Sheila and I pitched tents on site on Friday afternoon and worked up an appetite for dinner at the local pub by pumping up Sheila’s air bed. We set up chairs in the courtyard for coffee whilst watching for the bats that supposedly live in units 2 and 3 but only saw one!
After a cold night and boiled eggs for breakfast we were ready for hard work. During the morning we cleared the brambles, nettles and small trees from along the east wall before the field.
Leo, Emily and Lucy arrived to help and Emily cleaned the steps that make the stile, and Lucy picked blackberries. A few days earlier we had picked most of them which Sheila turned into jam but as we cut down the brambles we kept finding more.
In the afternoon Sheila began clearing the weeds in the courtyard and I cut up the trees Greg and Colyn (a friend with a chainsaw) had felled a few days before into bean poles and firewood. All the brambles, dry weeds and tree off cuts were piled up in bonfires for the coming get together. The archway through to the courtyard was declared to be the dining room for an impressive camping dinner. I moved into the inner tent in the top of the cart shed after being cold and on a slope the previous night.
On the Sunday we continued to clear the weeds from the courtyard and found an old ice axe to be the perfect tool for cleaning between the cobbles. The willow herb, which has colonised the courtyard, pulls up easily and housed an impressive elephant hawk moth caterpillar. The smaller weeds between the cobbles make for slow progress. Leo, Kate, Emily and Lucy joined us for lunch and after that the Kate and Katherine lumberjack team set to work cutting up the rest of the trees. Sheila continued with the weeding and Leo boarded up some windows the wind was whistling through, before joining the woodcutting. Emily and Lucy helped by picking up all the tree off cuts and piling them up for yet another bonfire.
Previous to this weekend several tasks were undertaken to make camping there more comfortable. Sheila and Emily cleaned out a room in unit 4 which used to be a dairy so that we had a clean work surface and sink to become the kitchen. Leo and I constructed and hung a door for the toilet for more privacy. We also marked out the corners of the growing beds and poly tunnels between units 6 and 7. We measured from the corners of buildings to intersecting points and hammered in stakes at the key points. We also identified the concrete foundations that are in the growing area as we need to work out how to break them up and remove them.