How to build your own cabin in the woods. A guide to a simpler life by Conrad E. Meinecke

'I think a really wholesome escape, if I may use that term - an escape to run from the crowded city lot to a place where one could plant a garden, raise chickens, pigs and the like - might perhaps add to the national wealth as well as our own good.' - Conrad E. Meinecke

Cabincraft and Outdoor Living is written for the man who has but 2 weeks vacation a year and takes his family with him, or, for the man who has a place in the country and wants to know how to do many things around the place himself. It teaches you how to build a log cabin, with diagrams featuring a bush-craft kit – and using axes, knives, rope and felled trees; how to furnish and beautify your cabin, with tips on cooking, bird listening and lighting fires and stoves. You will learn how to cook the most succulent outdoor dishes you ever dreamed about eating, you will learn how to design and make furniture, how to find water, how to make candles, how to take advantage of the signs that nature posts everywhere for your better living. It is just filled with everything you need to know about the good life in the great outdoors. It’s a poetic celebration of life lived outdoors.

'This is a good world and it will be just what we make of it.'

Read a bit more about the author here

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Chef Gill Meller creates seasonal dishes inspired by the landscape in which he lives & works


River Cottage head chef, food writer & author Gill Meller's first cookbook 'Gather' promotes the idea of cooking with seasonal, local & the freshest of ingredients. With recipes inspired by the landscape in which he lives and works, his cooking ethos is much akin to fforest's own. 

Our fourth fforest feast was recently hosted in the big cedar barn, an 8 course meal showcasing the best of seasonal and local from land and sea. Dishes included locally caught crab, wild rabbit, heritage carrots, greens, leaves & herbs from our own fforest gardens and much, much more. We have always aspired to cook with only the freshest ingredients with the idea that our surrounding area, with its bountiful produce, deserves to be celebrated.

This is a concept beautifully enforced in Gill's cookery. 'Gather' includes 120 recipes that stress the importance of seasonality and locality in cooking:

'I like to think my cooking is a reflection of my surroundings. I take inspiration from the landscape, my locality, and the amazing farmers, growers and fisherman that produce the ingredients I use.'

Watch Gill as he cooks barley paella with squid and rabbit on the shores of a nearby beach. A recipe from his book, 'Gather'.

You can purchase your own copy of 'Gather' here

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What Sian's reading: An enchanting book by Clare Leighton, describing a year in her garden

A beautiful book by artist and author Clare Leighton, her famous wood engravings are as enchanting as her nature stories.

Born in London in 1898, the English/American artist is best known for her wood engravings which, in this book, lovingly illustrate the essence and beauty of the seasons, and the joys and hardships of a gardener. Thanks to her work as an accomplished wood engraver, she inspired a revival of the craft in Britain and North America. 

She produced a remarkable body of work in her lifetime including over 840 wood engravings, twelve books that she both wrote and illustrated, as well as paintings, glass and ceramics. She was also commissioned to produce twelve engravings for an American illustrated edition of Wuthering Heights in the 1930s (as seen below).

Read reviews and buy your own copy here

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Wild Guide Scotland: friends of fforest release travel guidebook of Scotland's hidden treasures

New from the best selling Wild Guide Series, Wild Guide Scotland is a compendium of hidden places, outdoor adventures, local/artisanal food and inspiring places to stay featuring hundreds of ideas for the perfect adventure in the wilds and wonderlands of Scotland.

In 2015, three very talented photographers/adventurers/dreamers embarked upon a two-year trip to discover, explore & capture some of the most idyllic places in Scotland. Their findings and photographs have been published as a travel guidebook: Wild Guide Scotland, which features incredible photography and enchanting travel writing. The collection of secret spots, with charming descriptions and enticing imagery, is a perfect guide for those looking to find adventure in Scotland; to climb a little higher, walk a little further, and to see a whooole lot more. 

