Archive for April, 2012

Beccy Speight joins SSNTV at Wenlock Edge

The month began with a special visitor to Wenlock Edge on Sunday 1st April. Beccy Speight, Regional Director for the National Trust in the Midlands, joined us for a workday. The location was the old railway line. The weather was fine, the cake was good and Beckie got stuck in with the work, felling trees and clearing brash. I hear that Ron soon signed her up as an apprentice firestarter!

We continued work at the same site on Friday 6th April (Good Friday Bank Holiday). It was Laura’s turn to be firestarter, under Ron’s watchful eye. Verdict: uses too many matches, has a lot to learn before she is ‘black belt’ firestarter. Max the dog worked hard and was too tired to walk home so he commandeered Ron’s car (see photo below).

Max drives home after a hard days work at Wenlock

It’s possible that April 2012 will be remembered as being very wet and we got a full helping of rain on Monday 9th April (Easter Monday Bank Holiday), Dudmaston, where we worked with National Trust Ranger Mike Annis to work on tree and scrub clearance at the Big Pool Dam. It rained in the morning…it cleared for lunch…it rained in the afternoon. We had two fires going which helped to cheer things up, but it did get a bit muddy underfoot and it’s hard to stay cheerful when your waterproof trousers cease to be waterproof and a dog steals your jacket to  lie on (poor Matt). A feast of Easter Eggs boosted morale.

Max doesn't like damp ground. Matt's jacket proved to be just right for resting on

We just can’t get enough of  Wenlock Edge. Our next session was Sunday 15th April. A different site this time, at the footpath running along the edge of the old quarry. In sunshine, we worked on path clearance and fence repair. This is a popular walking path for locals and visitors to the area. Our job was to cut back the overgrowth at the edges of the path and repair the fence on the quarry edge, improving path access and safety. If you are ever in the area, I can highly recommend the walks in and around Much Wenlock and along Wenlock Edge.

Wenlock Edge, Matt

The weather for Sunday 22nd April didn’t look promising but SSNTV are never put off by the forecast and there was a good turnout of volunteers at Wightwick Manor & Gardens. The work for the day was in the bridge garden, which had become overgrown with laurel and other tall shrubs. There was once a productive fruit garden in this part of the property and in the future it is hoped to return the garden to its former glory. With luck, we avoided the rain as we worked. It did rain, monsoon style, at lunchtime but we managed to take cover in a marquee to eat lunch and wait for the skies to clear.


Morville...soggy workwear

We didn’t have any luck with the weather on Sunday 29th April. Our visit to Morville Hall was cold and wet. It was raining as we arrived…it rained all day….it was still raining at the end of the day. Unperturbed, a hardy group of SSNTVers joined Morville Hall tenants Chris and Sarah. We braved the wind and rain to work in the garden, carrying out a list of tidying and maintenance tasks in preparation for the annual open weekend at the property and surrounding gardens. The upside of rainy days at Morville is that we are allowed to eat our lunch in the Elizabethan hall – very grand indeed! We stopped work only when we couldn’t get any wetter. Chris and Sarah provided tea and cake. This was much appreciated at the end of this damp workday.

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Sunday 22nd April 2012

Working in the bridge garden today, cutting back laurel and holly overgrowth. As always, we were warmly welcomed by the staff at Wightwick. Lovely tea and cake in the Malthouse tearoom at the end of the day. Matt found a hollow log, henceforth known as ‘The Hole’, which was utilised as a photography prop.

Matt and The Hole

Ron, Andrew and Dan and The Hole

National Trust logo and The Hole

Shelley and The Hole

Cake and The Hole

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Having a look back to my diary for March, the month starts with weather as follows – warm, dry, sunny. Seems like favourable conditions for the first working weekend of the year, Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th March at Walcot Woods. This weekend has become a popular fixture in the events diary with group members attending some or all of the weekend, with the option of over-nighting at a bunkhouse near Bishops Castle. In the interests of furthering our mission to achieve a good work/fun/cake balance, lots of work was accompanied by  lots of fun, accompanied by lots of cake!

The good weather continued to Sunday 11th March, with a workday at Wenlock Edge. This was the first group visit to the old railway line where tree felling and brash clearance work helps open up the tree canopy to encourage wildflower growth. The path of the old railway line forms part of the route for this years Over The Edge Marathon and Half Marathon.

The group was enticed to a new worksite north of Shrewsbury, on Saturday 17th March, with promises of HCBs* and some rhododendron removal. Lee Brockhurst is the northern outpost of the Attingham Estate. I am told that Brock means badger, Hurst means clearing hence Lee Brockhurst was once the home to a badger called Lee who lived in a clearing (Ed’s note: it must be true, Ron says so). There was a good turnout for this workday which meant that lots of rhodi could be removed and dispatched with the aim of limiting its extent in this small patch of woodland.  (*HCBs = Hot Cross Buns)

For those group members who felt they hadn’t worked hard enough on the Saturday, there was another rhododendron clearance task on Sunday 18th March at Hawskmoor in north Staffordshire.

It was hot, dry and sunny for our visit to Sunnycroft on Sunday 25th March. Sunglasses came out of winter hibernation and there may even have been a pair of knobbly knees on show. Fuelled by bacon butties (kindly supplied by workday leader Julie), the task was to reduce the hedge bordering the road side of the property to a manageable height. This was quite a challenge but we managed to give the hedge some much needed maintenance.

Sunnycroft Hedge Trim

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Beccy Speight joins SSNTV at Wenlock Edge

We were very fortunate to have a special guest ‘volunteer’ join us at our workday at Wenlock edge on Sunday 1st April. Beccy Speight, Regional Director for the National Trust in the Midlands, brought some sunshine with her…we provided the cake!

Read about it here at the Wenlock Edge blog.

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