Frances5th By the time Jim and I had arrived at Marbury Steph had already picked us from the list of volunteers for litter-picking at Marshall’s Arm. Frances chose to give us the benefit of her expertise in this field. We parked at Stones Manor Lane and walked down into the woods. Despite the persistent drizzle and the litter, it was quite a pleasant walk amongst the bluebells. There were also red campion, greater stitchwort, yellow archangel and marsh marigolds to brighten up a dull day. We left a bag of rubbish and a tyre down by the River Weaver for Steph to collect before retracing our steps. It’s surprising what is seen when walking in the opposite direction, so we carried more rubbish back to the car.IMG_0067

6th Dave wanted six volunteers at Furey Wood. Elna and I started a litter-pick and then joined the others removing chicken wire from the steps. It had begun to disintegrate and was a trip hazard rather than its original function of reducing the possibility of slipping when wet. It was a slow back-breaking job, which ended with a climb up the steps carrying the tools back to Dave’s van. We didn’t seem to get as mucky as those doing it last week, but then perhaps it wasn’t raining quite so hard. Ian, Jim, Mark and I worked with Chris on Marbury Lane in the afternoon. In the 1980s sandstone blocks had been placed along the verge to prevent parking on the grass by the Carriage Drive gates. They seemed to have dropped and were no longer an effective obstacle, so the plan was to raise them. This required some serious leverage, as used by the Egyptians, so that they could be lifted and soil pushed under them. Mark and I were keen to help, but were actually in danger of getting in the way. We managed to do the initial digging around the stones, filled in holes and helped tidy up.

tidy12th Five volunteers went up to Anderton car park with Dave to do more sprucing up. Liz, Frances and I tackled the willow bowers first. The seats were no longer safe to sit on and, having been repaired twice already, needed to be removed. Frances and I began our assault with a claw hammer to prise the wooden sections apart. It took a surprising amount of effort considering they were ‘falling apart’. We soon found that we were not quite so cold. We all set about removing nettles and other invasive weeds from the bowers and the snake, whilst Dave came along with the hedge trimmer and removed some of the new growth. I tried a bit of weaving in, but the cold returned to my fingers.owlet At one o’clock we were all invited to watch the ringing of two tawny owl chicks near Haydn’s Pool. The cameras snapped away, as did their beaks. Jim and I went to the entrance to dismantle the Marbury Country Park sign. It came out of the ground easily, although one post was broken. We couldn’t shift the bolts, so left it on the ground to help Ian and Frances, who were replacing repaired play equipment.







In the light sandy soil they had dug the deepest hole by any volunteer, but the problem was getting the soil out of the hole. The diameter of the hole was too small to manoeuvre the spade and their arms weren’t long enough to do it by hand. The shoveholers were back in the yard. Chris came to the rescue with his longer limbs and greater flexibility. With that job done we returned to the entrance sign. The plan was to balance the top on Chris’ tailgate and the four of us to support the posts as he drove slowly back to the yard. We couldn’t keep up and it finished on the ground. There was nothing for it but to carry it between us. Back in the yard the bolts remained in place until hammer and chisel removed the broken post and a hacksaw severed the metal. We sanded and brushed the signs ready for repainting, but by then it was four o’clock and time for a cup of tea after a day of variety.

sluice13th Elna and I were told to put wellies on, so we were not surprised to find that we were on our way to Forge Brook. Chris’ plan was to start at the sluice and work upstream. He and Ian wore waders to work in. Chris edged his way across the old sluice to reach the far bank and they began using cromes to hook out assorted branches and twigs, together with the odd plastic bottle, can or tennis ball. There was little that Elna or I could do for a while except watch. Next Chris waded in, first negotiating the deep mud and then the brook itself. The base of the sluice had been forced downstream and all the debris had to be removed in order to free it. Ian and Chris took turns in the muddy water, heaving out the compacted sodden leaves. Elna and I at last made ourselves useful by nipping back to Chris’ van to collect tools to persuade the sluice to move in its rusty mountings. After much banging it finally returned to its original position and Ian hammered home a post to secure it. Meanwhile Elna and I grabbed the cromes to scoop the remaining leaves from the mud. There was to be no working upstream as it was already lunchtime. Jim, Ian, Pete and I took loppers on a walk around the perimeter of Carey Park. We cut back the vegetation to allow Pete to mow the track used by the survey team. The view from the bund gave us a new perspective on the surrounding area.

20th Yesterday Chris had encountered fishermen and all their gear in the Coward Reedbed without appropriate permits. Vernon, John, Rosie and I accompanied him on a return visit. Everything had been cleared away, but the trampled bluebells were evidence of their movements through the trees. Back in the yard, whilst Chris was filling a plastic barrel with water on the trailer, I watered and labelled plants that I had brought in for the Bring & Buy Sale at the weekend. John rode on the trailer to keep an eye on the barrel of water as Chris drove Rosie and me in greater comfort. Trees planted in the lime avenues during the winter needed a good soaking after several weeks with little rain. Rosie and I finished off the morning with a litter-pick on the play area, caravan field and car parks. horse chestnut

Steph wanted four of us (Robin, Jim, Elna and me) to help do some cutting back at Marshall’s Arm. Inevitably there was also some litter to collect. As consolation we got a close-up view of horse-chestnut flowers on a low branch and were able to appreciate the details.ramsons The bluebells were giving way to ramsons, which were equally spectacular, if a bit pungent.

Leave a Reply