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January, 2006:

Hedge Laying

Hedge Laying

I have no idea if there is any particular tradition of Hedge Laying in France. In fact, thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done anywhere. The usual form with hedges is for farmers to come along with a mechanical flayer and buzz the tops off every once in a while – the results are familiar and I think brutally ugly. Not that you notice so much in the summertime when you buzz around the countryside on your hols but once you have a trained eye for the real deal.. you can see that it’s worth the effort.

Hedge LayingIn advance of moving out to France I knew I’d always wanted to have a go at this. So with a little research I found out that the Bollin Valley partnership ran a one day course in hedgelaying skills, so on a cold and rainy November 2004, we went off and had a go. The results were… impressive!

Fast forward to January 2006, just about the right time to have a go at our hedges now. They were not in the very best of condition and our farming neighbour had over the years done the usual mechanical hacking on them, so it was time to set to with the work. Firstly, I think I invented a new style! Bellebouche style! There are plenty of traditional methods and I’ve used a mish-mash of different types… the layout of our garden and the gap at the end meant that I also had to split the direction of the lay. It looked a little odd at first but will look great when both of the sides get done in 2007 – it’ll really support the flow of the garden.

Hedge LayingSo, two full man-days worth of labour later, one ripped pair of jeans and one painful “falling arse first into barbed wire” incident later it’s done.

If you’re considering having a go then I suggest you buy the book on how to do it from the British trust for conservation volunteers. There’s hundreds of years worth of accumulated knowledge in it and it makes an excellent read.

Now, if you live in Poitou-Charentes and would like a little hedge laying consultancy and advice… I’m your man, give me a call!

All Change

So, the few iterations in design and usability that this website has gone through probably reflect much of what it is that I think about the use of web technology today. You can hand-crank webpages and write things manually, but really.. it’s for the birds.

In June 2005 it was so insanely hot here that we shut the shutters, made some long cool drinks and sat indoors and wrote a webpage update. New to me was the engineering of a website using CSS, I hand built a lot using some tools and brought around a great improvement to the site. What I didn’t easily crack was the fact that updates still involved more legwork than was necessary and I knew there was more that could be done.

So now, this post heralds yet another iteration. All of the hardwork is being done by a tool that someone else wrote and the job of doing updates/creating new things for the site falls partially under the realm of the “blog”. Great stuff, we have little enough time to muck about with computers.. too busy having a life now!

But, I still like to stimulate the inner nerd so here’s what’s what. I’m using the PHP based blog engine WordPress, all the data gets stored in a back-end server side mySQL database engine and it’s all totally dynamic. Lovely.

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