This afternoon I went to the beach to collect seaweed to add to the compost heap. Not the small beach across the road from the walled garde : storms have washed away sand from the bottom of the ramp such that it’s impossible to get any load off the beach (a month or two of better weather will repair the damage over a month or two. I then tried Smercleit beach (a mile and a half to the west – at the very south-west tip of the island), but the only seaweed on offer there was kelp – which is unsuitable for putting on the compost heap. (The problem is not the fronds, but the hard stems and hold-fasts.)
It’s the end of February, so nearly the end of winter, and as Spring advances better weather means less seaweed (and what there is left on the beach will slowly disappear). Reluctant to delay, I decided to try – and for the first time, the long (and very stony) beach just half a mile to the west of us.
Parked at the top of the beach access ramp, I could see a long heap of bladder wrack and other small weed on the strandline, right by the bottom of the access ramp : there looked to be enough to fill the trailer. To get the trailer ready to tow back to the walled garden, and there being limited space to turn with the trailer hitched, I needed to un-hitch it, turn it around by hand, and then re-hitch it.
Unfortunately, as I was turning the trailer, a violent gust of wind from the south-east (hereabouts the most violent gusts always come out of the south-east!) knocked me sideways and blasted into the front panel of the trailer, wrenching it from my grip – and hurling it down the ramp and on to the beach. (Fortunately, the trailer lurched to one side and into the stone revetment, preventing it going any further.)
I reversed down the slope, and – with great difficulty – re-hitched the trailer, only to find that the front drive wheels of the van couldn’t get traction, due to the crushed stone surface being too loose. I un-hitched again, drove up the ramp, turned and drove back down again, forwards. Installing into the front of the van the towing eye, and using the tow rope to connect up to the A-frame of the trailer, I found I could easily haul the trailer back up the ramp in reverse gear. I was lucky to make a successful single-handed recovery!
Before any further calamity could strike, I turned the van, hitched the trailer to it, dropped the back ramp and got out the barrow and fork, my wellies and work gloves – and got to work. Weed forked into barrow ; barrow trundled up the ramp to trailer, barrow tipped out into the trailer. For the last four barrow-loads, the ramp of the trailer was raised and locked in place, and the seaweed is forked over the side of the trailer. Half a ton of seaweed safely in the trailer, with the barrow and fork on top, and my boots in the back of the van, I could at last get back to the walled garden and out of the wind for a hot mug of tea!