Archive for December, 2019

With the Christmas break over for some eager beavers, the Group made it back to Shugborough on Sunday where your reporter found them clearing and burning huge loads of cuttings that had been piled up as part of the Shugborough gardens team’s task to restore around the tennis court in the formal garden.

A big job which took everyone all day!

Thanks to Mags for a festive cake o’clock that went down very well.

A good day in the sunshine!

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A few determined souls who’d had enough of turkey ventured back to “our” hedge, as the man with the billhook collection, Dave reports:

A good day’s hedgelaying Saturday i.e. no rain! Having spent the last workday clearing the hedge, we actually started laying the new this time.

……(Ed) I’m told Dave was also filmed for a YouTube channel, talking about the group and its hedgelaying activities, but no more details as we go to print..

Let’s hope it doesn’t go to his head and he starts charging for autographs!

…Still one more last workday (Sun 29th) in this decade, before it all begins anew!

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It was back to gardening in the run up to Christmas, as the Group made the first of hopefully many visits to the new tenants at the Hall, in order to help Melanie and the family catch-up on some pruning tasks …

….. and were royally entertained with festive treats – thanks for those!

And as the sun shone for most of the time…..

the SSNTV’ers went home looking the same colour as when they arrived – not like in recent previous weeks!

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Workday leader Dave reports:

It was a day of two halves, glued together by mud …lot’s of mud it looks like (Ed!)

We were continuing a clearance project in the Stretton Westwood quarry, part of Wenlock Edge which last year resulted in the re-appearance of hundreds of orchids. Much cutting and burning took place removing elder, willow and diseased ash trees. With more light reaching the ground any dormant wild flower seeds will germinate. It will be interesting to go back in the Spring and so see what appears.

Rather than the usual cake o clock we had a cake decorating workshop instead! Or it may just have been cupcakes, gingerbread men, a bit of icing and some sprinkles.

Oh yes… and the day of two halves? It was lovely and sunny in the morning but began to rain at lunch time and then continued all afternoon! What fun we all had!!

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Our recent Christmas weekend was destined, so far as we know, to be the last in the current Mose bunkhouse at Dudmaston. There’s some redevelopment planned, as part of which overnight accommodation will move to a new building.  Hopefully there’ll be good things to report when we return – but as that won’t be for a few months, there should be a chance for others to iron out any new property teething troubles!

As the workday weekend came to an end Head Ranger Mike expressed himself please with the work of the group over the three days.  Handing over a Christmas card, he wanted to also record his thanks to all for their efforts earlier in the year, in planting and tending for the thousands of new samplings planted on the edge of the Comer plantation – as you can read, a significant conservation achievement.

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Christmas dinner in the bunkhouse at Dudmaston was a chance to sample the cooking skills of Chairman Chris, Christine and Maggie.  Mags too managed to squeeze us into a very busy schedule, delivering up a great tasting Christmas pudding.  With Matthew H on the electric carving knife!

A great time was had by all….at least until the pass-the-parcel ….but that’s another story!

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Christmas weekend saw the Group back at Dudmaston in Comer Wood clearing and thinning the largely, young birch trees, otherwise threatening to dominate the woodland.  There was much to go at, as both Head Ranger Mike and Helen followed the SSNTV’ers around with chainsaws over three days.

With Christmas dinner planned for Saturday day Two, day One, Friday was a chance for the early starters to bag the best beds and put up the Xmas decorations ready for a quiet Saturday evening.

Saturday, day Two proved to be the best weather day of the weekend as the chefs / cooking team made intermittent visits to the worksite; as well as peeled vegetables and put on the turkey.  With the main Christmas event getting nearer, there were few passing walkers and bike riders to observe the Group at work.  

Many of the birches and other small trees seem to self-seed so that there was much to thin.  As ranger Mike explained, when they reach a certain age, the trees also frequently get attacked by squirrels, damaging the bark and stopping the growth of straight healthy leaders.  So the work to let in more light would hopefully also promote a more healthy environment for different species to thrive.

Day Three of our weekend saw a great turnout of 14 members, plus Dudmaston D of E volunteer, Oliver, dodging the top-frequent showers. The numbers meant we successfully completed the thinning of the section of woodland by the end of the day, as light was fading.

Feature of the weekend was also the number of fires started to allow removal of the heaps of brash.  Such that by Day Three this became a four-fire foray.  Happily it also meant plenty of heat to keep us warm and to help us to dry off after the rain.

Having polished off Christmas and sticky toffee puddings, that didn’t stop day Three workers consuming the glut of cake, bread pudding and mince pies.  Thanks to all for those!

Not content with just destruction, by day Three a small group also started the replanting effort anew; managing to put about 50 oak trees back into the ground in the clearing created from the previous two workdays. 

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A tiring day it seems….(Ed)? Workday leader Matthew still managed to pen this report:

..A group of volunteers managed to escape Christmas shopping duties and headed off to Attingham for the traditional pre-Christmas rhodi-bashing.

Ranger Colin’s collection of diggers, tractors and pick-ups were left in their “Tracy Island” bunker, as the group wielded the most effective rhodi-bashing tools of all – handsaws and loppers.

Of course, such tools are virtually ineffective without cake. Luckily we were treated to two, yes two, chocolate concoctions, baked to perfection by Leela and Maggie. Together with the Chairman’s Rocky and Gold bars, we were unstoppable…well sort of!

Thanks to all!

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