My name is Ben Short. I am a charcoal burner and woodsman, working in the Dorset countryside. This was not always the case. Eight years ago I was an advertising writer plying my trade in London. But the work left me unsatisfied and I no longer wanted to continue in that business.
With that chapter closing, my only wish was to get back to the country. This desire was accompanied by a lurking sense of inadequacy – that while I’d made good in my chosen career, back in the real world, where practical ability mattered, I was useless.
Over the intervening years much has changed: I’ve lived in huts and old wagons, spent summers off-grid in woods; I’ve hauled my water from wells and had to forage for my supper; I’ve been scared while working overnight in deep forest, seen and felt some strange things; And I’ve learned to be – at least vaguely – useful.
We live at a time when the old order is creaking; where established norms and habits are being challenged more than ever. I found myself in that space, that place where the status and security of a well-paid advertising job rung hollow; where the desire for more meaning forced a change.
Going back to the woods was my answer.