Seventeen made in June

The branch held its second training event at the Libanus farm site. Seventeen people attended the weekend of the 8th-9th June to attend a taster weekend on dry stone walling. The trainees were complimented by ten members from the southern area of the DSWA Wales branch.

Saturday began with the obligatory cup of tea which was swiftly followed by a concise safety briefing. Two groups of 9 and 8 people were organised and introduced to the field wall which would be built over the next two days. Unbeknown to ‘Team Jamie’ was that the wall would be modified later to accommodate a 5′ gate. Other points to note were the delicious chocolate topped flap jacks provided by Mrs Small the farmers wife.

The morning progressed well with everyone following lines and laying foundation stones. It was at this point ‘we’ realised there was a birthday girl amongst us who had also brought cake! After a short theory session using the shiny new DSWA flip chart diagrams the two groups made a start on the first few courses. ‘Team David’ was led by David and Richard who working with challenging stone built several courses before taking lunch. It was at this point ‘Team Jamie’ found out that the constructed wall would be stripped out for the gate. After much explaining (much) it was promised that clarification would be sought from farmer Jethro and that the gate would probably be located elsewhere. Mutiny avoided, sandwiches were eaten and tea+flap jacks polished off.

Meanwhile over the hill a group of members coordinated by Brian were gapping a section of the same wall (think 500metres of wall) on a small incline. Oblivious to the flap jack opportunities they returned to have a look at the taster course progress. The remaining part of the day was initiated by a clean up of the existing stone to grade the stone. Further tea was taken whilst more theory was discussed from the flip-chart. After a quick Happy Birthday to Karen, through stones were carefully laid and both groups improved the laying of courses with practice.

Sunday morning started positively with everyone returning for more walling in more favourable weather conditions. The wind had dropped and moments of sunshine interspersed the light showers were witnessed. Trainees were reminded of the importance to check joints and improve stone placement. The day drew on and by 2:30pm the farmer had arrived with a trailer full of approximately 6 ton of copes to top the wall. With the assistance of the instructors the seventeen attendees then went onto cope a total of 38 metres of wall. The result – a very impressive length of wall, happy farmer and a completed taster course.

A synopsis of the weekend was provided back to the group by the instructors which was followed by a vote of thanks and an unexpected applause. The farmer was asked if he still wanted the 5′ gate gap to be put in situ. His response: “Na it’s (the wall) too nice to put there now”.