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Bramshall Park, Uttoxeter

25th July 2021

Today we were at Bramshall, Uttoxeter to clear our favourite enemy, the invasive Himalayan Balsam. There was a good turnout from the volunteers including a few Uttoxeter locals. The Mayor was around to say hello and promised that he would help at the next Balsam clearance session. The photos below show much space this stuff takes up!

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St John’s Church Fete, Kingstone, Uttoxeter.

The Church Fete was based on a theme of the Earth and it was decided to invite organisations related to the environment, nature and waste reduction. With this in mind, BCV were invited along with other similar minded organisations like The Woodland Trust, Hoglets and Fairtrade Uttoxeter etc.


It was glorious weather for the fete and the BCV stall generated quite a bit of interest. So, it was a great afternoon which went down really well, oh and the ice cream went down really well too!

A fine pair of BCV volunteers
Lots of interest
The fete even had a violinist
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Big Washlands Watch

The TTTV (Transforming the Trent Valley) scheme is encouraging local people to become involved in a biological recording survey, the idea being to record sightings of 32 chosen species of animals and plants, ranging from kingfishers to bee orchids. Lawrence has some packs available containing a survey booklet and a colour identification guide, if you missed these at the BCV meeting.

If you spot any of the 32 target species, you can report what you have seen by taking a photo and uploading it to the Biological Records Centre’s iRecord website or by installing the iRecord app on your smartphone.

You can read more details about the survey in the TTTV blog.

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A day at the allotment

The weather was wonderful and great for working at the allotment in Burton upon Trent today. In addition to tasks on the vegetable garden, other jobs were completed such as path clearance and repairs to a garden shed.

There were a couple of highlights during the day. One highlight was seeing the groups youngest volunteer working on his own little plot. The other highlight was watching the groups bee keeper show one of the volunteers around the bee hives.

The weather and lovely company made for a perfect day!

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Sinai House

Here are a few pictures from our latest workday in the delightful grounds of Sinai House. The outdoor teaching area is beginning to take shape; we tidied up the plunge pool area, using the surplus topsoil to add to the ‘bunds’ (grass mounds) which will be used as a raised seating area.

The sheds have now arrived for the two compost toilets. After manoeuvring the sheds into the correct positions on the bases, we worked on the inside fittings.

Sinai House
Positioning a compost toilet shed
The plunge pool area
A children’s kitchen area, crafted by Stuart using recycled materials from an old shed
Our newest BCV recruit, Eric the monk!
A raised seating area
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Toad Hole, Branston

We had a work-day at the Toad Hole nature reserve in Branston, a popular walking trail for local residents. Tasks included clearance work along the main footpath, and removing some of the overhanging branches; also the creation of a new ‘secret trail’ through the woods.

Toad Hole, Branston
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Winshill Water Tower footpath

Today we resurfaced a footpath which runs alongside the Winshill Water Tower, a familiar landmark on the edge of Burton. This involved laying several tonnes of stone along the path, and it will hopefully in the future avoid the problems with muddy conditions during wet winter weather. We also replaced the posts, rails and side fencing on the stile leading to the field below – this is a great viewpoint above the town.

Barrow-loads of stone

Above: ‘Before’ and ‘After’ pictures of the stile

We had a wonderful team of volunteers and local residents who did an amazing job wheelbarrowing endless loads of stone, with a one-way circuit in operation to maintain social distancing. It was a case of “many hands make light work”, with the path finished just after lunchtime.

It’s good to see that the path is well-used – we had several groups of walkers passing through during the day, appreciating our work.

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Virtual 1000-Year Walk

Saturday 1st May at 10.30 am

The Friends of Sinai Park House are organising a ‘1000 Year Walk’ premiere on Saturday 1st May from 10.30am to 12 noon. The 1000 year period starts with Burton Abbey founded in the early 11th century, then guides us through the ancient forest of Oak Wood, up to our current work at Sinai Park House.

This online event uses drone footage of the route, filmed stories, snippets about historic features, and instructions for people to do the walk themselves at a later date.

The premiere is to raise funds for the ‘Forest School’ outdoor learning area in the grounds of Sinai Park House where BCV has been involved.

More details and tickets for £5.98 via this Facebook/Eventbrite link.

Or alternatively you can claim a ticket by making a donation of £10 or more via the Sinai Park Forest School crowdfunder site.

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Knowle Hill balsam clearance

The second of two sessions working in the grounds of Knowle Hill, a Landmark Trust site near Ticknall, clearing invasive Himalayan balsam from the woodland slopes. The traditional method has been to pull up the balsam once it has fully established, usually around June/July, but in 2019 we started an experiment at Knowle Hill to remove the balsam at its seedling stage in March/April by raking and hoeing. More details and pictures are in this report by Lawrence. We were unable to continue with the trial in 2020 due to the Spring lockdown, so we have belatedly resumed it this year.

Cleared balsam seedlings
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Coton Park

Easter Sunday at Coton Park nature reserve in South Derbyshire: a variety of tasks including some strimming of footpaths, clearing some overhanging branches, and laying some white pebbles on the butterfly bunds to further enhance the reserve’s habitat for dingy skipper butterflies, complementing the birds-foot trefoil we planted last year. Also home-made simnel cake made by Tracey.