We arrived at Bolney in the warm (really) morning for the first training day of the season, and were immediately impressed with Franks first hedge of the season. We had a mix of plant species and most of the cants were perfect for the trainees, with some more interesting sections further down the field to entertain the more experienced cutters.
Phil sorted out the trainees with a trainer, and we set off.
There was not a huge amount of clearing out to be done, so we were able to launch in with the pleaching pretty quickly.
Everyone was progressing well but we realised that we were missing a vital component, the stakes and binders. Yes a communication breakdown. Many thanks to Phil, Chris and especially Roberto for collecting them from the coppice site.
Just as we started with popping the stakes in lunch was served, and a hearty and very meaty stew was produced.
I was happily finishing off my binders when Alan Ashby arrived and presented me with a "present" which turned out to be a hooky stick, yes he insisted I tried to remove the stake tops traditionally with a billhook not a silky.
Alan demonstrated the technique, which seemed straightforward. And just then Peter Tunks arrived with Phil Hart both keen to "advise" and "help".
Well I have to say that it's a lot harder than you think, when it goes well it's fast and neat, but the bulk of my attempts did not follow this plan (much to the amusement of my audience), and I managed to cut through the top binder a couple of times (funny how easy they were to cut). Personally I think we will have problems with this, especially on tough chestnut stakes.
Everyone managed to finish in pretty good time, and Peter Tunks decided to award a £5 prize for the best stake line, and this was awarded to Mike Mason's team of Andy Delves & Martin Cheesman
Pictures as always