Archive for February, 2014


image5th It was cold, wet and windy, but Jim, Connor and I had a bonfire on the far field. The newspaper and cardboard soon started to blow across the field. To make things more difficult the rain came down even harder. We anchored the cardboard with some of the kindling and tucked the driest of the paper in between. We didn’t light it with much confidence, but miraculously it caught fire. The strong wind helped to whip up the flames. We piled on the hawthorn and forgot about the rain. Everything was burning by lunchtime. When I sat down I realised just how wet I was! Dave was kind enough to give me an inside job, casting an eye over the Northwich Woodlands website.

6th Jim had a badly swollen finger, probably as a result of handling blackthorn yesterday, so he stayed at home. Dave asked me to sort out the noticeboards at Anderton. I took everything off the one next to the car park, except for FoAM’s next event. I opened up the board by the canal, but I struggled to extricate the panel holding the posters. I pulled, pushed and twisted it, but it it had become too wet and swollen. I managed to get it half out, but it jammed. I decided that if I ever got it out, I was never going to get it back in again. At the risk of splitting it, with a bit more force out it came. I closed the board and chucked the panel in the car along with the notices, ready to sort out back in the cabin. I left the panel in the workshop for the attention of the woodworkers. Dave and I sorted out the faded and out-of-date posters. I switched on the laminator to prepare new items. The first one was successful, but the second disappeared into the machine and, even after dismantling it, Chris could find no sign of the paper and laminating pouch. It was not a good day and there are no photos!

12th It was very wet. Jim and I took Out and About booklets and Explorer Guides to Northwich Library following a request that Chris had received. We returned to Marbury to join the other volunteers removing birch saplings from the area that suffered a brine spill several years ago. The plan is to retain it as a glade attracting bird species not seen elsewhere in the park. It rained all morning and by lunchtime we were very wet. We didn’t need any persuading to down tools and return to the cabin. We could hear the increasing wind from inside the steamed up cabin. When the decision was made to venture out again, I decided to come home. The height of the storm came in the early evening.P1060192

13th We awoke to clear skies so after the storm it was calm. By the time I arrived at 9.30am Chris and Connor had already started making the park accessible by sawing and moving trees on Marbury Lane. Throughout the day a team of eight joined Chris on a tour of the Woodlands to find fallen and dangerous trees.IMG_0093
We had to wait while Chris got to work with the chain saw and then we dragged the branches clear and the ‘strong men’ lifted the heavier pieces of timber out of the way.

In a couple of places, where the paths were damaged, we could only warn of the damage created by uprooted trees with hazard tape.
27th Elna and I prepared to turn ourselves into scrubbers once more. We negotiated with contractors working on the new Anderton footpath for our space around the first bench. We used wire brushes, lots of water and elbow grease to remove twelve months of accumulated algae, most of which seemed to have transferred as a slimy coating onto our gloves.IMG_0236

Bench number two was close to those installing the upturned barrow of salt. We left both benches to dry over lunch. Jim and I returned with wood preservative and treated them. There was time then to observe the final stage of the installing of the sculpture. IMG_0285

Dave looked as if he was attempting delivery of a newborn barrow at one point.


Those who had been involved were rightly pleased with the results and we’re looking forward to the completion of the Anderton footpath project.


IMG_1600IMG_16068th  Nine volunteers joined Chris on the Mere Path. He got geared up for chain saw work. We could only watch as he felled the first of four sycamores. We formed a chain to pass branches down the bank to the chipper, so that we didn’t have to scramble and slide up and down the slope. We stacked the logs ready for collection later and towards the end of the day we began to use the brash to build a dead hedge at the top of the bank.
IMG_161315th We spent the morning at Anderton where Dave had mown the top meadow earlier. A large group of volunteers removed the wet ‘hay’, so that we should see another fine display of cowslips and other flowers later in the year. We raked, forked and barrowed until the area was virtually clear. It was one of those jobs that could have gone on all day and still we wouldn’t have removed everything. We turned our attention to piles of wood chip that we spread under the trees away from the meadow. Diana and Ian B helped Chris sort out some bins to take to the recycling centre. They created quite a stink as they emptied the putrid contents of cans and bottles into the puddles, which had accumulated at the end of the yard following heavy rain. I got a broom and cleared leaves that were clogging up the run-off and swept most of the water and the odour away. Jim and I delivered Out and About booklets to the Information Centre and Library in Northwich. We stowed the rest away in the leaflets cupboard and continued to tidy the shelves, throwing away outdated leaflets.

29th Clive, Adam, Pascal and I went to The Lodge with a bucket of soapy water to wash and scrub the picnic tables and remove the chocolate, coffee and cola stains. There was a lot of muddy water in puddles on the floor after recent heavy rain. Wind, rain, people and dogs had also brought in twigs and stones. Once the tables looked almost pristine we decided to tackle the floor. Clive and Adam went for more water and, just as they returned with a barrow loaded with full tubs, a party of walkers arrived for a break. They chose their seats carefully, as advised. We started to work well away from them with brooms. We swept the muddy water out, but the surrounding ground is still waterlogged, so tomorrow it could all be back as it was. For now it looks as if somebody cares.
Diana, Ian B, Jim and I helped Chris tidy up around the entrance to the park by feeding the chipper with holly and birch. These had fallen or been felled before Christmas. The holly seemed to have a mind of its own as we tried to persuade the very flexible, prickly twigs to go where we wanted.
IMG_162030th There was a cold wind from the east. Chris suggested that it would be a good day for a bonfire. There was a load of thorny brash, trimmings from hedge-laying before Christmas, piled up in the far field at Marbury. Elna was my first helpmate. We struggled to get a blaze, although the fire lit easily enough. Jim, then Gareth and Adam came to assist, but there was little any of us could do until we built up some heat. The fire was still alight, just, when Jim and I returned after lunch and we were coaxing it back to life when Gareth and Adam arrived. They decided to walk back to the burning site to pick up the remains of some pallets, which finally gave the fire a boost. We pulled the hawthorn apart and piled it on the bonfire, weighing it down from time to time with the few heavier branches. We left it burning with another pile still to go on. Next week? It’s not as easy as it seems, this bonfire lark.