4th It rained heavily overnight and was still raining when we left for Marbury. I chalked a notice on the board for Chris’ Pond Dipping Event. I thought it had stopped raining, but I was caught out by a heavy shower and the lettering suffered. Chris also took delight in telling me that I’d got the date wrong, so I set about some amendments. I did a litter-pick concentrating on the mere-side path, where I’d seen some rubbish yesterday. After lunch Elna and I returned to the same path to do some cutting back, especially around the benches, which had become so overgrown that no-one could have taken a rest there. We continued up by the slipway and around the field, where Jayne and I had lopped and slashed last week. The brambles are growing fast. We crossed the fields, which gave us the opportunity to admire the wildflower meadow again.  We came across some unusual litter as walked by the brook in Hopyards Wood. We identified a wallpaper pasting table, although it was in pieces. A length of cable was also dangling from an overhanging branch. We managed to gather about 20 feet of cable and pulled half of the table out of the water. A short distance further along the path we hear voices and then came across four lads playing in the water and on the muddy bank. One of them waded into the brook to pull out the rest of the table. We carried the bits and pieces back up to the lane and Chris kindly came to collect us in his van and the trailer to transport us and the litter we had accumulated on our walk.  

Chief scrubber



5th Chris sent me to put posters in the notice boards. I managed the first one OK, but couldn’t turn the key in the second. I fared little better on the play area, as I couldn’t lock up again and feared that I might break the key. I just wasn’t tall or strong enough. Fortunately Mark arrived with his ‘Café Open Today’ sign, but even he struggled at first. Chris agreed that I had not been the ideal candidate for the job. I returned to the yard, where Elna had begun cleaning the barbecues that were used for Picnic in the Park. Rubber gloves and scouring pad and scouring pad were waiting for me. We have a reputation as good scrubbers.   

Meanwhile the men were raising the canopy and removing epicormic growth in the Lime Avenue. This meant that the burning site was piled high again. Jim was my partner in crime this time. Fortunately there was a good breeze to keep a very smoky fire going.  

11th Our first job at Marbury was to find room to store charcoal once the kiln was emptied. With one of the sheds now condemned, storage space is a t a premium. Pete suggested a shelf in the workshop, which meant we had to shift things around a bit and even throw some items away. Don’t tell Chris.  

Caterpillar food


There was time left for eight of us to follow Pete up to Dairy House Meadows to pull some more ragwort. There were just a couple of patches to clear from that field. The ragwort is just starting to seed so time is of the essence. We rescued lots of cinnabar moth caterpillars and put them onto selected host plants. They’re just not eating the ragwort fast enough. Our spirits and shirts were dampened by a couple of heavy showers, but we soldiered on until lunch, a little later than usual.  

Three of us helped Dave and Pete empty the charcoal bin and bag up the contents. Lunar hornet moths had delayed the burn by laying their eggs in the stacked wood. We bagged about 35 sacks of charcoal. I washed the nets and trays used in yesterdays pond dipping event. I thought that I had then given myself a good wash, but Chris’ comments about black eyes indicated otherwise. Not having access to a reasonable mirror made it difficult to prepare for the next activity. The local press had been invited for the official ceremony for the wildflower meadows and a photographer was on-hand to record the event.   

12th The alternative job on offer to pulling ragwort was burning the stuff, piles of which were accumulating on the burning site. Guess which I chose? Elna was also a willing volunteer. We took some of the wood thrown out of the workshop yesterday, cardboard, newspaper and matches to get our fire going. One match and we were in business. We were going to need considerable heat to get rid of the ragwort. Before that went onto the blaze we checked for any cinnabar moth caterpillars and put them in a pot to be rehomed on permitted plants. A couple of heavy showers failed to dampen our enthusiasm as we got revenge on ragwort for hours of back-braking work. I continued on my own after lunch, by which time Pete had dumped another load. Mercifully that had to be left a day to give the caterpillars chance to crawl to the top of the pile.  

18th Liz, Elna, Vernon, Jim and I worked with Dave at Furey Wood. We stayed dry through the morning as we litter-picked and strimmed (a male task) our way around the site. Unfortunately very heavy showers set in over lunch and we had to don waterproofs to clear the car park of weeds with spades, shovels and broom. We got rather warm and were glad that the rain eased enough for us to strip off again. Green Flag for Furey Wood  

19th Eight volunteers assembled with Dave and local councillor, Kate Birtwistle, on Furey Wood car park to have photographs taken celebrating the Green Flag Award.  Most of the volunteers returned to the yard at Marbury to do some clearing out and tidying up in the condemned sodden shed and the workshop. The shed needed stripping ready for its removal and the workshop needed decluttering to give access to the workbenches, Finding homes for all the contents of that sodden shed was proving difficult. Pete earmarked some items for the bonfire that would ensure the destruction of the last of the ragwort. I had a brief distraction when asked for advice on a suitable circular walk, but then I found dog foul that needed immediate attention. Jim, Joanne and I took charge of the bonfire after lunch.  

Anderton lime avenue

25th Dave organised six of us with forks and bin sacks to complete the job we thought we’d finished last week. The ragwort was still flowering on the other cattle field. Robin and I started on the marshy areas, where it was easier to lift the plants, but we had to pick our way carefully on the uneven ground between the rushes. It became very humid and uncomfortable and we were pleased to see 12 o’clock. Our afternoon task was to be much more satisfying. Elna and I removed epicormic growth and raised the canopy as if cattle had been grazing along the developing lime avenues at Anderton.  

Himalayan balsam amongst phragmites

 26th Six volunteers followed Dave from Marbury Lane into Anderton Nature Park. The Himalayan balsam was flowering well, but our job was to uproot it all and crush the flowers to prevent it firing its seed all over the park. In places we had to slip down the bank to extricate the Himalayan balsam from amongst the phragmites and the tangle of bindweed. We were delighted to see that our native clematis, traveller’s joy, is continuing to spread. We also found another local rarity, ploughman’s spikenard. We returned to Anderton’s main car park in the afternoon to cut back more trees and shrubs around the picnic tables.

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