Follow Kimberley GrantDavid Boyson Cooper & Richard Gaston (the authors) on their websites & on Instagram to see some more stunning photography. Purchase Wild Guide Scotland here

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Gather Cook Feast: Recipes from land & water by Jessica Seaton

'I only ever wanted to live in nature. I grew up in fields, messing about in streams, learning about flowers, nestled in a hedge bank with a book. As soon as I could after graduating I moved with my husband, Jamie, to West Wales, one of the wilder parts of Britain, where the coast is tortuous, long and never far away, the population sparse and the wooded river valleys full of wild flowers. There I learned to forage, to gather mushrooms in the woods, to make nettle soup and to pick wild garlic.'

- Jessica Seaton

Jessica Seaton, a friend of fforest and co-founder of Toast, is launching her new book on the 6th of April.

This is a book about landscape and food. About imagining food that, in some way, both comes from and represents landscape. Gather Cook Feast celebrates the connection between the food that we eat and the land where we live in over 120 recipes. Jessica is inspired to create meals that feel like a place, using the food from our seas, our rivers, our farmland, our gardens and our wild places. Full of simple, seasonal and nourishing recipes like braised shortribs with horseradish, courgette fritters with minted yoghurt, mackerel escabeche with wild fennel, smoked venison sausages with piccalilli vegetables, alongside puddings, preserves and cakes such as bramble and bay jelly pots, apple and walnut soft cake and rose macaroons, this is a book full of recipes to savour, to share, and to sustain.

In a recent entry to her blog, Jessica shared a recipe from her new book: Nettle soup with horseradish & chives. This is the best time of year to be experimenting with nettle recipes, something that Sian @coldatnight has been busy doing too...

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Owner of Noma restaurant, chef René Redzepi shares his top ten books

As the chef behind Denmark’s Noma restaurant, recipient of two Michelin stars and of the San Pellegrino Awards’ “best restaurant in the world” honour four times since it opened in 2004, René Redzepi is widely considered the godfather of New Nordic food.

With a menu rooted in foraging, fermenting, and smoking, Redzepi incorporates plant and animal ingredients such as lichen, beach mustard, pine needles, and musk ox, and turns them into a culinary experience for which diners will pay handsomely. Embedded in his work is a simple philosophy—that we don’t need food “to be delicious or great or all these things if we’re just to survive,” as he told Interview, “But it’s one of those things that makes life fun, livable. And the more I submerge myself in it, the more fun I seem to have.”

Below is a list of the chef's top ten books:


- Ferran Adrià

"Ferran has authored many books but, to me, this is one of the most important restaurant cook books of the last two decades. You can trace back several of the modern culinary movements of the last 20 years in the pages of this book, and it’s laden with beautiful and inspiring images."


- Anthony Bourdain

"You could argue that this book was the real moment of “the chef” as we know it today. I think before this came out, chefs were simply cooks hidden in the basement. This book sparked a new appetite for understanding how, and by whom, our food is prepared. This book (along with Marco Pierre’s “White Heat”) is one of the two books that propelled professional cooking into the pop culture phenomenon that it is today."


- Pablo Neruda

"I love these odes, they are a brilliant reminder to consider seemingly unimportant everyday objects and moments, and to enjoy the present."


- Fyodor Dostoyevsky

"This was one of the books that I started reading as Noma was opening. I was sleeping on the couch every night, coming home from work completely exhausted, way too stressed out and slowly sinking into some sort of depression. I became totally absorbed by the writing and universe that Dostoyevsky creates; it is the perfect escape."


- George Orwell

"This might be the best book I know of that describes restaurant culture. In general I am a very big fan of George Orwell, I could have selected half of the books on this list to be authored by him. But I particularly enjoy this one because it tells me something about my industry."


- Karen Blixen

"This is a Danish classic. As a cook in Scandinavia, reading this book makes you understand why Scandinavians have such a strange relationship with the act of pleasure. It makes you think about the impact religion has had on the enjoyment of things, particularly food. In other words, after I read this I understand why it can be so bleak here up in the Protestant north."


- Charles Darwin

"Lost on a desert island, having a book like this to inspire you, and to learn, would allow you to still dedicate your life to something. Find yourself a little beetle, or a tiny ant. Maintain a sense of curiosity and thrill of exploration."


