Scything is seeing a jump in popularity, thanks to Poldark star Aiden Turner’s famous scene. It’s not too difficult to get to grips with weeding with a scythe – best keep your shirt on though
Even if you don’t happen to be one of the six million people who watched the BBC’s recent remake of Poldark, you’re probably acquainted with the chest of star Aidan Turner, thanks to that famous scything scene.
“We’ve certainly had a bit more interest in the scything community in the last few months,” says scythesman Simon Fairlie, one of the organisers of this month’s 11th annual Green Scythe Fair, taking place in Thorney Lakes, Somerset on 14 June.
Fairlie hasn’t seen Turner in action (he doesn’t own a television), but says he’s not surprised to hear there were one or two complaints about the way Ross Poldark swung his blade. “Most beginners have the urge to pick the scythe up and wield it like a golf club, but it’s a much more benign action. It can be a meditative sort of activity – as long as it’s going well.
“If you read some of the novelists who wrote about scything – Belloc, Tolstoy, who apparently kept a scythe and saw leaning up against the wall next to his writing desk – they all say the same thing: you can lose yourself in it. If I tried to run for more than a minute, I’d be knackered, but with scything I can be out there for hours. It’s a bit like Tai Chi really.”
Scything alone is unlikely to produce a rippling set of Turner-style pectorals, but there are advantages for your lawn. It’s easier to target certain areas, says Fairlie. You can choose the length to leave your grass so it’s easy to create a patch of hay meadow for a few months if you feel like encouraging a more bee and butterfly-friendly environment.
A basic scything set will cost around £100. Even beginners can get the hang of weeding with a scythe pretty easily, says Fairlie, but if you want to get a professional finish on your lawn (and avoid backache from poor technique), you might want to try a weekend course. Just remember, in real life it’s advisable to keep your shirt on.
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