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After more than five years living and working in Europe this autumn Hayloft is moving 1000 kilometres north as the crow flies from Corsaint in Burgundy, France, to Whithorn in Wigtownshire, Scotland.
Several months of lockdown gave time for a lot of work but also time to think and to contact UK authorities about post-Brexit tariff charges which will make working here more expensive and difficult, probably impossible.
The Ancient Presbytery, is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument, due to the Roman villa and hermitage we found buried under the vegetable garden. The hermitage was set up by St. Jean de Reôme – named after the stream at the bottom of the garden) – and was the first Christian centre in all Burgundy. The house sold within two weeks of being advertised though the final sale will go through at the end of October.
The business will move to an old steading, with – crucially – a small warehouse and office perfect for storing lots of books. Hayloft will be moving back to the mysterious Celtic kingdom of Rheged which was one of the kingdoms of the Hen Ogled Rhegedd ("Old North"), the Brythonic Celtic speaking region of what is now northern England and southern Scotland in the Early Middle Ages.
There is a lot of history nearby and the sea at the Bay of Luce is only a quarter of a mile away down the field. Speaking of fields the steading comes with 3.5 hectares of land which I’m planning to use in a small way for agriculture but, more importantly I’m going to plant trees.
The idea is to plant a Wood of Words so that all 200 or so books Hayloft has published will have a tree dedicated to each book and its author – every tree will have a small plaque so that the link will be remembered. By planting a tree for each book Hayloft will be partly replacing the paper and the carbon used for the printing. We’ve ordered the trees from Andrew Forsyth at Weasdale Nurseries, Newbiggin-on-Lune, and will get a local forester to plant them in early winter.
Each author has chosen a tree or trees that are special to them, for instance, a silver birch as it was the tree that grew in a boyhood garden, or a hawthorn from a garden in West Cumbria whose white blossom was blackened with coal dust from the pit – there are too many stories to include here but when the woodland is planted and growing Hayloft plans to publish the stories and connections between tree, author and book.
The Wood of Words book will also include something of the ancient half-remembered cultural beliefs about trees – a rowan will keep witches from your door, or the Norse mythology of Yggdrasil, the great ash tree, that united hell, earth and heaven, its roots gnawed by a dragon in the underworld, its trunk on earth and its branches holding up the sky.
In more modern times many trees have been associated with heroes or villains – there are at least three oak trees in Scotland where William Wallace was supposed to have hidden from his enemies.
It has been said that planting trees is one of the only reasons why you want to grow old – to see a young plantation become a wood.
Hayloft would welcome contributions to the project but this is not mandatory and the company is committed to paying for the Wood of Words, and in future planting a new tree for each new book, and opening the woodland to visitors in years to come.

While o’er their heads the hazels hing
The little birdies blythely sing,
Or lightly it on a wanton wing
In the birks of Aberfeldie

Robert Burns

 

If anyone would like to support this project they can buy a tree (including cost of planting and protection) for £25.00, plus delivery, by following the link below - the form will add your address which Hayloft will keep in the advance orders folder for the Wood of Words book. All supporters will be thanked in the forthcoming book and will also be sent a copy of the book free of charge as soon as it is available - hopefully in early 2021.

Support the Wood of Words

Note: If you'd like to sponsor a tree or trees you will have to let Hayloft know what sort of tree(s) and why this type of tree is special to you. Best thing is to send an email: books@hayloft.eu

 


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