Saturday 11th March 2006

When we were out walking we heard a lot of noise from the birds and then saw firstly rabbit, then the security buzzard and then the deer all heading to the middle of the forest. I thought it would be a good idea to follow them but I was stopped by the security buzzard. “Not you again laddie” he said which I didn’t honestly think was the warmest of greetings. I would have preferred something like “Alfie old chap, good to see you again” but I guess not everyone is that friendly. He asked where I was going and I explained I didn’t know but there seemed to be a bit of a crowd gathering so I would go and take a look to find out what it was about. “Run along home, laddie” he said “that’s a meeting of the Forest Council and you aren’t on it.” So I wandered off with my tail between my legs feeling thoroughly snubbed and with a number of unanswered questions. Instead of ‘running along home’ which I had absolutely no intention of doing I went to call on squirrel to see if she could tell me what it is all about. Apparently there is council of the woodland animals with representatives for each area of the forest. They meet each season to manage forest business and on other occasions in an emergency. Despite the helicopter that has gone over twice today and the rumour that there is an escaped convict hedgehog loose in the woods, this was in fact the scheduled spring meeting. I asked squirrel if she knew what they were discussing and although she wasn’t sure exactly there is always the regular business, which trees have fallen down, whether there is any maintenance required in the next few months, which animals haven’t paid their ‘woodland tax’, and planning applications. Planning applications, at this point my heart sank. “Squirrel” I asked “ What are planning applications?” Squirrel explained that if anyone wanted to do any building work in the forest they had to apply to the Forest Council for permission and they had to get their drawings approved. There are quite detailed requirements to make sure that the forest does not become over developed and any structures are in keeping with their surroundings. I asked how the moles got away with all their tunnelling and squirrel explained that because it was underground there was a loop hole in the regulations, I said it should be a ‘mole hole in the regulations’ but I don’t think squirrel got the joke and I was too polite to explain. Apparently the spring meeting is quite a long one as so many birds and animals put in requests to build nests and they all have to be considered individually. I went home feeling very forlorn and wondering if I should discuss my den idea with squirrel.