Saturday 31 July 2010


One very good reason to always wear steel toe capped boots when moving heavy logs around! (or at least keep your feet out of the way!)
It's very colourful ;-)

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Tuesday 27 July 2010

Visiting the Isle of Eigg (part 1)

Back in February I was fortunate to visit the Isle of Eigg, part of the Inner Hebrides off the NW coast of Scotland. I didn't blog about it at the time, as I was visiting to assess the island as an Ashden Awards applicant, but now they've come through the judging process and emerged as a winner, it's time for me to share some of the amazing photos from the trip.

There's a lot of photos, so this post will just cover the trip to Eigg, and I'll do another one shortly.

The first thing to say is that it's a long way to Eigg, but well worth the trip. I actually started from near Manchester, having visited another applicant in that area, and I left at 7am, arriving in Glasgow around lunchtime. From Glasgow, I got the train to the port of Mallaig, which took until about 5:30pm, but was one of the most amazing scenic train rides ever.

Not long after leaving Glasgow you're into the Loch Lomond area, with views like this:

but it's not much further and you really feel like you're in the mountains, like at this little station where we stopped for a few minutes:

I was very pleased to have a clean train window, so I was able to get some nice pictures through it. Every now and then I'd time one just right, like this:

As we carried on, it became very desolate but still beautiful:

but a few hardy souls had clearly lived here in the past:

The sun was setting as we were in the Fort William area:

which sadly meant I had to do the rest of the trip to Mallaig in darkness, including the bridge the train in the Harry Potter films drives over - apparently in the summer you can ride on the actual train!

I stayed at a lovely pub/B&B in Mallaig, the Clachain Inn, although seeing as it was February they weren't serving dinner (and had kindly forewarned me of this), but neither was anywhere else, except...
the Fishermen's Mission! I had a good and cheap dinner there of egg, chips and beans, and then went to rest, ready for my ferry trip the next morning.

The ferry left mid morning from Mallaig, but I went down to the harbour a bit early to get a few pictures.

before long we were cruising across a calm sea, with a nice view back to Mallaig:

The weather was most uncharacteristic for mid February!

It's not really very far to the Isle of Eigg, and quite quickly I could easily see Eigg and Rum:

Here's some closer pictures, first of Rum:

and then Eigg:

Some parts of Eigg look quite desolate, like this bit (with Rum poking up behind it):

But other parts are much more gentle, and you start to notice houses dotted around:

Prominently visible is The Sgurr, which is apparently the left over from an eruption of the volcano which formed Rum (according to Wikipedia...)

There's a pier the ferry docks at - although this was only built a few years ago. Prior to that, you had to transfer to shore in smaller boats I think, and if you brought a car to the island, it wasn't going to leave again!

I was promptly welcomed to the island by a sign, but also the friendly people who were my hosts for the next couple of days.
to be continued... (in the meantime, read about why I was visiting Eigg)


Read part 2 of Visiting the Isle of Eigg
Read part 3 of Visiting the Isle of Eigg

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Saturday 24 July 2010

St Mary's Ecology Group visits the wood

I hosted a visit from St Mary's Ecology Group (from Rye) to the wood today. I'd been to talk to them a while ago about Peak Oil and related issues, and had mentioned the woodland, and they've been waiting to visit ever since!
We took a couple of hours to walk around the wood, visiting the wayleave, the footpath, the pond and various other spots. It was striking to see the difference between the growth in the areas we've coppiced and the other parts of the wood:
There were lots of butterflies, but I just photographed one, as it was the first time I've had a chance to inside our wood - a silver Washed Fritillary:
I'm told they the group enjoyed the visit, and I certainly enjoyed walking round the wood without doing jobs for a change - though I do enjoy the work as well!


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Friday 23 July 2010

Logs! Lots of logs!

It's been a busy couple of days for me in the wood. Tracy's still teaching this week, so I've been on my own, hauling logs around.

but there's definitely signs of progress:

You'll notice I've stacked logs at the end of the rows in alternate directions - this stops them spilling out sideways.

The really hard work has been fixing the track up though, but it's coming on nicely:

I've also put in a footpath sign at the junction, as since we moved the pile of logs from the end of our ride, we've had numerous lost walkers coming through the wood.

There's still a lot more to do - we need to be able to drive all the way to where we were felling last winter before the end of August!


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Sunday 18 July 2010

A new improved firewood shelter (part 4)

A brilliant day to be in the woods! Lovely sunshine, but not too hot. Best of all, we've finished the roof on the firewood drying shelter! Andrew dropped in, so we made sure he got his hands dirty, cleaving some chestnut for the roof:
He got the hang of it nicely, but then again he has been practising with a froe making kindling already.
He also gave us a hand moving some logs after I'd cut them up, though some went into the trailer for delivery to a friend in return for a favour they'd done us.
I think the shelter looks pretty good now with its roof complete - all we need to do now is add a gutter for rainwater harvesting!
You might notice an extra support to the left - we thought the cross-bean was sagging a little, so we trimmed down a Y-shaped pole we'd saved nearly three years ago, thinking it would come in useful some time...
The shelter's also a handy place to suspend some birch bark to dry for fire lighting.
You can see the earlier construction of the firewood shelter in part 1, part 2 and part 3.


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Saturday 17 July 2010

Cool thunder clounds in Camber

We had a great thunderstorm this week. Not great because of the lightning, but because of the impressive clouds that rolled over:
I took a short video to show how fast and low they were, and then had to duck inside as the rain came down!


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A new improved firewood shelter (part 3)

OK, I know this is taking us for ever, but work has been very busy for the past couple of months! You can see the start of the firewood shelter in part 1 and part 2.

The latest job was to make some walls for it. The walls of a firewood shelter need to keep rain out, but let wind in, so that the wood in there can season. I sharpened some stakes:
then we drove them in along the edges and fitted sticks in between them:
This should let some air blow through while keeping out the rain. We're just doing two walls for now, the third wall (on the near end) will be put in once the store is mostly full - after that we'll get wood in and out through the opening on the left.

Our friend Paul and his daughter Emily came up to help, and Emily drove the land rover through the wood with a pile of logs in the back:
I cut up a few logs in a rack:
and everyone gave a hand loading them into the shelter:
We might build the walls right up to the top later, and we still need to do some more on the roof.

Elsewhere in the wood, it's turning into a bit of a jungle!
and Tracy got some nice pictures of spider webs:
And what were Pete and Tom doing while we were working hard in the wood? They decided that the cage wasn't good enough any more, and that the sofa was the best place for a nap:
Also, Tom (the one with the white face) has learned to turn on our portable radio - a few times now we've gone out and left it on the table, only to find it turned on when we get back! We've caught him in the act since, so we know it's him rather than Pete.


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