Archive for November, 2011


Thank you.

(ed’s note: 11th December 2011 – if you have been wondering what this means, we were asked to vote for our favourite cake to be baked by Mags for our Christmas weekend at Dudmaston. I am pleased to say that the Peanut Butter Brownie did win! yum)

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By roving reporter #2 – Ron

Update 1

On the Monday following Bonfire weekend I just happened to be passing Dudmaston so I thought I would have a walk around the site where we had been working. I often find it difficult when with a group to get a full idea of what has been achieved so I started from the car park and walked through to the road. It was very impressive and easy to see why Mike was so pleased.

However the best part was that as I started walking I heard chainsaws in operation. It was Mike and Chris’s boss from Wenlock cutting down the big trees to create the vehicle access that was the overall objective. The job that we had made such good progress with, they were completing. The only trouble was that they were creating quite a lot of brash…mmmm!

Update 2

While we were at Dudmaston, Mike said it might be possible to organise a Saturday ‘tour’ of the estate to see the project areas where he will want to get done in the next year or so. This could be very interesting as we would get an overview of the plans and understand where our work fitted in with the overall objectives. We could possibly turn the day into a social event with a meal afterwards. Watch this space.

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Dudmaston, Friday 4th to Sunday 6th November

Written by Matt Hinton
Following a year of brilliant workdays, outstanding weekends and our amazing SSNTV Cragside week, I am happy to say that the bonfire weekend at Dudmaston lived up to expectations and delivered yet another dose of SSNTV’s favourite medicine. Mike, the area ranger, asked us to work on an extremely picturesque part of the estate on the south side of Brim and Seggy pools and our task was to clear scrub to open a circular route which would enable visitors to enjoy a complete walk around the pools.


Needless to say, Fridays “advance” party, took to this task like ducks to water and before long the first of many work fires was raging and an obvious route was being created. Fuelled by a scrumptious and never ending supply of cake, the group powered on, widening the path and tidying as we went, one fire became two which became three and then four as we moved further and further anticlockwise around the pools and even a sudden downpour couldn’t dampen our spirits. By the end of the day I think everyone was pleasantly surprised at the distance we had covered, but I’ll let you into a secret, we were benefiting from the deployment of our latest weapons, the Swiss army volunteer and Volunteer 1.5!

As the light was fading fast, we headed back to Mose cottage before collecting Zac from the train station, enjoying Jon’s deliciously spicy Thai curry and then settling down for the night in front of the lovely log fire.

Saturday morning was bright and sunny as we pulled on the boots and enjoyed a beautiful autumnal walk through the woods back to the work-site. Ron rejuvenated fire 4 with his usual consummate ease and we finished the last of the tidying in the area before Mike took on some of the fallen bad boy trees with his chainsaw. By now we had cleared everything in this direction so we headed back past the remains of fire 1 and started fire 5 enabling us to continue clockwise around the pool. As the day progressed, our numbers increased, with arrival of Gordon, Lisa and John bringing extra volunteer power and a sample of Lisa’s Chocolate and Beetroot muffins (with even more left for Sunday mmm!). Obviously we weren’t going to be satisfied only having had 5 fires in 10 hours so Ron started Fire 6 just before lunch which enabled the clearance to continue unabated for the rest of the day. However, as we had to prepare for the evening’s fun, a small but enthusiastic team moved onto the bonfire site to start digging the BBQ pit, while our SSNTV food experts headed back to Mose to work their magic.
As it started to get dark, Ron had “no choice” but to light the bonfire and soon after Guy arrived to supervise and Dave kicked off the BBQ.

Once again Mike did us proud with 4 litres of his superb fruit wine home brew and Sue tickled our tastebuds with a yummy green bean chutney which was the perfect accompaniment to the jacket potatoes and anything else you could find to spread it onto! As the food and drink was going down a treat, it was time for the entertainment. Zac had done a brilliant job of sourcing the fireworks from Chinatown in Manchester, and our thanks go to Matthew and Sheila who risked life and limb to wake the neighbours with such delights as “Screaming Vampires” and “Satan’s 19 Golden Balls” (oh er!). As the smoke drifted away, Guy decided to do his own vanishing act disappearing in a mysterious ball of blue fire leaving only a smouldering “ribcage” behind…

OK, you pretty much know it’s going to be a great workday when it starts with a round of sausage sarnies! Suitably fed and raring to go, we cleaned the cottage in double quick time and headed to site to carry on where we left off on Saturday. Within seconds fires 5 and 6 had sprung into life again and we were back in business! As we finished tidying around fire 5 we suddenly realised the mammoth task that lay ahead.. There was still so much cake to eat that we’d have to get started immediately! An emergency cake O’clock was called!

With added cake power, we pushed on into a particularly dense area of scrub  and naturally Ron had to light fire number 7 so we could dispose of the cuttings more easily.

By the end of the day we’d cleared all of the scrub and debris from around the larger trees giving us a lovely view across to the grassy parkland that surrounds Dudmaston Hall as well as making the whole area feel more open and light. All in all a glorious end to yet another fabulous SSNTV weekend! Many thanks to all involved.

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I don’t want to brag but….we are really, really great! And there are numbers to prove it.

Each year, one of our more organised members keeps a record of the hours volunteered by each group member and the group as a whole. Our group year finished at the end of August. I am sure there is a spreadsheet involved and lots of number crunching that I barely understand, so I’ll just give you the facts:

  • total volunteer hours for the group – 3,343.25
  • 69 people volunteered with the group
  • there were 67  workdays at 15 different National Trust sites

I think these statistics are amazing. We are a part-time group yet we contributed the equivalent of over 80 weeks full-time work.

Where did we spend our time? The top 3 sites measured by hours worked are as follows:

  • Dudmaston
  • Morville
  • Attingham
I love statistics, but there is one vital stat missing – how many slices of cake were eaten during the year?!

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The winter programme is now online.

Looks like it’s going to be a busy time with lots to look forward too.

The hedgelaying season starts again at Attingham on November 19th. You don’t need any previous experience and all tools and equipment are provided. The only thing required is enthusiasm.

Christmas weekend at Dudmaston is from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th December. This is one of the highlights of our work and social calendar. Workdays are arranged for Friday and Saturday and there is a Christmas dinner, prepared and cooked by SSNTV, on Saturday evening at Big Mose NT Basecamp. On Sunday, there is the traditional walk to the pub for lunch.

Laura is busy organising some workdays for between Christmas and New Year. This was a great success last year with many group members coming out of hibernation to share the last of the Christmas cake. Keep an eye on our EVENTS page for updated information on these ‘twixmas’ workdays.

The New Year will be equally busy with lots to do at all of our favourite sites.

So, there is no reason to sit at home complaining about how boring it is during the winter days – get out there and DO SOMETHING and HAVE SOME FUN!



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