Thursday, 31 July 2008

July; Pottering About

We finished cutting back the path on the wayleave so it now varies between about 4’ and 8' wide to let the light reach the ground, so hopefully we should still have some bugle, violets and orchids again next year. There are also quite a few thistles which are up to about 6’ tall and there’s been plenty of butterflies fluttering about; including a white admiral that my dad saw. To provide the main timber joists for the new tree camp Tom and Sam felled an alder with an axe (I offered to chainsaw it but they insisted). Even split in half the 11’ timbers are bloody heavy when you are trying to hold them and fix them into a tree at above head height. The other tree camp, on the edge of the glade, is now looking healthy with a lush growth of new leaves giving shade and also hiding it a bit, and an old rope ladder that had been lurking in the garage for years has now been fixed up.

Bewl Bridge Reservoir is only about a mile away but we hadn’t walked there until this month. So on a hot day we set off in that general direction to see how long it would take. It was a pleasant walk; along the dead-end lane past thatched cottage, oasthouses and with 3 Alsatian guard dogs ferociously barking through the security fence around the manor house (until Che decided he would bark back at them and then they gave up). Past a field of broad beans (which tasted lovely and nutty raw) and then we looked down into the flooded valley. A short walk down an oak shaded hollow-way footpath and then Che was playing in the water. So, only a mile, and then it was another mile around to the café for lunch. I think we’ll be doing that walk again, but we’ll probably take a picnic next time as the café is rip-off expensive. I’m also planning on bringing my coracle here once I’ve built it.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

June; Fair Weather Campers

After previously being put off by weather forecasts in previous weeks, we decided to ignore what the beeb said and just go and camp anyway. Luckily we got away with just light drizzle as we set up on the Friday evening, and Saturday was a lovely day. We didn’t do a lot - which is a great way to spend a day and not something we are used to in ‘modern life’. After finally getting the fire started we cooked burgers, sausages and beans for a basic supper that always tastes better for the charring (that’s my excuse anyway). We (OK, I) put some sandstone rocks around the fire and that was fine until the fire died down, then as they cooled they cracked and sent little bits of hot stone flying. Plan B is to buy some proper fire bricks and use those to make 4 short pillars to support a metal grid on which we can then cook. Previously we’d used logs which are generally OK for a few fires but are impermanent for obvious reasons so it would be good to have something more lasting.

The bracken growth in the clearing has slowed now, although I did give it somemore bashing; hopefully another couple of years and we may not have to do it again. It is already making a difference (we started bracken bashing last year) and there is the odd patch of grass and other plants as yet unidentified growing in what was just a bracken monoculture. There’s also a few brambles starting to grow too but we’ll mange the area as best we can to get a diversity of plants and encourage butterflies etc into the clearing. On the edge of the clearing we have our first foxglove, while elsewhere in the wood the honeysuckle is in full flower. Tom saw a deer on the wayleave, which is only the second time we’ve seen one at the wood, although we do see their tracks in the mud.

This month we also spent time cutting back some of the birch and alder on the wayleave to keep a path clear and allow sunlight to reach the floor. Work has started on a new tree camp, this time it will be a bit larger as it will reach between 2 trees that are growing either side of the stream. Tom is hoping to sleep in it once it’s complete, but at the moment we are still at an early stage of fixing the basic supporting timbers to the trees.