Journal of a volunteer for August 2014
Jim and I planted an ornamental cherry tree that had been left over after the Bring and Buy Plant Sale. We put it amongst the dead hedging at the back of the play area, where there are other ornamental cherries. We noticed that rabbits had been having a chew at the bark, so we went back to the yard for a tree guard. We walked down to the Ice House to replace the information notice and then made use of the litter pickers and sack that we'd taken with us. The worst spot was the Woodland Bird Hide, where litter was under the seat and posted through the viewing slots. The rain eased off, but it was still breezy after lunch. Even keeping a match lit was tricky. Once the flame caught the newspaper we soon had a good fire and we got rid of all the ragwort left on the burning site. Several children brought their accompanying adults to see where the smoke was coming from.
I chose fruit picking from the list of jobs Dave had on offer. Antony asked to come with me and we set off with carrier bags and a rake. We started with the blackberries at the side of the cabin, but still some were tantalisingly out of reach. We worked our way around to the orchard, only picking about a pound of blackberries. The damsons are not yet ripe, so we walked back to the car park to see if we could harvest any of the cherry plums. Most of the red variety were way out of reach, but we found more of the small, juicier yellow ones on the edge of the children's play area. My job will now be to make some jam for the Rangers' Food For Free event in September. Elna and I were ready to do the Butterfly Transect when it started to rain. We waited and, although it soon stopped, it was still very cloudy, so Elna went home. Half an hour later it was sunny again, so Jim came with me to count butterflies, but there were still only 18 altogether.
A massive effort has begun into clearing the invading willow at Haydn's Pool. I avoided the worst of the uneven ground and the heavy work by staying with the bonfire. After a frustrating day yesterday with very little burnt, we were better prepared for a bonfire with a supply of kindling and larger timber to get the fire going and then to keep it in over the lunch break. Jim and I managed to dispose of all the willow that had been dragged to the bonfire position by gradually adding small branches, which we trimmed off with loppers. There still seems to be a forest of willow out there.
Dave was cutting down some dangerous crack willow near the main car park at Anderton. The volunteers dragged the branches up to the road where the trailer was waiting. The logs were stacked by the canal towpath. As soon as the trailer was full Dave towed it round to empty at the back of the fishing ponds. We filled the trailer three times. After lunch Elna and I did the Butterfly Transect. The conditions were favourable in terms of temperature and sunshine, but there was a stiff south-east wind and we only saw three speckled woods.
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. Bench number two was close to those installing the upturned barrow. 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. 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.
Mary - Volunteer