Friday, 7 November 2014

A Shed Obsession - part 2 - The Upcycle Shed Plan - Pallet Built

The inspiration for this pallet Shed came from here
and started with a simple  to do list...

  • Check Friday-Ad / Gumtree / Freecycle / for Doors/Windows &
  • Get Pallets from Brighton Wood recycling = £12 delivery
  • 4 concrete in posts for ground  £40 plus concrete & sand say £50
  • 12 pallets, 6 per side wall 3m wide by 2.4m high for two rows of 3.
  • 3 pallets for back wall 2.4m wide by 1m high then use 2x4 framing lumber for rest, inc window frame.
  • 2 pallets for front wall 2m wide by 2.4m high then use 2x4 framing lumber for rest inc door frame
  • Wall Breathable Membrane 30m2:
cheap =  £40 + tacks

  • Wall cladding :
  • Internal walls - recycled plywood 2 walls @ 10m² plus 2 walls at 2.5x2.5 = 2 x 6.75m² = 13.5m²
  • Roof - 6 2x4 sideways of  4m length : 3m long, .3m (1ft) high  for a min 6% angle on a flat roof
         - 10 2x4 flat of 3m length (1x4 if not going for green roof)
        -  plyboard 4m x 3m   =12m²
        - roofing felt 5m x 3.5m = 17.5m²
  • Green Roof

Door - You may use any size of door, but make sure it fits well in the frame. The trim size frame should be at least 10 mm (3/8") wider and 10 mm (3/8") higher than the overall size of the complete pre-hung door.
Window - The trim size of the frame should be at least 10 mm (3/8") wider and 10 mm (3/8") higher than the overall size of the whole window.

And a simple Schedule :

Weekend 1  = 2 days - empty current shed (9th/10th August)
Weekend 2  =   1 day  - knockdown current shed & prepare groundwork, 1 day  - groundwork   (?16th/17th August?)
In-between - freecyle for windows/doors

Main Phase = 5 days Day (26th August - 30th August)
0 - Delivery of pallets, hard/plyboard, wood
1 - put up posts and secure, build roof rafters over the top
2 - fill in with pallets, prepare window & door frames
3 - hardboard/plyboard the roof, cover roof with waterproof.  Deliver external wall cladding.
4 - attach wall membrane to pallets, attach battens to membrane for external cladding
5 - put in the windows & doors, attach external wall cladding
---------------- Main Build Phase Complete --------------------------------------------------------------------
Secondary Phase
6 - stuff insulation (free/recycled) into pallet walls,  line the walls with hard/plyboard
7 - complete the green roof.  Ready for sedum delivery.
------------------------ Main build + 1 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Internal Phase
-- put in bike storage, organise work space

A Shed Obsession - part 1 - Planning

So, the Blog has been quiet of late, since Lughnasadh really.  The hints were in my earlier post <here> of plans for the year.   I've had a shed obsession.  From late July through to October all of my spare energy and focus has been on this 'Shed'; however more of a man-cave than humble shed.  It needed to do 3 things:
  1. Securely store my bikes
  2. Provide enough space to work on bikes
  3. Provide a flexible space for winter turbo-training (riding a bike without going anywhere!) and as a gym
  4. Optional extra - somewhere to start growing Tomato's earlier in the season

The plans really started to take shape during August when I had to settle upon a type of build.  Obviously, coming from a Gewessi mindset, ecology had to come into the mix along with practical time and cost considerations.   A set of principles formulated themselves:
  • Use recycled wood where possible
  • Cost to be ca £500
  • Timing - allow a week for primary build phase
  • Green roof
  • Time & Cost to prioritise over Quality; the quality aim is functionality with a nod to the aesthetic

Looking at the YouGov planning reg's the eaves height needs to be no greater than 2.5 metres.

So an initial plan was drawn

Then Design Options were reviewed; from building a high quality aesthetic matching the plan with all new wood, to a fully recycled wood shed.   A combination option, the middle way,  was chosen.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Wanderer

I was reading a side by side translation of this poem and became frustrated at some of the discrepancies I could see between the Anglo-Saxon and the English so I translated some of it myself. The problem with translating the old poems, I am more familiar with Anglo-Saxon and Norse, is that the original poems were created by one, or more likely many, brilliant poets. Sadly their translators (I suspect) are more qualified linguistically than poetically. Add to this the scops and bards love of multiple layers of meaning via their kennings and a true translation becomes a virtually impossible task. However, here's my translation of stanzas 1-28 of the Wanderer...  

The Wanderer vs 1-28
my translation

Often the recluse
remains honourable
with a resigned attitude
though they be much caring
though they're beyond the sea.

Long I sculled
crucified amid the oars, shaking,
wading wretchedly
Across the cold rimed sea;
"wyrd drives ever forward".

Quoth the world-walker
mindful of misfortune
and the shore of slaughter
and decaying wine mates:

Often I sculled alone
in the morning, everyone
of my cares released.
I am not able, now none is alive,
to say my mind;
I don't dare declare
my spirit plainly.

