… and some training!

The training turned out to be the most straightforward bit.  I thought I’d get some proper dedicated training and then sign up with someone as the world’s oldest work experience trainee.

Surprisingly, and unlike life in general, this is exactly what happened.  I signed up with Doug Joiner of the British Horse Loggers (BHL) for a course and then had one of those moments in life when the universe seems to be all in your favour.  Through my job at the time (Head of Green Spaces at Waltham Forest Council) I met Matt and Claudia Waller who run Hawthorn Heavy Horses.  I can’t thank them enough. They took me on as a volunteer, gave me loads of experience, training and encouragement, made me a horse logger in my own right and, best of all, became really good friends. 

They have trusted me with Holly, one of their three Suffolk Punches (the young ‘uns, Fergie and Roy aren’t working yet) and we’ve now worked together at Hylands Park, hauling timber, coppicing, thinning and getting firewood ready for sale at the visitor’s centre.  If you fancy it, you can also get carriage rides on certain days at Hylands!  We have also worked together on contracts further afield such as Stansted Airport and Hanningfield Reservoir.

So, what happened to the plan?  Well, Beck’s parents are based in Mid Wales and have some land and buildings.  So, after extensive negotiation, conversion of the barn attached to their house and, frankly, a tiny bit of emotional blackmail, we and the logging business got ourselves a base in Powys (Mid Wales!).

Of course there was still one rather important element of the horse-logging business missing …