Sunday, 24 February 2008

Hedge-Laying At Gibb's Island

We were meant to be goatherding on Darragh Island yesterday. In the event, there was a change of plan at the last minute owing to inclement weather so Craig texted me that morning and we all met at Gibb's Island. There's a photo to the right.

Gibb's Island is a truly beautiful spot close to Delamont Estate and the village of Killyleagh in County Down. There was quite a crowd of us today: about fifteen volunteers who were staying at the old gamekeeper's cottage in Castleward, and about a half dozen of us, making over twenty people.

We, or at least some of us, were endeavouring to practice the ancient art of hedge-laying. Some of us were novices and others had varying degrees of experience. I found it most interesting, not to say satisfying. It involves making a deep cut, at a certain angle, about a third of the way up a small tree. You make the cut almost right through, but without severing it completely. Then you use special axes, or adzes, Staffordshire billhooks to cut more of the wood away above the cut until the tree can be bent over horizontally. You overlap it with other bushes in order that it remains in place. I'm tempted to make some double entendres about the substantial chopper I had and the girls smiling beside me but I'd best cease now! Timothy Belmont's sense of humour is wickeder than previously thought.

Now I have an elementary knowledge of hedge-laying. We laid about one hundred yards of hedge yesterday. I'm looking forward to going there again next month for more. Once I have that chopper in my hand there is no stopping me.

We shared a Chinese takeaway last night: Prawns Kung Po with fried rice.

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