Archive for July, 2021

Mad dogs and SSNTV go out in the midday sun! …well, go out all day actually….

On the hottest day of the year – so far – a small number of SSNTV’ers took the decision not to rest in their gardens all day (if they had them) drinking pims, but to plaster themselves in sun lotion and sweat buckets in the Morville gardens….as workday leader Peter describes:

The select few’s first task was a tour of the Hall estate looking for jobs that might be completed in the shade.  It was also a chance to see the gradual changes Mel and her gardener have been making, increasing the planting and taming some of the unruly patches.

Task finding “first place” went to team 1 who managed not to see the sun all day as they cleared an overgrown area of alder and nettles by the oil tank and opened up the access path. No bonfire for the brash though, that can dry out until may be, next time.

Team 2 the long-married couple, got second place with a little sun, as they moved around the garden trimming access around the yew hedges; pruning and weeding the rose beds, skilfully moving in and out of the shade.

Treasurer and Vice Chair ended up with the booby prize, trimming the hornbeam hedge in the top “white” garden in full sun all day.

Thankfully Melanie provided copious amounts of iced lemon water to keep the troops hydrated; along with homemade cakes for our cake o’clock and thereafter; with a treat of ice creams at the end of the day.  All sought the little shade in the shadow of the Hall’s high walls and rested – watching the farmers beyond the garden, tossing their hay and then cautiously collecting the huge bales generated, whilst navigating across the sloping valley side.  Thanks, Melanie for the hospitality, it was much appreciated.

At the end of a hot day she expressed herself impressed with the amount of work completed, despite the sun!

As she wrote following our visit:…

Dear Peter and the gang,
What an epic day Sunday was! In all that stifling heat and with only a few of you on site, you still managed to work complete wonders without a power tool in sight! I never cease to be amazed by the energy and drive of the SSNTV – a perfect model of team working and always so nice to see you all.  I really am very grateful indeed for all three tasks undertaken, please extend my thanks out to the others.  The garden is basking in this summer weather, but it’s all the better for having been SSNTV’d…

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Workday leader Matthew reports from Sunday’s venue:

The promise of interesting work and a BBQ attracted a good number of volunteers for the workday at Benthall, even though it was Men’s Finals Day at Wimbledon – or maybe it was just the attraction of the BBQ? 

The volunteers split into various groups, with the main task to collect, sift and re-lay pea gravel on one of the paths in the gardens to the side of the Hall. Other groups weeded a long stretch of path laid to brick (recently not a priority task during lockdown); turned over compost heaps; and weeded under laurel hedges. Yes, there was certainly a lot to keep us busy.

Gardener-in-charge Nick had recently purchased a sifting drum over the inter-web and it proved very popular with the volunteers. Shovel-loads of chips were fed into the rotating drum which filtered out dirt and stones of specific sizes, before the cleaned and graded good stuff was recycled back into use. A good section of path was completed, with the in-house volunteers to finish the task later this week.

The other jobs were all but completed too, all with the usual group banter. Who knew that Mandy’s favourite hang-out in her home town of Tenby was the rugby club? We’ve been there too – it’s in the main town, far from any pitches, but has a large function room open to the public. Mandy thought that SSNTV reminded her of the good vibes at the rugby club – nothing to do with the hunky young men obviously!

The day soon came to a close, with Nick’s famous BBQ drawing us in. Having consumed very tasty ‘Hog Roast’ sausages purchased from the local butcher, we said our thank yous and goodbyes and headed off to watch the tennis highlights, or maybe that little football match between England and Italy!

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If I’m going to get a report out for the Independence Day task at Shugborough, then now’s the time. I’m just having breakfast before heading across to Benthall for what looks like a drier day. We were a small, select and hard-working team working by the Tennis Court last Sunday.

To quote Caroline: “This has been a winter garden project in 2019/2020 but had got away from us with the lockdowns of the past year.  It has some lovely plants in it that are flowering away at the moment but are also being smothered by weeds!  The Tennis Court will also form a part of the Chinese House garden project for this winter.”

James showed us plenty of areas we could weed. We focussed on two areas – the large bed … which we have completely cleared in the past … allowing the shrubs, now hiding under the weeds, to be planted in it … and the edge around the Tennis Court, amongst and between the roses.

During the morning there were a few light showers, and waterproofs were put on and taken off a number of times. Too wet without … too warm with! Geshwin’s ‘Walking the Dog’ was my chosen alarm for Cake O’Clock – my signature Mars Bar Crispie cake – proper round cake shaped this time as I made it up in Sheffield, without taking my traybake tin. (I’ve also discovered it can be made in the microwave!!)

We moved under the trees to sit on logs for lunch! Then back for more.

Cake O’Clock in the afternoon had just been called when the heavens opened. Not a light shower this time … a proper downpour. We again took shelter, but it was even coming through the thick tree canopy. After a while hoping it would clear up, I called a halt when it was obvious it was here to stay. We cleared the weeds away to the undergrowth, took the tools back to the shed and I, for one, was soaked to the skin by the time I got back to the car. Typically, the sun was shining five minutes into my drive home.

Mags – Workday leader

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Returning from holiday, workday leader Helen was straight back to it and reports from last Sunday at Attingham:

10 volunteers from the Group arrived at the Walled Garden for a weeding task. We were shown to a large overgrown potato patch where the plants in question were just visible above the unruly growth – Covid to blame once again – and set to work.

Weeding might be seen as a boring task, but with the usual SSNTV banter and of course cake, a transformation soon occurred. Weeds were uprooted and trolleyed to the compost pile and gradually the potato plants emerged relatively unscathed.

We left feeling very satisfied sure in the knowledge that the kitchens at Attingham would be fully supplied with potatoes this year and some of us even went home with a few of the early spuds in our pockets to supplement our own teas.

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