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Fishponds Work Party 14 Feb 2017 So much achieved by so few ... Sue Osborne reports on an amazing few hours

On the cold, rather grim morning of Sunday 12th February, a small but stalwart band of volunteers mustered at the Fishponds for a working party. There were around 15 of us in total, and we managed to get all the jobs done that we were hoping for, and more.

Almost 10 tons of hoggin was laid on the muddiest of the paths, as well as in the potholes on the car park. Using a mechanical wheelbarrow to get to the furthest paths, as well as a fleet of manual wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes, a mechanical whacker plate and sheer muscle and manpower, we got the job done (there is still a small pile of hoggin left which we intend to use in the car park once the potholes reappear, as they inevitably will).

Over 50 small trees and saplings were planted in the area close to the playing fields entrance, to create a new copse which will help offset the loss of the trees which were recently felled. These consist of 4 field maples and 6 each of hazel, spindle, holly, wild privet, crab apple, wild plum, goat willow & sallow, and guelder rose. These fruit- and berry-bearing shrubs will provide excellent food and habitat for wildlife as they grow and mature.

We raked up the dead leaves in the picnic area near the car park, as the grass had been smothered by the wet and rotting leaves and was in danger of dying. Hopefully we’ll get some drier weather once spring sets in, which will to help rejuvenate this area.

One of the team did a litter-pick and returned with a sackful of rubbish and empty bottles which had been discarded around the picnic tables, as well as several plastic bags full of dog mess, a phenomenon which is really puzzling. Why go to the trouble of bagging up the mess and then hanging the bag from the trees, or dropping it on the ground, when there are dog bins at each end of the Fishponds? Answers on a postcard, please. And, humour aside, please – please! – bin your rubbish or take it home.

The broken post for one of the lifebuoys was also replaced and the buoy itself reinstated in its repaired housing.

It is always humbling and heartwarming for me to be joined on these work parties by an amazing team of volunteers who work like Trojans. I am so proud to live in a place where people are willing to turn out, even under cold grey skies and snow flurries, to help maintain our beautiful places, with no reward other than satisfaction – and a biscuit or two.

“Thank you” doesn’t begin to cover it.