November

4th A CWAC film crew were to spend the day with rangers and volunteers. I opted for light duties only and Frances was happy to join me. We equipped ourselves with litter-pickers and sacks and set off down the Carriage Drive towards our main target, the out-of-hours car park. It had been clear on Tuesday, but this morning it was strewn with rubbish again. We returned to the yard via the main car park, play area and caravan field. There I was faced with ten bags of dog foul, all hanging on the one gate post. I broke the rule of not picking up bags of dog foul, but I felt that I could not leave it. This practice of going to the bother of picking up the mess and then festooning the environment with plastic bags leaves me baffled and angry. Fortunately there are other mugs like me who dispose of it.

It was time to move the Hebridean sheep from Carey Park onto Ashton’s Flash after lunch. This involved everyone, collecting and driving the sheep, cutting off possible exit points and warning dog owners and other visitors. Pete, with bucket, led the flock along the lane followed by Chris and the old straggler.

A small group of us returned to Marbury to finish off some rhody clearance started this morning. It was mild enough to work in short sleeves. It didn’t start to rain until about three, by which time it seemed as if it was already beginning to go dark.

10th At Marbury it was all hands in the yard to load the charcoal burner. Ian (1) and John operated the tractor-powered log splitter, whilst Robin, Ian (2) and Diana were wielding axes. Liz climbed into the kiln to arrange paper and kindling in the base and to begin stacking the logs. The two Jims and I fetched and carried and, once Liz had extricated herself, we tossed split logs in until the kiln was full. There was less than an hour to fill before lunch and I set off with litter-pickers. Needless to say there was plenty to clear from the out-of-hours car park again.      After lunch Jim and I did a circuit of Marbury and found even more. We then joined Dave and crew at Anderton, where he was felling mainly silver birch. Our job was to drag the brash into Marshall’s Wood to form a dead hedge and load logs onto the trailer. Some of the more attractive pieces will be spared from the charcoal burner for a few weeks at least. They will be set aside for the Christmas Decorations event next month.

11th Seven volunteers emptied the trailer and stowed the timber collected yesterday. We had almost got it all under cover when the heavens opened and we were more concerned about seeking shelter from the hailstones for ourselves. It was only a shower and the skies cleared as we set off to clear more timber from the scrub area at Marbury. We took the precaution of taking our waterproofs.       Dave got kitted up to use the chain saw on the tree trunks and branches, making them easier for us to manage. We dragged the smaller branches to the perimeter of the area and filled the tractor bucket with the rest. The tractor’s load was transferred to the trailer parked on the meadow. We got a breather while Chris went off to deliver a trailer load of logs onto someone’s drive and Dave got chance to allow some fresh air to circulate around his steaming body. The trailer was filled at least three times. We only caught one heavy shower and we were rewarded with a rainbow. Several of us took the opportunity to go down to the Mere Hide to witness the starling roost. The first group of about 20 birds arrived at around 3.45pm and their numbers gradually increased to thousands performing their aerial display. They finally descended into a small patch of reeds at 4.20pm and we couldn’t see one of them.

17th It was cold wet and windy, so everyone was kitted out in waterproof gear. Jim and I lit the rubbish on the burning site at Marbury. The wind helped to give us a good blaze in spite of the wet conditions. The rain came down hard in the half hour before lunch and we retreated to the cabin.

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