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Festive Greetings

The last twelve months here in Craignish have been beautiful, wild, and inspiring.   A few days of snow in late January were followed by a spell of unusually warm spring weather, which coaxed lots of bulbs out way too early… March was warm enough to sit outside, but we were shivering on the Isle of Gigha in May!   We did, however, make a point of returning to witness the heavenly carpet of bluebells beneath the hazel trees of Ballachuan.   One of my favourite places in the whole world.

Towards midsummer we explored the limestone crags of the Isle of Lismore, looking for wild flowers or just sitting to admire the sweeping views.  A bit later we crossed over to Luing on the tiny car ferry, wandering along the slate-pebble beaches and listening to the waves.  Summer is a time of midnight gold, with a glowing band of light on the western horizon that stays all night, muting all but the brightest stars.   And then the berries started turning crimson, and we started looking for thrushes and hoping for frosts… on the whole we’ve had a clear, crisp autumn, and it’s only just now that the storms are battering in, much to the cats’ disgust.

It won’t be long before snowdrops show their precious heads – I remember we saw the first ones on 6th January last year.   The return of the light isn’t far away.

I hope you’ve had an enjoyable year.   As always, it’s been a pleasure to hear from you and to read your comments.   Since our move to Argyll I’ve found so many new places to explore, and new stories to investigate, and it’s wonderful to be able to share them with you.  I’ve also got some great news:  my book about Britain’s trees will be published in March 2020, and it’s now available to pre-order.  You can read more about it here, or go straight to Pavilion Books, the publisher for The National Trust.

Thank you for your company, as always, and I’d like to wish you a very Happy Christmas and a Joyful, Healthy and Peaceful New Year.


  • Marie Macpherson

    Many thanks for all your wonderful posts, Jo. Looking forward to reading your book on trees. Wishing you and yours all the very best for Christmas and the New Year. Lang may yer lum reek( but with wood perhaps certainly not coal!) Marie xx

  • davidoakesimages

    Seasons greeting to you and yours……. Reading you ‘annual weather review’ made me think back over our seasons down here in Derbyshire. Instant response is to say it has been a wet year. But taking a proper look back it has actually not been bad. Spring was warm, a large part of summer just hot, sunny and blue skies. Autumn was late arriving and never really got going. As for snow, well we had one day of proper snow but by the next day it had all gone. Certainly on higher ground some stuck for longer, but nothing special. It is though the rains that we remember, possibly because when it rains it seem much more like monsoon rains and yep, we have had a good deal of flooding in the area, It still seems like a very odd year….but being positive we do have bulbs showing their heads above ground. Best wishes

    • Jo Woolf

      Thank you, David! We’ve not had the hot summer that you had, but the autumn made up for it to some extent. We have bulbs showing their heads too – daffodils, I think. Hope you have a lovely Christmas.

  • Ashley

    Your stories are heart warming and with pictures that add the beauty of the land and seascapes. And since Sunday 22nd is the Winter Solstice and the days will be growing with light, it will be time to celebrate the earth reborn. Happy Yule!

  • Lorna Flanagan

    Superb 🙂 I am a conservation management student and part of a group of students doing a small presentation on Hazel Woods. Over the past couple of days I’ve exhausted every online site there is. Today I came across your page ‘The Hazel Tree’ and I just wanted to let you know I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the woods with you through every season. Superb pictures and your words brought everything to life. Thank you. I now must visit them myself one day.

    • Jo Woolf

      Thank you so much, Lorna! Really nice to hear from you and I’m so glad you found my posts useful and enjoyable! We’re lucky to have some beautiful and diverse woodland around here. If you haven’t visited Ballachuan hazel wood, I know you’d love it! Wishing you all the best with your presentation. If you’d like any images please don’t hesitate to ask. Best wishes, Jo

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