Settling Down to Life in Audlem

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Settling Down to Life in Audlem: The Call of the Cheshire Countryside

There will be many youngsters who grew up in Audlem and have moved away: probably a similar number who decided to stay.

I am one of what might be a rare breed that left to seek fame and fortune (or in my case education) and through the twists and turns of life's rich tapestry have now returned.

#Kinsey Heath
My first 18 years were spent living in Kinsey Heath, as a pupil at Buerton School in the 1980s and much of my childhood was spent walking through the fields, up and down the canals, and cycling along the lanes surrounding Audlem.

It was what many people would describe or appreciate as an idillic upbringing. I have many fond memories of these times and maybe one day I will get round to penning some of them as well.

#School
I did 'well' at school and went on to Brine Leas and then Malbank VI Form College. After my A-Levels I left the safety and security of my family home and moved away as a 'Student' and my second 18 years have largely been spent living and working in cities.

First was Edinburgh to study Architecture, followed by time in Helsinki, New York, Singapore, Los Angeles and the last 12 years in London.

My "career" so far has involved a combination of commercial work producing computer generated images for Architects and Interior Designers coupled with smaller creative art and design projects on the side.

I have an active interest in ecologically sensitive, sustainable design, and building projects that use natural and renewable materials.

#Back
I moved back to Kinsey Heath almost a month ago and have spent some of my time rediscovering my favourite childhood places, walking through the fields once more, watching the sun set over the rolling hills of the Welsh border from the top of the bank by the canal, looking up at the clear and dark skies full of stars, appreciating some of the simple things you lose sight of in cities.

I am also slowly sidling (if thats a word) into Village life, and so far I have attended the Local History Society talk; Local Ecology group meeting and ADAPT Barbecue, as well as the regular Monday Folk Music 'Jam' Sessions at the Shroppie Fly; a number of the Thursday evening gigs at The Lord Combermere and an Audlem Parish Council meeting (as a conscientious and interested member of the public).

#Skills
Since 2006 I have been developing my skills as a green wood worker, a heritage craft that uses traditional hand tools to turn unseasoned timber into anything from spoons to cups and bowls to furniture using human power.

I have spent the last 3 years working in a 32 acre woodland cemetery in Hackney honing my skills and my tools and running short courses teaching other people these skills through a community led group called 'London Green Wood', and I have been involved in low impact/sustainable woodland management which puts wildlife habitat and biodiversity first.

I was very lucky to find myself spending time in a truly magical and peaceful place steeped in history, which is probably one of the most 'rural' settings you will find in a city anywhere.

#Wood
Much of the wood that I have used to make things has been 'intercepted' from the Green Waste Stream, making friends with local foresters and tree surgeons to keep a steady supply coming in. My last two commissions were for outdoor public benches, and I am working my way up to small building projects.

I have also started exploring some of the local woodlands. I have a large pile of damson wood from a tree in the garden to start working on, and some other pieces of lilac and lime donated by a kind villager, and two other generous invitations to take a look at some walnut and sycamore, and a selection of other garden trees expecting a visit from a tree surgeon, which would keep me busy.

#Woodland
I would like to make contact with some more of the local farmers who may have woodland or trees on their land with a view to promoting sustainable woodland management.

I still sometimes wonder how (and why) it took being surrounded by the hustle and bustle of urban life to discover my love for woodlands and hidden talents and passion for working with wood, but I am looking forward to the challenges of developing this as a business based in the tranquil landscape of my childhood.

#Interest
If anyone is interested in either donating timber, commissioning a piece of furniture or even just buying (or learning to make) a wooden spoon then I can be contacted on joseph@ge-ril-a.com