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Murlough is cared for as Ireland's first nature reserve since 1967, the fragile 6000 year old sand dune system offers some lovely walks. Due to the reserves wild nature you can discover birds, flowers, butterflies and more, all overlooked by the rounded peaks of the Mourne Mountains to the south.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Olympic Strimming*

After the hearty work of the winter, spring comes (hopefully) and the grass begins to shoot up.  At this point we dust down our strimmers, clean all their twirly bits and scrap them as clean and shiny as new, then it's off to strim the meadow...

It's akin to carrying out a never-ending haircut on a paticularly shaggy and large (green) head, except we are in full personal protective equipment (PPE) and it requires powerful tools.  This consists of sturdy long-sleeves and trousers, gloves, steel toecaps, face sheild, ear-protectors and, if like Claire and I, you are always worrying about strimming through dog poo, a plastic thingy that protects our mouths from flying...stuff

This is me (Rosemary) sporting the latest look in PPE and the 'concave-path technique' out on the coastal path at Bloody Bridge.
I was advised to wear waterproofs by someone, and have done so since, although its ridiculously sweaty in all that gear.  Sure the layer of sprayed-on shredded foliage stays on the outside, but on the inside it's like a very rural sauna.  It was quite a hot day, and I took hours to fully evaporate after that session (apologies to passing visitors who saw me with my waterproofs trousers round my ankles, it was necessary and thoroughly decent.) 

When we strim we try to leave important flora well alone; it takes practice to learn how to go round the Bluebells and still get to all the grass, likewise how to flick the undesirable stuff away and not up into your face.  We get taught all about maintenance and upkeep of the strimmers, as well as safe use of them, before we are let loose on the reserve.  For anyone who didn't understand a 2-stroke engine before, you will, oh yes you will... additionally you will experience vibro-hand...

* Strimming is not an Olympic sport yet, but it should be.  Some of the staff and volunteers here have it down to an art form.  Do you have an extreme-strimming story?  Tell us about it!

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