Well, 2021 has been a far from normal year to date and it’s certainly not been normal as far as Pondhead has been concerned as we’ve tried to keep things ticking over in the midst of the first pandemic in our lifetimes. This has been achieved with “bubbles” and revised practices during the summer then, just as we thought it was safe to start our autumn/winter conservation programme, contractors turned up in force to start work on the Limewood sewer project. Throughout all of this, we are pleased to report that no one has caught Covid as a result of volunteering in Pondhead where fresh air and exercise have had a beneficial effect on health and wellbeing – it’s much safer in Pondhead than in your local supermarket! Indeed, we take the welfare of our volunteers seriuously and with this in mind, at our recent Trustee Meeting it was agreed that we should purchase a defibrillator and have it available on all tasks – more news soon.
Currently bookings on conservation tasks remain patchy compared to the strong demand for spaces we experienced prior to the lockdowns. We are not entirely sure why this is and can only assume that it’s Covid related which is understandable. although there is plenty of evidence that fresh air and exercise help to improve our immune systems. At present, there are spaces available in the Events Diary and more tasks will be added shortly. One date for your diary that should not be missed is our annual Christmas Woodman’s Brunch which we have decided to hold once again after it’s absence last year. This year’s event will take place on Wednesday 22 December – please book your space via the Events Diary for catering purposes.
Our autumn/winter conservation programme is progressing well despite the disruption all around us. We have finished ride widening/improvements for the time being and for the past two weeks we have been hand coppicing hazel in the southern sector of Rosie Close. This is progressing well and we will shortly be constructing a woven dead hedge around it to prevent deer damage in the early growth stages. Talking of deer, a large fallow buck accompanied by a group of six does were spotted in the vicinity of Snake Pass in the past week. Forestry England spent £30K in renewing a large section of the Pondhead deer fence in recent years but, unfortunately, this expenditure will have been wasted unless they undertake some effective deer control in the inclosure. Hopefully, the situation should improve in the near future for reasons highlighted in our previous newsletter.
After the absence of any coppicing work last year due to Covid, we are now in a position to offer some rustic products from our current activities – details can be found here. Tell your friends and help us spread the word. In particular we have a good stock of beanpoles at present.
The chainsaw team have also been busy along Snake Pass and will shortly commence coppicing the area of neglected coppice in the north of Pond Close. This will be the last area of hazel that we intend to bring back into rotation, completing the task that Dave Dibden started 14 years ago. As a result of all this hard work we now have the largest block of actively coppiced hazel in the Forest.
Parking – we had been advised previously that Parc Pale car park would remain open during the winter months so were surprised to find it closed last Thursday with a notice saying that it will remain so until March! The top end of Boltons Bench car park (by the cemetary) is an alternative as it is situated immediately above Parc Pale. The Limewood sewer works have been disruptive to us, especially in this early part of our conservation season and while most of the heavy plant and machinery will be removed from Pondhead over the next couple of weeks, it is likely that the disruption to our parking arrangements in Beechen Lane will remain for some time.
We have been attending regular weekly site meetings regarding the sewer works and initially, damage to the tracks and rides was being kept to a minimum but at our meeting two weeks ago, it became obvious that standards had slipped with some significant encroachment onto ride edges and significant damage to the main ride that runs from the Limewood crossroads towards Beaulieu Road. In the light of this we found it necessary to complain formally but politely to the contractors. This was taken seriously by all parties and apologies received with the promise that rides and tracks will be restored to an identical or better condition to that which they were in previously. In fairness, the wet weather has not helped matters but the contractors have now started remedial work to the Limewood/Beaulieu Road ride by building up the deep ruts with approved small pebbles. This looks rather incongruous at the moment but it will weather in and genrally improve drainage. It is anticipated that all heavy plant will move to the adjoining field shortly and, at that stage, there will be one man with a small caterpillar tracked digger left in the inclosure to complete the restoration work to our satisfaction. There will be further scheduled inspections in the spring to assess how things have settled down.
Finally, if there is sufficient demand for our bespoke Pondhead clothing, we will place another clothing order with our suppliers in early December. We also have a smal supply of various items in stock. Place your orders here.
Thanks for your continued support in dificult times – we hope to see you in Pondhead soon.