If You Go Down to the Woods Today 🌳

It was a classically grey, mizzly, Bristol morning. The christmas spirit had worn off and the workshop was in full swing with orders for the new year. So, what a treat it was to be invited out into the Somerset countryside for a team away-day. We piled into the vans with plenty of tools and hit the road as a team. Spirits were high with some road coffees, good tunes - even more so when reached the rolling hills outside Bristol. Nick came to meet us in his Land Rover and we followed in convoy down a narrow winding country road and over a bridge that looked like it could have been out of a fairytale! Finally, we had reached the hidden valley. Tucked away in these woodlands outside Pensford, ex Royal Marine Commando Nick Goldsmith runs Hidden Valley Bushcraft. Here amongst the twisting branches and moss covered logs Nick teaches skills to survive in the wild. From foraging to fire starting, here in the valley you can learn not just how to survive, but build confidence and soak-up all of nature’s beauty.

So, how does a kitchen company fit into all of this?! As well as his bushcraft school, Nick has established a non-profit organisation that is close to our hearts.

Juniper’s founders and owners, Jim and Gilly, met whilst serving as Royal Engineers in the British Army, so have experienced first hand what it’s like to assimilate back into civilian life. Nick’s Woodland Warrior programme will provide a much needed space for rest and rehabilitation for returning soldiers and their families, particularly those affected by PTSD. And it’s not just veterans, but frontline emergency service personnel too - now more important than ever during the pandemic. In the peace and tranquility of the valley, visitors will stay in an off-grid cabin with all the kit needed for a restful time away getting back to basics.

So, naturally when Nick asked Juniper to provide the kitchen we jumped at the opportunity!

Last month’s trip was our second to Hidden Valley Bushcraft, but this time the whole team got involved - even our marketing manager got on the tools! We spent the day getting the foundation work done before our kitchen goes in.

With a big team on site and some bacon sarnies in the belly, we were able to power through lots of jobs in the morning. Tom got the panelling sorted in the eaves, Kurt and Ryan took care of the shower, Ginny was insulating and Chin was chief cutter!

As an ex-chef (another string to his multi-talented bow) Nick knows all too well how to keep a workforce motivated - delicious food and plenty of it, all cooked by fire underneath an enormous military parachute canopy. And what a delicious lunch that was, a proper hearty chilli on a cold winter’s afternoon. Fuelled up on Nick’s top-notch scran, and with some good tunes on, we got to work on the interior cladding for the second half of the day.

It was amazing to see how much the team achieved in a day! A huge shout out to Nick for inviting us along and letting us be part of this wonderful project. We love what we do, and we love it even more when we can use our skills to help others and give back to our community. Stay tuned for more updates on the Hidden Valley cabin right here on the Juniper blog. We can’t wait to show you when it’s finished!

For a closer look at Nick's work at Hidden Valley Bushcraft, check out his fantastic YouTube channel and Instagram account.

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