Working Holiday in Haslemere

Should have been building a straw bale house but planning details still being sought so spent two days splitting and shaping sweet chestnut to make shingles, more properly shakes, as they are hand shaped wood roof tiles whilst shingles are machine made.
Five or six of us made over 400, but the target is 15,000 or 23,000 depending on who is talking, and how wide we can make them.
For every one we made we created 4 times the weight in waste wood, so some of the time was spent splitting and bagging kindling, which will be sold. We were told that a good woodsman can make 500 shakes a day, but I can tell you a lot depends on the grain structure of the logs, too many knots or too much twist and you’re on a hiding to nothing, but you get a lot of firewood.
For variety we helped build a chicken house – all local wood from National Trust property, and put up some split post and rail fencing around the soon to be planted orchard. The warden here made 70 gallons of cider this season, sadly none of it drinkable when we were there.
The whole thing is aimed at creating a demonstration development of sustainable housing and food. You can learn more at their blog.
This was a National Trust working holiday, my fourth, and all good stuff, if you can cope with dormitory sleeping and co-operative cooking. Worst thing about this one was the choice of pubs – only 5 minutes from the centre of Haslemere but one crowded yuppie bar and a Weatherspoons with some good beers (Cotleigh Blue Jay and Exmoor Beast) but several others that were past their best by the time they were tapped. It helped having a pocketful of CAMRA member tokens that gave me 50p off each pint.

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