Sunday, 6 March 2016

Brash clearance at Speke with Merseyside NTV, Sunday 6th March 2016: The Day of Five Fires

We were off to the wild wild west today to meet up with our friends at Merseyside NTV for a day of brash clearance at Speke Hall. Five of us met at Styal and piled into Neil's aptly named "Roomster" for the journey down the M62, while Christine and Andy met us at Speke.

Lots of brash to feed lots of fires!
After a bit of Scouse v Manc banter with the ranger, Ian, we wound our way through the lovely buildings and grounds of the hall to find some fields with lots of piles of brash. The pattern of the day would be people bundling the brash together, followed by Neil making ample use of his flame-thrower by torching pretty much everything in sight.

Neil brings The Crazy World of Arthur Brown to Speke: Fire Number One

Fire Number Two in its infancy
We got one fire going in the first field, then crossed a lane to find more brash, which required a second fire. Both fires burnt quickly, and we thought our day might be a short one. Lunch was taken with two fires already fed and turned in, so Lisa's cupcakes were heavily indulged in with thoughts of an easy afternoon.

After lunch, Christine and Andy blazed a trail through the long grass (without being devoured by velociraptors) to start work on more piles of brash across the field. Neil was quick to fulfil the need for a third fire, but more work on the other side of the hedge called for a fourth inferno. This is unprecedented on any MNTV workday I have attended, and the scene began to resemble the opening shot from Apocalypse Now.

Fire Number Three
Fire Number Four
With buzzards circling overhead and a soundtrack of woodpeckers (and a fair few Easyjet planes taking off from John Lennon Airport), our groups began to spread across a wide area as more and more brash was discovered behind yet more hedges. Soon, a delighted Neil was setting fire to his fifth blaze, and itching to start a sixth.

John & Jenny load up Fire Number Five
We limited the pyromaniac inclinations to just the five fires, which were all intensely hot. Some great teamwork between the groups kept these well fed, with Merseyside's John and Manchester newbie Jenny using old fencing to carry large brash bundles.

By 3pm we had to reign in our enthusiasm, accept that some brash would have to live for another workday, and let our final fire burn down. The sun had shone, the two groups had got on really well, and all Neil's Christmases had come at once. We got lots done, and hope to be back at Speke again before too long.

Build it and they will come!
Fire Number Five draws a crowd from both ends of the East Lancs Rd
I hear there's a lovely timbered hall round here that would burn well ... we might need to keep an eye on Neil if we come back!

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