Wednesday 29 February 2012

Home made beds

It's that time of year again, when one should be preparing the vegetable garden, that's if one has one. I've made a start by digging over one of my nine raised beds, this is where I grow runner beans, you are supposed to rotate your crops but I always put runner beans here because it's in a sheltered corner of the garden and the hedges give it a little protection from the wind. 
If you are thinking about getting some raised beds, for goodness sake don't go to a garden centre and buy them. There are all sorts out there, from plastic and wood, to stone, and they cost a fortune. Some people are so finicky about their garden looking perfect, they are willing to spend a lot of money on it just to make it look pretty, which defeats the object of growing your own to save money. Mine is a productive vegetable garden, not a show garden open to the public, it doesn't matter what it looks like. 
It's easy to knock up a few raised beds with pallets you can get for free. It doesn't matter what they look like, they are there to do a job, I have had mine for five years now, and they cost nowt.  
You need two pallets the same size, saw them in half to give four sides. A standard pallet will have an odd number of slats, mine had five. They usually have a block at each end of the centre slat for support. Take a saw and remove the centre slat with the two blocks and use it for something else.   
Stand the four pieces in a square, with the blocks uppermost, and the slats on the inside. Then get some short pieces of wood and nail them across the corners to hold them together. I built mine on top of my lawn, and lined the bottom with old carpets and plastic bags. You need to pierce the plastic to make drain holes.
If you have pallets with gaps between the slats you can fill them in with any old pieces of flat wood you have lying around. Carpet would do the job as well, a few nails will keep it in place.
I have nailed four sturdy posts to the corners of this bed, because I need to stand on the pallets to reach the runner beans at the top, I can hang onto the posts to steady myself.
Fill with soil or compost. Get some well rotted horse dung if you know a horse owner, they will usually give it away for nothing. I have dug in a couple of bucketfulls of well rotted home made compost from the heap in the corner. All there is to do now is to cover it so the cats don't think I have built them a new toilet block, ha ha. One bed ready to plant the seedlings into.
When I was coming home on Sunday night, I spotted some fly posters around my village, cheeky beggars had come from Doncaster littering the place up with their advertisements for tarmacing. I drove round to check all the roads and ripped the posters down. On the outskirts of the village I pulled into a layby to turn round and come back, when I spotted a box on the grass verge. Worth a look I thought, as my headlights lit up the scene. This is what I found. A pair of perfectly good, hardly worn, size nine work boots, with steel toe caps. There is a receipt in the box, they cost £44.
How curious. I can only assume a lorry driver must have changed into comfortable shoes to drive away, and mistakenly left his boots behind. Too big for me, I am looking for a home for them, it will be the charity shop if I don't find anyone to fit them. Maybe my size nine Prince Charming will come forward to claim them :o)  
This is the crystal pendant I found.
Amazing how I find things on grass verges, ha ha.
Toodle pip.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

A big splash at Rufford Country Park

Saturday was a non forest day, life is too short to be going round in circles trying to find a way out, I want to see the open countryside. First off a little bimble round Edwinstowe.
St Mary's Church is a magnificent building sitting on a mound near the main crossroads in the village.
In the High Street is a gift shop called Robins Den.
Outside the new library is a statue of Robin Hood proposing to Maid Marian.
The old library was a hive of activity, they were getting ready for the days trading. Inside are small shops selling crafty type things, and a cafe.
This is a hand made ceramic map of the village. It is laid at an angle on a grass verge near a road junction. It looks as though it could do with a good clean up, there is debris from the trees all over it, and weeds are growing in the crevices. It's a shame to see it in this condition, if I lived here I would adopt it and make sure it was kept in good condition. Mrs Mop to the rescue is needed here. 
The Dukeries Lodge is an 18th century inn, and is currently being refurbished. I love old buildings with lots of history and character.
Time to get on my way so I pick up the Robin Hood Way along this path. It's a lovely sunny start to the day.
Spring is in the air.
It wasn't long before I was at the entrance to Rufford Country Park. At first I walked into Rufford village thinking I could get through to the park, but a man who stopped to ask if he could help with directions said I would have to go back to the main road and use the main park entrance. It looked like a lot of rich folks might live there, going by the big posh houses. I like noseying around to see how the other half lives. Car parking is £20 for a season ticket, free today as it's out of season.
There are 150 acres here to bimble around, gardens, sculptures, childrens play areas, lakes and woods. This sculpture is a clenched fist giving the thumbs up.
The Abbey was founded as a monastery over 800 years ago, it was later transformed into a grand country estate. The Abbey ruins are part of this unique visitor attraction.   
Inside the walls it is just a shell.
A nice view over the Long Meadow from one of the windows.
I took a walk to the lake. The sun has brought a lot of people out today. Lots of families with children and dogs. I did a full circuit of the lake and then carried on my walk to North Laithes, and Wellow.
At the top end of the lake you get to Rufford Mill, it has a tea shop, function room, and a shop. At this point the water flows from the lake, over the road, and meanders on to New Ollerton. The kids thought it was great fun when a car came along and made a big splash. Some of the motorists were very cautious and slowed down to a crawl, but others gathered speed as they approached to make a bigger splash, much to the delight of the onlookers. This cyclist got over the footbridge just in time.  
On the way back I came past The Mill again, then continued back to Edwinstowe on the road. I was determined not to be late today, as I was going on to Burton on Trent to stay with my nephew for the night. Todays walk was 13.5 miles, and I finished at 5pm. Just as I planned, see I can stick to a time table if I really try hard, ha ha.  