I know, in truth,
it is courtly conduct
that a man's fears are locked,
fastly bound,
held in his heart's locket,
where he keeps his soul.

A weary soul has no desire
to withstand his wyrd
neither can a thin will
help free him;
Indeed, doom desirers
keep dreary thoughts
fastly bound,
held in their heart's locket.

So my inner heart,
often scolding and sad,
deprived of hearth,
far from friends,
is fettered and sealed.
Since long ago,
my gold and wine mates
I laid in the dark earth's bower.

I, humbled and destitute,
sadly sought a new hall
of a blood baron
a bright gold giver.
Where'er, near or far,
I might find
he in the meadhall
of my mind; wise
and offering friendship.
Consolation to a friendless man.
Of course Tolkien famously translated and used some of the later Stanzas in his Lament for the Rohirrim in The Two Towers. It's part of the reason I stopped where I did. I don't think I can compete with him...  

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? 
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing? 
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing? 
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing? 
They have passed like rain on the mountain, 
like a wind in the meadow; 
The days have gone down in the West 
behind the hills into shadow. 
Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning, 
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?

A full translation of the Wanderer is here

Friday, 1 August 2014

Tranquilo Lughnasadh


And my heart has always been heathen
Since I first flew across these fields
With my ancestors; Cisse’s wild clan
In youth; many moons within the mind.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Gewessi lore - the Salmon

There are 5 streams that fed the Well of Segais. This is where the 9 hazels trees of Wisdom dropped nuts into the pool that the Salmon fed on. Allegorically we could consider the 5 streams to be the 5 senses, maybe this represent the search for wisdom via experience?
We would then need to interpret what the 9 hazel trees represent. Within the Germanic world there were 9 realms or worlds. Within the Celtic world we have the 3 realms of Earth, Sea and Sky plus (arguably) the 3 realms in the Circles of Abred. The 9 trees could come from a 3x3 and so maybe the 9 hazels represent the sum of all knowledge across all the realms?
The Salmon, by eating of the nuts, acquires the sum of all knowledge. Maybe the search for the salmon is the method of inquiry?
In this respect it would be how Fionn accumulates such Druidic knowledge and wisdom - through experience, knowledge and inquiry. The Salmon is a special, magical being because it starts in a small inland stream and then travels, across the ocean, far to the west (if you live in north-western Europe) and perhaps to the location of the Summer Lands. It then returns older and wiser ready to start the next generation. 

In the Celtic tales, such as Culwch and Olwen, the Salmon is one of the oldest beings asked questions by the heroes.  In the Norse Volsungasaga the tale starts when Loki kills an Otter (Ottar) eating a Salmon. Except it’s a Dwarf/Jotun who could shape change into an Otter. Loki then has to pay a weregild for the killing. Later on Loki becomes a Salmon himself when attempting to escape the wrath of the other Gods.

Funnily enough down here in Sussex we don't have Salmon but do have the Salmon-trout which is a Brown trout that spawns and spends it's youth in the freshwater rivers, when it matures it migrates down to the estuary and then spends most of it's time living in the sea. Sometimes they migrate far upstream during the winter floods and then get trapped in pools, the wider stretches of the stream as the floods subside.  I was reflecting on this as I passed some of our local Hazel trees that are laden with nuts.
As with all of the Celtic stories the allegory seems very obscure and tenuous but there is also the thought that the reason why the Druids were against writing their esoteric knowledge down was to encourage each generation to hunt for wisdom, knowledge and truth. That way it remains alive and reflects the needs of each generation and does not become Dogma from being written down.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Kite flying

There is a constant depressing message of the nature that we are losing...
but little on the success stories.  One of these is the Kite:

I first saw a Kite at dusk, after a long day MTBing, in a little graveyard near Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales over 20 years ago.    At the time I did not know it was one of these marvellous raptors  - I thought it was a beautiful carving on a headstone.  It was only the next day when I passed the same graveyard and the bird was gone that the excitement hit...  I'd seen a Red Kite!    At that time this was the only place you could see them, there were only a handful of breeding pairs in the UK.  They had almost been hunted to extinction on this island.

Move forward to this summer and I am sat in my back garden and look up to see one drifting over my house in the Low Weald of Sussex.  Then I saw two whilst out MTBing near Amberley on the Downs followed by many whilst driving up the M40 to Oxford.

The dedication of the various groups who have protected and re-introduced this marvellous bird have provided this success story for the Kite.   So that it can now be seen across the UK.  Image from here. My ride that day across the Downs brought a little bit of Awen...

Thermal drifting,
Windward drafting,
Lazily floating,
The kites hang high.

Wild recursive wings
Impossibly hang
Sickle tail drifts
The kites float by.

No string to anchor
Or gravity suck
A pair free floating
The kites hang high.

