Archive for the ‘National Trust Volunteering’ Category

Apparently we’ve not worked at Benthall in April before. But that didn’t stop a great turnout and a good workout. The weather was fine, though quite cold.

The first task was to cut up a large bough which had come off a huge conker tree. This provided something for everyone … brash, bonfire, and the big bowsaw!

An early cake o’clock gave the fire chance to get going. After this, a few remained to continue with the fire. Nick took the rest of us to look at the second task.

On a large scale, this was like the beginning of one of those multi-square puzzles, where you move one square to create a space for the next.

From here …
via many, Many, MANY barrow-loads!
… to here …
… leaving what was once part of the pigsty clear to take plants from the cold-frame.

The final piece of the puzzle will be growing salads for the tearoom, in the cold-frames.

Finishing a bit early, Nick took us for a short tour around the garden, and back ‘in time for tea’!

(Much better than ‘raking grass’!)

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Spent an interesting couple of hours this evening with members of the public walking across the heath and up the ridge. As Ewan and the ranger team at Kinver, with portfolio GM, Marcus explained about their ten year plan for restoring heathland habitats across the Edge, encompassing Blakedown Common, the land recently acquired from the Council, so extending the area at Kinver. 

Take some time to read about what’s planned at – see Ewan on Midlands Today – and feedback on the ideas, as well as Ewan’s TV presenting skills!

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The Programme team wanted me to remind everyone…….Why not try something more leisurely at the weekend this Saturday? (…As well as the usual more strenuous Sunday workday….!!)

Join Ranger Colin for a walk & talk around the Estate, c. 3-4 miles in length, some off the beaten track. Learn more about the northern properties on the Group’s patch, with topics to include future plans for Attingham, Lea Brockhurst & Sunnycroft.

Start: 10.15am meet by visitor reception. Return to the Stables Courtyard cafe for lunch or bring a picnic.

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We were back at Dudmaston Estate on Sunday, but not to plant trees this time  – instead it was just the opposite!  It had been talked about for some time by Area Ranger Mike, but there were a few gasps as with Workday leader Dave, we reached the Dingle and were met with some impressive new vistas.

As part of the restoration project for the Dingle a number of trees have been felled to let in more light. This is part of the project to return the valley and woodland to the original 18th century plan, aimed at creating more open views, compared with those to which we have recently become used.

Continuing the recent discussion prompted by Mike in Dudmaston’s “Dart”, about tree-processing machinery compared with the powers of volunteers with a bowsaw – today’s evidence was fairly conclusive in favour of machinery – as we surveyed the results of contractors having felled the large trees and dragged them up and out of the valley.  Things look quite different!

The task for the day was helping out by burning the brash left over from the felling – and what amounts there were!  Morning walkers in the Dingle might have struggled to admire the views, as the pine greenery started to smoke and burn, creating a haze of its own throughout the valley.

In the end two large and very hot fires were fed during the day (Dudmaston size record? – in particular for the amount burnt in one day!) The heat turned spring into summer, melted the afternoon cakes and meant that our volunteer efforts could not be missed by visitors!  By the time we had finished it looked as if parts of the slope – at least – had been hoovered. So all power to the bowsaw after all!

A good, if exhausting day was had by all!   Many thanks to all who attended and ranger Helen for arranging perfect weather.  Oh yes….and there was some talk of a bit left for next time’s visit….

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Sunday saw a group of volunteers at Morville to help Chris and Sarah with the gardens. The weather was lovely and warm, with daffodils in full bloom everywhere. We set about bringing the borders out of hibernation, clearing weeds and dead branches. The resident dogs were very inquisitive, but kept far enough away, leaving us to work. 

This was the last time we’ll work with Chris and Sarah as they are moving on, so watch this space for more details of the new tenants – a young family of five. We would like to thank Chris and Sarah for their hospitality during their time at Morville.  It’s nice to know that they are to stay in Shropshire, having fallen in love with the area.

Whilst we’re never paid in monetary terms for our work, we did have some chocolate coins today – along with very nice fruit cake, provided by our hosts!

A productive day, with plenty more to tackle on our next visit.

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Hello hard-working SSNTV’ers, …Worked lots of hours last year? Then look out for your Volunteer Card reward in the post imminently!

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It was SSNTV member Matthew’s milestone (we’ll leave it at that shall we?) birthday  the night before, so top marks to most who made it out next day, among them workday leader David…..

It was a gloriously bright and sunny early Spring day which made the profusion of daffodils in the gardens and arboretum look at their best. We worked under the supervision of both Head Gardener Caroline and her deputy James. This was a rare treat as we don’t often see them together! 

It’s always a good idea to keep the Head Gardener happy so we were pleased that we were able to complete all of the tasks that Caroline could remember from her list for the day! (Even if we did have help from a few of the property’s garden volunteers)

We had a bit of a bonfire fest too, as we eventually had three on the go. One group burned some cuttings where we had a megafire in the past, towards the Blue Bridge. Another group made a fire near the Chinese Bridge in the Arboretum, to burn the hawthorn trees we cut down, aimed at opening up views across the river back to the Mansion. A third burn developed further into the Arboretum where we all worked after lunch to burn cuttings, fallen stems and the brambles we dug out. As an end of the day task, ‘brambling’ (which sounds better than the activity) was quite hard going, especially as it involved venturing close to the very smoky fire.

Unfortunately at times, the wind wasn’t in the most favourable direction for the garden either! We did smoke it out a bit – oops sorry visitors! It was busy with people who were both curious and at the same time needed to dodge the billowing clouds.  Indeed, those in the Mansion wondered if they needed the fire brigade, until they found out the smoke was coming from way over in the Arboretum!

We always get supplied with fabulous cake at Shugborough (thanks James) but incredibly we struggled to eat it all, having attempted to polish off the left-overs from group member Matthew’s birthday cake at elevenses and lunchtime.

Oh yes and BTW….what is K9 doing on James’s garden mowing / blowing machine???????

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