Wud Records: The Wood!

Early in January on one of the first sunny days of 2013, Fedax collected Fooog from his sometime residence in Honiton and together they journeyed to the Wud Records Studios in Exeter to make some more recordings for Pok’s Anthology album. On the way they stopped at The Wood, specifically, The Clearing, and it is still there!!! A spontaneous outburst of blapping and the arrangement of some fallen branches to form the word ‘Wud’ in the centre of The Clearing was enough to let The Wood and The Clearing know that two of their long-lost prodigal sons had returned for a few moments at least.

The Clearing in The Wood was one of the spiritual homes of the pioneers of Wud way back around the time when we all started doing musical things. Many of the original Wud posse would go and camp in The Clearing in The Wood, build a fire, play acoustic guitar, eat, drink, smoke, sleep and be generally merry.

One of the things about this place that made it so special was how it had evolved. Several decades previously it had been part of the garden of a stately home. During the later part of the 1800s the owners of said stately home brought some rhododendron back to England from their travels and planted it in the garden. Time passed, land was sold and the rhododendron spread, and when the Willow View Caravan Park was home to Grape and some of the others during the early and mid 1980s, the wood had been significantly infiltrated by the rhododendron. In its very centre the branches, roots and runners were so dense, thick and heavy you could not pass and it was very dark and mysterious there. Much of The Wood was – essentially – a single plant! In our states of heightened awareness, we were able to sense the awareness of The Wood itself, which surrounded us and extended in every direction. Highly trippy, it was.

When the A30 was to be made into a dual carriageway in the late 1980s and the proposed route drove right through the heart of the The Wood, some of the Wud posse set up a protest group, called Habitats Under Threat (HUT), and George and Richard (who would later work together in Alien Heat) made a recording of their song Planet Earth (which was performed live many times by Rough Terrain) to raise awareness of the issues of environmental destruction caused by the building of new roads. It ultimately proved futile and the development went ahead as money always wins in these battles, despite the prolonged efforts of the Fairmile A30 Protest Camp.

You can even see The Clearing on Google Maps! If you look at the A30 near Ottery St Mary you will see Straightway Head Big Wood – this is The Wood through which the A30 was built. A deep cutting scars the top of the once-beautiful hill and there is a footbridge almost at the top of the hill, which links the two parts of the road that was split when the A30 was diverted. About 50 feet to the north west of the west side of the bridge you can just make out The Clearing itself.

This was a truly awesome and auspicious discovery by Fooog and Fedax, who both felt energised, reinvigorated and thrilled in equal measure to be able to return to such a significant spiritual home long after it was thought to be lost to the great Vogon-like yellow earth-moving machines of the 80s. The subsequent studio session felt that bit more special as a result.