Did we eat cake? Yes, we did.
Was there sunshine? Yes, there was.
Was there fire? Yes, there was.
Did we eat cake? Yes, we did.
Was there sunshine? Yes, there was.
Was there fire? Yes, there was.
We have reached the end of our first working month of the year and it has been a busy one, with challenging working conditions.
We started the month on Saturday 5th at Benthall Hall. The task involved cutting down old fruit trees and sycamore and burning the evidence on a bonfire. This is perfect work for the time of year: gets us working hard from the outset with the promise of a bonfire to keep us warm. There was a good turnout and we were rewarded with a hot meal at the end of the day. We had our tea break and meals in style as we were allowed to use the Hall as our base – perhaps the scruffiest group to eat around the table since it was crafted in the 1600s?
The weather turned from mild to cold for our workday on Sunday 13th, where a hardy group headed out to Wenlock Edge where we continued to open up a viewpoint on one of the many walks through the woods. The immense size of our bonfire created spring like conditions where we were working, despite the fact that the temperature didn’t rise much above freezing elsewhere.
…and then it snowed…but we were not put off
After a two year break, we returned to Shugborough on Sunday 26th. Shugborough is home to “The Great Yew”, listed as the largest evergreen crown in Britain and Ireland. We gave the yew a trim, not a chop! With snow on the ground, there was also time for a little fun.
Crikey, it’s another year and we are off to a flying start. Two workdays under our belts already and a new programme waiting in the wings to take us through until the end of April.
2012 was an excellent year for the group. Our volunteer hours were up on the previous year and we added a new site, Benthall Hall, to our ever expanding Empire! We took on new challenges and welcomed volunteers, old and new, to a varied programme of workdays. We aim to continue the good work throughout 2013 and our current programme of workdays shows how busy we will be in the first part of the year. Legend has it that the group used to work on Sundays…as you can see, to fit in all the workdays we now do a lot of work on Saturdays, and even the occasional Friday. So there is no excuse for not coming out and doing some work in the great outdoors.
Would you like further details about the group or details about any of the workdays? Perhaps you’d like to tell us how good our website is (or not!). You can contact us via this website on our contact page.
We’ll leave you with a nice relaxing photo taken at our January 5th workday at Benthall Hall. We like to take our tea-breaks in style.
It’s that time of year when Laura puts her statistics hat on and counts up the hours worked during the last year. The new is good. We were great last year, this year we are even better!
Figures are from 1st Sept 2011 to 31st Aug 2012:
Where did we spend our time? The top 3 sites measured by hours worked are as follows:
Once again we failed to count up the number of slices of cake consumed but I have a feeling it was definitely more than last year (my pooh bear shaped tummy tells me so).
hello….are you there? We’ve been Missing In Action for a couple of months. Sorry. Lazy. Been busy cutting things, burning things and eating cake (what else would would we be doing?!).
What’s been going on with SSNTV?
We’ve had 16 workdays since the last web update. We headed north to Biddulph Grange and south to The Weir, visited old favourites (Morville and Dudmaston) and found our way to a new property (Benthall Hall).
Benthall is a real joy and the work is ideal for our group. Our first project is helping clear an overgrown path which stretches from the Benthall estate, downhill towards Ironbridge and the River Severn. In the near future, it is hoped that the restored path will be designated as a bridleway.
As we now approach the end of October, SSNTV look forward to a busy autumn and winter programme. You can find details of all our workdays on the EVENTS page.
Sunday 5th August 2012
Report from Peter Orme
The first Sunday in August saw six group members turn up at Biddulph Grange Gardens for the first SSNTV workday there for eighteen months.
We were warmly welcomed by Paul the Head Gardener and Big John one of the gardeners who was to be with us all day.
The work we were expecting to do involved opening up a path that had not been used for over twenty years leading to a garden feature. Unfortunately the work to restore the feature had been put on hold so the path was not to be opened for reasons we could not fully understand.
The alternative task was weeding a flower bed with a little light pruning of some willow plus mulching by the gate used by residents of the exclusive housing development next door to the gardens. The task looked small and not that inspiring for a team that had come for destruction but amazingly the work took all day. Despite John not having to use either a saw or loppers he actually commented at the end of the day that he had enjoyed himself. At lunchtime we were concerned we would run out of work but in fact were kept busy until 15.45 when we ran out of bark chippings. It was amazing how much we had achieved and it showed!
Big John and Paul were amazed at the amount of work we completed and as we had tea and cake in the tea rooms Paul came and told us one of the residents had already rang to say thank you for the improvements to the entrance.
Altogether another enjoyable rain free day with cake and friendly staff.
July has been a busy month for SSNTV. We’ve partied and worked and met royalty….read on.
We started the month trying something new. It was the annual Garden Fete at Sunnycroft on Sunday 1st July, and help was needed…but we didn’t know what we’d be doing.
The Fete was a huge success and we put down our usual bowsaws and loppers in order to help out with various tasks including ticketing and running the Coconut Shy – who said we weren’t versatile?! We took the opportunity to munch a few cakes and have some fun too.
not have noticed a certain sporting event happening in the UK this year. Forget London 2012 Olympics, I’m talking about the lesser known (but no less spectacular) Jubilympics. This event was held by SSNTV on Saturday 7th July, the venue was Albrighton (Ed’s note: where else could it be?). This ‘Once In a Lifetime’ event surpassed all expectation. An ‘elite’ group of Jubilympians competed under the national flags of Kiribati, Nuara, Vanuatu and the Federated States of Micronesia (if you don’t know where these great sporting nations are, what do you think Google is for??). After a *cough* lengthy torch relay (down the garden and back), the Jubilympic flame was lit. Fierce competition ensued in such sports as the marathon, the pentathlon and the javelin. These were sports with a twist, the relay race may have involved straws and dried peas….
