Phil Hart (The guy with the sparkly boots)
With the boots being nice & dry it’s time to clean off any dried on mud with a wire brush, I use an old BBQ cleaning brush. Then it’s time to treat the boots with dubbin to feed the leather to stop it cracking & provide a degree of waterproofing for the wet winter months on the hedge line. I also treated my boots to a new set of laces.
Phil Hart (The guy with the sparkly boots)
Extract from an article in CPRE. www.cpre.org.uk
Originally published in Countryside Voices, the membership magazine of CPRE, the countryside charity.
Their campaigner Ellie also wrote up an account of the day
As part of our mission to enhance the countryside, CPRE is supporting a number of pilot community
projects that are helping people improve their local green spaces. One of these is Hogacre Common
Ecopark, a rural oasis less than a mile from central Oxford, in the city’s Green Belt.
In 2010 the 14-acre patch of land, a former sports ground, was leased from Corpus Christi College to
be used for a number of low-carbon community projects, including a new woodland, allotments, an
orchard and a forest school. The revitalised site has been transformed into an invaluable community
resource, and CPRE Oxfordshire is assisting with its ongoing transformation by providing funds for
training courses, access improvements, information boards and the planting of a forest garden.
Their campaigners are delighted to be involved in this working demonstration of the potential of
Green Belt land for health, habitats and education. The first training event to take place thanks to
CPRE’s support was a hedgelaying course led by professional Clive Leeke. Regular members of the
Hogacre Common friends group, along with other interested locals and enthusiasts from further
afield, learned the secrets of the centuries old art. They then got to try their hand at taming Hogacre
Common’s own overgrown enclosure hedge – a worthy day’s work on a fantastic community space.
Find out more about CPRE Oxfordshire’s latest campaigns and events at cpreoxon.org.uk
Thanks to Andrew Cook for spotting this
Videos from the competition are now live here
Pictures from Saturdays event are now on-line
If you have any more please add them!
Thanks to all who attended our delayed competition
Everyone arrived in good time on a very wet, but thankfully not windy morning.
The hedges fell into two categories, very light for the novices and Super veteran class, and "interesting" for the rest.
By interesting I really mean horrible. it was very gappy, and had been flailed at about 3 foot leaving a huge gnarly knot with a fair number of tall growths on top. This meant a lot of hard pruning to reduce the weight. The vast bulk of the competitors opted for chainsaws from the start, Frank started with hand tools but quickly switched. David Dunk however stuck with hand tools, as of course did the novices.
Such a tough hedge meant almost everyone was pushed for time, however all sections were down by the finish horn, although one was without binders.
Our novices produced some really good work this year.
Congratulations to all the winners
Massive thanks to the judges and stewards
Pictures to follow
Bob and Des judged last years regrowth, and as well as overall 1st 2nd 3rd they marked each class, so for fun here are the details
1st Dave Truran
2nd John French
3rd Clive Gilligan
1st Natasha Stonestreet
2nd Gwyn Alford
3rd Graham West
1st Mike Mason
2nd Matthew Beard
3rd Russell Woodham
1st Nigel Adams
2nd Tony Gallow
3rd Gary Moore
Sadly I managed to mess up the names/cants for the new Super Vet class, this has now been corrected.
Here is the detail of the points trophy
This year we agreed to select the 3 best scores, as this does not penalise people who judge at events during the season.
It is with huge disappointment that we have had to postpone the annual competition because of a forecast of very high winds which means it will be unsafe to continue.
We are shifting it to Saturday 14th March, which was our annual "fun day" so
I have also been informed that the Isle of Wight Hedgelaying competition is going ahead at Coombe Farm, Brighstone Saturday 29th February 2020 from 10am until 4pm
Limited entries so be fast, entry form:
The first competition for our society is the President Vs. Chairman competition. We split into 2 teams, with names (written on Beer mats) pulled at random from the bag.
Phil Hart (Chairman) won the toss and picked the lower section of hedge, leaving Alan Ashby (Acting President for the day) the top section. The lower section was double planted, while the top section was mainly single planted, but with typically slightly larger stems. We also agreed to do continuous binding on our respective sections, so the faster cutters were given the higher sections. The stems were generally good, with the odd dead plant, and some brittle bits here and there.
The sections were not marked out, so it was up to the individual cutters to select what they felt comfortable with, and to work individually or in pairs.
