Through these blogs we are trying to make the organization and our way of working more accessible.
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The wind, will it never stop, it is becoming rather disturbing and a little bit scary, the trees sway around crazily like some sort of ‘It's a Knockout’ prop.
Someone profits from it! Those cats (the cornerstone of the proposed ginger petting zoo) all over this fallen tree like a dreadful hairy rash, they are always straight in there to explore any changes to their environment - as are the visitors, as soon as we clear a bit of land people are in there straight away exploring - people and animals we cant help ourselves.
A few weekends ago we had a group of volunteers helping with clearing the forest and re-building walls. It was hard work but we got through a mass of work over the four days. The idea was to clear all the fallen, cut timber and brash from the plantation. We hope to encourage a moss garden to establish, and actually the cleared wood looks not so bad, the immediate result was that the walkers immediately started wandering around it and the schools groups took instantly to scattering the piles of wood chippings (bad). Much like the cats as soon as you open something up they are right in there.
The other rather animal thing that happens a lot now is mountain bikers after miles of cycling though empty forest stop and urinate in the garden. It’s an odd one and I have challenged them on several occasions. I am informed variously that ‘it’s what blokes do’, ‘It’s a right’, and that if I don’t like it I should put up a sign. Where might it end, bearing in mind what a disgruntled old man I am becoming I foresee a site festooned with signs, everything from no whistling (a special hatred) to no blasphemy, actually the ten commandments might just about cover it (apart from whistling which is obviously a sloppy omission from the tablets).
There is something rather strange about working amongst the pleasure seekers, weaving the laden barrows between the cyclists and walkers, usually ignored as if invisible, this correlation of labor and leisure has a particular nuance, both activities generators of sweat. During heavy rain mountain bikers often shout humorously at us ‘you must be mad’ as they wiz by.
Here’s an interesting piece on power generation, we have long been trying to track this local hero down, the yoghurt pot turbine has become a bit of a mythical idea for us having heard of it through anecdote only, here is more concrete evidence, even figures. I am sure we’ ve got 18 inches in one of the many streams that cut through the site.
Interestingly if this can happen t wont be the first water power on the site, the ubiquitous Ruskin initiated a number of water management and power generating schemes on the estate. Also interesting to note that over in Coniston there is a major water turbine being installed, I think on the site of another Victorian system, maybe it’s heritage lottery funded!
Audrey Steeley who used to work at Grizedale and is now director of Beatham Mill recently got funding to install a water turbine that will not only cover the power needs of the organization but also generate 30k a year in income, now that's what I call a ‘nice grant’.
George who has been working in the garden for us for the last 6 months has gone off to work for ASDA for the winter - what a waste with all his high level gardening skills, but it’s really to grim working outside up here in the winter.
The last job George and I did was installing the Viet Nam gate, a traditional garden gate and stile. Made for the Romantic Detachment project in New York the gate has toured the gallery spaces of the US and UK. Originally part of a piece by Cindy Smith, the gate was a component in Cindy's romantic and threatening vision of England. It was made by a Viet Nam vet with whom I spent an evening in New York, he was fantastically angry about what he saw as his betrayal by the US military, the gist of the hurt was that they lied to him and exploited him. He drummed with his chop sticks throughout dinner.
My own personal hell this last 4 months has been building the vegetable garden, trying to wrestle something out of the rock and water of the site. On one hand I have Karen (my partner) who thinks it’s going to look like Kew Gardens - an immaculate vegetable idyll - and on the other the reality of working with a lot of mud and rock and my own ineptitude. So finally the basic structure is in place.
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