A splendid location was matched by the weather which was frosty to start with, but developed into a dry sunny and windless day- the weather gods must have been smiling on us, as the following day was wet windy, which would have been perishing on the side of the South Downs.
Around 30 in all turned up ranging including trainees, trainers, novices , intermediate cutters right upto a supreme champion. A man from Surrey Wildlife Trust also came along.
The hedge was almost all single row hawthorn about 10 years old ranging from 6-8 feet high.In order to lay uphill 80% of the hedge was laid right to left with 20% laid left to right. This meant that southpaws David Dunk and Mike Mason were joined by the more orthodox Tim Hughes and a trainee who had to cut cack handed.
The stems were not too challenging , although the post and rail at the back of it meant we had to tackle the hedge from one side only. The chainsaw addicts did manage disturb the peace on a few occasions , although in the main the air was filled with the sounds of manual labour and axework.
The hedge owners put on a much needed lunch of soup, rolls and mince pies which was enjoyed by all.
After lunch most of the hedge was got down, followed by staking and binding produced from the coppicing at Turners Hill and brought to site by Tim Hughes. My stakes and binders were plenty good enough for me, so no excuses on my part.
By mid afternoon most were finished and a very presentable hedge was produced, despite there being some early misinformation about the binder height( to the top of the post and rail fence , not 4 feet, as instructed).
Phil and Peter kept the landowners sweet and they seemed very pleased with the outcome. Hopefully we can return some time to complete the other hedges at the field perimeter. It was nice for me to have a venue only a couple of parishes away from home, although the Kent lads had a bit of a journey.
Thanks must go to Frank for setting up the venue in the first place and setting out at the start of the day ; along with the trainers who give their time freely to assist the trainees. Tim’s efforts in retrieving and transporting the stakes and binders were much appreciated. Tim did remind us all of the extra day’s coppicing at Turners Hill on 30 December- a great way to work off some of the excesses of Christmas.
The trainees appeared all satisfied with their work and committed to the Improver's Day at Nodes Farm Magham Down on 6 January 2018.
So from SELHS have a great Christmas, a happy New Year and spare a thought for Bob Hunt our transport manager, who has been recently taken unwell.