Saturday 26 February 2011

Getting the logs ready for next winter

This winter's not even over, but with sufficient logs back at home to take us through until spring, it was time to start refilling the shelter ready for next winter.


These logs are from trees that we felled in Oct-Dec 2009, and have been split and stacked since then, under tarpaulins for the past few months. Now they're cut up and in the shelter, they'll get a chance to really dry out before we burn them in winter 2011/12.

Because we won't be using the saws so much for a few months, I used both of our 346xp's to cut the stacks up, in order to drain the fuel tanks. A bit more awkward than using the 570, as you have to work from both sides, but better than leaving fuel in the tanks to go off.


Although it was sunny while we were there, the wood is pretty wet in general at the moment.

However, the combination of sunshine, water and rising temperatures is getting things going in the plant world. Buds are developing on the fruit trees:



and various other small plants are getting a head start ready for the summer:

Up at the top of Sweep Wood there are Primroses flowering:

and the view from the bottom, of the area we coppiced this winter, shows a gradual greening of the woodland floor:

Can't wait for the first flowers to appear...


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Sunday 20 February 2011

Spring is getting closer...

Although it was raining yesterday, we went briefly to the wood anyway, just to walk around and have a look at stuff. I took a few pics of the signs of spring approaching, though just with my mobile phone, so the quality isn't great. Here's the most obvious one: snowdrops, at the top of Sweep Wood


As you can see, it was a pretty murky day:

But I guess that's ideal for the plants - mild and wet. There's lots of thistles coming up where we coppiced a year ago, which will be good for the insects when they flower:

and nettles are regrowing fast as well - must remember to take some to eat this time!

Compared to two weeks ago, the Bluebells and Lords and Ladies where we've just been coppicing are also coming on well:


and there's a carpet of greenery appearing - I think I could see the leaves of Wood Anemone here, and there was Dogs Mercury and possibly Lesser Celandine in other spots.

Finally, over in Grist Wood, there's been some more coppicing going on. This is near the patch we've just done, so should create a really nice patchwork effect of older coppice and regrowth, so benefiting the wildlife. I'm looking forward to seeing it growing soon...


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Tuesday 15 February 2011

Winchelsea cellars tour

Last weekend we went on a tour of the cellars in Winchelsea, organised by the Sussex Community Rail Partnership.

Unsurprisingly, we therefore started at Winchelsea station, although we actually walked there, as it's only about 2 miles from our house.

winchelsear station

From there it was a 15 min walk along the side of the river Brede towards Winchelsea:

Then up the A259 for a short distance towards the landgate on that side of town.

There's a similar gate on the other side of town too:

It's a pretty good view from up there. Winchelsea was built on a hill in the 13th century, after Old Winchelsea succumbed to the waves - it's south of Rye, somewhere in the English Channel now! It was a storm in 1287 that finally finished it off.


Although there's some big old-looking houses in Winchelsea, our guide told us that they are not the original ones, as the town was attacked and burned by the French and Spanish several times. Perhaps this is why they still play a game there called 'Kick the Frenchman's head'!

There are still some remnants of the old town, like this bizarre wall between two houses:

We started the tour proper at the town well:



From there we went to our first cellar. The town used to be much larger than it is now, and there are cellars all over the place, most of them owned by whoever lives above them. This one was in someone's garden:
Winchelsea cellar tour

As you can see, they're quite spacious inside. This one was pretty basic, with no special features:
Winchelsea cellar tour

Obviously not everyone wants to open their cellar to the public, and some aren't safe to go down. As a result there are numerous signs of cellars that are locked up:
Winchelsea cellar tour

Winchelsea cellar tour

This one was under someone's house, though it was accessed from outside:
Winchelsea cellar tour

It still had the dressed stone on its arches:
Winchelsea cellar tour

Winchelsea cellar tour

All in all, a smarter cellar, mainly because the owner is actually using it for storage, and had put lighting down there and concreted the floor:
Winchelsea cellar tour

Winchelsea cellar tour

The next one was awkward to access, going through this hatch:

Winchelsea cellar tour

Winchelsea cellar tour

The ceiling of this one was very impressive, almost like the inside of a church, and it was divided into several sections:
Winchelsea cellar tour

Winchelsea cellar tour

Winchelsea cellar tour

Winchelsea cellar tour

Winchelsea cellar tour

Winchelsea cellar tour

We were told that troops had been billeted there in the second world war, and there was still some evidence, such as this ancient hand grenade!
Winchelsea cellar tour

The next cellar was integrated properly into someone's house:
Winchelsea cellar tour

It was still in very active use:
Winchelsea cellar tour

Winchelsea cellar tour

With an impressive store of wine! Not surprisingly the Winchelsea Wine Society meets here...
Winchelsea cellar tour

Finally, we visited the cellar under our guide's house. There was a grille over one of the light/ventilation shafts:
Winchelsea cellar tour

This cellar was actually being excavated by an archaeologist, and had various markings in it, such as these crosses carved into the arches:
Winchelsea cellar tour

Winchelsea cellar tour

Winchelsea cellar tour

Anyway, that's it. Well worth a visit if you're in the area. I'm told you normally book the tours through the Winchelsea Post Office.


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