Friday 6th November 2015
In the last few weeks, Friday has not been particularly kind to us weather wise and today was no exception. We were in ‘’Charter Wood’’ (which is between the western edge of Bowthorpe and the A47 Southern By-Pass), the ground is wet and everything under foot is sodden, in the wood the leaves are dripping wet, the clouds say it is about to rain, it’s not particularly warm, in short it is the kind of day you ought to be at home pursuing your favourite indoor hobby.
So here we are, ‘The Famous Five’ (after Enid Blyton) (plus Matt) volunteers, thinning out this wooded area in the now pouring rain. If you were in any ‘High Street’ today, chances are you would be carrying an umbrella, but have you ever tried coppicing Hazel trees carrying one?
Mid morning Matt brought out the tea and biscuits but as fast as we drank the tea, the rain refilled our cups. There was no need to dunk the aforesaid, as all that was needed was to hold the biscuit for a few seconds and the rain did the dunking for you. (Well, I think Enid Blyton also used a bit of poetic license).
We needed a fire to burn all the brash and that was crackling and spluttering away nicely before the rain came, which made life a bit easier for the pyromaniacs. Most of what we were burning today was straightish trees, so only a couple or so of contorted Hawthorn branches from the pollarded trees, had to be burned, which did make the brash much easier. (These and Blackthorn are the most formidable trees to burn, a combination of twisted branches and sharp thorns see to that).
When lunchtime came around ‘The Famous Five’ & Matt had cleared quite a sizeable area of Hazel and Field Maple and reduced it all to a smouldering pile of ashes. At this time , out came the long thin and pointed Hazel twigs and the packet of marsh mallows. Toasting marsh mallows over an open fire was great fun, and Matt joined in to see how many marsh mallows he could get on one stick. This proved so arduous that he had to sit down for this procedure, which was successful and he won the prize.
As we were clearing up all the saws and loppers and carrying them back to Matt’s truck, the sun came out from behind the thinning clouds to bring an end to yet another ‘Famous Five ‘ adventure, so we happily found our way home again to tell mummy what a truly spiffing day we had had.
(With thanks to Enid Blyton and the licensing department of Poets Corner)
Written by Alan Rae, Norwich Fringe Project Volunteer