Archive for the ‘National Trust’ Category

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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A dank, dark Sunday morning saw members of the group come out on an increasingly rare visit to Sunnycroft, Wellington. Large numbers appeared for the unusual task of starting the conservation project on Sunnycroft’s glasshouse.  As everyone gathered in the car park, you could hear the surprised voices, as one after another seldom seen member was greeted, ending with NT’s Midlands garden adviser Pam Smith.

Seventeen members meant three teams could be formed to take on the challenges Head (and only!) garden Joel had for us.

Primarily we were invited to return to provide the labour for removing and relocating decorative stones from inside the glasshouse whilst it is being restored.

Task 2: remove four laurel bushes that had encroached into the herbaceous boarder – roots and all.

Task 3: reducing the height and trimming the hedge on the main drive.

Before stones in the glasshouse could be removed, bedding tray gravel and rusting, corrugated metal sheets had to be extracted. Now we could get to the intended stones. However this proved disappointing, as nearly all the material found was not of the expected kind!

Sunnycroft’s conservatory is a significant historic structure in its own right.  It was supplied in 1899 by R. Halliday & Company and is listed Grade II. It is embellished with stained glass, decorative finials and ironwork – being small in size, it was designed to fit in with the “compact” Sunnycroft estate. Unfortunately, time has not been kind, and the structure is starting to show its age.  Hence it is in need of full restoration. The Trust believe there are only three examples of this kind in existence, which makes this one even more special.

But with the day’s work complete, conservation of the glasshouse can commence hopefully in the spring of 2020.

Shrubs extracted through brute force, it only remained to tackle the unruly top of the green hedge. 

To reduce its height, Joel allowed our editor to take charge of his new battery-powered extendable hedge trimmer – as workday leader I think a brave move!  It was a challenge to control this monster all day.  But with a second smaller, but more heavy-duty machine also on hand, after a whole day’s work the resulting hedge does look the part!

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Workday leader David reports:

SSNTV members are a hardy lot!

There was a big turnout on a grim weather day with fog, low cloud, drizzle, rain and cold temperatures. After all of the recent rainfall the conditions were very muddy, but we just kept on going, with the work keeping us warm and the fire to dry us off.

We continued our work from a month ago at Stretton Westwood quarry opening up the route for a new path to be created.  Working alongside Al and Kate, who provided plenty of big trees to process, we felled others and cleared the rampant bramble undergrowth. 

During a break in the work, Kate helped a few people to find some great fossils in the 400 million year old Silurian limestone rocks that were formed when the area was a coral reef in a shallow tropical sea. Could have done with some of that tropical weather on Sunday!

Despite the weather we made a real impact on the path route and look forward to seeing it in use in the not too distant future.

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Workday leader Chris reports:……After the Magnificent 7 at Dave’s hedgelaying on Saturday in almost artic conditions, the Stupendous 8 turned out on Sunday at Benthall in slightly better weather!

The work was a continuation of the previous outing on the Hall estate; one of our favourite tasks of clearing, cutting and burning. As it was Remembrance Sunday, we observed a two minute silence at 11am marked with Nick’s hooter and ably supported (albeit a little late) by a single cannon firing from somewhere near Telford.

Matt soon had a roaring fire going which coped admirably with the increasing amount of debris collected, as dead branches came down and for which lunch (when it came) was something of a relief, giving the pyre time to digest the rather hearty meal we’d fed it by then.

Cake o’clock was well stocked with fresh offerings made by Maggie and Russell (his bread pudding inventively using up Bonfire weekend leftover buns (the whole ones, not half eaten!). But, people, we have to report that in addition there remained left overs of, duh..duhh.. Mags’s mars bar crispy cake! Needless to say an investigation is underway into this unprecedented (though not unwelcome) incident!

But back to Benthall…After two workdays the old tramway site is transformed. Though Nick says it could do with a bit more work, which is great – it was a lovely task and a sheltered spot, in which to hide from the worst of the elements.

That’s all for now folks but do remember …. your workday leader needs you….!

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Fireworks, cake, a bit of cutting and burning and a chance to catch up with returning Group members – this weekend it was a three-day bonfire extravaganza only briefly interrupted by a bit of work and periodic heavy rain showers as the Group returned to Dudmaston, overnighting in the Mose bunkhouse.

