Tuesday, 8 February 2011

some earlier photos and panoramas

I've just realised that I never posted any early photos of Grove Farm to the blog. I'd posted some of them to Facebook at the time. This post should give some general ideas of what the farm looked like when we first found out about it in June 2010.

We were somewhat in shock at the huge size of the possible project - which I tried to convey in one of the first blog posts.

For example this is the lower field - clicking on it should give a more detailed view if you're want to peer at the ruin in distance. The walls in the background are about 6 meters high at least. This would have originally been the main working part of the food production gardens for Dalhousie Castle. The pleasure garden part would be further along to the right, in front of and behind the ruined glasshouse wall / "folly". The walls would originally have had fruit trees all the way along - sadly only a few pears, a greengage and an apple tree survive.

The other walled section is now "the yard" but would have originally included the melon ground and general working sheds. Last year (June 2010)  it looked like this... (again click on it to zoom in further)

Practically none of the walls are visible - all hidden behind the tin sheds from the previous incarnation as poultry farm. These were all built over the last 50 years or so, apparently there were many of the fruit trees still in this section even then - unfortunately not one remains - just a few well rotted stumps.

However all is not lost , as of  now (Feb 2011) the  yard looks like this...
(In fact it looks a bit tidier since I just threw all the scrap metal in the skip)

The walls have started to appear , either side of caravan  and at the bottom of yard where the concrete stableblock was. We are planning on attempting to grow stuff by the caravan soon - after the concrete layer has been broken up and removed. Might not be the best condition soil straight away it must be said !

On the other side of the dividing wall (on right in photo above) is the glass house. No panorama just some interior shots from June 2010...

There are three 15 meter sections of glass house , all pretty rundown. Luckily it is a cast iron frame so it is structurally sound which was proven this winter when the snow came...

. Most of the glass will eventually need removed or replaced (over 2000 pieces I think) and re-sealed since it all leaks like a sieve. The grape harvest last year was destroyed by grey mould and the vines (4 well established ones) had got out of hand so I have almost finished giving them a severe prune to solve both problems.

The dirt floor has also had a good weed by Apes and the kids- mainly to remove all the broken glass as well as the nettles ! It currently looks more like this...

Outside the glasshouse looks onto the other side of the "folly" and long wall of the original big glasshouse mentioned in the original plans of 1810-ish. You can still see the flues of the heated walls on both sides.
 In June 2010 it all looked very green and overgrown. This panorama is a 180 degree shot through the main tractor-sized "hole" through wall...

We have managed to clear all the  hazardous rubbish hidden in the photo other than the shed on far right. The vegetation around the glasshouse has been taken down to ground level. We even found a large car-sized trailer in front of the flued wall - invisible in the weeds !

The ruin itself hasn't been touched - it would be a major expense to even make it safe since its in a  really bad way.

The  panorama below was taken in the first week or so of October 2010 - right after we moved in. The collapsed sheds to the right side were my first dismantling project .(They carried on towards the woods for about 45 meters). The "hole" in wall (centre of picture) takes you to the panorama view (above) of ruin.

Other than the sheds going this view has not really changed - except for some recent vegetable plots on the left side (more news on them in next blog or so)

I dont have many images of the woodland, its entirely native trees of various ages. Unfortunately the majority of big specimens have been chopped down for firewood over the years (the stumps tell the story), so most of them are quite small and closely planted - some woodland management is on the cards at some point.

There are a few nice little features in the woods. These photos were taken on our first visit in June 2010.

The original pedestrian entrance to the lower walled garden...

Just beyond it is a rather folorn cast  iron entrance in need of some work...

 Further still are plenty of rhododendrons (just waiting for a grant to be removed!) They do look lovely though. Aah !

And further still a small area of river where there is easy access. Most of the river (the farm borders 800m of it) is protected by steep banks  up to 30 feet high in places with low sandstone outcrops. There are a couple of small islands worthy of a future Treasure Island game or two I suspect ! At the moment there is a raging torrent running down there.

Further along , the icehouse , a strange cylindrical cavern with hemispherical shaped floor and ceiling. It filled up and froze this year due to the proximity to river - presumably that what was supposed to happen !

