Wednesday 30 March 2011

EWB students build us a firewood shelter

Last weekend we had a group of students from Engineers Without Borders UK (Imperial College branch) come to camp in the wood and also build us an additional firewood drying shelter.

EWB UK 2011 camping trip DSC_7117


We started off with a walk round the wood to admire the Wood Anemones:

and also the bridge that EWB built last year in Sweep Wood:

Then the first part of the shelter building started - carrying back some of the Sweet Chestnut stakes we'd made during this winter's coppicing:

Before starting on the new shelter, we all had a good look at the old one, to see how it could be improved:

Then an area was measured out so that the tarps we have would cover the roof:

and work started on peeling the stakes, so they'll last longer in the ground:

The stakes were put in with the post driver:
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and then the rest of their length was peeled - this was easier to do once they were in the ground, which is why we'd only done the first bit earlier:
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While all this was going on, some of the group was off felling small trees to use for stakes in the walls and also for roof slats:
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Before long the outline of the shelter was taking shape:
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Because the ground was slightly sloped, but we wanted the roof to be level, we used an old plastic pipe with water in it to check the relative height of thet corner stakes:
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After all that work it was time for a break, and the rope swing was put into use...
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The trees that had been felled earlier were cut to length and sharpened with a side axe:
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then these were used to create posts that Hazel rods could be woven in between to form the walls:
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The longer poles to form the ridge and edges of the roof were flattened using a draw knife until they sat neatly on the posts, then they were bolted down:
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By the end of Saturday the shelter was really taking shape:
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Sunday saw work start on using a froe to cleave the freshly felled chestnut poles to make slats for the roof:
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Each of these then had to be smoothed with a draw knife or billhook to make sure it wouldn't tear the tarp later on:
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The slats were then put on the roof:
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with each being nailed in at the top to secure it:
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near the end the drill battery ran out, but fortunately I'd come prepared!
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And finally, on went the tarps, fixed down with zip ties and paracord, just in time for a team photo before it was time to pack up camp:
EWB UK 2011 camping trip DSC_7154

In case you were wondering, there was also some time for food, camp fires and beer!

Tracy and I are very grateful for all the help we received over the weekend - it would have taken us at least a week to get it done ourselves! Looking forward to another visit next year...


p.s. there are more photos than the ones in this blog, visit the set on my Flickr page to see the rest.

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Wednesday 23 March 2011

LightStorm CL1 wind-up torch: £23.99

I've now got some LightStorm CL1 wind-up torches in stock, they're £23.99 including postage, though I can do them quite a bit cheaper if you happen to live near enough to come and pick one up.

They're very ruggedly built torches, but the main unique feature is that they use carbon ultracapacitors to store energy, instead of rechargeable batteries. If you're into this kind of thing, you'll know that means they will last many years longer than a normal torch, and will always be ready to use in an emergency!

There's more info here, and you can buy them via ebay here.

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Monday 21 March 2011

Buds, birds and flowers in the woods

It's warming up a lot now (in the daytime at least), and this weekend we took advantage of the sunshine for a walk in the woods. There's loads of Spring flowers out now, like the Wood Anemone (all the following flower pics are from Sweep Wood):



the Lesser Celandine:

and of course the Primrose:

There's Daffodils too - I thought these were probably garden escapees, at the top of Sweep Wood, but there's one further down the hill too, which is odd:

What's particularly noticeable is how the strip in Sweep Wood that we coppiced this winter and last is really green as it gets so much light:


Compare this to a patch near our camp in Chestnut Coppice, which won't get much sunlight for a few weeks yet:

Not to be outdone by the flowers, some of the trees are in bloom too, like this Plum at the top of Sweep Wood:

Our own fruit trees are budding, like this pear:

and the wild Apple:

Some are a bit further behind, like this Sycamore:

While others already have leaves, like Elder:

and Hawthorn:

Meanwhile the willow has its catkins on:


With all these flowers coming out, it's not surprising to see bees around:

and also butterflies, like this Comma:

There was even a Ladybird sunning itself:

The birds are very busy right now, singing to mark out their territory. Here's a Robin, a Blackbird, a Blue Tit and a Pigeon:




Oops, I guess someone ate the Pigeon!

Last but not least, we found a huge bone. I assume someone's dog dropped it, unless we have cows in the wood...


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