Loping along hedgerow the hare stops, stares
At high hanging raptors.  Flicks black tipped ears
And races dusty trackways back to his field of cares.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Hymn to Sol or Sunna at Litha or Alban Hefin the Summer Solstice

Taken from

Hymn to Sol
(inspired by Rig-Veda Book 1 Hymn to Surya)

Your bright beams, aloft are born
fairest of face, the bright fulgor;
Grace-shine the bringer of beauty.
Across Ymir's day-nascent skull -
Your rays herald like hunting horns
So refulgant from afar.
Beacons that burn and blaze.
Swift and sublime, you are Sunna
Maker of light, illuminator.

You brighten Gods, lighten all beings
traversing sky, bring day to birth
with brilliance your beams mark days
over the business of being.
Early To Wake and Very Quick
bear your wagon, the lovely wheel
across the sky, God-blithe Glen's wife.
All-Bright remove my hearts disease
with your all-conquering vigour.

Wassail Sunna with awen, awen, awen

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Round the Barrows

It was a hot sunny day and I was back amongst the Tumuli of my Sussex ancestors at the Barrow Cemetary at Sullington Warren. I was working with the National Trust to keep this as heathland against the encroaching woodland. The morning was hard graft with a mattock which is like a pickaxe but with a broader, flattened adze like edge. I was removing young trees from one of the Round Barrows, they were mostly Oak with some Rowan and other trees such as Holly and Buckthorn. I was working on the dry part of the heathland sitting on the Greensand ridge.
The Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) notification says "This area of scrub supports a varied invertebrate fauna, and two invertebrate groups well represented here are the Aculeate Hymenoptera (bees, ants. and wasps) and Coleoptera (beetles). Of particular interest is a locally uncommon beetle Apion fuscirostre which lives specifically on broom and has been recorded at this site."
It felt strange, as a Druid, to be killing young Oak trees and yet without this work a rare natural habitat for heathland flora and fauna would be lost. It felt right as a Gewessi to be clearing the burial mounds of our Pagan ancestors with hard graft. For a, normally office bound, middle-age modern Pagan swinging a mattock in beautiful Sussex sunshine was a mix of the beauty of Vanaheim and the heat of Muspelheim Applying a little Logos to the situation there is an area for the Oak and deciduous trees on the site, which is protected as well as an area for Pine. The aim with this work is to retain the balance between Oak, Pine and Heathland on the site so that it can provide benefit to all. Here's the barrow we cleared:
The afternoon was then spent in the wet more boggy heathland nearer the Pines - removing the young pine trees attempting to take over. Here the humidity and dead heather made it a different kind of hard, scratchy work. We made in impression on both sites helping the wardens to manage the sites. The heather is dead, above the ground it has been killed by Heather Beetle. What the heathland needs now is a good fire to cleanse it BUT with a small nature reserve surrounded by houses a controlled burn is not an option the heather needs to be managed in another way, by people. Which all reminds me of the Rush song...
"The Trees"

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream 'Oppression!'
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
'The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light'
Now there's no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Island mentality and Wabi Sabi

Watching Chelsea Flower Show and the gorgeous Togenkyo, A Paradise on Earth, garden reminds me of the similarities that living on an island, or archipelago, brings. There is a similarity between "the fable of Togenkyo, a place of beautiful scenery that can help people to forget their troubles and strife, but that once visited cannot be revisited" and many of the Celtic stories of people visiting the Summerlands and the otherworldly people who dwell there.
Which brings me to the English Garden and Gertrude Jekyll. I think she would have approved of the Zen philosophy of Wabi Sabi. I was at a garden plant swap / sale this weekend where the garden seemed to fulfil the Wabi Sabi principles.

The principles seem also very Druidic to me. On I once found this as a summary of the principles involved:

Zen’s seven ruling principles

  • Asymmetry (Fukinsei): Stiff, formal symmetry, suggesting frozen finality and artificial perfection, can be fatal to the imagination. Asymmetry lets us be loose and spontaneous—more human than godlike. It means we can get by with one—or three—candlesticks, and all the china doesn’t have to match.
  • Simplicity (Kanos): Zen eschews gaudy, ornate, the over embellished in favour of sparse, fresh, and neat. It’s the triumph of craftsman style over the cluttered Victorian parlour.
  • Austerity (Koko): Zen asks us to reduce everything to “the pith of essence.” Don’t love it? Can’t find a use for it? Let it go.
  • Naturalness (Shizen): Zen is artless, without pretence or self-consciousness. It is bare wood, unpolished stone, and flowers from the backyard.
  • Subtle Profundity (Yugen): Within Zen lies a deep reserve, a mysterious, shadowy darkness. The hint of soft moonlight through a skylight would be yugen.
  • Freedom from Worldly Attachments (Datsuzoku): The Buddha taught us not to be bound to life, things, or rules. “It is not a strong bond, say the wise, that is made of iron, wood, or hemp,” he said. “Far greater an attachment than that is the longing for jewels and ornaments, children and wives.” It’s the simplicity movement, not keeping up with the Joneses.
  • Silence (Sejaku): Inwardly oriented, Zen embraces the quiet calm of dawn, dusk, late autumn, and early spring.