There is something weird about Braywick Nature Reserve situated in the depths of the Thames Valley – it rather unnaturally undulates and looms over the surrounding area. That’s because there is something rather unnatural about Braywick, it’s a former landfill site.


This weekend I decided to spend a rare Tiny-Overlord-free day with The Conservation Volunteers Berkshire, to put something back in to the natural environment that I so often mentally and physically take from. Our task at Braywick was a woodland management one, to cut down some Field Maple and to open up the woodland floor to increase the prevalence of wild flowers.


Before I met The Conservation Volunteers (and subsequently took this brilliant course with The Open University) I didn’t really ‘get’ woodland management. I mean, because chopping trees down is bad, it goes against all my hippy instincts, right yeah man? But I’ve learnt that a lot of our ‘natural’ landscapes in the UK are actually created by human, and that by managing Braywick’s woodland and opening up the woodland floor we will actually increase biodiversity. And here in the grey airport and motorway dominated Thames Valley, here in Braywick on hills that are literally created by tonnes of human rubbish, that can only be a good thing?


Fuelled by biscuits and tea we felled selected trees by hand for most of the day. And I my arms ached. And my heart ached from being away from the Tiny Overlord. And I got blisters on my hand from clutching the saw so tightly. But the satisfaction of doing something outdoors was so overwhelming, I came home to my boys buzzing and enthused. Vowing once again to give the Tiny one the ‘natural’ childhood that he deserves. Because there is so much nature for me to explore with him. So many things that are good and free and natural. Even here in the Thames Valley. Even on top of an old landfill.