Lou Reed had it dead right today, for it really was the ‘Perfect Day’.

Overnight, we’d heard some great news about our bees -they’re staying!  Well, the two hives we currently have will be leaving us at some point, but in April or May next year, we’ll have five hives of our own!  Anna at Groundwork Sheffield has certainly pulled a rabbit out of a hat and secured funding for another year, along with lots of training for those of us -and others- who want it, then at the end, we get to keep our hives along with all the equipment.  Huge, big thanks to she and her team for all their hard work!Sand on the top layer.

When I arrived yesterday, I was greeted by this in our former ‘Zen Area’.

Jon & Matt had pulled out all the stops, and as you can see, this is now ready for the bricks to go on with some natural stone ‘coping’ round the outside.

Now as I hinted at last post, the bricks have been causing us somewhat of a ‘challenge’ (…We don’t use the ‘P’ -‘Problem’ word at LEAF…).  We’ve been talking back and forth over whether we should use firebricks or not.  There are quite powerful arguments both for and against using them, but probably what has tipped us is that firebricks not only come in all kinds of fancy shapes, sizes and colours, but they also come with different temperature ratings, then there’s the amount of heat they’ll either store or deflect.  A minefield of choices, so in the end, we’ve decided to use standard bricks, and if some of them crack, well, we’ll have to replace the clay dome and change bricks.

We think we should get away with it, but if we don’t, well, I’ll let you know, Dear Reader!Test laying the bricks.

Now, as I arrived yesterday morning, Matt & Jon had laid these bricks out ‘on their backs’ with the holes showing through, but after we turned them over, we started to get an idea as to how it will all look and go together before we put the clay dome on.

According to the manuals and on-line guides, laying these bricks is a very careful and delicate job.  They have to be laid exactly next to each other -with no sand in between at the bottom so there’s no air gap between them.  This aids heat transference and also prevents ‘hot spots’, so your pizzas or bread cook evenly.The spirit level.

Here you can see that our bricks are absolutely dead level and flat.  You’ll also see that Diane remembered the bubble that got broken the last time we used it.  She’s still waiting for the long stands, but we can live in hope.

And so, I arrived a little late this morning, but was soon to be a guide for a group of architectural students from the University who will be doing a project with us in the coming weeks to design (…and hopefully help us build!..) a more environmentally friendly and cheaper toilet.  While our current ‘loo-facilities’ are okay up to a point, the portaloo is completely environmentally unfriendly, its way too small, and more importantly, it costs us a small fortune to keep.  By having a compost toilet, it’ll be massively cheaper, environmentally very friendly, and it will be much larger, which will certainly please our disabled or elderly visitors and volunteers.

Whilst they were on another part of our site seeing where we think the toilet should go, New David and myself tied up the tomatillos that had grown by accident in the bed of corn.  Some of the fruits are getting quite large, but they’ll need a few more days of ripening yet before they’re ready for picking and making into pickles and chutneys.

The pears are ready.Here we have a couple of the LEAF pears!  This is just before I picked the one on the right and ate it.  Delicious!

So, what else did we all do today?

Errr…

Nothing.

I think Fran and Fresh X Nick did a little weeding down on the Demonstration Plot, but apart from that, well, we just sat and drank tea in the shade and talked.  And talked.

We planned to get more ‘gobbo’ to finish off the pizza oven base tomorrow.

We also planned that after Matt, Jon & myself finish off that base, we’re going to have a barbeque to celebrate!

I have some disposable one-use barbeques buried in the bottom of a large cupboard that I’ll have to dig out in the morning, so we can use one of those, and we’ll all take meat and veggies and stuff to put on it, so we should be set for a feast.

The weather’s set to be stunning, and it is a Friday, after all.

What?  Of course you’re invited!  Just tip up for ten in the morning and give us a hand with the last of the brick-laying, and we’ll eat at one!

Guaranteed fun, and guaranteed more Plot Tea than you can drink.