Down By The Stream

So last week Joe and I started tackling the fairly mammoth task of clearing the woodland down by the stream. Now those of who you have visited will know, it is fairly difficult to get down there. Very beautiful once you do so, but it's steep and muddy, and pretty difficult not to fall over at least once. There's a lot of dead and rotten trees, with ivy and brambles clinging on all over. There is what looked like could have once been a path, so we decided to follow that and clear it along the way. 

 So beautiful once you finally get down!

So beautiful once you finally get down!

 Little waterfall! There's another one further down the stream as well. 

Little waterfall! There's another one further down the stream as well. 

 Joe having a bit of an explore. 

Joe having a bit of an explore. 

(Half) Day 1

Ivy. Everywhere. Basically just spent all our time chopping down and pruning trees, cutting through the huge ivy roots, and clearing brambles. Not the most exciting afternoon, but necessary so that we could actually move around a bit easier. Didn't take many photos as we started late, and it got dark so early. Here you can see the pile of stuff we gathered, and also where I planned to build the path.

 There's kind of a route through the trees here....

There's kind of a route through the trees here....

 Joe chopping up everything we cleared into more managable bits for the bonfire. 

Joe chopping up everything we cleared into more managable bits for the bonfire. 

Days 2 & 3

So to explain the layout...one of the fields slopes down into a small quarry, where it then slopes sharply down again into the trees. Our next job was building some steps into the side of this steep bank that takes you into the trees and down to the stream. Joe and I had got used to it after clambering up and down so much, but it wasn't user friendly at all, especially when carrying tools. 

 Joe the human gyroscope, spilling his coffee at the final hurdle. 

Joe the human gyroscope, spilling his coffee at the final hurdle. 

 You can just see the remainder of the bonfire we had from Day 1. 

You can just see the remainder of the bonfire we had from Day 1. 

 All strapped up with everything we needed to start building some steps. 

All strapped up with everything we needed to start building some steps. 

We started another gardener's bonfire straight away, and kept it burning all day, as we had so much to get rid of. Here's how we try to get our fires started.... 

 Step 1: Cut up some dry pallet wood for tinder. Everything here was so wet, it was tricky to get the fire started with what was just lying around.

Step 1: Cut up some dry pallet wood for tinder. Everything here was so wet, it was tricky to get the fire started with what was just lying around.

 Step 2: Create a bed of mini logs for the fire to sit on, if the ground is really damp. Lay your tinder across the fire with one side slightly raised to assist with airflow. 

Step 2: Create a bed of mini logs for the fire to sit on, if the ground is really damp. Lay your tinder across the fire with one side slightly raised to assist with airflow. 

 Step 3: Keep piling on logs in a criss-cross pattern so that the fire can travel up through the middle. Allows the wood dry out as well. 

Step 3: Keep piling on logs in a criss-cross pattern so that the fire can travel up through the middle. Allows the wood dry out as well. 

Now on to the steps...the ground here is very shaley, made up of clay underneath, so digging was hard work but compacted down nicely. We used chunky pallet offcuts to create strong and fairly straight steps, secured in place with stakes made out of branches. 

 The steps starting to take shape.

The steps starting to take shape.

 Used a small axe to chop branches and other pallet offcuts into stakes. 

Used a small axe to chop branches and other pallet offcuts into stakes. 

 Having a well deserved rest! The seat is an off-cut from some kitchen cabinets that Joe is revamping.

Having a well deserved rest! The seat is an off-cut from some kitchen cabinets that Joe is revamping.

Lunchtime! Now one of our all time favourite things to cook and eat is veggies and halloumi on the grill. Courgettes are the favourite, although there seems to be some kind of national shortage of those at the moment, we can only pray this ends soon. We really like cooking over a wood fire, as it gives everything a delicious smoky flavour, but this may not be to everyone's taste as it can be quite strong! We also had some leftover BBQ beans from the night before, so we wrapped them up in tinfoil and stuck them on the coals until hot. It was here we realised that we'd forgotten to bring any cutlery, and couldn't be bothered to go back up to the house again. So Joe, being the very handy man that he is, carved a spoon out of a branch. As you do. 

 Propped the grill up on some branches, which then slowly started to catch fire. It made for an interesting cooking experience to say the least, 

Propped the grill up on some branches, which then slowly started to catch fire. It made for an interesting cooking experience to say the least, 

 Joe carving out the spoon with his Opinel knife. 

Joe carving out the spoon with his Opinel knife. 

 Tucking into some beans with Joe's spoon. The creativeness of this guy will never cease to amaze me!

Tucking into some beans with Joe's spoon. The creativeness of this guy will never cease to amaze me!

We carried on digging, clearing and burning all afternoon and the next day. By this point the steps were nearly done, and a path was starting to emerge. We decided to walk through the forest a bit more to see where the path was going to go next, and come up with a plan of action.

This post ended up being way longer than I planned, so I'll explain the rest in part two, coming soon!