The chicken hotel

I was encouraged to post about the progress on the chicken coop before I finish, probably to enhance the ‘Changing rooms’ style reveal where a group of aghast, wobbly chickens timidly enter their new living quarters, wings nervously covering their beaks to hide the suprise/elation that the work has presented to them.

So, I started off with a 1m x 2m approx. metal wheel based cart.

Using a pillar drill I made some holes so I could screw through from the underside of vehicle.

Astrid helping me drill the holes through the metal.

The main shape and structure.

Roof supports on and adding herringbone cladding to the wall where the chooks should eventually enter their coop.

As well as looking pretty sweet, the herringbone design will give a lot of rigidity to the structure. The entrance has a slot so it will have a portcullis style gate.

In the foreground you can see the sub frame which will house the nesting box. The back is sealed using some old doors, one of which has opaque glass so there will be some light without disturbing the privacy of the residents.

The one thing lacking at the moment is material suitable for the roof. We are hoping to find some industrial companies that might have some corrugated metal roof going spare. I only hope we can get it in time to complete the project before we leave for the next leg of our adventure on 31st August.

Stay tuned for a completed project and Carol Smillie unsuccessfully herding some hens around…..

A saw toothed wave

I had to quit my job at Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar School in order to come away and learn. I hope I can return in some capacity, as working with children (Secondary schoolers from Year 7 to 13) is very refreshing to adult life, it challenges you to think, talk and behave in very different ways to that which I’m used to.

An unexpected joy of leaving my job as Design & Technology technician was the leaving present……

This is the greatest present (I think) I could ever recieve, for many reasons which I hope to outline.

It is a Japanese made pull saw. It’s awesome because:

  1. It was given to me by my team at school, namely Ms. Lauren Wood and Karen Allen as well as all of the Design & Technology faculty.
  2. It has a custom made leather case thanks to the skill and effort of Ms. Lauren Lynn.
  3. It feels unlike anything I’ve used before.
  4. It makes me feel like a proper ninja.

The tool itself comes in two parts; the blade and the handle which makes it very compact. Once you clip the blade in to position it becomes double the length and looks so elegant. The thing that makes this so different from any other tool is the handle, because it is more similar to a sword you approach your work and the cut in such a different way. Cutting on the ‘pull’ rather than with conventional Western ‘Push’ you can achieve far greater accuracy as you guide the cut through with your elbow. It’s one of those things that is hard to explain and better to be experienced.

I could go on but I realise that talking for more than 5 seconds about one tool could lose me more readers than I gain. Just to end by saying I will use it whenever possible and when I do, will think of those who gave it to me.

Checkpoint One

Arrived at our first ‘workaway’ volunteer project on Thursday . Getting here from Eindhoven was relatively easy but dramatic, we followed the canal due south from Bree in Belgium. Got to the southern most city of Holland; Maastricht. Rainy and dull but covered 40km easily. On our way from Maastricht to Vaals disaster struck, losing concentration Natasha and I collided down a wet cycle path.

I ended up on the grass verge but Natasha skidded on the concrete. I was more shaken than she was but her injuries were alarming, blood dripping from her knee mixed with chain grease and rain. She was quite unbothered by it all. Natasha has so many bruises her legs now look like abstract artwork or star constellations.

We were only 20km away from our destination and our bikes were fine so we made it to Vaals, so glad we did.

So, our first project…..

A four storey rennovation with garden. Astrid, our host, is an exponent of perma-culture, the idea that you must put back what you get out of the land. This means on a daily basis using as little as necessary as well as re using where possible. My first task is awesome, building a chicken coop/roost. Taking advantage of the wood from the garage and the extensive tools on the ground floor/basement I have set about construction.

Not much to look at now as I have only worked on it for 5 hours, most of which is on planning & designing.

Stay tuned for photos!

We are here for 3 weeks so I shall update you on the look and feel of the place as best as I can.

Love you, x

The middle of the beginning

Get up at @ 0400. Check. Cycle 10km to Liverpool Street. Check. Train to Harwich. Check. Ferry. Check……..

The start of any journey begins with a single step, yet the first is still the hardest. Quitting jobs, organising what you are to do avoid getting another one, emptying house and moving out, mental preparation (I’ve realised I should have done more) bike fixing/tinkering, packing what to take, saying goodbye. All to take one first step. I kept telling myself that leaving was going to be the hardest part. (Phew)

Slowly picking up the slack we realised in the 11th hour that we didn’t have tickets to get our bikes on the ferry, embarrasingly amateur! Managed to sort it out at no great expense. Well done Natasha and her incredibly good telephone manner.

We are currently on the North sea heading to Hook of Holland, cycle off the ferry and head east to get the train to Eindhoven. 1 night in local acommodation and then clock up our first 100km over 2 days.

We are heading to Lemiers in the furthest South of Holland, unique for having Hollands only hill. So embarrassed are they about this that they share it with Germany and Belgium.

I look forward to it, as there is no other way to sit on a bicycle.

Take care. Love you…..

Road trippin’

This coming Tuesday is the date of departure, cycling through Europe, building on sustainable projects, art installations and meeting new people.

We don’t have a destination set in stone, but on Tuesday we leave, no turning back (metaphorically), there will be plenty of u-turns; I’m more eager to pedal onwards than I am to look at the map. But that’s how its going down.

Preparations are going well, mostly involving squirrelling away the things we have that we can’t take with us, the rest of the time trying to get everything on the bike!

I’ve also been working on an Arduino powered odometer with some success, will post some pics once I’ve hammered out some software issues…..

Lots to be done once we hit the road so I should try and enjoy sitting on a couch and not cycling.

See you next Tuesday, if not before. x