ScrapHappy April 2021: Reel and Raspberries

The reel thing

The reel thing

The Snail and I walk the dogs every day, provided the weather isn’t so miserable that even the dogs are begging us not to drag them out. This has meant that, over the last year, we have been out twice almost every day. On our walks, we talk about pretty much anything and everything and also encounter some ‘useful’ items lying around.

One such conversation went pretty much along the lines of:

Snail: The raspberry canes need supporting with tree stakes and wires of some kind.

Me: Mmm… steaks…

Snail: We’ll get some tree stakes from the garden centre when they are allowed to open. Do you have anything in that pile of junk you laughingly call your office we could use for the wires?

Me (noticing a reel of old telecoms wire by the road, and then failing to pick it up): I’ll have a think about it. Can we have chips with the steak?

One such item was a reel of copper wire, left by OpenReach (the telephone maintenance people, for my non-UK reader). They had been upgrading the telephone cables to fibre, and this rejected reel had been left, unloved and unwanted, and finally abandoned against a wall awaiting further anthropomorphism. It was left longer than was necessary as I kept forgetting to pick it up on the way past.

Eventually, I did remember to pick it up and recognise that its wiry heart was perfect for the Snail’s task. Easy! Just remove the outer sheathing and extract the wires. What could be simpler?


Attempt #103 to strip the cable quickly (it didn’t)

Turns out, almost everything. It took me around eight hours to strip back the sheathing and pull out the wires. I used the workbench as a vice and then cut the sheathing every 10 cm or so (being careful not to nick the wires inside). After every three or so cuts, I pulled the sheathing off and started on the next section. It took quite a few attempts using a variety of tools before I came up with this method.


Using a workbench as a vice because using the vice as a vice didn’t work


Just when you thought my office couldn’t be any more messy…

Once all the wires were removed (some broke in the process), I wound the long pieces onto whatever was available – thread reels, and toilet roll middles.

A wired and weary face

A wired and weary face

There was a lot of waste – unfortunately, the cable sheathing is unusable. I might be able to melt it down but I don’t think it is very nice stuff, chemically speaking, so reluctantly it’s off to landfill. Boo.



Happily, there was more than sufficient wire for the raspberry canes and quite a bit left over for electronics projects or more plant restraint. Now I’m looking forward to fresh raspberries in my Kir Royale for breakfast, er, evening cocktails I mean…


Many other people contribute to Kate and Gun’s wonderful ScrapHappy every month – check out what they have been up to too!


KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin, Viv and Edi


Categories: gardening, recycling, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 33 Comments

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33 thoughts on “ScrapHappy April 2021: Reel and Raspberries

  1. You do know, of course, that naked copper is the best, ahem, *Garden* Snail repellent known to man? If you put a ring of copper around anything particularly precious, it will keep the Garden Snails away, although it will result in increased attention from Happiness Snails as a result, of course… Excellent scrappiness as always, sir, gold star.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry… no Kir yet…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ideal. We use our old washing lines for our raspberries. MrG uses electrical earthing sheathing with a skinny wire inside for tying in his tomato plants – would the outer lengths of this work as a cushion in that way? or to slide over and down a cane to protect the plant against rubbing?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The thing with the sheathing on this cable was, I think, it had suffered somewhat from its long years out in the wild weather of Wales. It was no longer pliable, and the diameter of the hole quite small (the wires were really packed in tight). I contemplated keeping it in a wobbly heap somewhere but decide it was very unlikely to find itself a subject of a later ScrapHappy post. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good use of recycled materials. I have a friend who works utilities and occasionally, he’ll bring me bits and bobs when I ask. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you – utility companies should really collect this kind of stuff and then sell it for charity or give it away (rather than leaving it in hedges). Have a great week too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. Waste not, want not is my theory. Here, the Utilities have to worry about people stealing copper wire. A few years ago, I needed a little copper to have some pots made for my dolls house…so, I asked the utility guys who were putting up new wires. One of the linemen said he’d keep any little cuts for me, usually about 3-5 inches worth. I take them to the blacksmith at the reenactments and use them in trade for things I need. It’s a good deal.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wow, that is an excellent use of the very small offcuts that definitely end up on the floor/ in landfill. The phone lines are all more-or-less replaced with fibre now, so I will have to figure out what to do with THOSE offcuts as they start appearing! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Susan Nixon

    I’m always interested in what you’ve gotten up to with scraps of things. Nice to have the canes tied up. Mine just lean over year after year. =)

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had to cage these this year as they seemed intent on World domination, starting with the garden! Fortunately, the telecoms company obligingly left their cast-offs by the side of the road… 🙂


  6. Eight hours! That was a very determined scraphappy project.
    We haven’t tested out our slugs and snails in Dorset yet but the French ones took no notice of the copper either.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A phone tech once left an enormous spool of yellow and blue coated wires at our house…I phoned to see if they wanted it back but they said it would cost too much to come and get it…we haven’t come to the end of the wires yet…but our raspberry canes do need tying up!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nancy Messier

    And how lovely that you now have all those colored wires! Great use of scraps.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. well done and enjoy the raspberries.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ugh… stripping wire is a really unpleasant job- bravo on hanging in there and doing some noble upcycling!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you – I’m not sure how noble I would’ve been if I had known beforehand quite how long it was going to take, but, hey, I can be noble with an aching arm and slightly damaged fingers! 🙂


  11. This is a great idea! More people should learn to recycle.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Going Batty in Wales

    Sorry Jon, WP doesn’t put your posts in my reader feed and I missed this one. I kept offcuts of electrical cable for ages but did eventually give up and send it to landfill – there was just too much! Copper doesn’t seem to deter my slugs either – we obviously have super tough ones down here! Enjoy your raspberries and I will look forward to cocktails with you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: ScrapHappy December 2021: Repair, Reuse, REVIEW | writinghouse

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