Winter arrived officially on 1 December. By the meteorological calendar, the first day of winter is always 1 December and ends on 28 February. However, the astronomical winter is said to start on the Winter Solstice (the shortest day), which this year will fall on 22 December. All of which means you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why ’cause Santa Claus is coming to town!
In fact he’ll be in Pondhead on Thursday 19 December for our annual Woodmans’ Brunch – always an enjoyable social event so book your place now in the Events Diary if you haven’t already done so. An excellent way to start the Christmas festivities!
While winter arrived with a hard frost this past week, autumn must have been one of the warmest and wettest on record but, apart from a couple of cancellations for bad weather, we have made excellent progress with this season’s conservation and coppicing programme thanks in no small part to good numbers of volunteers attending conservation tasks. Due to the late leaf fall this year, the start of our coppicing programme was two weeks later than last year but, nevertheless, the hand coppicing in Pond Close is going well and our chainsaw team have made a start to a coupe in Rosie Close that runs along the stream. In particular, the woven dead hedge in Pond Close is looking excellent – we’re really becoming expert at this form of deer control.
Pond Close is where we believe the pond in Pondhead was situated when it was a royal deer park, although court records indicate that it was beginning to silt up in the mid 1400s. Hopefully we will be able to get some soil samples from bore holes once the area has been coppiced to see if it provides further evidence of the pond. Contrary to some popular requests, we will not be reinstating it!
We recently took stock of available charcoal timber in view of the not insignificant piles we currently have around the inclosure. As a result, we have decided to cut back on this year’s coppicing programme and not cut any further coupes than the ones currently in progress. There is no point in cutting more than we can process and by leaving it for another year, it will continue to grow for future charcoal. This will also allow plenty of time for some other conservation tasks up until the end of February.
We are now well into our sixth season of conservation tasks since the formation of Pondhead Conservation Trust and, until recently, they have been free of accidents. Unfortunately, this record came to a halt recently with two incidents which, although painful, fortunately were not too serious but could have been. Both involved visits to A&E to attend to cuts. Accidents will happen sometimes however much you try to prevent them but it is important that we review and learn from such incidents. Accordingly we have reviewed and revised our Risk Assessment for conservation tasks which we encourage you to read by visiting our Health & Safety page.
We’re trying something new. On Saturday 28 December, we’re holding a “Pondhead Discovery Day”. The purpose is twofold – informative and social. This an opportunity for a leisurely morning walk around Pondhead followed by a lunchtime trip to the pub (optional), during which we will explore some of the more remote areas of the inclosure and see what’s happened in areas that we’ve worked in previously. We will be able to see what has worked, what hasn’t and why. Along the way we’ll cover coppicing, ride management and wildlife benefits in greater detail than is often not possible during conservation tasks. Whether you are a seasoned volunteer or relatively new to the team, there will be something for all to learn – especially useful for volunteers relatively new to the role or those who have signed up but not yet ventured out into Pondhead. Book now via the Events Diary.
In recent weeks, our promo video has had an update to reflect our awards, chair courses and the use of horses. There are some more shots to update during the spring and summer so it’s still work in progress but here’s a preview – some of you may even feature! On the subject of our chair courses, next year’s courses are selling out fast with only 7 spaces left – let your friends know if they may be interested.
You can pause the Christmas music in the bar below before watching the video.
As this is our last newsletter of 2019, it’s time to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year. Hopefully, you come along for a cup of festive cheer at the Woodman’s Brunch.