Mike can obviously contain his excitement better than I can (see previous post) as he managed to take a 'before' photo. Mind you, at this point he had already been there for over an hour putting up signs and clearing the undergrowth.
And here's proof that the bit we built on previous visits is still standing.
And evidence that Dave and Alan at least did some work.
And, perhaps most surprisingly of all, evidence that - on rare occasions - the sun does actually shine in the Scottish Borders.
On Sunday we revisited Wooplaw Community Woodland (www.wooplaw.org.uk - see blogs passim) to continue with the build of the wall we've been working on. As per usual, I forgot to take a 'before' picture - the excitement of getting to work seems to be just too much for me, I'm afraid. However, if you look back to the previous Wooplaw post (September 2014) you can see how we left it last time, which is pretty much how it was when we started this time.
I was pleased to see that the Stone Bridge (I've decided to capitalise it, so that it can become the Wooplaw Stone Bridge) was still up and functional.
While doing some wood-related work elsewhere in the woodland, Stephen (he's a man of may talents) had spotted another muckle stane which he reckoned should be added to the bridge. The good news was that it was easily big enough and flat enough. The bad news was that it was at pretty much the very far end of the wood. However, with the help of his barrow*, we managed to lug it over to the site.
* It may just have done some of the journey in the back of my car. Well, you wouldn't want it falling off the barrow and damaging the road, would you.
And after some improvements and extensions to the supporting retaining wall lining the ditch (which was a bit less muddy than previously - perhaps even due to the improved bridge no longer being a blockage point in the drainage system) the new stone fitted in very nicely.
And proof that either it's safe to walk over, or that Alan's very brave.
Further down the same wall there's a place where we (well, Richard) had build an arch where the ditch crosses under the wall. The arch itself was still fine, but the copes above it had started to come off and the wall to one side had followed them down (proof, I'd say, of the soundness of the arch, at least).
Fortunately we'd caught it in time, and it was easy enough to build the wall back up and re-cope it.
Meanwhile, work was continuing apace on the wall, interrupted only by lunch and a brief break to rehouse a toad.
And by the end of the day we'd added another four meters or so (as yet uncoped, but we've got another couple of visits scheduled for this summer, so hopefully we'll get it all done before the winter).
Bob Fleet fae Wooplaw showed up just as we finished off and insisted on taking a photo of the gallant builders (less Stephen, who'd had to head off early as his wife is in danger of becoming a Wooplaw widow).
Today (how's that for rapid publication) we had a practical dyking outing to the Harlaw reservoir, in the Pentland Hills to the south of Edinburgh. I arrived pretty late (I had birthday present buying duties for my son, who has just turned seven) - it was very windy, with squally showers.
I couldn't remember exactly where the build was, but set off optimistically across the Harlaw dam with the kids in tow. However, it was so windy we almost couldn't walk against it, and there was no sign off any dykers on the far side of the reservoir. The nippers were hating being blown about so we headed back, but then Sam noticed a note stuck in the visitor centre letterbox. This turned out to be from branch secretary Dave, and said he'd be working on the left (Edinburgh) side. So we set off again - this time somewhat sheltered by the trees along that side of the reservoir.
The wall here appeared to be mostly dry stone, but with a mortared cope. This, dear reader, is rarely a successful way to build a dry stone wall, as inevitably subsidence - however slight - means that the top row of stones in the wall below the cope become detached from it and are no longer held in place by the weight of the stones above them. This had happened at several points, and in a few places the stones had started to fall out, leaving holes in the wall. After about five minutes walk we found Dave, sitting in the shelter of the wall by one such gap to eat his lunch.
As no-one else had turned up we decided that this particular gap was too big for us to tackle, especially as it was already early afternoon. So, gathering a barrow-load of spare stone from a nearby brook, we headed back to a much smaller hole not far from the visitor centre. And, in time-honoured fashion, I forgot to take a 'before' picture before we started taking out the mortared cope. So you'll just have to imagine this gap with the cope continuing along across the top of it, like some sort of weird bridge for squirrels.
The children headed back to the visitor centre to escape the by now very blustery wind while Dave and I cleared out the loose stones.
And after cleaning the mortar from the copestones, we put them all back in again.
It was just as well we'd picked up that barrow load of extra stone as we only just had enough to complete the wall. And we ended up with a gap in the cope (at the right above) as we no longer had the mortar between the copes. But it's much better than it was, and we can complete the coping next time we're in the vicinity.
Last weekend was the Gardening Scotland show. The West of Scotland Dry Stone Walling Association's Time Garden won a silver gilt medal.
There was a lot of interest, both in the walling (which I could - usually - answer questions on) and the planting (about which I knew nothing - were they dwarf hyacinths? I didn't even know they were hyacinths ...).
The reading-themed garden which Bruce and Richard had worked on looked great as well, despite the planting obscuring the stonework somewhat (tut!).
And then, after three days, we had to take it all down again ... seems a bit of a shame to build something that in theory can last for centuries, only to have to dismantle it almost immediately. Still, it gets seen by lots - thousands - of people (and was even on the telly, I believe) so it's definitely worth the effort.
This blog, and the rest of the site, are produced by Donald McInnes, treasurer of the SES DSWA (I'm the baldy one, sometimes in a saltire hat).