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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

putting faces to the voices and an award for the blog!

Last week was a meal in Leeds, where I was able to meet several of the hosts, people I phone up to ask if they will put vulnerable asylum seekers up for a night. It was good to be able to put faces to the names and to explain why I sometimes might seem a little abrupt, it's because I'm running out of 'free' minutes on my phone and nothing to do with them! So yesterday when I was co-ordinating Short Stop I knew at least one of the names on the list I was phoning, maybe more next week. Thanks to Lassn for organising the meal.

Today is Coasties, Ravenscar with the National Trust, and several different jobs; moving piles of previously cut gorse, broom and bramble from a small quarry area to somewhere it can be burned later in the year, clearing out a very clogged up ditch, but satisfaction when the water starts to flow (I confess I was not involved with this job) and cutting back the ever present blackthorn. The mud and blackthorn also has to be moved, a heavy and difficult task! Whilst we work one of the Coasties 'admits' he will be 60 later in the year, those of us who already have our bus passes tell him of the extra treats, like cheap fish and chips in many cafes, that we already benefit from.

I have forgotten my camera, but never mind, I get an 'award' for my blog and here are pics of my 'prizes' a lovely certificate and a set of quill pens for when my internet connection is down. One of the quills has a new fangled biro in the end, the others will need some real ink!
the new addition to
my stationery
the Coasties award

At the end of the afternoon we all decide that we have increased our heart rates by more than enough going by the new guidelines on keeping fit, published recently. So thanks to the North York Moors national Park for keeping us in good health, and mostly in good spirits.

Free keep fit and a (small) mileage allowance too!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

better access to parts of the North York Moors

On Sunday I did a voluntary ranger patrol from Rosedale. Several sections of the paths I walked along, checking for any problems, had been improved under the leader programme.
The North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER Programme is a partnership of local organisations, community groups and individuals who have secured £3.1 million in total from Defra and the European Union through Yorkshire Forward and One North East as part of the Rural Development Programme for England.

the sign to look
Under this scheme paths are made more accessible, seats provided where necessary and signing improved. The pictures below show where a stile, a very difficult one made of stones, has been replaced by a gate. Although there were some parts of this particular path that were not flat it was certainly earlier to use than others in the national park.

the new gate
the original stone stile
People may wonder why this expenditure in a time of cut backs; but walking has been shown to be so good for our mental and physical health that in the long run this could save the Health Service far more money than has been spent. Besides, everyone is entitled to use the paths we all contribute to through our taxes, so making some easier to use is surely only fair.

Later on I am watched by some very curious goats and an unusual pig.

The goats run after me, it's a bit early for milking, perhaps they think I might have some food, if so they are disappointed!

time for lunch
After a wonderful mix of paths and scenery, stream side, field edge, moor land and the old ironstone railway, I finish my patrol. A broken stile and a few misleading signs to report when I get home and then off to hear Joan Baez in York, a lovely end to a very good day.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

off again after a stressful Thursday and success today

Well Thursday was another reporting day for my friend in Leeds. I posted about this on December 23rd and this time was even worse, after the checking in we were told that her new case worker wanted to see her, just routine, he said. Well may be for him, but this was a new part of the routine for us and not an easy one for my friend, convinced that it was not routine at all. After a difficult twenty minutes? it seemed more like twenty hours, we were out and on the bus back to her flat. We looked at my latest photos and she smiled a little at my grandsons' antics. She assured me that she would bury herself in work at the college library and also prepare for her placement next week, she agrees that as long as she is busy she doesn't worry so much. Thank you to Lassn for ensuring that someone goes with my friend to the reporting centre.

Today was a walk in the National Park where last April I had had to report a very dangerous stile, now it has been replaced with a splendid kissing gate, a great sense of satisfaction all round. My reporting as a volunteer, and work done by the Park's staff to make the footpath safer and easier for all to use, a good combination I think.

last April, a dangerous stile
and below the new kissing gate

Tomorrow I am off on Granny duties again, back at the end of the week for the beginning of Fairtrade fortnight, and then a patrol as a voluntary ranger up on the moors above Rosedale.   
Is there a moral to this post? Maybe for volunteers that the bad stuff can be born more easily when there is good stuff too.                      

Watch out for a further post in a week's time.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Coasties go extreme, over the edge we go

Today we are clearing a 'path' on the strange piece of land below the main cliffs at Ravenscar, Beast Cliff it is called, why? who knows? There really is a public footpath amongst the trees and beneath the bramble and other overgrowth; there are also tracks used by fishermen and other used by badgers. First we scramble down, cutting and clearing as we go, then we zig zag along to reduce the slope of the path. All the time we can hear the waves on the shore and the scream of the disturbed sea birds.

I joke with our ranger about the times I have moaned about being so far from the sea, today we are close to it all day. This really is my favourite bit of the park.

We move along a slightly flatter section, lots of willow trees here and bramble in profusion. Someone points out walkers on the Cleveland Way, high above us, they are watching us, unfortunately they are too far away to see the expression on their faces. We wonder if a circular walk could be devised from the Cleveland Way to incorporate this path, we think not, this path is for hard core or mad walkers only.

there is a path here,

The flatter bit, some of the 'A'
team and the sea beyond

Towards the end of the day we clear a whole woodland, to reveal a mass of rusting metal from a car and loads of empty bottles, sadly all tipped over the edge by people too lazy to dispose of their rubbish properly. Then the hardest bit, scrambling back up, even steeper than the descent, on hands and knees at times, still clearing and cutting as we go. It is blowing a gale at the top, we have been out of the wind all day.

