This week we have been mostly digging holes…

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All holes dug!
All holes dug!

Week four of the Sherborne build and the first week of young people and Youth Centre staff helping on the site.  The main focus this week has been digging the holes for the car tyre piers. We needed 11 holes in total and, as mentioned previously, the clayey and rocky soil had been baked rock hard in the recent heat.  The week before we had considered wetting the ground to see if it made digging any easier, but didn’t because we thought it would just make things messier. By Monday this became fairly academic as the first rain in weeks had done the wetting for us.  And it really did just make things squidgy and no easier to get out.

This week we have had many wonderful young people on site, digging holes by hand, ably assisted by Darren, Helen, Mike and Anna (and anyone I’ve forgotten to mention) from the Youth Centre team.  Darren’s Dad, Perry, at Castle Estates, kindly loaned us a second wheelbarrow to get the muck shifted.  Tom and I loosened up some of the soil with the electric breaker, however by far the bulk of the work digging holes was done with good, old-fashioned hard labour.  It was amazing to see how readily everyone pitched in and enjoyed the work.

The treasure we have found on site!
The treasure we have found on site!

Various treasures were uncovered during there digging (nothing to alert the authorities to I hasten to add).  A few nice fossils, some old nails and metal work, and my personal favourite – an old style ring pull from a drinks can that I was sure would be of interest to those born after such things had been firmly attached to the cans involved.  As well as finding treasure, it was decided some things should be buried in the build for good fortune and for our descendants to perhaps marvel at in the future.  A time capsule has been prepared, to place in one of the piers, containing information about the Youth Centre, the build, and all of the people who have taken part so far, and a recent coin will be placed in each hole too.

Just before Thursday lunchtime all of the holes had been dug and we moved on to sorting the tyres into correctly sized piles of three, ready to place into the holes.  Thursday afternoon was very pleasantly taken over by a break to watch all the young people who had been doing a circus skills workshop putting on the most marvellous show of tightrope walking, plate-spinning and assorted clowning about.

Using a drawknife to remove bark from the chestnut posts.
Using a drawknife to remove bark from the chestnut posts.

Next week we have a sculptor and wood carver coming on site to work with groups of young people to carve two of the chestnut pillars we will have on the porch at the front of the building.  Tom and I had spent the early part of Thursday morning fetching these chestnut poles from Dorset Fencing Supplies – and visiting Dave Partridge of Dorset Hurdles, coppicer and hurdle maker extraordinaire, in the woods at Bloxworth near Wareham, to pick up an order of hazel pins, for pinning our building’s straw bales together.  I always say Dave has the nicest office I’ve ever seen, as whichever wood he is in, it is a simple canopy over his work in some of the most beautiful Dorset woodland.  On Thursday afternoon we also managed to pick up some larch that Tim Dunning, also of the Dorset Coppice Group – like Dave – had kindly sourced for us.

On Friday we needed to get the chestnut poles stripped of bark, ready for the carving on Monday.  Once again Perry from Castle Estates came to our rescue by very kindly lending us a drawknife to get bark off.

Complete ring beam base.
Complete ring beam base.

As well as tamping some gravel into the base of all the holes to firm them up ready for the tyres to go in, time was also spent gluing and screwing together the remaining sections of the bottom ring beam.  We now have one complete circle!  We have now also ordered the rest of the larch for the ring beams and have had to go as far as West Sussex to find it.  In the greater scheme of things this is still not too bad a distance, I suppose (about 100 miles) and if we’d had more notice I’m very confident we could have got it all within fifty miles of the site.

On Monday we’ll start building the car tyre piers.  We are filling them with 10mm shingle to give us a capillary break under the timber work of the building.  If you haven’t come across capillary breaks before tune in next time to find out all about them!

Please comment below or get in touch with your thoughts on the build progress so far.

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