The past month has seen Pondhead put on a magnificent display as the trees break into leaf and the bluebells, together with other woodland flowers, burst into bloom. The bluebells have been particularly spectacular this year and there has been more public interest than ever. As my mobile is given as the contact point on our website, I have received many calls about our bluebells which has not happened in the past so the word is obviously spreading. I’ve even been asked what time we close and what is the admission charge! In addition to our own Bluebell Walk at the end of the month, Pondhead also received visits from Salisbury Natural History Society, New Forest Home Education Group and the Disabled Ramblers group on their all terrain mobility scooters.
However, it’s not just bluebells that have been happening in Pondhead over the past month which has been as busy, if not busier than usual. After a slow start, the record Easter weekend weather saw charcoal sales soar for the month of April, totaling £1112 – up over £300 on the same period last year. However, this has come at a cost as the kiln has developed a few more small holes which will necessitate another welding job before too long! In the meantime we will patch it as best we can, as we did last year. Hopefully, we can get through this season and next before we need a replacement.
Just before Easter, under the instruction and guidance of Dave, a team of volunteers spent the day splitting a large oak log with wedges and hammers in order to construct a rustic post and rail fence around our newly planted commemorative oak – the Volunteers’ Oak. Shortly, the remaining section of the log will be strategically placed in front of the fence with a brass plaque commemorating our Queens’ Award for Voluntary Service.
During the month, another rustic piece of equipment appeared on site in the form of a pole lathe constructed by Perry. The pole lathe’s origin is lost in the mists of time but it is known that Vikings used them from archaeological finds at York. The use of pole lathes died out in England after World War II but it has seen a return through the increased interest in green woodwork, although the majority of practitioners are at the hobby level. A trial day was held a few days ago from which I understand that we are aspiring to get to hobby level!! More pole lathe days are planned and will be advertised in the Events Diary in due course.
Pondhead was also used as a film location recently which featured in this week’s edition of the Lymington Times. Local production company, Velvet Pictures, were shooting a 15 second sequence, complete with two actors and a couple of ponies, for a promotional video to promote the New Forest. Apparently it takes a full day to make a 15 second video! However, their award winning film producer commented, “We shot the bulk of it in Pondhead Inclosure which, with its bluebells and wilder forest is very romantic thanks to the conservation trust’s volunteers who look after it”. As they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Since December, we have been involved in discussions regarding a new sewer for Limewood Hotel that it is proposed to route through the inclosure. Changes have been made to the original scheme following our representations and there are still some issues that will be subject to ongoing discussion. Overall, we do not object to the scheme as it should improve water quality to the main stream that runs along our north east boundary and Limewood where there have been some problems in the past. However, we do need to ensure that nothing is done to the detriment of work carried out by our volunteers along the ride edges where the sewer will be routed. The work is expected to take place from September and some disruption to our programme is anticipated. The planning application is now in the public domain and may be viewed and commented upon on the National Park Authority website.
At this time of year tick activity is on the increase. In the absence of ponies and significant numbers of deer, Pondhead is not a particular hot spot for ticks but they are present. Some people are more prone to attracting them than others so be “tick aware” – guidance is provided on our Health & Safety web page.
Finally, we still have spaces on some charcoal kiln emptying days and your help on these days is much appreciated as it funds everything else we do. In particular, we need help this Thursday. We will also be doing an extra charcoal burn on our Spoon Carving Course day next week to keep up with heavy demand at present, so we will need a few volunteers on 17 May as a matter of urgency for an additional emptying and bagging day. There are also some spaces left on Dave’s Tree Identification Walk on 20 May. Please book on via the Events Diary.
Hope to see you in Pondhead soon.