A slight complexity was the old fence behind the hedge was staying in place for the time being, so laying off was tricky.
Everyone made a good start, and we appeared to be well ahead of schedule by the time Bob and Des arrived with the stakes and binders. It was good to see Cilla Tunks and family who came to see how were getting on.
Phil's team were progressing slightly faster, and were first to begin binding, with Alan's team a little behind in places.
The binders being packed in 20s were not ideal for short 8 yard sections as some people did not have any, at the end of Phil's section I went into a minor panic and made 3 of us tweak the spacing a little (widening it, so using less binders), it probably didn't make a lot of difference to be honest.
By the finish time Phil's team had finished and Alan's team were about half way through the bindings.
Anyway our judge for the day (Mike Parrott) declared Phil's team as the winners, and the Chairman was presented with the Wood plate.
Photo's as always
On December 13th 2019, Peter Tunks sadly passed away, only 73 years old. Peter was a renowned hedgelayer in Britain, but also in the Netherlands where he contributed to the revival of the craft. In 2001 he and Alan Ashby were invited by The Badger & Tree Association to demonstrate hedgelaying in Boxmeer, the centre of the largest hedgerow region in The Netherlands. Peter visited our national championships many times, an event which attracted each year thousands of spectators. He became a familiar personality demonstrating Midland or South of England style hedgelaying, impressing large audiences – young and old – with his skilful use of axe and billhook.
Over the years, Peter he has been an instructor of many master classes, has judged the work of founding members of the Dutch hedgelaying guild and together with English and Dutch colleagues we have celebrated many diners, social evenings and shared many wonderful moments.
On the occasion of his passing the Dutch hedgelaying community would like to pay a tribute to Peter with a poem written by one of its members (see below).
• Stichting Heg & Landschap (Hedge & Landscape Foundation) – Louis Dolmans, chairman;
• Vereniging voor heggenvlechten – Gilde van heggenvlechters (Hedgelaying Association and Hedgelaying Guild) – Peter Ceelen, chairman;
• Jef Gielen – pupil of Peter, who started a new generation Dutch hedgelayers;
• Vereniging Nederlands Cultuurlandschap (Dutch Cultural Landscape Association, formerly Badger&Tree Association) – Jaap Dirkmaat, director;
• Municipality of Boxmeer – Karel van Soest, mayor;
• Stichting Landschapsbeheer Boxmeer (Landscape Management Foundation Boxmeer) – Ruth Bakkenes, chairman;
• Staatsbosbeheer (National Forestry Service) – Marc de Wit, head province of Brabant.
Peter Tunks in blue overall relaxing with his colleagues Phil Hart (left) and Gary Moore (right), during Master Class Hedgelaying, March 2015, Bemmel, the Netherlands.
Man in blue overall, glasses on, cigarette in his mouth, axe in his hands, a smile on his face.
Man performing in the South of England-style hedgelaying instruction video, using his 11” razor-sharp billhook, a relaxed conversation with a lady on horseback.
Man who never seemed to work hard, chatted with everybody but finished before anyone else, taking the first prize back home.
Man in blue, his mate in red, two masters of hedgelaying, in my memory one inseparable from the other.
Man surrounded by people in Boxmeer, applauding the moment he lays a big haw- thorn, swinging his axe as never before.
Man congratulating me with my birthday, every year bringing a colourful card sprinkled with hedgers’ autographs and best wishes (thanks Cilla!).
Man who stood at the very beginning (next month 19 years ago) and was so valuable to the revival of hedgelaying in our country.
Man of few words that were often not easy to understand.
Man with a windscreen sticker that says: two sugars please, but to waitresses I can only remember him saying “a Bacardi-Coke please. ... Excuse me? ..... No, no ice please”.
Man, head of jury, who judged the work of our first guild members, and said “not too bad”.
Man who gave a Yorkshire billhook to Luke, a 16-year old Dutch hedgelayer, a remembrance and a source of inspiration for a lifetime.
Man showing me how a straight stake line should look.
Man who suggested me that slightly bending the competition rules is acceptable, ..... but only if it’s well done.
Man who encouraged, without saying much.
Man we admired for his skilful hedgelaying and who we loved as a person.
Man we will dearly miss but we will always remember.
Thank you Peter.