- Paul Beatty

"My friend Daniel Patterson gave me this book and told me it is one of his favourite books that he’s ever read. Beatty’s use of language and humour is complex and layered, unfolding more and more each time you read it. It is also a book that has taught me—as a Dane—a great deal about the predominant culture in the West — America."


- Jared Diamond

"A monster of a book, where you get to learn about the world and the people that we are. It is a book that I tried to read several times before finally reading it through, each time wishing I didn’t have a couple of kids on my shoulder or the roaring engine sound of a modern kitchen in my ears. It is simply the perfect book when you have time to really focus and think."


- Hergé

"I spent many hours as a child and teenager digging into Tintin. Actually, it was a difficult choice between Tintin and “The Little Prince,” because that is another old favourite. Despite being classified as children’s books, I believe these can easily be read and enjoyed by adults."

This list is adapted from One Grand: a curated bookstore in which celebrated thinkers, writers, artists, and other creative minds share the ten books they would take to their metaphorical desert island. 

Visit the website here

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Matt Sewell: A career in illustration and writing sparked by his love of birds

Artist, illustrator and author Matt Sewell is a keen ornithologist and friend of fforest. His eye for capturing the beauty of birds through his unique illustrations takes the act of bird watching to new heights...

Matt has built a brand around his birds; selling his designs in big name department stores and smaller independent shops across the country as well as on his own website. His illustrated bird books are a delight for the eyes but are also informative so appeal to bird watching enthusiasts and illustration fans alike. He brings his birds to the masses in his 'Spotting & Jotting' workshops, a feature at fforest Gather 2016 that was a huge success. Bringing together grown-ups and little ones to learn about the surrounding bird-life at fforest and to learn how to draw and paint them with Matt. He will be joining us again this year at fforest Gather to share even more of his expert bird knowledge and artistic ideas. 

We asked Matt a few questions about where his love of illustration (and birds!) came from...

Did you do a degree in illustration or did you just have a passion for drawing and birds in particular?

I did a degree that focused on animation and illustration and have been a freelance illustrator since the late 90s. Nature and birds in particular have always featured in my work but it wasn't until I wanted to have a bit of a break and a new direction that I started focusing totally on birds, after a year away in Australia in 2007. 

If you were a bird which one would you most like to be and why?

Swallows are cool, they have fun together, are great flyers, look very cool, travel lots and hang out together in a big communal family.

Where would you like to travel to study the animals or birds?


Is there anything exciting in the pipeline you would like us to mention?

My first children's book called 'The Big Bird Spot' published by Pavillion, I have created loads of amazing landscapes to lose yourself in and spot birds and other wildlife. It will be out this spring and I can't wait to see how it goes down!

Matt will be back with us at Gather this year, to find out more and to buy tickets click here

Pre-order Matt's first children's book here

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The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson

'The idea is that there has been nothing comprehensive published in English on Nordic cooking, basically ever. There have been books about Scandinavian cooking or on national cooking back in the 1970s but nothing since then. And everyone confuses the countries and the regions and no one really understands how diverse it all is. So I'm aiming to show all that with this new book.'

- Magnus Nilsson

Magnus Nilsson is one of the world's top chefs and owner of Fäviken restaurant in Sweden. A remote restaurant in the middle of nowhere on the edge of the arctic circle, where James and Sian stayed and ate and met Magnus in the autumn of 2013. 

His second recipe book, 'The Nordic Cookbook', a huge book, beautiful and inspiring, an encyclopaedia of Scandinavian and Nordic cooking, bringing the best of Scandinavian food, traditions and stories straight to your kitchen. Whittled down from 11,000 recipes and articles, the book contains around 700 different recipes. It took Magnus three years to research and compile this list whilst still running Fäviken.

So many inspirational and interesting things are found in this book, which is brilliantly documented with atmospheric photos of landscapes, people and plates of food. One page in particular caught the attention of fforest chief, a picture of two men in a wooden shed...

'It was common, before modern kitchens were invented, to have a simple but dedicated house just for cooking next to the one you lived in. This way when you made big batches of food, the whole house in which you lived was not made damp by the steam.' 

...chief now wants a wooden cooking shed to house his wood smoker and crab boiling pots.

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Book here