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October visit to the Island

After exactly a month since my last visit I made it back to the Island for two nights with the Big Unit. Our main goal was to build a woodshed to store firewood.

The plan was to make a relatively small (2.4m x 1.2m) open-sided shed. Previously we had stored our wood in the cottage but it didn’t dry well, some even got moldy. When you are using fire for warmth, properly seasoned wood is critical. We are lucky in that we have access to plenty of ash which burns pretty well when green, but it’s still well worth drying it out.

Before the trip I drew up a plan and bought the wood, cut it to size and packed it into two big bundles. As everything has to be manhandled onto the island it needs to be carefully considered in advance, weight is an issue, so I spend a good bit of time thinking about exactly how strong things needed to be and how much timber is required.

The forecast was calm and, as I had been on the island exactly a month beforehand, I had a good sense of when we could land on the island. We killed some time with a quick pint in Kildysart before heading down to the pier, which was as busy with comings and goings as ever.

The crossing was uneventful and we were able to pull the boat right up to the gate.

The next morning we got cracking on the shed. The frame went together pretty easily. We didn’t worry overly about getting everything square and level which was as well as it was tricky assembling it on uneven ground. The roof was to be covered with salvaged slates from the ruins of the schoolhouse. Again the goal was to use what was on the island when possible. Neither of us had worked with slate before but I had watched a few youtube videos and done a bit of reading.

The huge slates weres lovely to work with, I found that the back of the vise grips was just the job for trimming them, and we only lost a few slates due to cracks. It was slow but steady work. For the very last row we had run out of time and slates so just had to use what we had. Something to redo next time.

It was very satisfying to put in a long day and get the job done before loading the shed with our wood after dark.

That evening the farmers brought some cattle over to the island, it’s great to see the place still being used and it wasn’t for them the island would be completely overgrown by now.

It rained heavily overnight so we were glad to have decided to leave early in the morning. A quick tidy and we hit the water. The journey back to the mainland is always quiet, everyone is usually pretty tired, but it’s also a nice oppurtunity to reflect before getting back to reality.

This was probably the last trip of the year. Next year will be all about trying to replace the roof. It’s going to be a huge job. My plan is to do it in sections, starting with the section that is partially collapsed above the parlour. The hardest part may well be removing the existing roof which is propped up but potentially hanging by a thread. This is complicated by the fact that the underside of the tiles are coated in cement, I suspect this is what is holding the roof up.