Written by Lex Roeleveld, Dutch hedgelayer Wageningen, January 3rd 2020
A quick reminder that entries close soon for our 36th ANNUAL HEDGELAYING COMPETITION
To be held at Fletching Mill Farm By kind permission of Howard Venters on Sunday 16th February 2020
As a bonus this year we have Vintage Tractors from Chailey Tractor Club and Sponsorship from our local Isuzu dealer Haven Motors
You need to be a paid up member of the society, and entries close 2nd February 2020
Let Phill Piddell know if you can make it , by emailing him at email@example.com
2020 kicked off with our improvers day, where we test what trainees have learnt over the course of their training. We run the day as a mini competition, with minimal help from the trainers.
This gave our trainers the chance to cut some hedge!
The site was near Hastings, and while the ground was very soggy it was a cold dry day, so perfect weather for hedgelaying!
Weirdly there were sections of hedge which were on the other side of a wire fence (owned by someone else), so of course we had to leave these sections out additionally there were a few trees which were to remain as standards (mainly apples)
The fence was to remain, and as luck would have it we had some left hander sections and some right hander sections, which worked out just right with the number of people attending.
Most of our trainees worked in pairs this year, although a few brave souls had a go individually.
Steve and Chris had finished their cutting before I had even started, but of course had to then wait for their neighbours to catch up, so they had a chance to get a very early tea break.
The day progressed well, and very quickly with most sections down and ready to bind not long after mid day. Food was provided by the landowners, so a welcome break at about 1pm gave everyone a chance to chat and view other sections.
After our lunch the stakes and binders were swiftly finished, to a height of 3'6" (it was a quite sparse hedge).
Alan Ashby was our judge for the day, and while close he awarded the win to the speedy twins Steve and Chris.
Chris had a long drive home so left before he found out about his victory, which is also why he is not in the picture.
A great dry day, and a nice looking finished hedge
Pictures of course
A really great day’s coppicing at Blunts Wood was well attended by 16 members and a guest on 28 December 2019.
Thankfully the day dawned dry and most were ready for the off at 8.15am. A minutes silence was observed for the sad recent passing of our President, Peter Tunks.
Once assembled in the wood, Tim gave a briefing about the desirable attributes of stakes and binders, having had a bad experience with poor stakes and binders at TD2. This is when Tim uttered the words – “ no noggins please “. For those unsure of what a noggin is , don’t use Google to look it up :-
1.a person's head.
"it hit him squarely on the noggin"
2.a small quantity of alcoholic drink, typically a quarter of a pint.
"I imagine you all go round to the pub afterwards for a quick noggin and a chat"
I think the term related to protruding knots / side shoots which need to be trimmed off to make the job of staking and binding easier.
Duly instructed the collective went about clear felling an area about the size of 2 tennis courts of moderately oversized hazel. Following discussions with the landowner , Mid Sussex District Council , burning of brash took place and soon a roaring and well fed fire was well alight. The burning of brash meant that a much tidier site than leaving brash piles.
It was great to see such a great variety of members at the event from seasoned regulars to 2019 novices. Pat and Peter won the longest drive to the event award having come down from Essex. Always interesting to observe how people work, each doing it in their own way and working in such a collaborative way. The 16 that attended included Phill H, Tim, John , Clive , Trevor, Steve, Alan, Mark, Natasha, Pat, Peter, Terry, Dave, Mark, Matthew, Mike and Emma.Many thanks to all who turned up.
In all 190 binders and 370 stakes were cut, bundled and transported , which means that with existing stocks there is enough material for the Improvers Day at Hastings on 4 January 2020.
All those who turned up to CD3 thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
The next coppicing day is at Blunts Wood is on 18 January and it would be wonderful to get an attendance of over 20.
Pictures of course:
The competition took place at Sandringham on Sunday 1st December 2019.Russell Woodham's photographs of the day are now available on the National Hedgelaying website https://www.hedgelaying.org.uk/ (you need to login with your membership details to be able to see them)
Cast your minds back to the days when the sun shone and it was the ploughing match season.
SEHLS attended the Laughton & District Agricultural Society ploughing match at Firle on Wednesday 18th September 2019, at Firle Place farm, Firle.
It was a wonderful location, just beneath the South Downs which were bathed in beautiful autumn sunshine all day.
The team of SEHLS members in attendance and helping out on the stand laid a demo hedge of silver birch, and it while this was going on a lady called Liz Pearson came along. She presents a local radio programme on Hailsham FM called Mostly Folk. Liz is interested in folk music and tales about Sussex and the various traditions including hedgelaying.
