If you were going to choose a day for a work party you wouldn't choose the hottest day of the year would you? But that's not the way we roll.
The late start sounded like a good idea, relaxing even, but 'roasting evenly' would be a better description. By eleven the sun was high in the sky and the mercury was high in the vial, hitting 30C. The Bambi Basher and yours truly rocked up and drove across the estate to an overgrown Pheasant pen. The pen's position is a game of two halves, good its very sheltered from the winds that howl off the south downs, bad its effectively a drainage for the field, right next to a stream, and heavily overgrown with Willow. It was cool and damp on the hottest day so far, so in the winter it must be pretty parky and very wet.
The estate is massive and owned by a retired Colonel who with our new friend Keeper Du Bois runs a small informal shoot for family and a few friends. I first met The Col. and KDB helping out on a fox drive a few months ago. TBB is a member of the shoot and as KDB seemed to have his hands full I'd offered to help out as one of his under keepers. Time and tide had kept us from catching up but as the poults will be arriving soon we have a few jobs to do around the estate.
TBB and I set-to with the enthusiasm of un-caged dogs and had cleared a way around the pen when a cheery shout announced KDB's arrival. In one of those 'Youtube gold' moments his greeting and the position of the truck led him to slightly miss the landbridge crossing the stream and he disappeared into a gully; quad bike, trailer and all.
Much hilarity later, with the other fellas from the work party having arrived, we divided up the tools and began clearing some pathways for the beating team to push birds onto the drives. KDB issued me with a Jungle-Buster (basically a more robust weed-whacker or Strimmer). A tool that had led a hard hard life. I was wearing it hanging from a harness with the motor behind me, and swinging the pole from side to side letting the tool do the work. I was suddenly aware of something else behind me and looked over my shoulder. The fuel tank had leaked, the housing had shaken itself loose, and touching the exhaust had ignited. I was on effing FIRE!
I made a few nerve-wracking attempts to un-hook the now blazing machine from the harness, but soon saw sense and wriggled out of the harness and dumped the whole kit into the stream. Which having had a bit of fuel spilled into it from the trailer's earlier baptism promptly burst into flames.
The rest of the day was thankfully a little less dramatic.
Big Shouts to the people who have sent me useful stuff for testing:
3M Ultrathon for their slow release insect repellant - DEET incapsulated to provide slow release protection against flying biters - good gear I've used it a few times and it works well, and being Tick Season much appreciated. If you are going afield please read this primmer on Ticks by longterm reader Pablo from Woodlife
Trucker's Friend who sent this hammer, pry bar, nail puller, zombie-whacker, thingy which we used to take some fencing down.