The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Logs

pile of logsA few years ago I was looking for a decent source of logs for the winter and someone pointed me in the direction of Tuddenham woods and John Grundy, the exceptional man who owns and manages them.

He has owned the woods for quite some time. It’s a beautiful place and a sanctuary for the horses that he has rescued over the years. He sells the logs to pay for their maintenance.

At the end of a long drive you will come to a clearing with a number of small barns and sheds, stables and paddocks in a rackety sort of order. Most buildings are clearly marked with signs (The Club Room, Mr Jimmy Riddle’s box and so on).

John Grundy has a sense of humour and a smart pair of knee high riding boots. A tall man with a wide shy smile and very few teeth, he chops the logs with a long axe. This steady fluid movement sums up the pace of life in his woods. I’ve always enjoyed my chats with this generous, eccentric and charming man. We went up on Christmas Eve after a two year absence and I was so pleased to see that he was still going strong.

He is there most days but in winter will be gone by four. You can buy logs all day. There’s an honesty box for your money. BIY (bag it yourself) logs and bags of kindling, £2.00 a bag. His phone number is on the gate and he will deliver.

At one stage he bought a few donkeys to keep the broad paths trim. In time these multiplied. Suddenly he had over thirty, nibbling away. They were taking over. The problem was solved when a man came to buy logs. He was just about to marry again and his future wife was a donkey lover. She didn’t have a donkey but had always planned to have some, one day. Suddenly she had a herd. A wedding present from her husband.

He sells chestnuts too. I wished I remembered that this year. I bought the Italian ones from the market in Newmarket. His would be so much fresher and probably organic. Apparently a man used to come and pick them and sell them from a brazier in Bury St Edmunds. They’d share the profits and John Grundy would treat himself to a weekend in Paris. I must admit it was hard to imagine him happily striding along the Champs D’Elysees, light years away from his kingdom and horses.

When I chatted about his horses he took it for granted that I shared his equine skills.
“You wouldn’t ever have the time to spare to give this little chap an outing in the trap?” His smile was so sweet that I hated having to admit that I’d never been in a trap, let alone driven one.

If you need to buy good, well seasoned logs from decently managed woodland drop in and see John Grundy. You will also be supporting his horse sanctuary. If he is there and you fall into conversation, I can promise you that you will leave with so much more than a few bags of logs.


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