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Ponds and Primroses…

February 25, 2009

Today was a bit of a milestone day, to be marked down in the calendar.  We were off to do some work on a pond in the Purbecks, which was always going to be a good day – but not really a milestone event…

Our place of work for the day...

Our place of work for the day...

Read on to find out why the day was so special….

There were plenty of us that turned up at  Wilkes Wood Farm today, in response to Rachels rallying call for help in clearing out the overgrown banks of a series of ponds that were slowly being choked of light by bramble and willow.  This was the first of many ponds to be on the receiving end of some much needed TLC, as part of the Dorset Wildlife Trusts Purbeck Ponds project.  Yes, that does count as a bit of a milestone, and there are more to follow..   It was also the first volunteering session that Peter had ever done with us, a personal milestone of course, and it’s great to have him on board – welcome Peter!  I should also add – thanks to all the other volunteers who joined us of course..

Peter (foreground) gets stuck in while everyone else watches a tree!

Peter (foreground) gets stuck in while everyone else watches a tree!

It was a personal milestone for me as well.  My first day of practical work with a volunteer group since November – courtesy of my slipped disc and trapped nerve keeping me well out of action for a good 3 months.  It was great to get back (no pun intended of course!) into some outdoor work – although I was closely monitored by Rachel, Anna and Debbie to stop me pushing myself too hard, and I have to say they were very good it! I got shouted at so much it was like my first day in the Army!  Thanks for looking after me ladies..

Me - pulling on a rope while Debbie is not looking..

Me - pulling on a rope while Debbie is not looking..

 When we first arrived at the site, it was hard to see the ponds at all, with willow and elder on all sides and thick bramble and ivy growing through them – completely blocking any light getting to the water.  There was literally no sign of any life at all in the larger, lower pond except for the 13 farm ducks that spent the entire day swimming around, no doubt rather bemused by all the commotion around them!

The ducks looked on, admiring our work...  Anyone know the species?  Muscovy type maybe..

The ducks looked on, admiring our work... Anyone know the species? Muscovy type maybe..

 As we settled into our work, we soon made headway into the thicket of thorns and snags, and before long we had opened up one side of the pond, and things were starting to look good.  Time for another milestone I think..

Lunchtime!  Rachel had promised to supply lunch and it was simply fantastic!  Home-made soup with grated cheese and huge bread rolls where just the ticket after a morning of toil..  I felt a little guilty at having thirds of the soup, but Anna surpassed that by determinedly emptying the container and having probably fifths in the process!  It didn’t stop there either..  Rachel then produced not one but two chocolate brownie tins – again home-made, and again top marks as voted by all of us.  I think we would all thoroughly recommend  signing up now for the next pond task, in the hope that Rachel does the lunch again!

Rachael and her soup - surely destined for Michelin star?

Rachel and her soup - surely destined for Michelin star?

Anna tucks into cake

Anna tucks into cake

All good things come to an end I suppose, and before long we were back on the banks of the ponds, picking up where we left off.  We had the help of a couple of National Trust staff, and Johnathon got going with the chainsaw (much to my frustration! I’ll soon be well enough to wield one again though I hope!) and a winch to take out some particularly tricky trees that were more ivy than tree!  It was then left up to us to get stuck in with bow saws and stack the brash.

Chainsaw in action

Chainsaw in action

James got so engrossed he forgot to look at the camera...

James got so engrossed he forgot to look at the camera...

Then he forgot to open his eyes!

Then he forgot to open his eyes!

Whilst all this was going on, I decided to have an explore..  I couldn’t do any more work for fear of incurring the wrath of Rachel, Anna and Deb if I as much as picked up a saw, so what else was left?

I’m glad I went for a wander though, as rising the crest of a small hill a splash of colour caught my eye.  There, nestled in amongst dead leaves and old branches was a bunch of primroses.  Just coming out into bloom – what better milestone date for the diary than to have stumbled across my first primroses for the year?

A welcome sight of Spring

A welcome sight of Spring

Back at the ponds, and it was all but finished..  Perfect timing!  James, Rob, Anthony and myself had to leave at that point anyway, so having said our goodbyes and loaded up the Ranger, we headed off up the track through the farm.

A job well done...

A job well done...


A great day, and I hope that anyone reading this is inspired to come along and join in the next pond session – I can thoroughly recommend the lunch!  If you want to know more about the project contact Rachel  on 01305 264620 or email .



8 Comments leave one →
  1. Rachel permalink
    February 26, 2009 11:38 am

    I am thinking Danish Pastries for the next volunteer day, which will be at another stunning National Trust site. Thanks everyone for a fabulous day.

  2. Steve permalink
    February 26, 2009 11:44 am

    Fantastic! I’m sure there will plenty of enquiries about that one..

  3. Peter permalink
    February 26, 2009 1:14 pm

    A great first day for me although my muscles might not agree !! A great bunch of hard working guys – ‘didn’t we do well’ Please make sure you keep me informed of any more pond projects.

  4. Steve permalink
    February 26, 2009 8:54 pm

    Hi Peter,
    Glad you enjoyed your day. Will certainly be in touch soon with more pond projects to help get your muscles aching once more!

  5. February 27, 2009 11:43 pm

    Sounds like a fun day – wouldn’t mind joining in the meal, not so sure about the work tho!
    Do hope you don’t feel any unwanted after-effects Steve and good on you girls for keeping him in line.

  6. Steve permalink
    February 28, 2009 10:40 pm

    Hi Chris,

    Oh yes – the meal was absolutely tops!

    No real after-effects from my back, except maybe a bit more of an ache than usual, probably ‘cos I’ve not been active for so long! The girls did a very good job I have to say – without them I would no doubt have completely over-done it!

  7. March 1, 2009 10:25 am

    Great post Steve. Glad to hear the girls were keeping you in order and bossing your about! Great to see all the pictures and hear about the project. Wish the pond project was happening in E Dorset as well!

  8. Steve permalink
    March 1, 2009 8:59 pm

    Hi Jane,

    Yes, they did a grand job – I might have to amke sure at least one of them joins in with any future tasks I take on!
    I’m sure that I can swing some pond work in East Dorset, maybe not with the pond project as such, but they are always great for groups.. Will chat to you about it tomorrow..

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