More tea leaves

Forest Garden kick-off is on Sunday. About a dozen definite attendees though none of the experts have contacted me. I’ll just press ahead and co-opt them and Tony to critique the design at the appropriate stage. The weather forecast is crap but, after a brief look at the land, I’ll sit folk down in the barn to do a design exercise like we did at Martin Crawford’s, surrounded by stimulating information and questions based on Martin’s slides plus photos of the area on a dry day. It’ll be interesting to see how ready the crowd is to adopt this alternative way of gardening.

Soon, I’ll be planning to purchase some of the big trees for there and to decorate the meadow. I would like to visit Brogdale heritage apple centre at Faversham to choose some fruit varieties. I wonder if Tony would be interested in a day out in October. They have a festival on the 22nd but that may not be the best time to get some expert advice. The timber framing course in Sussex is at the start of October so I could call in on the way there or back.

Monica was stung by one of her bees when mowing the pigsty lawn and has gone to bed early, dosed with anti-histamine. I’ve been splitting logs in preparation to produce this winter’s firewood.

It’s the Rochdale Canal Festival, this week. The horse-drawn barge passed through here today and we stepped out to accompany it up from Walsden. It had a stanza of poets on board to soak up the romance. This really is a nice place to spend time.

The pub over the road, The Bird i’th’Hand, is up for auction on the 9th of September. I think the current owners have given up trying to get permission to build houses on the two acres so it looks like they’re offloading it ASAP. We’re having a sticky-beak next Tuesday whilst the opportunity is available. We may never see the inside again.

Monica found a lathing hammer at the Tod antique centre for £10. It has a hammer, a narrow axe for cutting laths into corners and a nail-pulling notch. I re-shaped the blade so that it takes a better edge and becomes a generally useful tool about the workshop. The swallows are still here, dammit, so I don’t feel I can press on building workshop walls. I didn’t plan for this interruption to that project!

My brother Neil, who was here to keep the place safe while we were in Ireland, swore they were “just house martins”. Being polite, I didn’t argue. When we returned, he’d left a poem, “The Barn Swallows of Warland Farm”! Unfortunately, he left the barn unsecured for two nights because the padlock stuck, with the result that Archie’s expensive bike and my replacement chainsaw got pinched. We bought that bike for Archie in Sydney so both losses were keenly felt. Archie was good about it and, all of ten years old, fixed the padlock in an instant.

Anyway, I’ll get over this soon, I suppose. I’ll put extra bolts on the barn doors but they’re no good unless someone locks them. It’s a shame someone has their eye on us as a soft touch and we have to take extra precautions but I guess that’s the reward for involving the community in our projects.

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