The no-pictures version

Well, I got as far as getting my phone to talk to Elmo’s computer and get the pictures in a state to be uploaded, but it seems my connection is not good enough to upload them anyway, so I’ll have to do the no-pictures version here and now and upload some pictures to match it later.

I’ve got a lovely picture from Alec’s party, of him showing Maisy a picture he’d just taken of Toby eating the s’mores made from the American marshmallows, graham crackers and hershey bars my mother sent. And also a picture of the sausage roasting, where Elmo’s sausage was twice the size of everyone else’s, with predictable hilarity resulting.

Then there’s a picture of the wall (of great fame) which we intended putting the house-bits down. The ground behind it is higher than the top of the wall, which we discovered, on digging it up, is probably because people have been throwing brush and other crap over it for 200 years. It will have been level when it started out, and now it’s 8 feet higher. We’ve found some fabulous old bottles and plastic stuff, including a plastic bag previously containing garden peas with a price in old money, dating it to the late 60s. It’s in pretty good nick, actually, we might keep it.

Although digging through roots, plastic string, broken greenhouse glass and plastic pea bags is a bit of a nightmare, we did manage to get the level down a fair amount, and decided to use the central floor section as a ramp to slide the other two buildings down. Pushing the floor section on the rollers went pretty well and we managed to get it into place by lunchtime.

We were all feeling pretty optimistic then, because it had gone quite smoothly and everything had worked as predicted. However, as soon as we started trying to shift the straw buildings, things started to not work quite as planned. We had no trees on the side of the building that needed to be pulled, so we tried knocking a giant post into the ground several feet and winching round it, but the post was just pulling straight out again, even with Dave (quite a big guy) pulling on it with his full weight. After trying for a few minutes to think of anything else to do, we backed the truck up to the building and pushed it with a couple of old rafters to spread the load. We are thankful several times over that we saved those rafters and dragged them up here.

After several variations on pushing and then winching and then attempting to twist in place the building, we got it to the brink of the hill and Rae and I had a conversation where we speculated as to how bad it was going to be if it all went wrong halfway down the slope and how it had taken us more than 5 hours to move the thing 30 feet with the aid of trucks and trees to winch against, and how it would shortly end up at the bottom of a slope (possibly whole, possibly in a pile of muddy bales and clay) and we would then have no truck and no trees to help us and maybe it was better after all to take it apart.

The argument against taking it apart was always that a lot of work had gone into building it and claying out the interior, and it would be an awful shame to have to repeat it (not to mention the work of taking it apart as well) but in the end, having reflected upon how much work had just gone into moving it 30 feet, we definitely felt it was the better choice. So that’s what we’ve decided to do, and the final picture is of the building at the top of the wall this evening, re-tarped for night, ready to be dismantled tomorrow morning.

I’m pretty happy with this decision, because it leaves us with known quantities rather than guesswork and figuring out as we go, and also it means I am no longer waiting for other people to make it happen, I can make it happen as fast as I can get volunteer labour. And building regs approval.

ANYWAY, on a final, cheerful, really sweet note, Poppy, little sister of Toby and Maisy, has drawn a portrait of me, Elmo and Alec. It has taken its place on the side of the cupboard in the marquee (next to Anna’s postcard from Italy which arrived today) until we have a fridge to put stuff on. But I intend to keep it forever and cherish it until it has become an embarrassment to a teenage Poppy and then once again charming to a middle-aged Poppy.

Pictures to follow when I get home sometime later this week.

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