Walks: Day Three. Charcoal in Littless Wood

You can smell the acrid smell of wood smoke from two fields away. I had almost hoped they were burning today.
I remember cycling round the lake one day and glancing up to see a plume of smoke on the horizon rising from the woods across the reservoir.
On that dry May day it could have been a catastrophic fire but up in ancient Littless Wood they were burning charcoal.

Today, a grey and chilly morning, I took a cycle rather than a walk up to Littless Wood to the charcoal burning camp.
They must have been there quite recently. The smell of burning was so strong. I have long been keen to draw or paint something on the theme of charcoal burning.

Many years ago I made a small sketch after watching the capping of a kiln, brilliant red flames flaring up around the black rim of the conical lid. But today just some sketches of the deserted and eerily quiet camp.
The kilns are curious things, uncompromisingly black and simple geometric shapes in stark contrast to the leafy tangle of the wood. A high wind rustled the tree tops but at ground level things were very still. A fox barked somewhere in the wood. It’s a distinctive and shivering sound.

charcoal burner 1bg


charcoal burning 2 bg

The blackest thing in the scene was a pile of charcoal, deepest black black. It gleams like coal.

charcoal burning 3 bg

A nearby wheelbarrow with two sacks of sand and a pile of logs.

wheelbarrow and sand and logs bg

I get a bit frustrated with the rigidity and slowness of this pen sometimes. Next time I will take some ink to use with the brush or a dip pen.
I didn’t have a decent dark colour with me today so mixed up a darkish grey from 3 colours.. but it doesn’t have the power of ink. Maybe tomorrow..

charcoal burning 4 bg

Meanwhile I spent quite a bit of today with two rescued bumble bees. One found perilously immobile on the main road outside when I came back this morning.  He only needed a rest and a warm up.

The other I think may not make it, which is sad but there are many tatty and forlorn aging bees around at the moment. Their natural life span can be as short as two weeks.
However, I feel that giving a little bee a sip of sugar water and a safe haven  for an hour or two is worth it… isn’t it?

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  1. You may not see 'power' but I see vitality and subtle variation in colour.

  2. Love your sketches! Also admire you greatly for your Bumble Bee Rescue Service 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing your experiences and helping those bumblebees!
    A few bumblebees have taken residence inside a small bird house that is full of twigs from a bird that left ..
    I saw them today for the first time and I will try to photograp them because I am not good at drawing ..
    I am delighted to have them in my garden!
    Have a nice week

  4. You have been having fun – and so have I, by enjoying the fruits of your labor! 🙂
    Again – an inspiring day!

  5. Hi there all and thanks for your comments.

    EE. You are kind as always..and yes I should look at the virtue in the paler pieces sometimes!!….

    Ruth: Thanks so much for your kind comment. The BB resuce service here is on danger of sad bee overload. The teasels seem to attract them!!

    Anon: please send me a photo!!? I wonder what they are.Depneding on where you are could be the pretty Tree Bumble Bee? Bumble Bees are attracted to old birds nests and rodents nests. Lucky you!!

    SG… thank you. Yes I am indeed. Once I get out there it is hard to come home and then I have such a head full of ideas. I do hope I can keep it up for the summer. Have you been out yet???

  6. I like these sketches. Nice free hand.

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