No rest for the athletes (Ed’s note: no recovery from their hangovers more like). Sunday 8th July was another first for SSNTV. We were helping out at the Wenlock Edge Half Marathon and Full Marathon. Organised by the National Trust as part of the the Much Wenlock Olympics, this off-road race was routed from Craven Arms to Much Wenlock via Wilderhope Manor. Fortunately we didn’t have to run, but we did have to leave our bowsaws at home again as we were marshalling the marathon route. The weeks building up to this event saw more than their fair share of rain so the ground was muddy and the weather forecast for the day was ‘more rain’. In fact it turned out to be a gloriously sunny day, but we hear that the ground was still muddy underfoot. The efforts of the runners was truly inspirational with phenomenal performances despite the tough conditions. Read more about the event here.
During the year we organise a number of working weekends. We often use the National Trust Mose Basecamp, on the Dudmaston estate, as accommodation. On Sunday 15th July we spent the day there giving the property and gardens a very late spring clean. We were rewarded for our efforts with a barbecue, supplied and cooked for us by Richard who works for the National Trust at Dudmaston. The Mose Basecamp and Cottage are available for hire, for groups and families – more details here.
Some of our group escape the Shropshire and Staffordshire boundary once a year. This years working holiday took place from Saturday 21st to Saturday 28th July. They head north to Northumberland, Cragside to be exact, where they work their little socks off all week with no time for fun. Or so I thought. It turns out that there is quite a lot of work done but there is also a bit of R&R in the form of trips to the seaside and the occasional pub or 3. They were in for a big surprise this year as their visit to the pub coincided with a visit to the same pub by HRH Prince Charles. Prince Charles is the President of the National Trust and he was interested to hear about the work of the group. He said he was “proud to be President”. Apparently the pub had brewed a special ale in honour of the visit – that is, the visit of Prince Charles, not the visit by SSNTV! The working holiday was enjoyed by all and they raced back down to Shropshire in time for the last workday of the month at Wightwick Manor.
While some of the group headed north, those left at home were making the most of a week of glorious sunshine. Neil led a workday by the lakeside at Dudmaston on Sunday 22nd July. The work involved path clearance and creating a drain across the path, fuelled by lemon polenta cake and whittington buttons (?).
21-28 July 2012
Before we get into August I feel I really ought to provide an update on the Working Holiday week at Cragside in Northumberland. With up to 12 people working on each of the 5 days, we made our usual visible difference to the landscape.
For some, a slightly disappointing day. Working down in the valley along the Armstrong Trail, we were mostly tidying up after previous rhody clearance. Ben, Mary and I became acquainted with Douglas in the Pinetum, with him even resting his chin on Ben’s head.
Here the fire had to small and controlled, but we cleared a number of brash piles in the day and everyone joined us for Cake o’clock and lunch.
Two other fires cleared areas further back on the Trail.
Still down on the Armstrong Trail, but a better day – clearing an area (from cutting to bonfire). As the before and after photos show, a satisfying day.
The day off … nothing much happened. We had our traditional trip to Seahouses, most of the group had a boat trip out to the Farne Islands, though I opted for a bit of a wander round a graveyard in search (unsuccessful) for ancestors.
After the boat trip, the group headed to Low Newton for a drink at the Ship Inn.
Oh … and they had a quick chat with Prince Charles!
A bigger project working up at the end of Nelly’s Moss South Lake. The rhododendron had started to hide the stone bridge at the end of the lake.
In true SSNTV style, those Rhodies didn’t stand a chance. The first half came down in the first day, but that wasn’t all Cragside had in store. As usual, buried deep underneath the Rhododendron, leaf litter and soil, there lay a once beautifully landscaped rocky border, which once we realised it was there, was destined to see light of day again. Volunteers chopped, sawed, dug roots out. Trowels and brushes were brought in, and even a leaf blower! The budding archaeologist came out in us all.
At the end of the week, as I drove round the Estate Drive, the sun was shining and the end result was spectacular.
Note added 2/9/2012: a ‘Cragside Special’ Newsletter has been lovingly created by Mags, you can find it on our Newsletters page. It’s a good un!
Sunday 29 July 2012
It was a shock to the system to be asked to arrive at Wightwick Manor at 9am. But the reason soon became clear. A mammoth task – to cut down laurel hedges on the main drive between the House and the newly opened Manders’ Tearoom. Starting so early, and with an excellent turnout, we were soon making a difference, with one large hedge and a huge holly tree out of the way before the property opened to the public.
The ‘cuttings’ were cleared as they were cut, keeping the site as tidy as possible. They were dragged down the drive past the front door and thrown over a yew hedge. From there they were either loaded onto the trailer, or dragged down to the bonfire site where, by the end of the day everything had been cleared and burnt.
Once the roots have been dug out, turf will be laid and new beds will be developed. One possibility is that roses from Alfred Parson’s original design can be reintroduced.
We’ve updated our EVENTS page with all the latest info. Looks like we are going to have a busy few months.
If you are a member of SSNTV, contact your workday leader in the usual way.
If you haven’t been out with the group and would like to join us for a workday, we’d love to meet you - can we tempt you with the promise of cake? Please contact us on email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know which workday you are interested in and provide a contact telephone number. Typically, our workdays start at 10.15am and finish no later than 4pm. You’d need sensible footwear and clothing and bring your own lunch. Easy!