SSNTV web-writers have been a bit lazy during the last couple of months. The New Year’s Resolution (WILL update website at least once a month) has failed. We are sure that going-out-and-doing-stuff is a good excuse for failing to stay-indoors-and-write-webcopy. Are we forgiven? Good.
So, a month late (groan), there follows an update on our May 2012 activities and right on time (yay!) there is info on our June 2012 exploits.
The first two weekends of the month (6th and 13th May) saw the group return to Dudmaston, a favourite location. If you visit this NT property, it is worth knowing that the estate is far more than just a house and gardens – miles of paths are open all year round in the extensive woodlands. It is in the woods that SSNTV do the majority of their work. It’s hard to believe now (at the end of a particularly damp June) that we had two beautiful days of sunshine. Our May workdays involved tree felling and timber stacking. The wood will be used in the production of charcoal, which takes place at another location on the Dudmaston estate.
Carding Mill Valley was the location for the workday on 20th May, helping to cut a firebreak through gorse, followed on 27th May with a visit to Whitgreaves Wood near Moseley Old Hall where fence repair was on the agenda.
While sensible people were enjoying the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend eating cake, SSNTV celebrated by….what else but eating cake! Unfortunately the workday on 3rd June at Downs Banks was a bit wet and cold but spirits were raised by cake eating in great quantities.
Back to Dudmaston on 10th June. NT Ranger Mike Annis cleverly described the first task as ‘weeding the reed beds’, waiting until we were on site before revealing that the reed beds in question were part of the reed bed filtration system which deals with ‘liquid matter’ from the site toilets. It isn’t as gruesome as it sounds – by the time the water filters through the system we are told that it is almost up to drinking water standards…not that anyone wanted to test the theory! After lunch, we moved work to the Dingle to clear and burn brash from the paths.
Despite the rain, there was an excellent turn out on Saturday 16th June for a visit to Benthall Hall to walk around a potential new worksite with Benthall Gardener Nick Swankie and NT Ranger Peter Carty. The bridleway has become overgrown and SSNTV are planning to return for a series of workdays later in the year to open up the path. One of the benefits of a guided walk with local experts is that they point out plants and flowers that you would ordinarily walk straight past without noticing. Today’s highlights included the Bird’s Nest Orchid – rare in this area, but more common in the south of England.
Dudmaston was the location for a further workday on 17th June. This time, we were working around the gardens, whereas we normally skulk around the woods. Half of the group helped clear mossy overgrowth from the courtyard cobbles while the other half of the group helped prepare a section of garden boundary for installation of a rabbit proof fence.
To round off our June workdays, we visited Wilderhope Manor to help burn brash left over from hedge laying that took place during last winter. This clear-up helped get the site ready for the Wenlock Edge Marathon and Half Marathon, to be run on 8th July. Despite a month of rain, the sun shone for our work. At the end of the day, we were grateful for tea and biscuits provided by the staff at the Manor, which is now run as a Youth Hostel.