Posts Tagged ‘Volunteering’

For the second week in a row the threat of heavy rain was forecast for our Sunday workday but this didn’t stop nine intrepid SSNTV volunteers from coming out to Shugborough to help Derek and the garden team with a number of jobs in and around the magnificent walled garden.

First up we were barrowing in some rather “aromatic” mulch and spreading it onto a number of the empty beds ready for when next year’s veg crop is due for planting. Thankfully the rain didn’t arrive as early as expected so we had a chance to pretend that summer had returned and made the most of working in the glorious sun.

Luckily we had use of the gardener’s bothy for cake o’clock and missed the first of the heavy showers, but never fear, the rain was on and off for the rest of the day so we got our fair share of soakings! After completing the mulching we moved onto building a dead hedge to fill in a gap where the holly hedge had been removed followed by cleaning up the rubber matting ready for its next deployment and hosing down the paths to make everywhere look tidy again.

As we had still got some time left, we rounded the day off with shears in hand, giving the edges of the large walled garden beds a cheeky short back and sides, while pausing only briefly to harvest some juicy green beans (for those volunteers who wanted to take something healthy home to offset all of our usual cakes and biscuits!)

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It’s the time of year again that some of us SSNTV volunteers got to pack up our boots, bowsaws and cake and head up north for our annual working holiday in Northumberland, staying in the NT bunkhouse and working on the fantastic thousand acre Cragside estate.

This year we had two main tasks which were to clear back the rhododendron at the base (toe) of the dam at Nelly’s Moss South Lake and to remove about a third of the reed growth in the Slipper Lake (Tarn).

Sunday saw us up at Nelly’s Moss to attack the Rhodi, aiming to cut it back by about three metres so that the dam inspectors could have better access when they come to check the dam integrity.

Lotsa RhodiLotsa Cake

Rhodi bashing is one of our favourite activities so needless to by the end of the day we had created a huge pile of cuttings and eaten a huge amount of cake. Unfortunately this time we weren’t able to burn the rhodi, as it was going to be chipped and used for path and trim trail surface covering so we had dragged it all up to the edge of the road ready to be taken away with the tractor and trailer later in the week.

Rhodi piling upsuper human chain

Monday was our wet and messy day as we donned the waders to go paddling in the Slipper Lake and attack the ever encroaching reeds.

happy wader's day!ready for action

Although these were a smaller type of reed than the ones that we regularly pull out at Morville Hall, it was just as satisfying to see more and more clear water emerge as the day progressed. We were stacking the reeds at the water’s edge to allow any little creatures to make their way back to the water before we tidied up properly at the end of the week

what a lot of reedsreed raft racing

Tuesday was our day off and the only day with persistent rain, hmm typical!

A group of us took our brollies and went over to Low Hauxley to have a look around the Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s discovery centre (www.nwt.org.uk). Luckily we found the tea room first and “discovered” the homemade date and banana scones there before having a nice walk around the large lake, stopping in the many bird hides to watch the wide assortment of birds that were out and about.

Following a lunchtime stop at Amble for some yummy fish and chips and with the rain coming down more heavily, we headed back to Alnwick for a visit to Barter Books and a mid-week shop for the rest of the holiday food.

 

Wednesday and Thursday were back to work and returning to Nelly’s Moss Lake to continue attacking the rhodi, eating cake and starting the massive tidying up operation with us filling up two trailers at a time to go round to Nelly’s Moss car park ready for chipping!

loading, loading, loading Rhodi!!how much more is there?

“Tidy” Friday was our day to finish off at both sites so our first stop was at the Slipper Lake to move the reeds away from the lake edge and leave it all looking tidy and beautiful again.

lovely reeds

 

We then headed up to Nelly’s Moss for cake o’clock and continued to load and clear the last of the rhodi cuttings.

see the magic walking rhodi

only one more load to go

Following our final lunch break we had a leisurely stroll back to the bunkhouse to drop off our work gear before heading up to the formal gardens to test out the new deck chairs and bean bags.

lunch with a viewand relax...

While we were there, we took up the very kind offer from Rachel the head gardener to give us a sneaky peek inside the newly restored clock tower before it re-opens to the public later in the month.

Clock towerit goes deeeep down...

This was followed by even more sneakiness as Helen and Charlotte of the ranger team treated us to a preview of the new Parkland walk and the amazing new Gorge walk that will be opening to the public very soon.

Parkland walk preview..gorge walk

And to top it all we ended up back at the visitor centre to meet up with ranger Leigh for ice-creams overlooking the lake, what a fantastic end to a brilliant working week!

the ice creams are on their way..joined by the gardeners...

Thank you to all of the volunteers, who came up to Cragside this year and worked so hard over the week, brought and made such amazing cakes and cooked such yummy food!

Special thanks also to the awesome ranger team of Leigh, Helen, Dan, Charlotte and Duncan “the elusive” for making us so welcome and making the week such fun and also to head gardener Rachel for the clock tower viewing.

Hope to be back again next year!

until next year...

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So in the end we made it to Walcot Wood for one day this Spring and experienced the whole range of weather that nature could provide!

After the high winds of Saturday which caused a cancellation, an early Sunday start saw blue skies and dry as we arrived on site – a delight. However soon after heading up the hill, grey skies arrived and hail – or was it sleet – came down briefly!
As work continued clearing the hawthorn stands to reveal more of the aged oaks and encourage more flora – which was already starting to peak through, as we spotted the first spring primose flowerheads – showery spells were interspersed with sunny skies.
Cake o’clock and lunch came and went in the sunshine – should we have a long Sunday lunchtime BBQ next time?…. and as the day came to a close with more of the hillside revealed – hopefully Countryside Manager Pete will like what we’ve done – the peace and tranquility of the remote site became clear to all as the wind subsided and the sun shone to round off the day.

…You know you’ve been to Walcot – the flipside of the views and rolling green hills are the steep slopes – your aching knees remind you of that when you get home!

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