On a dull - but thankfully dry - Sunday 24th November, a team of volunteers turned up ready to muck in (literally - it was very muddy!) with the maintenance tasks needed. Five willing pairs of arms set to with saws and axes to tackle the grove of cherry trees which were beginning to encroach on the reed beds and were in danger of affecting the archaeology of the site, which should be protected. They cut down 16 saplings (or maybe it was 17 - think along the lines of the Rollright Stones: you can't count the same number twice), which were ten feet high and more and ranged in diameter from a couple of inches to 6 inches or so. They trimmed the felled trunks, making nice habitat piles of the small sticks and twigs, and stacked the lengths neatly. They did a fantastic job: many thanks go to John, Rachel, Hazel, David and Ray for their hard work and brilliant teamwork. Extra special thanks go to John, who sustained everyone with a secret stash of biscuits, which he dug out when the rumbling of stomachs became louder than the rasping of saws. I have written a short poem to say sorry for losing track of time and forgetting to offer sustenance: "I promised them biscuits As thanks for their work: I left it too late, So there was no perk. Thank goodness for John - Before folk collapsed, He shared “travel biscuits” Found in his knapsack". Apologies on both the biscuit and poetry fronts.
While the Fab Five tackled the grove, Gavin strimmed Shirley's Spinney heroically and I raked the arisings into a hut-sized pile: hopefully the badgers might take some of this to add to their winter bedding, if they are not hibernating already. The shrubs making up the spinney have now been revealed again, and most of them are thriving - the spindleberry sapling is particularly pretty, with its sprinkling of cerise berries.
My mum and Gavin's mum did a thorough litter-pick of the entire site and were pleased to find there was not a great deal of rubbish, which is excellent. Thanks, Ann and Margaret, for your ever-present help and support.
Several passers-by stopped to comment and admire the work; it was nice to receive thanks and one resident has asked to be put on the volunteers list for future notification. If any readers wish to be added (there is no obligation to take part), then please do get in touch.
As always, I am deeply grateful to everyone for relinquishing their spare time, and their strength and expertise, so willingly. Watch this space for the next working party information, which we are hoping will take place next spring.
All the best, Sue