Archive for April, 2010

April

Heron Gates1st  Steph took charge of the volunteers this morning, setting us off on various tasks at Marshall’s Arm. She gave Elna and me a bucket, brushes and detergent and took us to the Heron Gates at the bottom of Saxons Lane. The gates were covered in green algae, giving them the look of being uncared for. s arm

We were to be the scrubbers and since I had been doing a similar job yesterday, Maria declared me to be a pro. The water was freezing cold and soon found our arthritic fingers. With the gates almost restored to the original black, we joined in the litter pick, focusing on the area near where we had parked the car. Litter picking seemed to be the theme for the day, as Dave directed seven of us to Furey Wood with bin sacks. Down by the river it wasn’t so much litter as fly-tipping and the sodden discarded bedding of someone who’d been sleeping rough. To add insult to injury there was a shower of hailstones. After two and a half hours it was time to go with the trailer piled high. There is still more rubbish littering the site, but much of it is in difficult, if not inaccessible areas, where the ground is steep and unstable.

panel

7th  I spent the morning cleaning the chalk boards. The recommended ‘wipe clean with a damp cloth’ approach was proving unsuccessful, so tougher measures were needed. I nipped home for some household abrasive and, with a bit of elbow grease and some neat lettering, the boards  were ready to advertise Friday’s Family Orienteering Event. Frances helped me to position them outside the cabin and by the entrance arch. I walked down to Haydn’s Pool with Robin and Jayne in fine weather for the official ceremony for the Sand Martin Bank. Twenty-four people representing Cheshire West and Chester, Chester Zoo, Brunner Mond, Mersey Forest, Northwich Guardian and FoAM gathered around the interpretation panel for the unveiling.  We then climbed the steps to the hide for light refreshments. Some got their first glimpse of the Sand Martin Bank itself. It was the culmination of almost two years hard work by a lot of people.

8th  Frances and I saw ourselves as superfluous to the planned attempts to float the nesting platform and anchor it on the far side of Budworth Mere. On earlier walks we had both noticed areas where litter had accumulated and offered to tidy up. We started along the Fisherman’s Path at Anderton and by the time we had reached Carden’s Ferry Bridge we had as much as we could carry. Most of the rubbish had been left around makeshift seating areas along the pipeline. Behind the bench on the edge of Marshall’s Wood there was en empty Grolsch box, so we searched for the 15 bottles. We managed to find ten spread over quite a wide area. We suspected that the rest might be en route from the town centre, possibly on Carey Park. We tied up a very heavy full sack of rubbish and left it for Dave to pick up in the Land Rover later. We shared the litter clearance at Neumann’s Flash with Steph. The hides were the main grot spots, where litter had been posted through the viewing slots. It seems we missed some entertainment as Vernon wrestled with the nesting platform in the water and no photos are available.

sculpture14th  Seven volunteers joined Dave on Anderton car park. The area around the new sculpture needed sprucing up. Liz, Frances and I were picking up sticks and stones so that the grassy areas could be mown. Meanwhile the strong-arm brigade (Vernon, Ian, John, Jim and Dave) were doing heavier work like moving the warning sign for speed bumps a few yards further along the drive. It was detracting from the view of the sculpture. We cleared the encroaching grass away from the granite setts and used it to patch areas needing a bit of turf. The area behind the coach park was next to receive treatment with removal of items that might damage the mower. Dave had done some thinning of trees near the marina, so there were logs to be loaded onto the trailer along with all the tools. The day wasn’t over, as it took half an hour to unload it all back in the yard.

15th  Prior to our arrival at Marbury Elna and I had been nominated for bonfire duties. Weather conditions were ideal and the flames were soon consuming everything. Unfortunately there were some flying sparks that attacked us. I thought that I had extinguished the one on my thigh, but soon realised that it was in my fleece pocket. Elna rushed to get my jacket off, not easy when both of us were wearing protective gloves. She threw my car keys out of the way and stamped on the fleece, but there was already a huge hole in the pocket. I must remember not to put my keys in that pocket in future. We installed a warning notice and joined the others in the cabin for lunch. Cannon April 2010 001There was still more tidying up to do at Anderton. Following Dave’s thinning there were piles of brash to go through the chipper. It was bright and sunny making walking to and fro dragging trees thirsty work. It didn’t help that a couple from one of the boats were sitting at a picnic table supping beer. They were kind enough, though, to fill Maria’s water bottle and add some ice. The trailer was fast filling up and Maria was given the job of climbing up and tossing the woodchip to the front to make room for more. Dave felled just a few more trees and we had more logs and brash to deal with before packing up and returning to the yard to tidy everything away.bonfire

21st  I was teamed up with Elna for another bonfire. It was a warm, sunny afternoon, which soon got hotter as the huge pile that faced us was  reduced to a few smouldering logs and a carpet of ash.

