Drystone Walls and Trees

One of our pine trees has shifted in a high wind and its root movement has toppled fifteen feet of a five foot high drystone wall. It’s an expensive business living with trees and drystone walls.

Key the strimmer said he had a mate who could help out. Mates are always cheaper than professionals, so I asked him to pop over.

Emrys arrived very promptly with his sidekick. Obviously the tree had to come down before the wall was repaired. There was a lot of sucking of teeth and shaking of heads. “Big tree, mind,” said Emrys. His mate nodded thoughtfully.

“Was it Gwyn?” he asked. I nodded. “Odd name for an Englishman,” he mused. “I’m Welsh,” I retorted, repressing a flush of irritation.

“OK,” he said. “£800.”

“When can you do it?” I asked. They exchanged glances. “We could do it tomorrow. Shouldn’t take more than a day or two.”

I’d found the Eddie Grundy of Harlech. “Right,” I said, “the maximum I’m prepared to pay is £400. There’s no way you can meet that price.”

Immediately he reduced his price to £600. This was getting insulting. I walked away, after thanking him for coming over.

The following day I had the tree taken down by a professional tree surgeon for £120. He logged it and took away the trimmings, leaving me with a lovely stack of branches to cut up for firewood.

Farmer Barry came round to look at the drystone wall. “£200?” he hazarded, knowing full well it was an outrageous rip-off. I shrugged and assented. He’d done a great professional job on another of my drystone walls a couple of years ago.

So that was that. Emrys’s £800 worth of work over two days was reduced to £320 over four or five hours. I went to get my new chainsaw. It started very quickly, idled at 5000 rpm for a minute then seized solid. I couldn’t turn it over.

I took it to Major Owen in Penrhyndeudraeth, and they read its obituary over the phone to me this morning. The replacement parts would cost more than a new chainsaw. “But it’s brand n …” I began, then I remembered that my ‘new’ chainsaw had come with the insurance for the flood which triggered fotoLibra — fifteen years ago.

So. Tree down, £120. Wall rebuilt, £200. New Stihl MS-180 chainsaw, £235.

It’s still cheaper than Emrys. And I get a new chainsaw thrown in.

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