Posted 9th Jan 2015
January signifies a time of 'out with the old and in with the new' and we've looked at the top 10 country crafts and skills that could become your new hobby for 2015
The ability to source food from nature responsibly, ensuring that the items you have foraged are in fact what you think they are and therefore safe to eat, can take years to learn. However, once you know the basics, wild foods such as mushrooms and berries can add to your meals and enhance your understanding of nature and give you a deeper connection to it. Not just that, but foraging is a fun family activity that all will enjoy and is a great way to introduce found items into your household, whether it's through cooking or crafts. So why not venture into your local woodland with the family and use leaves to make collages, or shells from the beach to decorate trinket boxes. Alternatively, try a foraging class to learn the dos and don'ts of foraging for wild food, as well as investing in a good identification guide.
Course: Foraging starter day
Where: The Wild Food School, Cornwall
When: Every Saturday in January and February
Taking place in a highly varied, local landscape, the foraging starter day by The Wild Food School gives you an introduction to edible wild plants such as dandelions and oxeye daisy and cooking foraged items. Visit www.wildfodschool.co.uk for more information, including foraging starter weekends.
A traditionally used material, willow was used to make baskets, barrels and even trunks for the rich and were often used for storing with fruits, vegetables and meats, such as poultry and fish. However, while our needs have evolved due to the introductions of other materials such as cardboard, willow is still seen today. Willow sculptures are now a popular item as well, with lots of different wildlife being immortalised in willow. An enjoyable country craft for the whole family, the kids will enjoy making their own creations out of willow and adults can have new baskets and bowls for the new year.
Course: Basketmaking Workshop
Where: Coates English Willow, Somerset
When: 14th February and selected other dates throughout the year.
A one-day workshop run by Coates English Willow teaches you the basic techniques so that you can create a simple round basket and you will leave the class with your own completed basket. The workshop starts at 9.30am and finishes at approximately 4pm, full details can be found on the website, www.englishwillowbaskets.co.uk.
LandLove readers can experience a guided tour of Coates English Willow willow processing yard and basket-making workshop for a special 2 for 1 price until 28th February, usual ticket price of £3 per person. To redeem quote 'LandLove2For1' to staff in the Coates English Willow shop upon arrival.
A source of income or a personal supply of eggs and meat, keeping chickens can be a very rewarding hobby or business. Generally better for the hens to be kept in groups of at least three or four, they have their own personalities and can be as much a pet as anything else. Taking the plunge can be a daunting task as there can be a lot to learn, especially if you are not used to keeping animals. The first step is deciding if chicken keeping is for you and what kind of hens to keep, but a hands-on course will help you get to grips with these feathered friends and this time next year you could be a chicken expert. If you're thinking of getting a pet in the new year a chicken could be great for the family and could be the start of your own smallholding.
Course: Keeping chickens for beginners
Where: The Chicken Academy, Southampton
When: 18th and 21st January and 8th and 22nd February
Covering a range of topics such as wing clipping, feeding your birds, broody hens and housing, Keeping Chickens for Beginners is two and a half hour course including a full set of course notes and a certificate of attendance. You will also enjoy home-made tea and cakes while in the beautiful surroundings of a working farm that houses over 40 different rare breed chickens. To find out exactly what is taught on the course visit www.chickenacademy.com.
LandLove readers can get 15% off of the standard price of Keeping Chickens for Beginnings with Blackwater Traditional Rare Breed Poultry between 4th December and 28th February. To receive this special offer contact Lisa Bushby by emailing email@example.com and quoting 'LandLove'.
Woodland is a dominant part of the British landscape, providing a myriad of habitats for the wildlife to explore and for us to enjoy, whether its a casual stroll with the dog or a day out with the family. You may find picking up extra skills that you would need in the woodland will enhance your adventures and it could also come in handy if in a tight spot. Perhaps learning how best to build a shelter, cooking in the outdoors, or other wilderness skills such as properly using knives and lighting fires can make a family activity day or weekend away even better, and safer.
Course: Survival Day
Where: Woodland Skills,
When: Bespoke bookings of 5 or more people can be arranged in January and February
Offering bespoke packages based on specific interests, the Survival Day introduces you to the tools and equipment of bushcraft, including the safe handling of axes and knives. You will experience shelter building and the delights of wilderness cooking, having foraged and prepared wild foods.
For more details and to find out about courses later on in the year visit www.facebook.com/Woodlandskills and for general information visit www.woodlandskills.com.
Working with leather has also been inherent in our history, developing from a primitive time where the hides of animals were used for shelter and clothing. Over time our understanding of the material changed, allowing man to preserve and soften leather and use it to fit our purposes. Now leather is used for furniture, clothing, car interiors, shoes, accessories and more, with leather being a popular choice for many household items. The skills associated with creating leather masterpieces include marking, cutting, tanning and stitching and can be a worthwhile hobby, and a class or workshop could set you on the path to making your own bags, pursues and belts.
Course: Leather Satchel Masterclass
Where: Tanner Bates Leather School, Devon
When: 21st January and 18th February
Learn to make a beautiful leather satchel in one day including, how to mark out a leather pattern, cut the leather and how to make your own lace and assemble your satchel using a lacing technique, combined with light-hearted tuition at Tanner Bates Leather School. You will also be encouraged to make holes for buckles, straps and attachments, with pattern and leather provided for this hands-on class. Tanner Bates also offers introduction to leathercraft classes and basic detailing classes, for details visit the Tanner Bates website, www.leatherschool.co.uk.
Read the rest of this feature on p.110 of the January/February 2015 issue...