A Wood of One’s Own by Ruth Pavey

Review published on October 29, 2017.

A fascinating non-fiction hardback book detailing the author’s purchase and development of a four acre wood in Somerset, this would be of interest to anyone with a woodland of their own, anyone contemplating having one and anyone interested in wildlife, flora and fauna.

Ruth was aided by a friendly neighbouring farmer, Ted, and his son Philip, plus her brother and others. The book includes a hand drawn map of the field and several sketches, including my favourite, an exquisite drawing of wild plum blossom.

We read of the richness of the wildlife in the wood and how the author struggled to cope with marsh and brambles whilst living in London and visiting whenever possible. At first she stayed in local B&Bs and later in her Rollalong, a converted mobile site cabin, which she moved onto her field.

I enjoyed reading about the meeting with the previous owners, now in a care home and her conversations with Ted next door, which give us an insight into life lived in the area long ago when people spent their lives mostly our of doors managing their farms. There is a fascinating account of the mistletoe man who visits and some encounters with gypsies and other uninvited human visitors.

The field was 50 years ago an orchard and in order to regrow fruit trees, we read about the learning of a new skill, grafting. But the field was also used for parties. There is a lovely sketch of two musicians playing duets in near darkness with head torches to read the music.

The accounts of the wildlife, from water voles, rabbits, foxes, deer, butterflies to herons, crows, cranes and swans bring us into a world of escape from the hurly-burly of towns. This is perhaps the most appealing aspect of the book and will be enjoyed by many readers.

Jan Jeffery 4/1

A Wood of One’s Own by Ruth Pavey
Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd 9780715652237 hbk Sep 2017


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