Friday, 16 September 2011

State occupation

"What do you do for a job? "

or more formally...

"State occupation"   ___________________X

Most people can answer this in a word or two. I've always felt somewhat ...uneasy... in giving an answer. 
Can you sum up a third of your lifetime in a few words? 

On my entry visa to an African country I once wrote  "Philosopher and Sage" which raised no eyebrows and probably proved that nobody really cares what you do, as long as you're happy with your own subversive answer !

After our house building adventures, I tend to now consider myself (when I must) as a "self-builder". The term "Do It Yourself-er" is lower down the scale - slightly above "bodger". A "builder", which is on the equivalent practical level, has to worry about the monetary return for his time.To a small extent so does the "self builder" though he mainly factors in the other many benefits he gets from his own direct labour.

Maybe I still cannot define accurately what I do. Maybe the real term is not an occupation that is generally recognized, though it still requires more than forty hours a week to become proficient at it over a long time. Maybe I should define myself as a "self-creator"  It is by far a more accurate two-word analysis of how I spend my hours, days, months and years. A "self-creator", expressing their passions and enthusiasms over a whole lifetime of creative effort  that is in keeping with what they genuinely hold as a valid, worthwhile and meaningful purpose.

Its reward is certainly not financially motivated, the reward is for moments , humble as they may be, like this...

..the simple excitement of lighting the first match, for the first fire, in the new stove that you just installed (for the first time ever) . Very basic skills really, but at the very essence of creativity.  

"I'm cold...I must do something about it"  equates to  "I have a need...I must create a solution" 

or maybe  "I need to evolve".

Which leads me to what we have spend much of the last month doing.

Part of being Creative is, of course, its antithesis , being Destructive. Its my favourite part of  "Creating" as well as "building". Start with what you have, create the Idea, be Destructive to make some space, then Create the new reality!

This is what we have (or had!)...

 ...the 'back lane'. (or as I referred to it in a previous post (at bottom of blog entry), the secret entrance to "The Bat Cave", a mysterious hidden entrance to my childhood fantasy and imagination ...)

(My Dad trailblazing !)

 ... its rather overgrown to say the least and leads to the equally overgrown lower end of property or "broom corner" as we have called it (on account of the 'broom' plants)...

"broom corner"

The newly created idea is simple.  Stop the walls being destroyed by the ivy and trees and make the back lane accesible again. Not quite as simple as getting out the strimmer. These particular walls are BIG - five meters high and maybe eighty meters longs. Lets take a closer look...

(click to enlarge any picture) the right  of the arch was an old brick shed, maybe six meter square, complete with a 35 year old tree in middle. Nobody had been inside the shed  it for a LONG time...

"Don't go into the cellar!"

...Further right again, up the lane...

(Sam helping )
..another ,much older shed, not very big and probably original 1800's which had been consumed by vegetation...

"There's a  building  under this?"

Although it is still standing here,  the internal skin had collapsed and a large tree had grown right down through the rotten stone walls into the foundations The Northerly aspect and many years of damp had completely destroyed its potential for being saved. It was also preventing access and repair to the more important main wall behind, so it had to go. First the vegetation ...

(careful Henry !)
(some of the ivy on the walls was massive !)
(this wall was collapsing towards camera/ footpath at about 15 degrees)

(cousin Henry holding it all up!)

...then the proper demolition could start...

(Heave !)

(a few wheelbarrow fulls for sure !)

I decided that we should save as much of the materials for future use as possible. The bricks, the stone and even some of the lime mortar (for future crushing and reuse in new lime mortar). That added quite  a bit of work to an otherwise straighforward demolition. The brick shed had well over two thousand bricks in it , each needing individually chipped clean for re-use , probably as garden paving.

Eventually it was complete. The stone 'shed' may well have been a cludgie -the only evidence for this being its small size, raised entrance with three extremely worn steps, brick floor and remote location ! 

So what have we created , with all this destruction?  It clearly looks like a transformation!  ...

(The wall on right -in sunshine-  is almost sixty meters long !)
From overgrown ,hidden, collapsing, 'back lane' to ...  not yet overgrown, still round the back, lots to rebuild, 'back lane' !  . 

More importantly the work we have done is (what I believe is) the correct thing to do to ensure the longevity of this historic part of Grove Farm .This will of course create other interesting challenges and opportunities - such as a new vehicle access down the lane to the lower "broom corner" without going via the yard - enabling access to the lower fields and ruin without driving through the yard or past our kitchen - which could therefore one day house an extension... 

Who knows what may yet be created !

"Meanwhile, back in the Bat Cave...", (actually the glasshouse),  the grapes have at last ripened.

The red grapes are edible ,if a little tangy ! They certainly bring  a big smile to your face  after all that work getting them into this condition. The green grapes in middle glasshouse have formed big bunches but failed to ripen- mainly because of the poor, damp summer and drafty cool conditions caused by the amount of glass missing  in that section. Better luck in the future - the glasshouse only has about two thousand panes that need removed and sealed back in - maybe it would be easier just to buy sweet grapes at Tesco !!

One of April's projects was growing the melons , hopefully  they will soon be large and ripe enough to eat..

I have learned lots about how to tend the grape vines this year -April is here demonstrating how to find the juciest ones to eat herself. 

Or maybe Lundy will get them. 

Or the chickens !

Yes, we have acquired three recycled chickens to help add colour and entertainment to Grove Farm. I'd quite forgotten quite how odd chickens are if you look carefully at them. 

"You lookin' at me?"

They certainly  have been fun for the kids, as have growing all the different vegetables...

Other people having fun included my brother Sam - sawing up that pile of tree trunks...

The first slice of many!

...and cousin Henry who spent some of his holiday posing on the tractor ;-)

As the winter approaches (what ? already ?), I have decided they next project is to insulate the kitchen which was really cold last year.  

The first step is, as always, "Create the idea". 

 Last week it looked like this...

Step two is - " Get Destructive, and clear some space"

Here I go again !    :-) Woo hoo !

"State occupation" ___________________________  X