January

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 We stowed the rest away in the leaflets cupboard and continued to tidy the shelves, throwing away outdated leaflets.
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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.

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