Warning: this is a post about our Christmas tree, so if you have already reached peak bauble please move on.
Every year for the past eight years, since moving to East Sussex, we have bought our Christmas tree from Wilderness Wood, 62 acres of coppiced woodland on the edge of the village of Hadlow Down.
It has become a family tradition: even though we never get our act together to choose a tree in advance to cut down ourselves, we always manage to find the right tree for us – this year a Nordmann Fir, I’m not sure how tall, but definitely higher than Mr Carrot’s six foot four.
Wilderness Wood was founded in 1980, when the Yarrow family bought an unloved piece of woodland and turned it into a vibrant enterprise with a cafe, shop and bustling Christmas market. In 2014, they sold up to the Morrish family who are creating a ‘school of self reliance’ amongst the coppiced chestnut with stands of beech, Scots pine, Douglas fir, cedar and giant Sequoia.
The atmosphere this year was a little different – perhaps because the forecast was for freezing rain, Sunday afternoon was much quieter than previous years – we even got a seat in the cafe which is usually a struggle at this time of year.
The Morrish’s have built a beautiful covered area, which was hosting the traditional farm burger and sausage barbecue, and looked like something straight out of Lord of the Rings. Next to this was a little Christmas fair with traditional crafts and the sweet smell of woodsmoke.
The Little Weeds’ favourite innovation is the mud kitchen, which was built by children and adults in the summers of 2014 and 2015, and on the day of our visit lived up to its name.
We were lucky that despite the close to zero temperatures, a pale sun momentarily broke through the clouds, giving the whole scene a magical, if chilly air. We didn’t want to linger too long in the cold though and it was soon time to take our prize home and decorate it while watching Elf for the second day in a row!