28th Jim and I began by pulling logs out from under the cabin and wheeling them to the other end of the yard. Chris cut them into shorter lengths with the chain saw. Jim carefully climbed into the charcoal burner.

Jim in the bin I passed newspaper and kindling so that he could set up the base of the burn. Chris wondered if Jim would be any good to eat, but we decided against. Next came the browns (partially cooked charcoal) before we started adding logs. Dave took over with the chain saw in the afternoon and we were joined by Elna, Diana, Ian, Robin and Vernon, who all helped by splitting the larger logs with axes. The yard became a hive of activity and a dangerous place to be. The supply of logs under the cabin was exhausted and so was I, but at least the kiln was full. The lid would keep it all dry until it was lit. There were logs by the fence that now needed to go under the cabin to dry out ready to begin the process again. That started a general tidying of the yard.

29th Today was designated a Team Task Day for the rangers, so there were seven rangers and eight volunteers making their way to Furey Wood. Dave sent Joanne and I off with bow saw and loppers to cut back along the main paths around the fields.   IMG_0043 (2)In places the brambles threatened to invade the path. We received further instructions to remove a willow sculpture. A couple walking their dogs told us that it had looked great when it was installed, but by the following day it had been trashed. After lunch in a very crowded cabin we returned to finish the job in the rain. RichardWe could hear a chain saw on the other side of the field and went to lend a hand dragging the logs and brash away from the paths. Willow and white poplar trees had been leaning at precarious angles over the paths and had to be felled. We all met up again in the car park just after four o’clock in various states of dishevelment, depending on the jobs we’d been doing. Removing chicken wire from the steps was blamed for creating the muckiest volunteer. No embarrassing photos were taken.

11th Annual General Meeting followed by Buffet and Quiz

For those of you who hadn’t noticed the announcement of our 11th AGM in the Diary Dates for 2010 or in our Winter 2009/2010 Newsletter, here are further details and a reminder!

11th Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Anderton and Marbury

Notice is hereby given that this meeting will take place on Monday 17th May 2010 at 7.30 pm in Comberbach Memorial Hall.

Jim Jeeves has completed his term of office as Treasurer and nominations for a replacement will be sought at the meeting.  Hilary Woodhead, Membership Secretary and Paul Hill will also be leaving the Committee.  Nominations for Membership Secretary and membership of the Committee will also be sought from members of FoAM  and should be sent to the Secretary.

Copies of the Accounts will be available at the Meeting.

John Gilbody, Secretary

See the Agenda for the Meeting  in Minutes and Reports

Buffet and Quiz

The AGM will be followed by a Buffet and Quiz, starting at 8.15 pm.  Individuals and teams of up to 4 people are invited to take part in the quiz.

There will be no charge for the Buffet, but booking is essential by Monday 10 May please (to know numbers for catering!)

Contact: Joanne Redley 01606 44728 or on email hillcliffe223@aol.com or Frances Findlay 01606 44727 or on email frances.findlay@tesco.net

March

4th The sun was shining and Witton Brook had dropped, so conditions were ideal to continue the reed cutting and burning that had been going on for a couple of weeks as part of the 3 – 4 year cycle.burning We left the vehicles on Marbury Lane and walked through the woods carrying pitchforks and fire lighting material. Our job was to gather the cut reeds into piles and burn them. We had no difficulty lighting our fires. Seven volunteers were reduced to four by 2.30pm. Those three had not fallen victim to fire or flood, but had other commitments. They missed a bit of drama when the fire took hold to such an extent that I was reminded of a TV advert for Peugot, but it didn’t ‘Take My Breath Away’ as Jim was well in control. We withdrew for tea with just another 50 yards left to clear on that stretch.

11th  Joanne, Ian and I got involved in preparing for some charcoal production alongside Pete and Dave. Ian and Pete were splitting logs, while Joanne, Dave and I set up the kiln.  reed cuttingJoanne and I fetched and carried paper, kindling, undersized charcoal and browns from the previous burn, so that Dave could start filling from inside the burner. Once the lid was on, we tidied up the yard. There was still time for another job. Joanne and Dave went to tidy up after earlier work on the Sand Martin Bank. Ian and I stayed down by the reeds. Ian, the one with the wellies on, took a sickle and passed me the reeds that he cut. I managed to make three bunches using the bungee straps Dave had provided. These will hopefully go towards making a screen to put the finishing touches to the Sand Martin Bank. Disturbing the water and mud released odours that made Ian think that he might just as well have been in a sewer. Someone said that if you were being paid there were some jobs you’d refuse to do.

