Diary May 2001

31.05.01 Weather a bit mixed and cool at the moment , but the wood likes it . Everything is growing with great gusto and the character of the wood has changed in a week . The oaks are now in full leaf and cutting down the light to the woodland floor so the bluebells are now giving way to the ferns and coppice re-growth . It's a great relief to see the hazel stumps with good un-nibbled shoots . I have at last finished my two big hurdles so I can get back to a bit of charcoal burning next week .

29.05.01 A curate's egg of a Bank Holiday (good in parts ) . Helped Ben Harris get all his stuff to Kendal for the Medieval market . The weather wasn't that good , but the town was packed . The organisers reckon that 40,000 people walked round the market (over their foot counter ) . Or one person 40000 times . Ben got 3rd place for his stall which was nice . I however went into a charcoal burners depression at the rainy weather .

24.05.01 Another one of those strange days when what you thought you were going to do doesn't happen . I ended up ferrying Ben Harris round the countryside this morning and bagging up for a big Helsington Petrol station order this afternoon instead of making hurdles . Never mind I've also had another order for a lot of horticultural charcoal , the rampant Box disease is proving very lucrative . Here's the kiln site , looking a bit untidy but a lot more leafy now .

23.05.01 A short day today due to other commitments . Started on the second large hurdle . The amount of hazel that these are using suggests I'm not going to be making many hurdles this year . Very hot work this afternoon in the wood but its prompted Helsington service station to order 40 bags of charcoal . The landrover will get taxed after all !

22.05.01 Very warm day , luckily I was in the barn making hurdles . Am I doing this right ? I spent all winter outside in the frost and snow and now its got warm I'm inside . I have bartered the ferrying about of Ben Harris for a side axe , which is so sharp you can shave the hairs off the back of your hand with it .

21.05.01 A quieter weekend than of late , but still managed to turn out a bird feeder , and take a dozen bags of charcoal over to Bush Green Nursery at Broughton in Furness . Marvelous little nursery with all sorts of unusual plants that you don't see in big garden centres . Monday was spent in the barn making a hurdle for a customer at Millom , at it is another job taking longer than it should as I try something different . Oh well be quicker next time . Here is a picture of the barn door , the hub of the organization .

17.05.01 A morning spent bagging up charcoal . Moira and I managed to bag up 60 bags in 2 hours . Is this is a record ? In the afternoon I took the cleft oak gate over to Sparkbridge to finish off that order . They were very pleased with it and ordered another 6 panels for another fence . While measuring up the gradient their dog ran off with my notebook and eat it . I thought this only happened to school homework . Anyway fence looks good .

16.05.01 Its been a rainy few days . Today it chucked it down around dinner time so I packed up my hurdle and cleft oak gate and some sticks and went off to the barn to get on with them in the dry . The garlic likes the weather though .

14.05.01 The woods are changing at a fast rate at the moment . Over the weekend the beech trees have burst into full leaf and the bluebells and garlic are now out in full force .

10.05.01 A hectic week , doing 2 burns in the week for the first time . Yesterday seemed to be really hard work lugging wood about and filling the kiln till 7 PM and I ended up going to bed early to recover . Anyway the job was done . The weather has been incredibly warm lets hope people have lots of barbies

09.05.01 A bit of a disappointing day . The kiln was opened after Monday's burn to reveal a lot of brown ends . The kiln was shut down while the smoke was still in the acrid yellow stage and the result is a lot smaller yield ( 15 as opposed to 22 big bags out ) . At least I have a good load of material to go back into the next burn . Had a visit from erstwhile colleague Dave Leadham today who had a look round the wood . He was bowled over by the location but didn't buy any charcoal ( no garden mate ! ) . This reminded me of a story that Ben Harris told me from the craft fair at Rheged . A well to do lady from Suffolk was taken with Ben's woodland craft stand . "How absolutely marvelous . I must buy a bag of barbecue charcoal " , to which her husband chipped in with " don't be silly we haven't got a garden or a barbecue " . But she was unperturbed and bought a bag anyway . God bless you madam !

08.05.01 After a busy 14 hour day yesterday I took a bit more relaxed pace today . Extracting the felled wood from the far end of compartment 4 where it is marshy is proving to be a real bugbear with each piece having to be carried out by hand . The only possible mechanical help is a zip wire contraption hmm there's one down at the new playground . Spent the afternoon starting the preparations for the willow growing area , clearing some scrub and putting down plastic sheeting to stop the weeds .

07.05.01A busy few days . Sold 42 bags of charcoal on Friday and actually managed to get a new stockist , Standor's in Ambleside (opposite the fish and chip shop ) . The rush was such that I now have only a few big bags in , so Monday saw burn number 3 under way . The roads where incredibly busy round Windermere so the traders will be happy .

03.05.01 Another hard day loading up the kiln . Now ready to go again , hoping to do this burn on bank holiday Monday so you are all welcome to come along and see the fun . Had orders for 32 bags today .

02.05.01 Another gorgeous day . If anything a bit too hot . I've spent all day splitting and extracting logs from the top end of the wood where its quite marshy . The result is I'm knackered now but should have enough wood for another kiln full . Quite a day for wildlife , starting with to Roe stags barking at each other and generally charging about the place , and also one tree had 5 jays in it , all showing off to potential mates .

01.05.01 What a day . Not a cloud in the sky and warm . Delivered the cleft oak fence to Sparkbridge . There has been an outbreak of foot and mouth very close , and it was very aerie to see the area with so little animals in the fields .

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