Monday 27 February 2012

It's very dark in Sherwood Forest at night

I was quite keen to explore Robin Hood country, so when the Youth Hostel was offering £10 beds, I jumped at the chance. It's just a shame that they only had one night for me, but never mind I had two good days walking out of it. Friday was 17 miles and Saturday was 13.5. The hostel is a purpose built building on the edge of Edwinstowe village and close to Sherwood Forest Country Park and the Major Oak.
The Art and Craft Centre is housed in a converted coach house and stables, next to the hostel. It is the former Edwinstowe Hall. There are eleven craft studios enclosed by a glass roof foyer, and five more studios outside with a picnic area.
This fabulous steel gate is at the left hand side of the building, the art work is quite amazing, I love it.
Before I start my walk I need to do the tourist bit and visit the Major Oak. This tree is thought to be 800 years old. It's trunk circumference is 33 feet and it's branches spread to 92 feet. Steel poles have been erected to support the sprawling branches.
Off I went to explore some of the 450 acres of Sherwood Forest. Those of you who have read my previous reports of trying to find my way in a forest will remember that I am not very good at it. Never the less I am willing to have another go as this forest seems to have very well defined paths, including the easy to follow Robin Hoods Way. So off I went with map in hand. 
I seemed to have been walking for quite a long way, and wasn't really sure if I was heading in the right direction. My plan was to walk westbound, then turn right for a mile or two, then head for the village of Budby, through Duncan Wood and Budby Corner Plantation to Clumber Lake and Park. There was a point where I was a bit confused, but I came across a strolling couple who put me on the right track for Budby. I really must remember to put my compass in my bag next time. 
This is an old fashioned post box still in use in Budby. Isn't it lovely.  
This ornate iron gate must have been at the entrance to a house on a large estate at one time, but now the railings are incomplete and you can walk round it to the other side. The house is hidden in the trees to the left hand side of it.  
This is Clumber Bridge which goes over the bottom end of Clumber Lake. Some of the stonework has been recently restored.   
And here we have a map to the park, it is managed by the National Trust. There are 3,800 acres of picturesque parklands and gardens, woodlands and a lake to explore. I'll just have a half hour or so, as I still have a lot more walking to do if I am going to stick to my original plan.   
This is the stable yard which has recently been refurbished.
The Anglican Church of St Mary the Virgin is a grade 1 listed building. It's beautiful. 
Time was pressing on so I left the park at Hardwick Village and walked over this footbridge, towards the main A614 road. The cars have to drive through the water here as it tumbles over the minor road and down the weir towards the River Poulter. It was still lovely and sunny, I have been lucky with the weather.
By this time I realised that my original plan will have to be amended to take in a shorter route back. I wanted to go down the long distance footpath to see Robin Hoods cave then follow the River Maun to New Ollerton and back to Edwinstowe, but I could see that I was going to run out of daylight if I attempted that. So I crossed over the A614 and took the road past Shepherds Lodge and Thoresby, back to Budby. From there on some of it would be retracing my steps, but looking for a short cut through the forest back to the Major Oak. The sun was low in the sky, it wouldn't be long before it sank out of sight, I wondered if I would make it back before it got completely dark. I took this last photo, and stepped up my pace, I just had to get back as quickly as I could, or I would be in trouble.  
I remembered some of the route back, but to be honest, all the paths look pretty much the same. I was beginning to regret my decision to push hard to Clumber and Hardwick, maybe I should have taken a shorter route, but my curiosity overrulled my head, so I pressed on.
By now I was running out of daylight very quickly, the beautiful red sunset had disappeared in minutes. Oh heck, I didn't put my head torch in my bag, now what do I do. I could just about make out the blackness of the path I was following, I focused on it, head down, just march and get out of this flippin forest. To be honest I wasn't scared, I had got myself into this mess, no point in freaking out, I had to get myself out of there. Even if I rang for help I wouldn't be able to tell anyone where I was, it was up to me to sort it out. I almost bumped into a signpost, and shone the light from my phone up to it to read it. One of the pointers said Youth Hostel 1.5 miles. I cheered, I should be back in about half an hour. 
From then on I focussed on walking in a straight line on that path. My pace quickened, as I imagined the lights of the hostel coming into view. But they didn't. I seemed to be walking for ages. There's one good thing about walking in the dark, you can have a pee anywhere, ha ha. 
Eventually, up ahead I could see the headlights of cars on a road, thank goodness for that, I must be getting somewhere near civilisation. I came out of the forest onto a road, but where was I, and what direction should I go, left of right. My instincts told me to go right. It was a long straight road so cars were coming down it pretty fast, I had to keep leaping onto the grass verge as they blinded me with their headlights. 
Whilst stumbling along I kept my eyes to the ground so as not to trip over anything. I spotted what looked like a small soggy wet jewellery box in the long grass, and kicked it to turn it over. There was something in it so I picked it up and opened it. I was amazed to find a pretty necklace, a sliver chain with a crystal pendant hanging from it. I don't know how I do it, all these freebees find me. That necklace could have laid there for years without anyone ever finding it, then I come along in the pitch black, and just happen to look down at that moment, and bingo. Amazing. I doubt very much that it is worth anything, it looks like a piece of costume jewellery, I wounder how it came to be there, someone must have lobbed it out of a car window. 
It was 7.30pm when I arrived back at the hostel. I had made the right decision to turn right onto the road, I eventually came to the brown tourist sign pointing to the hostel and I could see the lights. Yay, I have done it. I was mighty pleased with myself that I had kept my cool, and found the way back in the pitch black without a torch. Flaming forests, I ought to keep out of them in future, ha ha.