Forest gardens

Opened up the boat today. When I collected it from the import depot in Manchester, it was standing in the rain and I had only enough time to throw its covers inside and tow it here. After that, it sat in more rain for a few weeks until some tarpaulins emerged from the packed stuff. I bailed it out a few times but I knew there’d be damp inside. For the last three months, I’ve put off looking at it closely, fearing a smelly, stained mess inside. But it wasn’t. Huzzah! Apart from three small areas, only one of which was inside the cabin, all was clean and dry. I got away with only a few spoiled hats and gloves. Another bit of good news, boat-wise, is that it fits in the garage so it and the shippen contents are safe at night. We met an under-employed boat-builder with a workshop on the canal who may be able to fix up the trailer. Slow steps to its re-launch. It’s been fun and rewarding to re-discover how well The Pelican is designed and built and to fish out all the bits and pieces that I’ve put on board make it as snug and interesting as it is functional.

The days have been gloriously sunny and we’ve spent most evenings out in the garden until sunset. Today, though, we put up a brolly, left by Karin and Ralph, over their garden table in the pig-sty. It’s a whimsical place and was a lovely spot for lunch and lounging about. Our Adelaide house delighted us because it had lots of nooks that lent themselves to sitting and chatting; the farm must have such places but its scale makes them hard to spot. We discussed ideas for putting the bread oven and associated shelter there. Still mulling. If we get away with a flue there, in the yard, maybe we can build that dragon pottery-kiln up the hill just outside.

The boat-builder has recommended a few timber and tool suppliers in Halifax, so I’m looking forward to a day out when the machinery is running and the projects start rolling. I found myself accidentally looking at a workbench on-line, while searching for hand tools, and Garlick’s, the saw-makers. Both places that would be worth a visit, too.

Monica has a woodwork project of her own: a 3D jigsaw of nicely machined cedar that will assemble into her first beehive. She also has the suit, gaiters and gauntlets and attended a swarming on Thursday. With real enthusiasm and careful consideration, she is developing her ideas about the kind of bee-keeper she wants to become.

We were invited by Pam Warhust of Incredible Edible Todmorden, just because we were in her café at the right moment, to take part in a strategy workshop to create a contribution to the town plan. Hah! We were each thrust forward to present the ideas of the groups we had joined. Between the two of us, we may have already made quite a mark on the future of the town. We gave them the linked concepts of turning a derelict site into a makers and growers enclave, connected by their green walk to an upgraded town square where locals and visitors can enjoy the produce, stamping a foodie and crafty identity on the town. The attending half-dozen town planners, whose job is to turn the ideas into a document, complimented us on our ideas and approach. A very satisfying day for us both because it feels like we’re being invited to become part of the town.

Next week, the Earthship team have a meeting to prepare for a preliminary meeting with Calderdale council, where I and two others will present the concept of the eco-house we’d like to build behind the barn. What we really need is a name for the project because it’s unlikely to end up as a text-book earthship. It may end up as a mountain-bikers hostel or a woodcraft school because the council want it to be something that needs to be in this location.

The year seems to be accelerating past as the summer’s activities come upon us. I’m hoping to spend a few weeks in the fields after the boat and bike re-assembly tasks are out of the way; then after a quick stab at some snag-list jobs, it’ll be time for the great giggle of hand-mowing the meadow.

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