We were able to get out and about a little last week. A morning meeting over in the New Forest gave us the opportunity to have a mooch later on in the woods. Tantany Woods is one of our favoured places and after a cracking pasty lunch bought from the Brockenhurst bakery, we were out exploring these open forest woods. Greeting us was the 'chacking' & 'seeping' calls of winter thrushes, a scan through the berry ladened Holly Trees unveiled Fieldfares, Redwings and Mistle Thrushes - a pleasing start to our visit and a sure sign that winter's cold clasp would may soon be upon us.
As we made our way deeper into the woods, apart from a background drone of helicopters there was a deadening silence hanging in the air. For some time now we had wanted to look at fungi, not with any conviction of putting names to them, but just to enjoy them. We tracked down a few among the fallen and rotting Beeches & Oaks, giving them original names based on their colour. We soon felt expert in the field of mycology, throwing around science such as 'there's a white one' and 'ooh! pink that's nice'...you get the picture. However, it was the tiny ones that really appealed. Candel Snuff was one fungus we did know and closer examination revealed a bizarre, surrealist landscape of grotesque sculptures, where giant spiders roam. As I sketched the scene, I noticed small movements in the leaf litter; a quick look showed that they were made by Wood Crickets - a new species for us (as far as I recall).
Eventually a few birds came out of their hiding and deigned to visit us. I couldn't resist painting a Wren as it flitted amongst the roots of the fallen trees - probably hoping to find a Wood Cricket.
We walked on and out onto a New Forest lawn, munched down by the ponies. Again few birds were in evidence, but we were surprised to find Devilsbit Scabious and Saw-wort still in flower. By now the light and warmth had faded from the day telling us that we had to rejoin the ratrace - soon found on the M27!
Our plan for mushroom mooching in The New Forest on sunday was scuppered by an uninspiring pencil greyness to the day. So after sitting through an equally uninspiring couple of hours of Formula 1 racing, we decided to make use of a printing press we had borrowed from a friend and spend our time linocutting. I had never produced one before and only really knew the theory of the method, therefore a pretty enjoyable and enlightening few hours ensued - mostly!
We each worked on a single colour design, with the idea of hand-colouring the print after, therefore making each print unique. Though judging by the variety of blacks I attained with each pull, they were pretty unique anyway - but not always in a good way!
Still the seeds have been sown and I suspect that our friend will struggle to get his press back. Hope you like the results of our sortie into linocutting.
We did manage a little fresh-air, in the form of a recce for leaping Trout on our local river, more on this later.............
If you're expecting words of wisdom from Dan and Rosemary you may be sadly disappointed. However, if you want to keep up to date with our current projects then pick up the feed at the top of this column.