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Poor And Loving It -Tuesday 21/09/10

All this machinery means just one man can maintain and harvest this huge forest.

Round two. One man down, so with Charlie and Ritchie no the receiving end i fed the logs through on my own. Right up until 14:30 when the machine broke down. Left at 16:45 making it a 7 hour day. Stopped off at Glandy Cross to pick up some bits after visiting Charlies partner, who, incidentally is working on a farm due to be taken over and run by the owners of Ruskin Mill in Stroud!
Have been offered another day, possibly two of work, but i have turned it down. Partly will welcome the change of pace, plus helping Ayres on the building, is what i'm here to do and this week we have some volunteers to help.
Plus i am fully aware that should i start bringing in money, we'll find things to spend it on. Am currently enjoying not spending by virtue of not having anything to spend!

M Jones

Alligator Log Stripping - Monday 20/09/10

Up early to gather some kit for todays work. Charlie appeared at 08:50 and we set off for Willow's Forest. What greeted me was an incredible 325 acres of Douglas and Norwegian Fir set across a valley.
Our task was to strip the bark off some 200 2m long sections. For this we had a tractor attachment. This machine was basically 2 cogs and a cheese grater. The log was fed in and gripped in a death roll as an alligator might an antelope, then grated at an obscene speed. Was a horrific and fascinating sight. In the first hour it devoured 57 lengths!
Pretty back breaking work and was glad when 17:15 rolled around. 7.5 hours well, 8 hours minus half an hour break.
Got a text to say there was football going on. Was torn. I was pooped, but at the same time liked the sound of a kick around, even if it made tomorrows labour even more painful.
I decided to go as i felt if i didn't on the basis of work the next day, and being tired from todays toil, i'd be living to work and not the other way around.
We left in Ayres' car and were delayed as one of the guys was a volunteer who needed to erect his tent whilst it was still light. On the way we met a large 4x4 coming the other way driven by a woman who looked far from confident at passing in such a narrow lane. Therefore Ayres had to squeeze further in than was necessary. She passed fine, but as we pulled back out BANG! Ayres gouged out a chunk of his front tyre side wall and a large part of the alloy rim. Not good. He dropped us back, understandably rather pissed off and we took my truck. As a result we only played 30-45 mins but that suited me just fine. Feel sorry for Ayres though...

M Jones

A Dunk Tank And A Bloody Pumpkin - Saturday 18/09/10

Attended Fran's School Fete. Was a nice little village affair with various simple amusements including a dunk tank!
I managed to become almost obsessed with the "Guess The Weight Of The Pumpkin" so much so, I snuck a photo of the list of guesses and tried to gain the upper hand using the law of averages. This led me to the answer of 15.56811 kg however when i eventually returned to enter my super accurate 'guess' i was devastated to see more guesses. Still, i couldn't back out, so i paid for my guess and hung around until the very end. By which time there were 23 more guesses! One more. I took another clandestine photo and scuttled off with the vain hope my average had only been minutely changed. No such luck. The new average was a massive 4kg over the previous! Damn you Derren Brown. Where are you when i need you!?
It was no longer, indeed was never, about the prize. Simply ensuring that maths was still a constant in my life. If that bloody pumpkin doesn't weigh 19.27023kgs or even better, my earlier guess of 15.56811kgs, I will simply be distraught.

M Jones

Frans School

The Dunk Tank, which must have taken ALOT of money that day!

Good old tug of war

Face painting kept Em busy...

Income - Friday 17/09/10

Got a call asking if i'd be up for some paid work Monday. Has led me to try and find a way of bringing in some steady cash without the strings of conventional employment.
Unsurprisingly, the viable options appear rather limited. Online paid surveys? Doubt they're 'easy' money. In order to bring in anything acceptable i'd imagine you'd need to sit in front of a machine for 8 hours a day 5 days a week as your eyesight faded and brain liquified.
Could write a guide perhaps? Do i have the patience or even know anything of use? I like the idea of prehaps writing some short e-books. Cheap. Short. Am not out to make millions, Just enough so our expenses don't completely drain our accounts each month... That said, isn't that what the whole world is trying to do?

M Jones

Where Is My Mind? - Thursday 16/09/10

Had to engage the brain early today as a school run 'system' was changed. a pre breakfast text flurry ensured the tiddlywinks were covered.
More rammed earth tyres with the guys from Culdees
Weather has been on and off, but for the most part sunny and dry. Am concious that the sun is now setting around 19:30 and not rising until 06:56. With the days closing in, i am also keeping a weather eye, as inevitably our productive days will diminish.
Although i'm committed to seeing as much of the building done as i can, i'm also aware the travel urge is creeping in. Is it because of the routine i ask myself? Is this an underlying subconscious thing?
How in control of my life and more importantly, my mind, am i?

M Jones

Rammed Earth Tyres - Wednesday 15/09/10

Rammed earth tyres. The agenda for the day. 6 Volunteers arrived last night from Scotland! A 12 hour drive. An amazing mix of stories. South Africans, Hawaiians, English, American, German. Incredible group. As i got chatting, it transpired they came from a community called Culdees i'd read about a couple of night prior and had been so drawn to, it was a place i thought we could go to after Lammas.
Worked on the site from 10:00 - 13:30 then went back for half an hour until 15:00 as i had to collect the kids and did another hour or so after that. was pooped by the end.