A hugely challenging and rewarding day. We are promised that the next section of Beast Cliff could be in a future work programme, this I am really excited about, a cousin took me down there fifty years ago, how much will have changed!?

Three volunteering days so far this week, all with their own challenges, but all equally rewarding, all requiring professional back up and all, I believe, useful in their own ways. Today I have also burnt off some of the good, but because I'm greedy, too much food from Monday. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

multi friends then multi tasking

Off on the bus to Leeds yesterday to see both my friends. There were several of us at my asylum seeking friend's flat, she was giving some of us who support her in many ways a lovely lunch, jolof rice, spicey potatoes, samosas and beans in a sort of batter. We ate and chatted and caught up and then ate some more, so busy that we never got round to my latest photos! Eventually we all had to go our various ways, my friend insisted that we took food home with us to share with family members. My husband had his for lunch today and was delighted that there had been enough for him. What ever our circumstance and our backgrounds food remains one of the ways we all say thank you and join together in friendship. Colleagues at LASSN, SOLACE and the Poppy project will be sorry they missed the, ,  

Off I went into the city centre to meet my gadding friend, we only gadded our way to a cafe and a hot drink today, but she had much to tell me about a wonderful wedding and then a baptism. I told her about my lunch and we agreed that if only all volunteering was so easy; she also does her bit in many ways for the small society.

Today was Short Stop, nothing at all until after 3pm, I tidied up in the garden, the last of the summer bedding had finally succumbed to the frost and snow. I dusted! and redid the freezer inventory. I even sorted out some family photos.Then two referrals on top of each other, both couples, very unusual for me, I usually get single men referred. As usual several calls to voicemail, if I was desperate some one could have them, but not until 8.30 this evening. Then again as usual I struck gold, two people in succession could have them. I rang back and gave the details to the agencies, The Refugee Council and St George's Crypt, . Signed off and sent the details into LASSN. Next week I may meet some of these lovely people, another sharing of food in a restaurant in Leeds city centre, to meet, share experiences and exchange ideas. Excellent.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

from the Baltic Sea to Boulby potash mine

Well Tallinn was cold, minus 20 to be precise, but we rose to the challenge. The Leonardo was wonderful too. First day back was a funeral, a Humanist one, very moving, it felt a privilege to be there, except that Dave would not have wanted any one to be privileged over any one else.

Tuesday was a Short Stop day, it was bitterly cold, not a day to wonder where you would sleep tonight, thank you LASSN for organising this service. Only two referrals, both from PAFRAS,, my usual contact, must try to meet him sometime! I place the first one very quickly, he is able to go back to where he has been all weekend, "no need to change the bedding", the voice on the phone says. I start to worry about the second, first lots of phones go to voicemail, then people are going to be out, eventually someone says "yes", she must hear the relief in my voice, apparently she has done this coordinating role herself. I wait for more referrals, there are none; I still worry, I do hope no one will be out this evening. One of my messages rings back, they are free if necessary. I thank her, my coordinating role seems easy to me, compared to taking a stranger into one's home.

You may be wondering what has happened to my friend in Leeds, well I have been over to see her several times this new year, but more detail could intrude on her privacy at the moment. She had a flood in her flat from upstairs, but the landlords sorted that out quickly, her college work gets harder, but she keeps going. Next week is another reporting, so I will be phoning during the week to keep her spirits up.

Yesterday was Coasties, but if you are expecting a pretty picture of moors under snow, think again, hardly any snow on the coast and we are working under the shadow of the Boulby Potash Mine; yes it is in the National Park, it does provide a lot of employment and most people think the potash is necessary for our modern life. People tend to assume that land in National Parks is owned by the Park, not so, only a miniscule amount, the rest is owned by the usual sort of people, farmers, big landowners, householders, utility companies, charities, etc, etc.

the potash mine

Today we are replacing three stiles with gates and clearing a path through the woods. Our ranger has had to negotiate with two land owners, a tenant farmer, a shoot tenant and a gamekeeper before we can do this work; all were helpful, but it takes time, and we volunteers don't have the authority or the knowledge to do it. Another reason why volunteers need the professional staff.

a decrepit stile,you
 also need long legs!
now there is a path
through the wood

As usual we saw and lop and then use some of the trees trunks to try to mark out the line of the path, some lengths are clearer than others. At least one way mark will be required. I wonder, not for the first time, why we don't do paint way marking as they do in France; oten walking there I have had reason to bless these paint assurances on trees like this.

Finally this morning I meet someone from the East Yorkshire Chalk Rivers Trust, to draw their attention to the growing area of Japanese  Knotweed on the Derwent near our home. Although she is depressed by the sight of it, she needs to know it is there and is pleased we have noticed it and done some thing about it.

this logo will be in the window
of our participating shops
I then talk to the last two shops we want to participate in our Fair Trade Town Trail during Fair Trade fortnight, they both agree and we talk about not just encouraging Fair Trade for farmers in developing countries, but at the same time supporting smaller shops in our local towns.