Macaroni Wood is an area of woodland near the village of Eastleach in the Cotswolds. Noah’s Ark Children’s Venture has the use of approximately 17 acres of the woodland including Bazley House, Castree House, the sports hall and classroom complex, and another building (yet to be named) that contains an indoor play area, toilet block and eventually, when funding is available, a classroom and small kitchen. We also have a mobile home that is available to groups to use for extra accommodation.
The wood is in ideal location as it is situated off the main road and gives groups the freedom to play and learn in a secure and peaceful rural environment.
It has something to offer everyone at all times of the year – witnessed by the fact that we attract repeat visitors as well as attracting new groups each year.
The wood or ‘forest’ as many children call it is not ancient woodland but was originally planted in the 1840s and so has many very mature trees – mainly beech, oak, ash and sycamore. Groups are allowed to use a large area of the woodland adjacent to the houses to play and explore safely.
Woodland learning is a very popular activity run by Marcus, to learn more about trees and woodland in a fun and hands-on way. They learn new skills in an enjoyable way which helps them to develop personally and to understand and appreciate the woodland environment. Sessions generally last around 2 hours and can include, fire lighting, shelter building and cooking on an open fire. To book your session contact Marcus here.
The wood is full of wildlife and for many children, young people and adults it is their first opportunity to see animals and birds that many of us take for granted. We often see rabbits, hares, stoats, deer, foxes, badgers, mice and the occasional hedgehog. The birdlife is prolific – we regularly see and hear buzzards mewing and calling whilst flying overhead and recently red kites have been seen frequently in the local area. There are feeding stations and nest boxes outside both houses that attract many varieties of small birds including robins, tits, finches, nuthatches, woodpeckers, thrushes etc. Small video cameras are attached to some of the nest boxes and images are relayed to the computers in the games rooms where groups can see chicks hatching in the spring and early summer months.
There is something to see and do in all seasons of the year but Macaroni Wood looks particularly beautiful in the spring months when the leaves are fresh and all shades of green after what have, in recent years, been long and cold winters. The colour of the leaves as they turn in the autumn and the cold crisp days of winter as well as the summer days that can be spent playing and learning outside all make Macaroni Wood an ideal location for a residential visit.
Many of our groups love to help feed and look after the animals at Macaroni Wood. We feed the chickens and collect their eggs every day and answer many questions – some of them very amusing about where chicks come from and does very egg have a chick inside! We hatch chicks every year to keep up our stock of laying hens and many groups have seen chicks pecking their way through the shells to emerge as a damp bundle of feathers that quickly dry out to become fluffy yellow ‘Easter’ chicks. We also have turkeys and guinea fowl that are very noisy and funny to watch as they wander through the woodland.
There are guinea pigs and rabbits for the groups to feed and stroke. All our small animals have been given to us by families that no longer want them and they love being here as they have large runs and huts to live and play in.
We now have two micro pigs – Herbert and Humphrey – who are now fully grown and not quite as ‘micro’ as many people imagine they should be! They are actually about the third of the size of a fully grown farm pig and very friendly if a little obsessed by food.
In the spring we sometimes have orphan lambs and goat kids to bottle feed and all the groups enjoy helping with the regular feeds…