New Year’s Day

Today we’ve been cutting sycamore for posts, and hazel for binders, to tie in the new hedging whips; clearing dead vegetation and filling the compost bins at the back of the plot; collecting woodchip to lay on paths, then sitting in the shed drinking tea, watching rain sweep up the valley.
It’s been a good day, if a bit damp and grey, and we made time for one more cup of tea, and watched the light fade.



This is chaotic land; managed, in a way. John, you knew this valley, but only through the photographs I shared with you. But you understood, appreciated the desire to grow, the value attached to productive land, as well as the uncertain nature of this common ground.

I learned today, that you died on Boxing Day. I’ll miss you.



Winter Work

It will be rather cloudy across southern England with outbreaks of rain, this turning heavy and persistent in places during the afternoon. Elsewhere there will be some sunshine, but also blustery showers…

Yesterday was miserable; a grey sullen day. A day to keep moving, working. Laying more wood chip on paths, sorting out beds ready to plant out garlic. And in between, stopping to have a cup of tea and a natter in the tea hut.

Such a difference today, mild in the sun. We’re preparing the potato beds; layers of seaweed; grass cuttings; crop remnants, topped off with a layer of composted wood chip from the paths. This will be left over winter, in preparation for planting potatoes in the spring.


Warm, in the Sun

A cloudless sky, warm too, at least in the sun, but that was deceptive; leaf litter crackled underfoot, and in places the ground frost didn’t thaw. A day to keep moving, working.

With the leaves all but gone we can start work on our hedges; see where we need to concentrate our attention, filling gaps, weaving, and pruning to encourage growth at the base. As the leaves have fallen, we’ve also discovered a Song Thrush’s nest in the oldest section, so at least one part of the hedge is beginning to be colonised.

The nest will be left over the winter months, we’re both intrigued to see what remains of it come next Spring.



Another Stormy Day

Another deep Atlantic low is expected to arrive in the western channel on Monday morning.

A stormy day, turbulent sea, and just the two of us wandering across wave scoured shingle, with little evidence of the detritus we found yesterday. Swept out to sea again, it’ll be deposited elsewhere with the incoming tide.
There’s plenty of seaweed scattered across the shingle, from strand line to low water, and mostly Toothed Wrack (Fucus serratus) and Fucus ceranoides, seaweeds of the upper, middle and lower shores. Hold fasts no longer holding fast, holding onto nothing; stranded, like the solitary shoe we encounter.

A metal detectorist appears, but he stays above the strand line sweeping the shingle.
He’s still listening, still searching, when we leave, carrying bags of seaweed. Passing by we say hello, wonder if he’s found anything.
‘No, just bits of foil, aluminium gives a good signal. It gives a good signal, does aluminium’.
‘Good luck’. But he’s wrapped his headphones round his ears again, returned to his searching.

We’ve collected enough seaweed to cover one of the potato beds.