Nature Red …


While I was busy playing Tarzan-with-a-camera last week our neighbour, Mr Plumber, popped over. He has managed to snag a whole garden full of pallets … and I do mean monster pallets, so long they only just fit into the rear of his white van!

We arrange a day to get some of them up to the allotment, the remainder he’ll use on his wood burner or for “projects”. We discuss the benefits of skip diving, but he’s one ahead; he has an arrangement with a local company and gets the choice of all manner of stuff they would otherwise skip: wooden boards, plaster board, soil pipe, timber …

His take away service helps him and saves the company the money they would have to pay to have it skipped. A win-win situation. And he is generous enough to include us now in the distribution of the swaggage.

We spend a long day taking a couple of loads up to the site, which he has never visited before. Duly impressed by the size of the whole site he is also – as people usually are – taken by the size of the plots. Some of the pallets we leave whole and some we disassemble: the eventual plan will be to use at least some of them to edge to middle of the three plots.

Work, if it can be called such, is steady, and accompanied by cups of tea, a tomato soup and Cheddar cheese lunch and a lot of chatter. Given that it is January the weather is comfortably warm (being busy helps, needless to say). Researchers are telling us that 2016 was the warmest on record; a little surprising as summer actually didn’t feel so hot, but I guess the average temperature during the other seasons was higher.

Residents and neighbours, compost techniques, the universality of pallets (real life Lego bricks in that they are easy to work with, physically manageable and truly versatile), tales of ski-ing holidays, the fact that a farm nearby is home to lions and tigers from Chipperfield’s Circus). And, apparently have been there for some time! This raises a whole range of moral questions about the role of performing animals, animal rights and animal welfare of course, but also about such animals living in such close (and secret) proximity to … well, to me!



Needless to say the hardest, heaviest part of our task is carrying the huge pallets and assorted timbers from the van all the way to our plot. Naturally they seem to get heavier and more awkward to shift as we move them. No pain, no gain eh?

But when we are done for the day I am satisfied that we have enough to get the job done – and it is all, now, exactly where it needs to be.

I spend the latter part of the warm afternoon on the plot taking the nails from the timbers with a “gorilla bar*” and claw hammer. I lay out the pieces and, it seems there are enough to edge the plot without actually dismantling any other pallets (which’ll leave some available for compost bins repairs and the construction, I hope, of a separate bin for storing useful items: wood, hoops, the hose, the wheelbarrow), maybe even some for the shed itself. The sun is heading quickly for the horizon and, at this time of year it gets chilly very quickly when the sun goes down, so I head for home.

Unfortunately, as I leave I realise the pile looks something like a bonfire heap and it is my fervent hope that nobody nips across the open space where the fence is still missing and sets fire to it.


Things have been going on back at home: the disputed nest in the top of the silver birch, claimed and counter claimed by two pairs of magpies and a crow couple has been occupied by the larger birds, much to the frustration of the magpies who, even as I sit down to type are harassing the crows and kicking up a helluva fuss in the way that only magpies can manage. For a moment I feel for the magpies – it’ll be a whole lot harder to find a new site and build a nest to the same spec as this one – but then remember the way they terrorise smaller nesting birds. This is a taste of their own medicine then! Nature red in tooth and claw in front of my very eyes.


 *Is that the genuine name for this thing or did I imagine it?

Image result for gorilla bar image


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