A full programme of workdays through until September is now published on the Events page of the SSNTV website.

Existing group members will know what to do.

Intrigued by what you read here / on the website? Been sitting indoors too much during lockdown ?

Why not try one of our workdays, there’s something for everyone! No obligation, no cost – just bring yourself ! Details of how to get in touch are on the website / via this link. There might well even be cake 🎂 !!

Your editor, NT pickup driver and for one Sunday, workday leader reports on the latest efforts by the Group:

Sunday saw the current trend of April showers continue into May at the Morville Hall, Bridgnorth work restart. A sizeable group some of whom as requested, packed their secateurs and trugs turned out to help the tenants keep the actively growing garden under control in advance of possible NGS open days later this summer. If they were a little rusty about what to pack for a workday, the heavy showers that kept popping up, will have made sure waterproofs are still on the list!

There were plenty of tasks to choose from – this being our first return trip since lockdown – but we could start with complimenting tenants Melanie and family for keeping on top of a large number of jobs despite the restrictions of Covid.

All volunteer tastes could be catered for.  Some climbed the ladders to prune hollies to good effect.

Others picked up spades and forks to tend around some of the rose bushes growing along the grassy garden banks.

To the workday leader’s delight, some even volunteered for weeding – meaning he didn’t have to do it himself!  The ladies mostly, ensconced themselves between the patterns of ornamental box and gradually made the contrasting leafy green stand out more clearly from the brown gravel throughout the day.

Towards the small orchard there were tasks to remove the weeds, cut back the ivy from the walls as well as start to prune and tidy some of the many fruit trees and shrubs.

With powered strimmer in hand – well actually hanging from both shoulders – Dave thought he’d spotted an orchid amongst the long grass – but no, after closer inspection – the purple petals turned out to be a wood hyacinth, better known as a spanish bluebell – what an imposter! 

Is it an orchid hidden in the grass?…Nope: just a bluebell!

Still plenty work left for next time at this site, after the holiday at the end of this month…..

PS: Had a nice note of thanks from Melanie in appreciation of the Group’s efforts – she’s already looking forward to the next visit in June!

Workday leader Matthew reports:

COVID regs meant the lucky 6 SSNTV’ers drawn from the proverbial hat, with by the afternoon Leela in addition, masquerading as a local volunteer, were the ones challenged to clear trees, bracken and undergrowth beside one of the walls of the kitchen garden, adjacent to the Walled Garden complex, as this area is won back and future public access expanded. With the sun appearing for a while, it was a nice task to undertake; revealing the fine old wall and engaging in the usual banter. 

Once in a while, a train hurtled past on its way between London and Manchester. Interestingly, there seemed to be more trains in the morning, with one particularly loud diesel goods train laden with ballast. I marvelled at this feat of engineering, famously passing through the Shugborough Estate. The nearby Sher Brook stream even passes over the line on its own aqueduct.

One or two volunteers managed to wander off to look at the bee hives which are located between the kitchen garden and railway. 

At one point, I thought that we had lost volunteer Ron, but he was found next to a building which was being engulfed by bracken. All of a sudden he was gathering helpers for his masterplan of cutting some bracken and pulling it together with a rake. How well it worked, as soon a large ball was making its way towards the bonfire. 

…There’s a volunteer in there somewhere..!

Unfortunately we also managed to evict a family of mice which had taken up residence in an old black sack. No doubt they will have no problem upgrading to a more eco-friendly home.

NT man for all tasks, James assured us that our next visit will be subject to new Covid guidance, so that by the end of May with a maximum of 30, everyone keen to cut and burn can come along!

Want more peace of mind as workdays get back underway?…. Want to know that you aren’t inadvertently spreading the lurgy? Or be sure you haven’t caught something on a workday?

If you don’t have specific Covid symptoms you can organise yourself a home test, a Lateral Flow Test – there’s more detail here:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing/regular-rapid-coronavirus-tests-if-you-do-not-have-symptoms/

If you do have symptoms you’ll need a different kind of test – PCR (there are more details in the same NHS website link).

