Saturday night – Sunday morning

Gosh, what a thing to be able to say: “I am done with the house”. That makes Monica’s arrival here seem very real and very close.

Moni sent pictures of her day out with Monica, though I haven’t been able to download them yet. I hope it was wonderful.

On Friday afternoon, I walked past Tod and halfway to Hebden, then up the hill until to right under Stoodley Pike. That’s where Treesponsibility were holding their annual gathering, in High Gates camping barn. It was dark and starting to rain on the last, uphill mile but still enjoyable. I was there before the folk who were collected from the station so I mucked in with preparing the dinner, getting to know a few key members and the organisation’s background. About thirty other volunteers turned up, many from a Manchester Uni gardening club who use these gatherings as a way to keep in touch now they’ve left college. All very young and earnest; nice people.

Part of the reason for this visit was to assess the idea of a camping barn for Warland. This one did not convince me: a huge volume, about the size of ours, with a huge heater in one corner; the heat went straight up without bothering anyone nearby then fell, chilled, down the back wall. By morning, everyone who tried to sleep on the flagged floor had disappeared to the smaller rooms elsewhere. I was on a raised platform but the cold draft was hard to keep out.

On Saturday, we had two plots of 250 trees to plant, both on steep slopes. The morning session was hard and disorganised (that’s the way they work) but the afternoon job went pretty smoothly.

After dinner, a guest speaker asked us to grab sleeping bags and snuggle up, which was my cue to leave! After the previous night’s poor sleep, the thought of another after an awkward hour with these happy youngsters made coming home to the farm impossible to resist. Although I’d miss the easier planting on Sunday, plus a fencing job, I had established my credentials as a good guy and a hard worker; plus got them interested in planting at Warland.

And so, I found myself walking back along the darkened towpath on cracker night. I passed only one person on the whole six miles. It was a delight to skirt the celebrations, avoiding the busy spots but looking in on quiet, family bonfires from the canal.

As a result, I had a wonderful night’s sleep and a good, guilt-free sleep-in. This morning, the sun is warming me on the bench outside as I write and I can hear the footballers calling on the sports ground below. A real free-day to finish reading my novel.

My immediate plans are:
– Tuesday: take bike into Rushholme for service; visit M&D; leave car at Walsden for service.
– Wednesday: train to London to stay with Neil.
– Friday: collect Bandit with Eileen and train home, hopefully on same train as Neil, who’s coming up for a few days; maybe collect car.

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