charcoal dust5th The charcoal burner had been lit on Tuesday night and was cool enough to empty. It had burned well, perhaps too well as there very few browns and lots of ash. Jim, Clive and I riddled and bagged the charcoal. Meanwhile Chris chain-sawed and Ian and Gordon split the logs ready to reload the kiln as soon as we’d finished. The masks protected our noses and mouths, but we still looked as if we’d been down a coal mine. We tried to clean ourselves up in the limited facilities available, but our clothing remained contaminated and so our hands were soon dirty again. The charcoal burner was filled once more and the log-splitting continued. Clive and I took a brief spell away from the yard to remove a couple of rogue buddleias that Chris had spotted on the terrace. They needed to be out of the way before they seeded and established another non-native species. We all walked around to the orchard to pick a few early ripened apples.

Chris binned25th Our first job was to bag up some of the charcoal that had been produced while we were on holiday. There had been other burns when we were away and other volunteers had enjoyed the pleasure of riddling and bagging charcoal. We filled the last of the sacks in the shed and had to leave some in a plastic sack. Chris returned to the yard with Connor, Ians B and C to reload the kiln with us. After lunch the group replaced the ‘Recent Sightings’ board with another temporary board that will facilitate writing up and wiping off reported sightings. I brought the chalkboard notices up to date before joining Chris, who was working behind the play area. He was cutting branches, mainly from the laurels, which Ian , Connor, Jim and I used to create a barrier around the play area. We returned to the yard to light the charcoal burner that would cook overnight. The smoke rose directly up into the sky in the calm, humid conditions.

barrier26th Chris returned to the back of the play area with Ian, Gareth, Jim and me. The species varied from yesterday as we turned the corner, but the task remained the same. Whitebeam, hazel hawthorn and blackthorn were all cut back and used to create a barrier. We completed the three sides, still allowing children access into the small wooded area, but hopefully deterring loose dogs from entering. We rounded off the day with a visit to the orchard to pick apples and damsons. There were just two plums each as reward for our efforts.

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