On a tea break, Simon took the visitors to his place.

Our first completed tyre...

Quite a few more to go!

Not bad progress. Two more courses to go.

M Jones

Shyamalan Eat Your Heart Out - Tuesday 14/09/10

Had an extremely vivid nightmare last night.
I was touring the countryside looking to buy some land, when i came across a dusty derelict farmstead. Next thing i knew we were living there and Emma was complaining of 'disturbances'. Before long she was being physically attacked by an unseen force. I remember being absolutely enraged by this and doing battle with this thing,. Absolute to the death fighting, but the more angry i was, the stronger the force i was fighting became. Realising this, i consciously forced myself to risk calming, and luckily it worked, the threat melting away.
Suspecting another ambush and far from convinced i had defeated it, i sought the advice of Emma's mum to help protect and rid us of this ethereal menace. She asked for the help of the angels and i was dressed in a silver breastplate and armour. Whilst i could see it and felt it strapped on, it wasn't physical and couldn't be seen by others. Call it spiritual armour. I was assured, should the demon strike again, i would remain unharmed.
Life quietened down and i arranged to talk to the estate agent to learn some of the properties history. I was to expect a visit that day. Very shortly after, a woman arrived. We shook hands and she handed me the sales particulars. As i glanced them over my eye was drawn to an interior shot, where in the mirror i saw the cloudy reflection of a female. I started to point this out to the woman as a poor photographers error, when i further noticed a blur of orange in the corner of the photograph. As though in fact the camera had caught the spirit of a lady looking into the mirror, perhaps doing her make up. Reinspecting the image in the mirror, the face was horribly distorted conveying anger and hatred. It was clear this spirit was that of a former owner who was distressed at our presence.
I handed the particulars back to the woman and began to tell her what i'd seen, but stopped. Her hair was ginger. Orange. Her coat a reddy tartan. It was her... At lightning speed the realisation set in. "You're her". She gave a wry knowing smile. Before i could ask "But how come i can see you?", the penny dropped. My mind told me. I'm dead. "You killed me" was all i could utter and her smile spread as she lifted her hand and revealed how she had done it. Hidden between her fingers, was a small ball headed pin. Dipped in poison, all it needed, was for me to offer the unprotected flesh of my palm and my life was taken...

Reads like a crap Hollywood horror i know, but boy did it scare the hell out of me... not too badly considering i went on to dream i found my former headmistress living in a yurt behind a training hospital and medical research centre in Tipi Valley. Weird

Night time entertainment over, i took the tiddlywinks to school, went to Cardigan AGAIN. This time caught the Bank. Enjoyed an egg roll, cheesey chips and a coffee before returning home.
Posed for a Lammas group photo, still feel weird about that sort of thing, as i'm rather mindful we're just volunteers.

The Singer sewing machine I rescued from landfill whilst working on the bins.

Played with the rescued Singer sewing machine, the first time its been used since we've had it. Was pretty fun using all the weird and wonderful attachments, but best left to Emma i think until i can work out how she threaded the damn thing.

Sun suddenly decided to show after a grey day so nearly all of us grabbed the opportunity to step outside. Spent the evening reading my new books that arrived today bought with birthday money.
One is RSPB Pocket Nature Wildlife of Britain . The other is Practical Self Sufficiency .
The Wildlife book i bought because of the fact it has everything from trees to plants to mammals to flies and beetles matched to excellent clear photographs.
The self sufficiency guide, i bought because it actually shows you how to build, make, brew all the stuff other books just say you can do. Really chuffed.

M Jones

Circus and Flames - Monday 13/09/10

The Circus?! Lions?Tigers?Bears? Nope -  Katy and Leanders Roundhouse

Weather has turned. The next 48 hours are supposed to be high winds and rain. Despite this, I was amazed to see what appeared to be a circus 'Big Top' being assembled over on Katy and Leanders plot! In actual fact this massive red tarp was being spread over their roundhouse to allow them to finish the roofing.
Ayres and I waterproofed up to do some of our own building work, but decided to go and offer a hand whilst having a nose around.
We broke for lunch and I was busting myself cutting kindling, when for the second time so far i heard "Mike! FIRE!"
Fireman Mike was once again employed. This time to quench a pan of oil Emma had succeeded igniting. As i'm sure everyone knows, these can be potentially catastrophic if treated in the wrong way. Knowing that water would unleash a deadly napalm bomb I slid the lid over the pan in the hope of starving it of oxygen. This appeared to work until the lid, which was a size too big slid off. The pan then 'popped' and emitted a fireball and a jet of flame threatening to burn a hanging tea towel and the overhead cupboards. With the lid carefully secured in place, the pan was taken outside, where i was greeted by a train of excited children who had seen the flames and were all hoping to be the first to see our lives in carnage.
Sorry kids, i'm just too good.
I am of the opinion Emma secretly hates our new lifestyle and is progressively attempting different methods to destroy it! Will keep an eye on her i think.

M Jones