Monday, January 16, 2017

Weekend (woodland) Warrior.

Bluebell Wood. 

After the agonising four week wait for the completion of the legal process for purchasing the wood I have now been able to get down there and get stuck in.
I managed a few days immediately after the completion date before I had to pack my bags and head to the big smoke for work (London. Noisy place).
I have been down and done a lot of work during the last two weekends. It's hard graft at the minute but it's a very rewarding process.
I'm slowly getting a feel for the place and finding my bearings.
The wood is triangular in shape with a 350m road frontage (not too noisy except for commuters using it as a rat run during rush hour) and about 150m at its widest point. It slopes gently upwards, in an east to west direction, from the pointy end to the wide part; and has a lovely little brook meandering throughout its length. The westerly end on the road side of the brook has a steeper gradient. The perfect spot, it seems, for rope swings (Unfortunately I've had to remove them for insurance purposes).

A crappy screenshot from Google maps but you get the general idea. 
Rather fortuitously the quiet corner furthest from the road is relatively flat and is the perfect spot for my HQ. This is where I'm currently focusing my time. 

My first job, after identifying the spot, was to remove a ridiculous amount of brambles to create a clear area for my log store, shed, and compost toilet (amongst other things, such as a Slackline Park, and Cordwood Gazebo - fanciful projects for a later date). It was, typically, the most brambly area of the whole wood. Not any more it isn't. Clearing brambles has become one of my favourite pastimes, it is a very cathartic and rewarding process, and because the soil is so loamy it is quite an easy task to remove large areas quite quickly (an hour or two of solid focus gets tangible results).

The brambly corner before...
... during...
... and after :) HQ.
The second task was to build and install a log store to dry out the copious amounts of windfall timber.
The wood has been neglected for a long time, brambles have a serious foothold in many areas and quite a lot of trees have fallen down over the years. I don't intend to remove too many of them but some do need sorting out. They will provide me with a bountiful harvest of logs for a brazier for many years to come.
I built it entirely from reclaimed materials save for a few screws and coach bolts (Read that as scrounged, begged, and borrowed. I even re-used some old screws). The roof felt and wood preserver were left overs from my shed at home. The whole project cost me the princely sum of about £2.00!
A composting toilet is the next big construction project, I'll keep you posted on that development (If I can scrounge the timber).

I built the frames and cut most of the timber at home.
My flat-pack ready for construction in Brambly Corner.
Going up...

The finished article. My pride & joy :)
After enjoying some rain showers I thought it was about time to erect a temporary shelter so I strung a cheap tarp up in the tree's so that I could at least make a cup of tea without having to trudge back to the van. This could be my home for quite some time, at least until I have submitted my "Permitted development application" to the local council for a shed. Fortunately that is a relatively painless process by all accounts.

The tarp. Shelter from the storm.
My access into the wood is currently fairly tricky. I have a vehicle access lower down but the ground is too wet at the moment and it really needs grading and surfacing so I've been parking on the roadside near to the houses. The existing path is steep and slippy in places so I am redirecting it around a couple of trees on a slightly easier route (easier for my wheelbarrowing at least). A large fallen oak tree is blocking the way so I have started to cut it away. The limbs will be sliced into 300cm (12") lengths for a later project. (Google "Cordwood construction" if you have the time and you'll have an idea of what I'm talking about).
This job however has realised another problem. My ten year old chainsaw isn't up to the job. It's ok for trimming small stuff for the log store but it's woefully lacking when it comes to logging 18 inches of fallen oak. So I have had to bite the bullet and order a new one. I found a particularly fine example of a Stihl on offer online and as it happens the company is nine miles down the road from where I'm working in London. They are delivering straight to me. Twenty inches of thrusting, rip roaring, man-toy. It's nearly as good as sex.

The fallen oak that is currently blocking the path. Soon to be the victim of a chainsaw massacre.

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Thank you for looking, see you soon.
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Consume less, live more. Plant more trees.

The brook coloured by the recent rain.

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