Spirit levels at the ready!
Let's just be honest straight up here... I'm no DIY expert and it's fair to say I'm learning a lot as I develop the hides here on Eastbrook.
I've always loved reflection pools, they give a different look to an image, they bounce light back up under the subject and quite frankly, I've always wanted the opportunity to set up my own. I know I'm not alone in my admiration of them so it seemed logical to build one at our busy woodland hide. So, about a month ago, I set about the task of creating a reflection pool at our woodland hide, raised to the level of the hide window - little did I know how much it would test me.
Those of you more familiar with construction or timber-work have probably already figured out in your heads the challenges that may arise from building a raised, perfectly level, sixteen foot long platform, able to hold a reasonable volume of water. It's a bit more complex than putting up an Ikea flat pack set of drawers, let me tell you that!
The first task was to figure out the materials - support columns, horizontal supports, a base and frame and of course what to line it with. In the end, after some consultation with the fantastic Clive from the farm, I settled on a mixture of 2" x 2", 4" x 2", treated poles from the farm and some ply.
Once the order had been placed it was a case of waiting for delivery from the fantastic Webb's down the road. Of course, in my haste I managed to muck up the delivery slightly and they were delivered to a house on the farm - Sorry Dai and Sophie! A few days later the ever helpful Clive came down with the JCB to put in the supports and the initial framework - yet again his skills with the JCB amazed me, weaving through the woodland and securely positioning the poles was phenomenal - thanks again for your time if you're reading this.
With the basic framework in place it was time to start trying to level the platform. If you've ever put up a basic shelf on the wall imagine doing that but sixteen foot long, Oh... and four foot wide and it needs to be level, side to side and back to front... I lost it. This was not a one man game. A call to my dad, who was visiting the coming weekend, gave me some hope. We'd "nip down the hide" and quickly level it out - we were late to lunch in the end on Saturday - Sorry family! Apparently we needed more than my envisioned hour to get it right.
So that was it? All done right? Not quite. Fitting the liner provided my next opportunity for testing my patience. Funnily enough when you pull on one side of a 16' x 4' liner it starts to distort and crease further along the line. Yet again this was not a solo task so the following weekend I dragged my ever patient better half - Gemma, and my nearly three year old son, down to the hide to help out - thank you both! It took a little while but we go there, a flat, level lined reflection pool.
Of course it's all very well having a reflection pool but it needs water and at times I'm not a patient man. Several trips back and forth to the brook (about 50m from the hide) with a 25L water container and I had confirmation that it would work. I've since added a number of logs and rocks to the pool and am still toying with the best set-up.
You're probably thinking I sound like a bit of a clown right now, and you know what, you're probably right in some ways but I did it, it took a lot of help from friends and family but it's done. I have a stunning reflection pool now down at the hide and I couldn't be happier.
The best bit about it all - I've yet to get the shots I'm truly happy with from the pool! I have been spending so many evenings and mornings lately, trying to develop our little owl and raptor hides, that I've not had a chance to enjoy it - I did get this one snap of a little chaffinch visiting but watch this space!
The project, in the end, has been a huge success and a massive thank-you, from me, to everyone involved - I literally couldn't have done it without you.
Keep it quiet but I'm starting to like the idea of a pool up at our downs hide as well - think I need to slowly build everyone up to that one though!