There was all sorts – a chance to catch up with faces who don’t make it out to workdays every Sunday, but who make a special effort around November 5th; more TLC on those broadleaf and evergreen saplings which SSNTV planted last winter; burgers & sausages, pulled pork, wine, beer and home-brew; all liberally doused with a few downpours – the latter which didn’t put off all those who came out on Saturday night to see fireworks in the rain. 

…Oh yes, and a special new Dudmaston forest project with Ben – more on that at a later date – save to say he spent an informative time with long-serving John W.

Saplings are all checked over now – at least for another year.  So when they weren’t slashing the brambles, SSNTV’ers were thinning the birch in the enclosures and removing damaged and dying trees, attacked by animals or by winds and winter weather.

Chairman Chris also managed to hand over some rewards and thank you’s for hours of long service to members of the Group.

Over the whole weekend many rolled up their sleeves and lent a hand – so there are lots of thank you’s to mention – weekend organiser Peter, seamlessly fitting it all together; shoppers for food; the firework expert (and his spreadsheet); workday leaders, especially Helen (who swapped to work in the rain); those who built the guy; ranger Mike (and Mrs Mike) for food and liquid supplies; SSNTV cake bakers; those challenged to light fireworks safely in the rain; the BBQ man; dedicated volunteers who cleaned the bunkhouse toilets; and all those others who just turned up and mucked in!

And as we left on the last day, the sun shone ……(well you know how the saying goes…)  Someone was smiling at our efforts!

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Workday Leader Matthew reports on the day the clocks went back:….

Well, what a fabulous day! Great weather, good company, cake to die for and plenty of cutting and burning to tackle. What more does an SSNTV volunteer want?

We were asked to thin an area on the heath, just the other side of the main field where the war memorial stands. The idea was to take away young birch and not-so-young bracken and gorse which were taking over an area where the resident adders like to bask in the sun. No doubt the adders will be pleased with our work and will be able to top up their tans come Spring!

It was Leela’s first visit to Kinver and she was impressed by the site, but a little wary of the talk of snakes. Fortunately, in spite of the sunny weather, all the adders were fast asleep and did not make an appearance. In fact we left a thick border around the clearance site to deter human visitors from entering after we had left.

It was ranger Kyra’s first workday back with us since the arrival of her son – another redhead apparently! She took up where she left off, impressing us with her off-road driving skills bringing the truck and trailer right into the clearance site. The cuttings were then transported near to the Rangers’ Yard for burning by eager volunteers (at Kinver we often do not burn in situ). Kyra also impressed with her home-made cakes, handing out cake of quality and quantity too. Thanks for that!

To round off the day, the new local English Longhorn cattle called in to say hello and inspect our work. We got a few ‘moos’, presumably meaning that they were pleased – but I think they were actually just after some cake!

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Just back from his holiday, Chris B lead the group at Benthall on Sunday, as the day started with a card, marking the Chairman’s XXth birthday…..

Sunday dawned as grey and damp as the weather man predicted…but this little matter did not deter the force 12 which made up our volunteer group.  Gardener in charge, Nick took pity on us and tailored the task to give us protection from the rain, with a warming fire or two.  So we set off in search of the overgrown tramway he’d decided needed a haircut around a tottering bridge. 

Having reached the outermost parts of the estate, we spread out and began the clearance. As your workday leader had forgotten the fire-starting equipment, SSNTV’er Matt stepped up with his own emergency kit, wasting no time getting a good bonfire going despite the wet.  This gobbled up all the brash and cuttings we could supply so fast that “cake o’clock” was late…Quelle horreur…!  But this tasted all the better for our being very hungry and it being so chocolatey!!

By now our fire was going so well, fears were growing for any passing horsey being spooked by its size and heat, so a second was lit before lunch.  After that, the haircut went apace and by the end of our day a long section of the tramway (a possible remnant of former coal extraction workings)  and a stream culvert were cleared, plus the bridge survived intact – ‘totter ye not’ little bridge…

Nick hopes we might be able to return to this rather lovely site for our next workday at Benthalll on 10th November.  

Save the date…please…your workday leader needs you and hopes next time to remember the matches!  So too, that his better half will make another cake (I might she writes!)…Thanks for today’s!

PS: A thank you too to everyone who helped look for the ‘missing’ loppers – happily what was lost has now definitely been found.

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