Archive for August, 2021

The 40th anniversary of the Group’s founding at Wightwick Manor has fallen during the Covid lockdowns. After a couple of belated attempts a fairly small and intimate gathering was held in a field adjoining the grounds of – not the Wolverhampton manor house – but Benthall Hall, Broseley near Ironbridge on Sunday.

The sun shone, as duly expected on the righteous and a good time was had by past and present members of the Group who attended the festivities.

There was much cake, as expected, also more than a fair amount of sandwiches, pork pies, cheese, pink fizz, quiches, samosas, sausage rolls,…need I go on.

Check out this link again for more photos appearing on this page to record for posterity of all those who were there!

So here’s just a few….

Not just one but two special cakes ( much can you read? ….tip: link with the coloured sweatshirts below..)

Getting going…

People watching….

Food, food, glorious food….

There was a bit of speeches (thanks Mr Chair and Ranger Al from NT) and silly games (thanks Dave)

Reminiscing;… and just a few of the Group’s clothing variations over time on view on the day (check with that cake…)

Read Full Post »

It was that time of year again on Sunday, to put away the heavy boots and find some very scruffy clothes that would survive the mud and smelly water of the ornamental canal in the grounds of Morville Hall, as the group set about removing two years of regrowth of weeds and bullrushes – and what turned out to be some sizeable overhanging shrubs.

NT waders on, the volunteers headed down to the water’s edge.  With no recent visit on account of you know what – there was a fair bit of regrowth of younger reeds to deal with, in continuing the task of keeping the waterway clear. 

The views from the garden were also increasingly being reduced by shrubby growth and young trees at the water’s edge.  Bowsaws in the water would be the tool for the day to prevent too much shade and shadow developing and so prevent algae growth – John was in his element!

The mass of material meant there was plenty to do for those who intentionally didn’t plan to get wet, as wood and wet reeds were piled up on the banks (to let any little creatures make it back to the water).  Special praise to Ann and Eric who dragged and stacked all day!…There’ll be a bonfire weekend needed here too!

They say the sun shines on the righteous – so we must have done something good, as the grey clouds lifted. There was no more rain. By cake o’clock, we were sitting in the sunshine which stayed with us for the rest of the day.

With no newbies in the group, all present in the water demonstrated high levels of skills in keeping their balance and staying upright, whilst slowing sinking into the mud.  In fact no one fell in / over all day!

By afternoon the vista looked great as the water surface was cleared and there were views restored all round.  With the sunshine warming things up, standing in the cool water was actually pretty relaxing.  So much so that the end of workday finish time was easily exceeded by more than an hour!

Such was the watery regrowth that only a bit more progress to the right was made on the multi-year task – note to our Helen and NT’s Pete – it was so much fun, perhaps let’s have two goes next summer!

…And on top of that some of the group’s more genteel members on dry land gave the Hall garden’s parterre a weeding once-over….And then for their afternoon workout, finished off the hornbeam hedge in the full sun – something not quite completed on the last workday (see 18th July)

With plenty of cake for energy (thanks Mags, Eric, Russell) it meant a good day was had by all.

Next up it’s the party weekend to celebrate the Group’s 40th anniversary founding – Yeah!!

…PS: NT’s Pete Carty got in touch to say thanks for the great job that was achieved on the day.

…PPS: Melanie has also been in touch from her holiday already, to say that she’s looking forward to taking in the new views over the water…….so well done all!

Read Full Post »

On Sunday a merry band of nine SSNTVers headed over to Shugborough for a battle with marauding nettles, advancing grass and other organic invaders that had significantly encroached into the beds surrounding the historic Shepherd’s monument, writes workday leader Matt.

After having careful tuition from gardener Derek as to what was a weed and what wasn’t, we dived headlong into clearing out the beds and edging the naughty grass back to where it should be!

Following an awesome cake o’clock with yummy parkin and a rich and creamy choccy cake (thanks Mags and Leela!), we quickly cracked on raking the beds over and giving the proper plants room to expand and thrive.

After lunch we continued in the beds behind and to the other side of the monument until the invaders had been repelled and order restored once more.

However, despite our best laid plans and crossed fingers, we had a distinct feeling of deja-vu (see 4th July!!) when the black clouds overhead decided to give us a healthy downpour just as we were packing up!

At least next week we’ll already be wearing waders as it’s our annual reed-pulling workday at Morville!

Swampies…behind the safety fence!

Read Full Post »

The wet weather during the week and the forecast for Sunday meant that we were unable to continue with the gravel path project, but Nick had plenty for us to do….writes workday leader Mags.

The first job is not everyone’s favourite task but, with the large turnout, the ragwort was gone from the meadow before lunchtime. (It’s perhaps safe now to let on that Nick had told me about this plan on Friday. However my response was ‘You haven’t told me that. So I can plead ignorance on Sunday.’)

Lunch, with a very welcome cuppa, was on the family terrace where we were joined by former members.

After lunch we split into three groups for the remaining tasks – slashing the weeds on the drive – turning the compost heap – de-mossing the cobbles in the rose garden.

I joined the team on the drive, so didn’t hear the fire alarm in the Hall. So I was surprised that the rose garden was empty when, just before 3pm, the team on the drive finished, in time for the committee meeting.

Arriving visitors were being kept in the car park, visitors (and volunteers) were assembled on the lawn, down the bank at the front of the house and the fire brigade were on their way.

Not us this time!! An alarm had gone off in the hall, though thankfully after a check it was found to be a false alarm. When I was allowed to go round to the compost bins, the team there had just finished, and leaving the tools by the barn, joined the rest of the group on the lawn.

Once released from our assembly point, those not at the committee meeting (which I think took place on the lawn) continued with and finished the cobbles.

Just time when everyone had finished for a final piece of cake (which saved me bringing it home, where it wouldn’t have lasted long)

… and the weather … not as bad as had been predicted.

Read Full Post »

As a change from the Sundays of hard graft some of the Group made it a day out in the summer sunshine last weekend with South Shropshire Countryside Manager Pete Carty touring some of the latest project sites and potential new worksites around Carding Mill Valley and Hopesay Hill on the far west of our patch.

The day started in leisurely fashion with coffee and cake on the roof terrace of the tea room at CMV as a thank you from Peter for the recent weekends’ efforts.

Then it was travel around the hill as we visited some of the more secluded patches to see recent efforts underway at hay meadow restoration and the promotion of wild flowers in conjunction with local farmers and land-owning groups.

This is all comes under the umbrella of the Steeping Stones project connecting parcels of land in the area, so offering greater benefits to nature it was explained.

Habitat promotion at some of the pools up on the top of the Long Mynd still need some man-made interventions to keep them in great nick we were told.

…..Meadows being specifically curated on the lower slopes of the valley side.

At Hopesay we could see the results of our previous efforts planting new trees at the end of 2016 – on land adjoining that owned by the Trust. As Pete explained, next task is to plant some more (up to another 5,000 saplings). Seems that the positive results from our previous attempt mean that we may have another try!

Whilst some just enjoyed making the most of the day’s sunshine!

Thanks to Peter for his time spent explaining to us where all the hard work and effort goes…..

Read Full Post »