As well as oaks, we have other big trees here: enormous ash trees (including this one – possibly the largest ash I’ve ever known);
and pines that are, by any measure, big.
But it is the oaks that I notice and gaze at and think about the most. They are everywhere you look: dozens upon dozens in the surrounding fields;
along the river; and in neighbouring woods. And when they die their presence still lingers like … well, like tales of the Priory ghost.
Last year, up on the long drive leading up to the road, we had to fell an oak. The drive is a public right of way and the oak’s main trunk was badly rotten and leant at an alarming angle. A proper man came and did the deed. Whilst I have a chainsaw certificate (and indeed a chainsaw) with rather fetching chainsaw trousers (field grey with black trim – possibly a bit too Wehrmacht actually), I only tend to fell trees that I feel confident in handling. (Knee height ones, generally).
Unless you’re trapped under a boulder in a canyon and the loss of a limb might be of benefit, you really ought to wear protective clothing when chainsawing. There was a young lad on the forestry course I did a few years back. He was a nice enough chap but (and let’s cut to the chase) a bit thick. Whilst we were clearing an area of scrub, he rested a tree limb on his thigh (yikes), to cut it with his chainsaw (double yikes). Needless to say the chainsaw slipped (triple yikes) but luckily he was wearing protective trousers (phew). The immensely strong fibres in the trouser material were ripped out by the saw’s chain and clogged it to a halt. The tutor (the rather apt Mr Pollard) was relieved that the brainless-one wasn’t injured, though couldn’t hide his frustration that a £120 pair of trousers were destroyed.