First and foremost, we hope you are keeping well, have avoided Covid 19 and are finding ways to overcome the boredom after weeks of lockdown. The lockdown measures in one shape or form look set to be a feature of life for some time yet, even following Boris Johnson’s recent announcement. We appreciate that many of you are itching to get back in Pondhead but as a responsible registered charity we have a duty to ensure that we do not expose our volunteers to unecessary risk and on this basis, it will be some while before we will be able to have any organised events to put in our Events Diary. However, when it is considered safe to start a return to normal, you will be the first to know and we will celebrate it!.
Should you find yourself in Pondhead now that the exercising rules have been relaxed slightly, please ensure that you maintain the two metre rule. Unfortunately the bluebells are now going over but the bracken has started to grow vigorously so if you are taking your walk in there, please have a go at bracken whipping. Bracken whipping is an old traditional non chemical method of bracken control but needs to be done regularly to become effective. All you need is a whippy stick about a metre long and the ability to distinguish bracken from other ferns. The easy way to identify it, is that it only has a single stem, whereas other ferns have multiple stems.
It needs to be done at the “shepherds crook” stage (see pic) before the bracken leaf unfurls completely as at this stage, its stem is very brittle and breaks easily. Once the top is whipped off with your stick (it only needs a little flick) the stem bleeds and weekens the plant – if done regularly it will eventually stop the plant re-emerging and choking out other vegetation. Bracken does have a biodiversity value but it becomes too invasive if left uncontrolled, so our priority areas are either side of the Volunteers’ Oak and the area on the opposite side of the gravel track to the dragon in front of the yew trees. In addition, it can be whipped anywhere along the front of ride edges. Happy whipping – it can become compulsive.
While Pondhead has been drying out and greening up, things have been happening behind the scenes. While we’re in lockdown with no events taking place, the opportunity has been taken to update our website and give it a bit of a facelift, which has involved moving it to a new domain – www.pondheadconservation.org. Your basic details have been transferred across so your username and password will still work on the new site but details of previous events you’ve attended will not be available. If you discover any glitches – let us know. Our old site was not securely encrypted but the new one is and as a consequence you will now see the padlock symbol next to our new domain name at the top of the web page.
Have a play with our new website and try out different pages – it all helps get our name up the Google rankings. The Pondhead Blog page has now been taken down for technical reasons associated with the move to the new site but thanks to all those who contributed over the past few lockdown weeks especially as we were entering the unknown at that stage. Pondhead News will continue to be published at least monthly to keep you updated (assuming there is some news!)
Another good way to keep in touch and up to date as we go forward is via our Facebook Group page which now has over 240 subscribers (both volunteers and general public) with quite a few joining in recent weeks. If you are not familiar with Facebook, it’s easy to sign up – all they require is your name, email (or mobile) and date of birth. Any group member can post items on the group so there’s generally regular snippets appearing.
Our associated website, the Real New Forest Guide, has also been updated on a new site/domain name and is full of information about the Forest’s history and biodiversity – something to read to pass away those lockdown hours. Again, have a look around it and help it up the rankings.
As mentioned previously, Pondhead Conservation Trust is financially strong enough to withstand the lockdown, however long it lasts but we have managed to generate some income in recent weeks. Perry and his home unit of 5 persons did a great job in bagging up all our remaining charcoal and selling it locally. In addition we have sold all our bean poles on an honesty basis (and everyone was honest). With more people shopping online at present, including groceries, there’s a way you can help our funds via Give as you Live at no cost to yourself – give it a try.
During the week we undertook our first charcoal burn of the season after carefully considering how we could achieve the process and keep to social distancing rules. By having a maximum of two people doing the burn and the emptying/restacking we are fortunate that Perry and his home unit have volunteered to do the bagging which is where we would have problems with social distancing. We are keeping these operations to a small minimum team of people while the current regulations remain in place and they will not be advertised as it is important that they don’t attract too many people. Under the new laws that came into force in England on 13 May, people are allowed to meet one member of another household in a public space and as we operate on Government land we cannot be seen to breeching these rules – sorry. However, there is an opportunity for a maximum of two people at a time to do some sawing for the kiln at the appropriate social distance – email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
The current measures have also thrown our June chair courses into doubt but we have been in contact with all attendees and we will either reschedule or refund. While all events were sold out, the money is held by our booking agent (Eventbrite) until after the event takes place so our bank balance will not be depleted if we do refund.
With the onset of woodland flowers bursting into bloom, it’s become apparent how much damage has been done to our only Ramsons (wild garlic) site following forestry operations in the winter. As can be seen from the “before and after” pics below, the damage has been significant with only around 35% of the area left in tact. The large piles of timber and brash need to be cleared to allow us to see what can be done by way of restoration and we will be in communication with Forestry England in this respect. As a matter of interest, I bumped into the General Manager of Limewood (now mothballed until September) while out walking his dog and he was far from impressed with the state in which it has been left and hastened to tell me that the work was nothing to do with them and not at their behest. Not the kind of view you want when your guests paying £1250 a night to overlook it!
Finally, our last Pondhead clothing order was not placed with our suppliers as result of initial uncertainty following the imposition of the lockdown. However, we have had some enquiries and are proposing another order at the end of June. If you would like any items, please order via our Pondhead Clothing page. NB. Previous orders have not been carried forward so you will need to re-order.
That’s all for now folks – stay alert and stay safe.