 

17th Our first job at Marbury was to unload timber from the trailer and stack 3 foot lengths under the cabin. This would allow it to dry for a few weeks before we could burn it for charcoal. Everyone else went litter-picking whilst I set up the charcoal riddler. picking stonesThen Chris summoned all available volunteers to the Horse Field. Harrowing had just been finished and, as predicted after the ploughing, many more bricks, stones and assorted rubble had been exposed and required removal. As this was a task associated with prisoners, I wondered what heinous crimes we had committed to deserve such punishment. The six of us loaded the bucket on the tractor half a dozen times with “anything larger than a tennis ball”. By lunchtime the tennis balls were getting larger and we stopped looking.

Peter, Jim and I emptied the charcoal kiln following last weekend’s burn. We sorted, riddled and filled 27 bags of charcoal, which means that we are prepared for fine barbeque weather over the Easter holiday. Meanwhile the other  volunteers were sowing wildflower seed on the Horse Field.

18th The Scrape Field had provided major problems for the harrowing yesterday. seed sowingWith first one and then two tractors stuck in the mud the contractors had fetched in the big machine with caterpillar tracks that had done the deep ploughing in the autumn. As a result parts of the field were not of the same fine tilth as others. Seven of us lined up along the track to trudge across the field and scatter our buckets of wildflower seed. It took three sorties to cover the whole field. It seemed as if we were scattering gold dust, because the cost of the seed for that field alone was £3000. troughChris selected Elna and me for a special job – emptying and cleaning the cattle troughs. He handed us buckets, a shovel and a brush and dropped us off at the gate to the first field. The first trough was under trees so leaves had accumulated and begun to rot in the bottom. It wasn’t as smelly as we feared and Pip thoroughly enjoyed splashing about as we scooped the water out. The trough in the second field was relatively clean.

After lunch Chris led us to Leftwich Meadows, which has recently become his responsibility. Whilst Chris, Ian, Jim and Mark attempted some fence repairs, Frances, Maria and I started a litter-pick. The others joined in gathering rubbish when their job was done and a couple of local lads mucked in as well. We clambered up and down banks and steps, into ditches and brambles retrieving abandoned waste. We had trouble getting it all into Chris’ van and there was no way it would all fit into the two giant wheelie bins back in the yard.

24th Everyone had to don wellies, or in Robin’s case waders, to complete turfing the Sand Martin chain gangBank at Haydn’s Pool, Chris took the tractor so that he could lift more turf with the bucket. He dumped it by the bank where we had built a bridge across the moat with a pallet and planks. Luckily we were a sufficient number to form a chain gang to transfer the smaller pieces of turf, which Ian and John had cut, across the moat. Robin was strategically positioned in the moat to reach the parts that other people couldn’t reach. Although Diana had a close call, no-one else slipped into the water and by lunchtime the remainder of the bank was covered. As we laboured, sand martins were circling over the pool and the first swallows arrived, whilst chiffchaffs were also heralding the coming of spring.

Elna and I were later on light duties, cleaning small mammal traps, fishing nets and trays, which Chris had used with a school group last week. I wished I’d kept my wellies on when I soaked my trousers using the hosepipe on the trays. The soaking was complete when it came on to rain, as we returned from the Woodland Hide after topping up the bird feeders.

 31st It was wet, windy and bitterly cold. Dave was back after his leave, so we could look forward to the possibility of suffering from exposure. The notice board displaying the Sand Martin Bank interpretation panel needed a good clean before the official ceremony next week. Dave and Liz had come prepared with buckets, detergent, water, cloth and brushes. Liz and I were the designated scrubbers. The most difficult part was negotiating the Haydn’s Pool bund, manoeuvring ourselves around the open doors at the back to clean the inside of the ‘glass’. The skid marks in the mud told the story, but we stayed on our feet. We left Dave to replace the panel, but even he came close to doing the splits. In the time remaining before lunch we joined the others, who were tidying up felled trees by loading the trailer and chipping. Some had been cutting and bundling reeds and these were piled at the top of the Stannah Steps ready for the afternoon.Gabion skirt

Ian, Liz, Jim and I helped Dave carry the bundles through to the Sand Martin Bank. Ian and Dave heaved themselves into waders. I had mistakenly thought that, with the turf on, the project was complete, but no. Liz, Jim and I had the simple task of cutting the reeds into measured lengths and re-bundling. It sounded simple, but tying knots with frozen fingers proved difficult. During the morning we had been in the relative shelter at the bottom of the bund, but up there we were out in the open and exposed to the elements. Ian and Dave managed to attach a grass skirt to conceal the gabions at the base of the Sand Martin Bank. Dave was pleased with the result, except for his cold, wet feet – the waders leaked.