We've been relatively lucky weather-wise in our North Norfolk enclave, and escaped the worst ravages of the weather that have been visited on many other parts of the UK. Now storms have names they seem much worse than before, and although they have left their mark with a lot of water lying around (why is it also called "standing water"?) and some damage to trees, we have been relatively unscathed. Our Common acts as a great big sponge for the surrounding area, which is great, until you have to get on it to carry out its regular management. I seem to be better at attracting the mud than any of the other volunteers; I always was a mucky kid! Anyway, the tail end of Storm Gertrude, or perhaps it was the leading edge of Storm Henry left our working party pretty much alone, with just a little light drizzle from time time leaving your correspondent in a tizzy about when to put his hat on and when to take it off; just one of the trial of this volunteering lark.
Because the ground was so waterlogged, and we were working so close to the entrance, we decided to save ourselves the trouble of hauling the cart all the way round the roads (it is too wide to get across the bridge), and we parked it in the now re-named Cart Park.
The more gung-ho amongst us wondered if we could revive the Royal Tournament's Royal Navy Field Gun competition, where a gun limber is disassembled to get it over obstacles and then swiftly re-built. Sober reflection allowed us to decide this was perhaps beyond our powers, and I rather think we were right.
We started work at a picturesque point that is rarely trodden on, by the edge of Fox's Beck. We discovered that at the moment the Beck has several tributaries, all happy to trap the unwary volunteer above the upper limits of the average wellie boot.
I have said the weather was far from a storm; equally, the forecast was not encouraging for anyone hoping to stay dry, and we wondered if we would have many volunteers; anxious glances were directed to the spot they would emerge from.
In the event, were were blessed by a record turnout for this season: 18 volunteers! This enabled a very efficient operation to be run, using all four drag sheets in rapid succession, resulting in this very satisfying wide open vista by the end of the session.
Because it didn't actually help, we can't include the frog we found as a volunteer, but he was a good size and merited having his portrait taken before he was moved out of harm's way.
It's not all hard slog of course; there is always time for taking a breather, having a chat, or indeed making up a nice comfy bed out of reeds and having a full-blown kip.
To do so does run the risk of parental disapproval of course!
(Note: no volunteers (or frogs) were harmed in the illustrating of this blog entry.)
Here is Chairman John's message of thanks:
Well you all stepped up to the plate in the most admirable and impressive way, thank you. I am sorry no Parish Councillors turned up to see for themselves such an exemplary collection of public-spirited heroes in action (except for our own Louise who is a Councillor herself) but they do know and appreciate the commitment. Thanks again, the next session is two weeks today, 14th. February when we shall continue where we left off, and certainly finish that part. If it's any consolation you have experienced the wettest, softest and filthiest conditions underfoot that you will have to confront this year so the rest will be a breeze. Kind regards,John