ZEN AND THE ART OF STRING
Here in The Shed, we have learnt to look on the job of handling fishing line as a sort of yogic workout – a test of dexterity and patience with lessons in it about the universe.
Plastic fishing line is a miracle of engineering but there are times it makes a chap nostalgic for string.
The Shed has lately invested in a couple of cheap fly lines, basically factory offcuts, which come neatly coiled in a packet with a couple of elastic ties holding the ends in place. There is probably a trick to easily transferring these to a reel but so far, The Shed has only got as far as discovering that once you cut the elastic, you are in for a lesson in chaos theory.
In the space of a nanosecond, a straight line finds a thousand ways to turn around itself. Some of the knots appear to be mathematically impossible.
You can work back to the original but it takes half an hour, two buckets for coiling your clean line in and out of and zen-style concentration. The Shed would like to see it on the national curriculum, or at least as a detention subject. Here you go, boys and girls – 50 yards of valuable survival tool, after 2 seconds on the floor. You can go home when you give it back, nicely wound onto this piece of card.
LEARNING WHAT WORK FEELS LIKE
This year, The Shed has taken up hedging. The local expert might as well set his watch now for how long it will last, but for now the steering committee is out to justify its latest investment in old tools – a hand-forged sickle, axe and bill hook, and a pair of suburban 1950s shears, about £50 altogether from Tavi Market on Tuesdays.
The Shed has a fair bit of hedge to manage and the idea is that if we get round it all in stages, once a year, we will be four pounds lighter and a few tenners better off.
Also, it will be interesting to see if there are any advantages to doing it by hand.
So far, the downsides are a bit of hedger’s pox – as we have learned to call an armful of jabs and scratches – and a foreman laid up for three days with a bad back. But the job is now done for this year. And there are some plus points to be dimly perceived. The hardest job with a lot of hedging is picking up the clippings and by hand it is easier to throw them where you want them. Also, you are naturally more discriminating about how much cutting you actually need to do, so you get a more natural finish – a bit tousled but with the odd flower or bunch of blackberries still surviving.
Also, of course, in a small way we are saving the planet and before it is too late, we will be applying for a European grant.
Meanwhile, The Shed’s rough estimate is that we would need to charge about three times the market rate to make it a going proposition as a way of life. But if you subsidised the activity a little in the national interest – through highways maintenance, for example – you could quickly establish some measures of productivity which would reward hard labour. A National Hedging Squad would do a lot more good than government self-improvement videos, we feel.
A BOOGIE DOWN TO BOGIE’S
Some Shed personnel are still learning about round yer and the summer holidays included a trip to the MoD surplus store known to all as Bogie Knight’s, in Plymouth – officially knightsurplus.co.uk/
It’s a treasure trove, or a dumping ground, of all sorts, from primer for submarines to the signal flags for We Need A Pilot: Captain Drunk As Usual. We looked at the shell casings, considered kitting up in tropical whites and bought some sacks, a T shirt and some hairy string. A great day out.
A MEANZ TO BEANZ
The Shed has filed a tip from Helen Harris of Tavistock on getting a great crop of runner beans.
She told the Telegraph:
“In mid-May I normally dig out a shallow pit into which I place torn-up copies of the paper. I add a little fertiliser and water well, before replacing the soil and planting the seed beans directly into the ground. It seems the paper acts like a sponge with subsequent watering so that the roots are not denied moisture.”