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Thursday, 23 August 2012

no more raking, I am not in a pressed gang!

The title refers to Wednesday, so you will have to wait! At the beginning of the week the Malton and Norton Fairtrade group had their final planning meeting for our craft fair. We are planning to showcase both local and Fairtrade crafts; the usual worries, would we have enough or too many stalls, publicity and refreshments. I then spent some frustrating hours trying to upload details to the Guardian northerner notice website, however I managed eventually,, you then click on the funny notice word next to the map. If this doesn't work it's on September 22nd at the Memorial Hall in Old Malton, free entry 10 til 4.

Tuesday was another quick short stop day, one referral only, I rang one of the regulars, they always answer their phone and almost always say yes. I chat to the person in the referring agency about the Olympics, and the tears we had shed as athletes showed their emotions on the podiums.   was the referring agency this week.

Wednesday was Coasties,, and this is the subject of the title. Quite a big group today and the area to be worked in is steep and narrow, there is a board walk to be laid and lots of steps. Three of us realise that too many cooks will spoil the broth, or least fall over themselves, so we ask if there is something else we can do. So we find ourselves raking what would be hay if it was longer and drier, but is actually clumps of dank, damp grass on a sloping field. At least the sun is, mostly, shining and we are surrounded by stunning views; but it is back breaking and frustrating work, much of the cut stuff drags up roots when we rake, and if the grass goes on growing it will all to be done again soon. Can you see the wooden rake in the dead grass?

Next week we will be back, as the diversion of the Cleveland Way through the National Trust's alum works,, still has many weeks' work to be done; more steps, gates and another section to be cut through dense undergrowth. However, the three of us make it abundantly clear that next week we will not be raking; if there is not room for all of us in the steep little valley, there is, apparently, much cutting back to be done on the trail between Ravenscar and Stoup Brow. We go there, willingly, but not in the cut grass.
I am usually happy to do what ever is necessary to keep the paths open, the alum works in good order and the park generally accessible, but there comes a time when I realise that I am a volunteer, not a member of a pressed gang!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

back to normal

To my amazement I did finally work out a lot of what had been there before the Olympic Park, not helped by the park map which was not orientated with north at the top! It was as good as everyone else has already told you, but as a volunteer myself I cannot praise too highly the Games Makers as they were called. How proud we were that one of them was one of my step daughters. Next year we hope to go back and see what the Park looks like one year on. My worst fears about the obliteration of all that was good about the Bow Back Waters were confounded; wonderful wetland areas, wild flower meadows and masses of trees.

So on Tuesday it was Short Stop, only one referral, but over ten phone calls, mostly to voicemail, before I managed to place a young man from the Congo. As so often during Short Stop I was reminded of some of my pupils in London, several from the Congo, their French not like mine, to their amusement, with dreadful tales of fighting. I rang back to St George's Crypt and gave them the good news, once again the kindness of strangers.

LASSN coordinate the Short Stop programme and they are currently looking for a volunteer to help with their media work, this is what it's all about:-

Fed up with poor, inflammatory representation of asylum seekers and refugees in the press? Have a passion for writing, broadcasting and the media in general? We're looking to recruit a new volunteer project co-ordinator. If you are interested please go to

Wednesday was Coasties, this was the scene that met our eyes after we had walked, laden with tools and our backpacks, about half a mile downhill from the mini bus.


Trail bikers have made these ruts in what was a lovely holloway through the woods. It is hot and humid and there are bitey things, but the job needs doing; so we set to with mattocks and spades and gradually mange to eliminate the worst of the ruts. Meanwhile some of our colleagues have, we think, the easier task; they are designing and building a deterrent and here it is.
Quite difficult for a trail bike
    After lunch the diggers carry on with the task of filling in the ruts, the ground seems to be much harder now and we mutter darkly about what we might do to these motorised vandals. There are places where can they can ride their bikes legitimately, but guess what, they would have to pay.

Eventually I text the fence makers for assistance, two of them join us and agree how hard it is. After a while we all decide to pack up early, it is a long steep way back up to the mini bus; the task is not finished, but there is another day. And below is a bit of the section that we levelled, not perfect, but much better now for walkers.

We are constantly being reminded how much more we should exercise, what an overweight nation we are becoming and how much it will all cost the health service. Well walking is a free form of exercise, it doesn't need much equipment and all you need is a place to walk, but not one that has been despoiled by motor bikes!