Archive for August, 2012

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.

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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.

Fun and games at Sunnycroft

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.

You might 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….

Judging of The Marathon

Lighting the Jubilympic flame

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.

Much Wenlock Marathon medal

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.

HRH Prince Charles, President of the National Trust

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 (?).

Unconventional use of a National Trust wheelbarrow

The final workday of the month was at Wightwick Manor & Gardens on Sunday 29th July (read the story here). It was a fun day with plenty of hard work and ice cream!

Driveway after

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