You will recall from last month’s report that we have a plan for both maintenance and conservational improvements in Stara Wood and this month it was the turn of maintenance.

Our car park has been in need of some TLC for quite some time and after the river added its power to removing the top surface this autumn it was high time we did something about it. The simple answer is to tip a whole load of “stuff” onto the surface and spread it out. But wiser shoulders than mine pointed out that this was ok (ish) but we would have to revisit the same problem in a few years time, as our friends the Lynher and visitors’ cars simply spread the “stuff” out and eventually push it all down into the culvert that runs east from the river bridge and under the road some 15 meters away from the main river.The answer is to build up a kerb and then stack “the stuff” up against it, thus protecting the culvert from infill while allowing it flow when it feels the need.

I have used the “stuff” term because we are still trying to find the right material for this. Road scrapings are a cheap option but come filled (as a recent story in the news has illustrated) with nasties. So not in line with our environmental mission. What about the plentiful granite chips available at most of the quarries around us? Again, ok but quite loose and therefore likely to move more easily in spite of the kerb. The debate continues but if you have a solution, around relatively chemically neutral material, that is well packed downable (is there such a word) and readily available and affordable please let me know! In the meantime, the curb was the order of the day. It needed to be about half a meter high (at its lowest point) and sturdy enough to withstand the occasional car reversing into it. We also wanted to avoid car sensors not “seeing “ it so it needed to be BIG and again it needed to be cost effective (oh, if only a wealthy benefactor would give us loads of cash – anyone?)

One material we have in abundance on site is timber and specifically two types that meet our needs really well. The mighty Douglas fir that are such a feature of Colquite wood (on our east bank) are renowned for their strength and are valued for making beams to span wide areas. While the really big ones are special and currently not in our plans for clearing, their lesser offspring are ideal for the kerb and there was one up by the leat that was perfect

both in diameter and height/length. Well done to our tree fellers (actually there were only two of them – can you guess I’m mid panto at time of writing) for successfully felling the tree and missing the other big trees, the cars and our elderly gate as it fell. Also, apologies to anyone who came to visit and found the car park shut – I guess you are happy we didn’t let you through at the time!

Meanwhile the other part of our need – posts to hold the kerb in place – could best be supplied by Western Red Cedar, a variety of tree that provides wood that is resistant to rot. Those of you who know your trees (or who regularly read my monthly drivel) will know we are gradually thinning a plantation of these cedars from the other end of Treovis, so the rest of our worthy team transported about 10 lengths of this wood to the car park by sheer strength of arm and leg!

Then it was simply a case of putting it all together. After much digging, post “tonking” and trunk rolling we have created a very serviceable kerb (see picture). Thank you everyone who turned out to help – it was one of our most productive days for a long time.

The more pedantically inclined of you will note that we have fenced across the car park, parallel to the river and as a result “reduced” the car park size. Our rationale is that only three cars can park in this space and the depth of it is relatively immaterial as we hope these 3 cars are free to come and go, irrespective of how close they get to the river and at the same time we could save quite a lot of “stuff” by not covering every square inch. Hope that’s OK with you?

The next working party will be on 2nd March where (hopefully) we will have got our stuff and will be able to spread it across the car park to complete this task. Usual time and place – see you there!