FYI: on the grounds of being well informed, your Editor has tried out the former and is pleased to report he’s Covid free!

Enjoy your cutting & burning (..and gardening..) safely

Second Sunday back as lockdown starts to ease was oversubscribed with volunteers. Workday leader (and it seems….botanist and lepidopterist extraordinaire…) Dave reports from what seems to have been a blazing day in the sunshine on the Edge – in all respects!

The group was tasked with helping to clear the NT boundary so a neighbouring farmer could put in his new fence. We met up at the bottom of the Edge (still with wonderful views of the Shropshire Hills). The job as always for Wenlock was cutting and burning – to make sure we had enough to burn, rangers Al and Kate were already taking down large willow and ash trees that might threaten to fall on the new fence.

Some of the wood was saved for selling on and a small amount found new homes with welcoming log stores. We finished the day with three large fires – quite a result, as it could have been more had we not spotted smoking embers in an old dead hedge.

Despite it seeming not to have rained for months, the site was quite boggy with a water-filled ditch on one side. Those with wellies found the silt in the ditch to be almost as deep as their boots! That said, it did make it good for wild flowers. I managed to spot Wild Garlic, Meadowsweet, Dog Violet, leaves of Early Purple Orchid, Bog Mint and Marsh Marigold or King Cup. Well, I did say it was boggy! Of course with the wild flowers come butterflies: Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Orange tip and a blue, possibly a Holly Blue….

A wonderful day full of sunshine, flowers, butterflies and bonfires!

Success at last!

Following the latest easing of lockdown restrictions, we’re happy to report that SSNTV were able to complete the first Sunday workday of 2021 with a brilliant Covid safe day in the East Annexe of the Walled Garden at Shugborough.

As the majority of the wall conservation work has now been completed here, head gardener Caroline now has grand plans for increasing visitor access around this part of the garden, which include extending the visitor walking route out in front of the walls in the picture and creating new flower beds.

However, before the flower bed creation and seed sowing could begin, the SSNTV removals team were called in to clear the target areas of all things that don’t agree with rotovator blades or shouldn’t belong in a flower bed.

During the day we completed the challenge of uncovering, lifting, shifting and re-homing: 2 full pallets worth of stonework; 1 full pallet of slate; pallets of paling fences; 1 pallet of fence posts; some rather large tree trunks; old roof timbers and other wood left from the conservation work; a full size enamel bath (taps still working!!); a rusty bench; a random chimney pot; assorted pipes and metalwork; bricks and rubble and a nice selection of logs. 

Blessed with glorious sunshine and brilliant volunteers (as always), a fantastic day was had by the small group, on account of Covid regs. Thanks to Caroline for offering us this extra session ahead of the full workday programme which our volunteers will be happy to be reminded is due to restart in mid-May!! 

…Off to Wenlock Edge next….!!

Dates for your diary for April and May (as per Prog. Organiser, Helen’s emails) are included in the SSNTV website Events page here

….are those boots now clean and ready???

Your Committee met again on 27th and as per Secretary Dot’s email, in line with Gov’ regulations and subject to any further NT guidance, we are working to restart workdays after the next Covid relaxation planned for 12th April.

  • April 18th – We have pencilled in a first small workday (max. 6 people) at Shugborough
  • From May – Full programme for summer months aiming to be published by Helen

Email event details, as in the past will follow, including any H&S / Covid guidance which may vary by NT place.

…So start cleaning those boots and getting ready!!

Various topics, covered here (but no new updates regarding volunteering guidance). (Password link as before, see previous posts)

We held our latest Committee meeting after the government’s announcements last week on Covid regulations. We’re still seeking more detailed guidance from the Trust, but latest thinking is that SSNTV will not be organising workdays before the end of March at the earliest.

As time has passed, we also need to talk to the properties again to update our programme further into the spring /summer, as they decide locally when to involve more volunteers.

..So for now, keep safe and watch out for further news in about a month’s time. Any questions – contact one of the Committee.