Lis was able to catch up with Des Whitington and interview him about South of England hedge laying; it is about 38 mins into the programme just after the track by the Unthanks called King of Rome.
There is also an interesting piece by the Head brewer from Harvey’s, for those interested in beer.
The link below is for the show and after that is the plan for the programme with timings.
December already and our third training day found us at Horsted Keynes.
A novelty this time with traffic lights and hi-vis jackets, because of which parking was limited.
Today's hedge was a bit of a tricky one, while generally small (some massive stuff) it was a bit of a 3D puzzle in places, so our plucky trainees got some good practice of a "real world hedge".
Looking at the trainees setting off in the distance made me think of a school walking bus (see above), but maybe that was just me.
There was little to clear out so cutting was quite quick to begin and with mostly hazel it was quite easy to get started for most people (those who didn't have a huge tree to deal with anyway)
It soon became apparent that the historic flailing of the hedges caused a lot of knotty growth which was quite a tangle in places. Additionally some of the easy looking sections had hidden challenges to amuse some of the veteran hedgers. All in all a most amusing hedge.
With no food we all brought our own and took brakes as and when.
The weather held out and we we soon managed to get the hedge in shape and add the stakes and binders.
All the sections looked good, and our trainees got some very valuable experience on a bit of a gnarly hedge
I'm sure the locals will appreciate the nice new hedge, although it's not a super busy road (on a Saturday anyway)
Pictures as always
If you have any more pictures please add them, or email them to me and I will add
Bright and early on Sunday morning small contingent from a number of regional hedgelaying societies descended on a field on the Sandringham estate for a training event organised for the National Hedgelaying society's patron, HRH Price of Wales (Prince Charles).
The plan was to run a "fun" competition for young novice hedgelayers', with individual expert tuition from more experienced cutters. The trainees had a very different levels of skill.
Our hedge for the day was a little thin, and quite old, just for fun there was a fair amount of dead wood, and some really good sections of bramble.
Phil Hart issued each trainee with an expert and we set off.
In the South of England section our trainees had all done some laying so had the basic's under their belts so the expert guidance was really to provide specific advice with the trickier stems.
A few trainees didn't turn up, so a few of the experts stepped in and finished the sections themselves, had they not done so there would have been a few un-layed sections.
In the early afternoon our Patron arrived and spoke to everyone working on the hedge (if you don't already know Charles is a very keen hedgelayer)
At the end of the session prizes were awarded and we had a small snack of soup and sausage rolls
In SoE class the results were
3rd Grace Clements
2nd Natasha Stonestreet
1st Jonathan Adams
The weather was with us for the bulk of the day, even ending in glorious sunshine
Thanks to the National Hedgelaying society, the Sandringham estate, and of course our Patron.
Special thanks as always to the individuals behind the scenes, including our very own Phil Hart, and Mandy & Russell Woodham
Pictures as always
Hopefully more pictures to follow, and as always if you have some pictures of the event please add them (or send them to me and I'll add them)
You may have noticed some people sporting some fine branded clothing and wondered how you get your hands on some, well now is your chance!
Today we held training day 2 at a new type of venue, www.blackberrywood.com a quirky camp site in the middle of the countryside at Street (near Plumpton).
Their pitches had scraggy 'hedges' around them, and it was our task today to transform these in to nice hedges.
So an unusual event as we were scattered around the site in little clusters of hedgers, and with such a good turn out we gave the students 1:1 training.
Some of the experts were working on the road, with a more challenging hedge which had been done before many years ago by our very own Clive Gilligan.
The trainee sections were very light and at first glance we wondered if we would get enough material to make a 4' hedge, but once we got cutting it was amazing how much volume there was. With such small stock to work with there was not a huge amount of waste product, what little we produced was hoovered up by the team on site pretty quickly.
All too soon it was time for lunch, but most of the cutting was complete, and some sections had stakes and binders in place.
A very welcome soup and roll washed down with some tea/coffee refreshed everyone for the final push to complete their sections. It was good to have a light hedge as the rain started just after lunch, and the less hardy hedgelayers made a variety of lame excuses and left for home.
Some good work from the trainees, and a special mention for this years most distant travelled cutters Kirsten and Edward from Denmark.
The hardy ones amongst us will be able to add more in the comments, but I'm at home typing this in the dry :-)
Pictures as always (please add any more pictures you have!)
And finally, Mike spotted the recumbent hedgelayer