any of you read Living France magazine? If you pick up a copy this month you'll find a lovely page all about this blog! Let me know what you think if you have a read.

Chasse En Cours

Ok...I'm a little bit upset. We lost three of our baby chickens last week and this time not to Mr Fox. It was Saturday morning and whilst lazing around in our pyjamas (as you do) we heard the chickens outside making a bit of a fuss. When they start making that amount of noise it means there's a predator around and for us that means a quick dash to get wellies on to chase whatever it is away. I've done this a couple of times now with Mr Fox. This time however, whatever was upsetting them had a bell ringing away as it ran, and soon enough it came into sight...it was a hunting dog.

Hunting is a massive sport here in rural France. From September to February, every weekend, men (I have yet to see a lady hunter though I'm sure they're out there) armed with their orange caps and rifles, take over the wilderness with their crazy dogs to hunt out their prey. Round here that could be deer, wild boar, rabbits, pheasants...

The thing is...we live on the edge of that wilderness, that untouched woodland which is prime territory for the chasse. We've actually seen them crossing our land (is that allowed??) The nearer they are the more likely their dogs will find our chickens and we fear for our safety. I've heard too many stories about people being accidentally shot having been mistaken for a wild boar or deer in the bushes. So what can we do? We've spoken to members of our local chasse and let them know that our house is now occupied as before we moved in last year it was empty for a long time. They've ensured us that they will warn us when they will be close to our land (although they have yet to do so.) We've also taken the decision to fence in our chickens for their own safety and we may be down the garden centre to buy our own orange caps for when we're working in the garden at the weekends!

If you've got any tips for how best to approach the local chasse please do pass them on. There's a good article here with information about them if you're interested.

Mega Veg Patch Plans

Happy Mail!! I love receiving fun stuff in the post so I was pretty happy yesterday to receive my order of seeds from Sarah Raven. We've started to get the garden (read 5 hectares of land) sorted bit by bit. We've started clearing undergrowth, pulling down dead trees, and have decided to move the chickens to a new spot where they'll be fenced in. We love our chickens being free range but having lost another three this week to hunting dogs something had to be done. We were pretty pleased with ourselves to bag a free greenhouse which we picked up at the weekend and we will clean and attempt to put that back together before the end of the week. We've found a whole bunch of wooden beams in the barn which we're hoping will be good enough to form the basis of our veg patch which at the moment looks like this...

...but I'm truly hoping by midsummer it will be a thriving veg and flower patch where our guests will be able to pick their own food for their breakfast/lunch/dinner and we'll be preserving our way into autumn and winter.

Speaking of guests...have you seen our new website? We launched our 'Wild Oak Wood' Bell Tent Camping business this week and have already had lots of positive feedback about our new site. We're looking forward to getting our tents in February when we'll have a go putting them up and get some pictures taken so you know exactly what we'll be offering. Let us know what you think!

Welcome To Wild Oak Wood!

Hello 2018! Wow...we have so much in store for you! For my first post of the year I'm going to be brave and hit the publish button to reveal our new blog name. Welcome to Wild Oak Wood!

Having bought our new house last year we no longer live on Rue Du Belvedere so this blog has had to evolve. Our new house is surrounded by nature. We always knew we wanted land, and now we have 5 and a half hectares of it. Most of it wild woodland with...yes you've guessed it...oak trees! It's beautiful, if a little overgrown at the moment, but we're slowly exploring and finding it's hidden gems, like old stone shepherds huts and endless juniper bushes. The wildlife is also making itself known and we've seen deer, wild boar and pheasants on the land.

We have big plans for all this nature. We want trails through the trees and a natural playground for the kids. We want to get going on the veg patch and ensure the animals are happy (more about them later.) We've been chopping down trees for next years wood stash, but we also want to start planting some fruit trees to be enjoyed in years to come.

We liked the name Wild Oak Wood, not just because it evokes the true nature of this place, but because the intials spell out pretty much what everyone says when they come to visit us...WOW! We thought it was rather fitting. Very soon we'll be revealing all about our new business plans. We're working on the website and have endless to do lists to keep us busy over the coming months. The blog will continue as normal, little stories about what we get up to as a family and about our life in France.

Hope you all endulged yourself over the holidays. Does anyone else do dry January? This is our 4th year running, we'll see how far we get!

Happy Christmas!

With the end of term now here I'm ready to wind down 2017 and plough into 2018 with a head full of ideas, endless 'to do' lists and an exciting project on the horizon. By far the most exciting thing to have happened to us this year has been buying our dream home. Since moving in the summer we've worked hard to get this old farmhouse habitable. (I say we but 90% of the work has been done by Andrew!) There's still a ton of work to do but we can rest over the Christmas period and start up again next year with energy levels renewed and fresh ideas.

Our biggest plan in 2018 will be to set up a business here at our new home. You may have noticed a name change on social media, something I felt I had to do before our chosen name got nicked by someone else! All will be revealed soon but for now we're working on ideas and crossing our fingers that we will be able to achieve all that we're setting out for oursevles in a very short space of time. So this space is set to change once more. Originally started as 'La Famille Brown' and then 'Rue du Belvedere' it will change for a final time as we settle into our new home and business.

We wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a fabulous New Year, and I hope you'll continue to follow our journey here in our new little corner of South West France.

See you in 2018!
Becky x
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