Summertime – it’s official!

It’s now officially summertime and the weather should be easy – you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise following our weather pattern over the past few weeks. However, the weather does not appear to have stopped people having BBQs as our sales have remained strong and we are currently £500 up on the combined April – June sales figure for last year. Our intrepid team of wood colliers have been out in all weathers doing charcoal burns and the new rota system for burns is working well. It’s also great to see other volunteers turning up at random on burn days to help with sawing, timber collecting, etc. Special mention must go in this respect to Roger, who appears to have made it his mission in life to remove all deep rooted stumps around the retort which constitute a trip hazard – well done Roger, aka “Stumpy”.

Our first “Make a Chair in a Day” course takes place this coming Saturday which is fully booked as are all the other courses this year. Based on the demand we’ve experienced, we will be running more next year, together with some “Broom & Spoon” courses. Our chairs have also caught the attention of Channel 5 TV and on 22 May their camera crews descended upon us to film Larry Lamb and his son making chairs with us as part of a new series. We will keep you posted but we understand that it is likely to be shown in early Spring. It doesn’t have a title yet but it involves Larry and his son cycling around various UK National Parks and chatting to the locals. Our two locals were Dave and Perry who did pieces to camera but you may also see some other familiar faces lurking in the background. We’ll let you know when we have further information.

Derek, Perry and our resident artist, John manned the PCT stall at the recent “Picnic on the Pitch” – a community fun day in Lyndhurst. It’s a compliment to all the hard work of our volunteers that we received a steady flow of compliments from local residents who are now enjoying walks around the improved ride network, with several senior citizens saying that it’s getting back to how they remember it from their younger days. It also became obvious that there is something else that is getting families out into our wood – Balanos, our friendly dragon for which the superlatives were flowing.

The improvements carried out by our volunteers is also appreciated by the local wildlife and it is pleasing to report that a few Pearl-bordered Fritillaries were spotted along the ride by the retort recently over a period of several days. This small early flying butterfly was once very common in coppiced woodlands but is now on the “Red” list of endangered species. We had feared that we had lost it from Pondhead so it’s particularly pleasing to see that it is still hanging on. Other species heard include the Nightjar, a summer visitor from central Africa. This is one of the most secretive nocturnal birds breeding in the south of England and most readily detected by the males’ distinctive ‘churring’ song at dusk. At least one pair are known to be nesting in Pondhead – they tend to prefer recently cleared woodland. In terms of flora, large clusters of foxgloves a putting up quite a display at present.

Our work continues to attract interest from a variety of organisations and over the past month we have arranged walks for Hampshire Wildlife, New Forest Association and a local community group from Lyndhurst – without exception they are all full or praise for the work you are are carrying out in Pondhead. Our last visitors were a group of 17 from the National Park Authority who were given a guided tour after which, they rolled their sleeves up and helped out by collecting and sawing charcoal timber.

As we approach the peak months of demand for charcoal, a new series of dates have been added to the Events Diary. There are no bookings available for charcoal production days but please feel free to turn up for a few hours and give our wood colliers a hand with sawing etc. Charcoal emptying and bagging days have been booking up very well and loads of new spaces are now available. Many thanks.

The peak holiday season is also nearly upon us and I guess that many of you will be taking holidays, so our next news blog won’t appear until August. Enjoy the sunshine in the meantime.

Thanks everyone for your continued support.


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