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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

a big bonfire and can volunteers go on strike?

It is the day of the public service strike, I was a union member all my working life and would have been on strike today had I still been working, but can a volunteer go on strike? I decide that as we are working for the National Trust today, a charity, not a public service body, that I will go, no picket line to cross, some habits die hard.

Two big tasks today, a massive step and revetment job, clearly not for me! and loads of dead wood to clear and then burn. The National Trust have to get permission from Natural England as the area is an SSSI, all is OK and the wood is sorted and piled ready for the off.

the small stuff is ready to burn first
it's going, it gets much bigger later!

The fire gets going quickly, thanks to the skill of the fire starter, much practice over the years. We pile on more and more and by lunch time there is a big blaze going. The National Trust staff have made us wonderful flapjack and mince pies, then another treat, hot mulled wine, heated with the fire's ashes. It is the last task with them of this year, so an early Christmas thank you. We struggle to go on working after such a feast, but the fire is a hungry beast and must be kept fed.

At 2 o'clock we start to let it die down, then water is fetched from the stream and the ashes well doused. The climb back up seems much steeper than on the way down, but another good day, lovely woodland, some sunshine and good company.

Over lunch it is clear that views on the strike are very mixed, sensibly we all change the subject, that is volunteering.

Another positive outcome of my blog came out in a conversation I have about the possibility of some asylum seekers coming over in the summer to have a day with the National Trust on the coast.