Friday, February 3, 2017

A bridge over (un)troubled waters.

I've been building a few bridges lately (actual as opposed to metaphorical).
When I announced that I had bought the wood quite a few friends offered to come down and help out. Unfortunately the January weather seems to have put them off, I'm sure come the spring they'll be beating a path. I won't hold it against them, I have questioned my own sanity on more than one occasion recently. My parents have been regular visitors and have helped me out a lot. My old mucker and mountainbiking wingman Mitch Bryan called in to assist me in between his rigorous Strathpuffer training sessions and has promised further labour in the near future when his off-shifts coincide with mine. And my good friend Phil Evans (he of Yak Attack fame - the race organiser/director no less) lent me his considerable construction knowledge for the bridges. We spent the best part of a cold Sunday digging, sawing, and hammering to our hearts content. Phil has also pledged further assistance and I will happily take him up on it; particularly when it comes to laying a base for the shed and then constructing said shelter. I, in return, provided fresh coffee and Chocolate Hobnobs, a fair exchange if ever there was one.

Either end of the big bridge I am digging in lumps of rock to give the steep path a little more grip and to prevent erosion.

The mighty Phil Evans posing proudly on our bridge.

First test drive over the new bridge. I survived.

The second bridge built over a troublesome gulley.
Billy Barker helped out too.
I mentioned in my last post about the purchase of a new chainsaw. It was dispatched efficiently by the supplier FR Jones & Son and delivered directly to me on site in London. If you are in the market for quality gardening, landscape, or forestry items, I would heartily suggest that you check them out. Their prices are extremely competitive and the service professional and efficient.

Stihl MS362 with a 20" bar. Excellent :)
Working away from home during the week leaves me short of time but it does give me the opportunity to do some online research to while away the evenings stuck in a hotel. I googled, and then designed a sawhorse which I promptly built one Friday afternoon when I got home, and from 100% reclaimed materials I'm pleased to say. It has proven to be a useful addition and has made logging a whole lot easier and safer.

My splendid new homemade sawhorse.
My new Stihl MS 362 C-M is a fine piece of machinery and made short work of the fallen Oak that has been blocking part of my access path, I can now trundle my wheelbarrow towards HQ in considerably less peril than previously. Most of the fallen Oak was logged in to 12" (300cms) lengths and has been stacked to season. A pile of offcuts has been left, well, in a pile, as a haven for insect life. There will be plenty of these scattered around the wood, in the months to come, as one of my starting points towards greater biodiversity. My ultimate long-term goal is to create a sanctuary that has myriad life in all forms, from lichens to fungi all the way through the spectrum to bats and badgers (I hope). My wood has been left neglected for a long time and it will require considerable sensitive management in order to achieve this.

The logs stored for a future project.
I've also been de-brambling with vigour when the mood takes me (I have a serious bramble problem), and at the end of each day I have wandered around collecting the litter that has been accumulating for the last decade or so. As the leaves continue to degrade a little more litter becomes exposed with each visit and I potter around and collect it up, I believe that I have now collected almost all of it, from a rogue duvet, a broken suitcase, a small rucksack, a hoodie, a multitude of discarded beer cans and bottles, remnants of flytipping, a tent ensconced firmly in the stream bed, and a rusty child's bicycle. There's nothing quite like variety. 

Digging a tent out of the stream proved to be a challenging couple of hours.
I am still considering the potential for a short and technical mountainbike trail (the terrain is perfect for a challenging route) but I am in no particular hurry. I am still finding my way around and I don't want to rush in only to change it later, besides there's no hurry.

I have also begun construction (at home) of the compost toilet and hope to get it installed in a few weeks time, unfortunately I may have to buy some of the timber. I'm trying to keep that to a minimum and I'll be visiting a few reclaim places first to see if I can pick up what I need. 

As I write this the weather is wild outside, wind & rain. Hopefully tomorrow will dawn bright and sunny, whatever it is I'll be doing something for the wood :)

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Consume less, live more. Plant more trees.

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