Wednesday, 1 June 2011

burnt out

This gardening malarkey isn't all leaning on spades and sniffing the roses.

Today, to site and thought we'd burn the mountains of privet pruned from the orchard hedges. Last time we shredded the cuttings but that was expensive - including £30 for diesel.Although we ended that day with a large pile of chippings, didn't think this was the best sustainable practice.

So, burning it was - and eight hours later your two intrepid gardeners had cleared about six huge piles of branches, most over twenty feet long. The privet, although dry, was 'green' and burnt reluctantly. The fires needed to be tended vigilantly.

I have said before that my life must resemble that of someone on 'community payback' at times and this was certainly true today.

The stinging smoke and sun and heat combined by the end of the day to give my hair an unusual stiffened and vertical effect and my face was smeared with smuts in much the same way as a fireman's may have been on the footplate after a shift in the age of steam. Twice my lacquered hair caught fire (briefly) and my eyebrows have been singed. Our bodies ached after such a long day dragging heavy and uncooperative branches to the fire.

A highlight of the day was the visit of children. Finley wanted a tree house- I promised to build one for hime before he was sixteen - giving me thirteen or so years to complete that task. James, Samuel and Lucy climbed trees, helped with bonfires and got splinters. That's a proper childhood!

We had drunk all of our bottled water and ended the day drinking the hot water from the flask to lubricate dry  throats. Judith and Roger rode to the rescue with water as we flagged.

On the way home she said that she wasn't sure what Liz Earle would make of smoke as a skin conditioner.
I said that smoke had been used for millennia as a preservative and she shouldn't worry.
She said that would be okay if she wanted to look like a kipper.

But all privet burned.

Stiffly upstairs to bed tonight!

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