That would be about the end of the walk in the wood, you could head back up through the "far" field - more a one hectare demolished woodland- which I would like to replant soon. Then back through the "long" field to the house or take the entrance driveway. If you were to then take the public footpath around the "back" of the yard wall you would see the rear archway to the yard (hidden inside furthest shed in  panoramas above)

It rather reminds me of the secret entrance to the "Bat cave"...

After all that walking about  (and all that blog article writing !) the discerning farm visitor should continue down the track a further half mile or so to "The Sun Inn"  for a well earned drink. 

Maybe I'll see you there someday soon?

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Situation: stable

What have the last few weeks had in store for the intrepid team ? 

We had started on the concrete stables quite a while ago but after the roof had been removed it ground to a halt...

However, when I decided to demolish the concrete slab panels as a giant game of Jenga it became far more entertaining and I got on with it.

Eventually the last concrete slab was knocked out and down the wooden roof came...

You just cant beat smashing stuff up with "Sister Sledge"...

 In fact you dont even need a sledgehammer to enjoying smashing up stuff - heres a bit of video of the newly emptied "rubbish" shed being demolished.

We managed to get all the rubbish out first, which, coupled with all the foam insulation that wasnt required from the roof panels made quite a pile - hence the requirement for a big forty cubic yard skip - now stuffed to the brim. Only 4 tonnes of rubbish in total for the landfill , but still the least interesting £500 I've ever spent !
This might explain why I still happily take a plastic bag or five at the supermarket without being overconcerned.

The insulation foam was originally sandwiched in between two sheets of metal roofing- but they still needed lifted off the roof and then split apart - there were foam particles everywhere after it had been chucked down - there was no really neat way to do most of it,  the panels were all falling apart internally and most could not be reused.

 We did recover enough for the main big job of this year so far, insulating under the caravan. First layer (last blog) and then a second layer to build up the thickness. What a right pain it was too. It took about 4 days in total hours to do it all spread over two weeks. Dad cutting up  300 pieces of recovered foam...

and me lying in the mud, swearing away installing them, while stuff fell in my eyes...

 Other rubbish that needed chucked were all the old gas bottles - thirty of them eventually ! I found five lying in the woods where they had been chucked down from the hill above. Like that was going to get rid of them ! They'd probably been there for over thirty years easily and looked like giant rusty bombs !

Theres a few left scattered about even still , I've just spotted some lying thrown down the bank into the river ! Or maybe those ones are torpedoes !

Grove Farm is not the only piece of local history that has suffered badly at the hands of time. Whilst taking the glass we'd picked up  to the local recycling yard we discovered the original stables for the local Dalhousie Castle - shortly due for demolition apparently. 

A crying shame really , but it is due to be partly rebuilt elsewhere as a selfbuild house by the current owner of the yard so at least some of the 'embodied effort' will be saved I suppose.

Maybe he might have some stone arches left at the end - I would like one (very similar to this one on the other side of the former Dalhousie stables) to eventually rebuild the entrance to our walled yard . Our one got smashed down so lorries could get in and out.

Which I suppose is quite lucky since this one has just turned up ready for (some of) the pile of scrap thats built up...

The yard has started to look a bit like a "travellers" camp so it would be good to get it cleared up at last. The weather hasn't been helping , the tractor has been churning the track up so I'm trying not to use it too much at the moment. 

Once the ground dries out not only can the tractor come back out to play but it will have a new transport/ link box which Dad has started fabricating out of  'old scrap' (the  roll cage for tractor!).

while I was happily chopping up scrap with my newly restored (inherited with farm) oxy-acetylene cutter . Yowzers thats hot, hot, hot ! 

I've always wanted one of these for some reason - must be a Marvel Comics Super power thing , the ability to melt through steel plates ! Maybe I'm just easily pleased by being able to use tools.

On that note, I also acquired a hydraulic road breaker,  rotovator and welding plant so we can now break stuff up, mix stuff up and put stuff back together.  What more could one want ?

Oh yes, a reason to do all this !

April and the kids have been getting out and clearing some of the glasshouse area amongst other things. Willow has even been picking up bits of rubbish and shards of glass to assist ! I suspect there will still be pieces lying around when she's an adult so its good practice for the future !

Despite all the mess ,everything is still going successfully. 

The situation: stable