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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Low numbers every where until today

Since I last blogged all my activities have seemed to result in low numbers, until today when Short Stop‎almost overwhelmed me.

The week had started badly when our attempt to do our bit for the BTO survey failed, as the fog on Fylingdales Moor was so thick we could barely see to put one foot in front of another. Short Stop last Tuesday was all done and dusted in an hour, three people needing a room for the night and two hosts found in ten minutes and two phone calls.

Coasties found us short of people. Only four of us, and the Cleveland Way ranger, to repair a long flight of steps
just a few of the steps
leading out of Robin Hood's Bay. To make it harder everything had to be taken down to the bottom in a quad bike, no room for the van and trailer, so that meant several trips.

The steps were uneven and the wooden boards rotting, so that meant realigning as well as new boards. As I have posted before steps are not my forte, but there was no choice. I dug out the old boards, 'lost' them in hidden greenery where they will rot totally and helped to put new boards in. Absent colleagues were badly missed, next time we hope they will be there! However we had a choice of benches for lunch and a sheltered place to sit.

Thursday we did the bird survey, but it was a freezing morning with a gale blowing. Before factoring in the wind chill it was only 5 degrees. No insects, so no sensible bird would have ventured out of a sheltered roosting place. We heard a sky lark six times, was it the same one? In the blustery rain we will never know.

a peaceful spot below Crosscliff
Monday I was at Saltergate helping with the Mobile Display Unit,‎  There were several Voluntary Rangers and not a lot of customers, so after lunch I went for a walk along the Old Wives Way. It was lovely and peaceful and I sat for a while enjoying the quiet away from the roar of the traffic (especially the speeding bikers) on the main road.
easy to be a ram

Later I came across this ram, dozing in the long grass. His job had been done in just a few minutes some months ago, now he could rest. At the other end of the field the ewes were busy, busy, busy. Their lambs were either demanding food or trying to escape through small gaps in the fence. I knew how they felt, my grandsons spend much of their time in the park trying to escape from sight.

To my surprise I met no other walkers or cyclists, usually this is a popular cycle route into the Dalby Forest. Our car parking charges are a lot less than the toll to drive into the Forest.

I passed the ancient Malo Cross, climbed back to the car park; along the last section a pair of lapwings were calling and swooping in the wind. A lovely end to a lovely walk, my spirits soared with the birds, fanciful I know, but just occasionally I can indulge.

And so to today and Short Stop again. Five people today, including one man who had slept out all weekend. Several hosts were away as it is half term and others on voicemail only. It was after 3 o'clock that I placed the last person, with a great sense of relief; it may not be so cold now, but rain is forecast for tonight.

A week of contrasts, the wild of the Moors and the very different desolation of a night on the streets of Leeds. But there is a link. If the total waste of money that is the Fylingdale Early Warning Station (warning against what?) were not there the Moors would be more beautiful and imagine what could be done with the money saved.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Mud and Fairtrade, but not together!

early or late for Christmas?
Well I knew it might be a bit muddy on Wednesday at Coasties,, after all it had rained all night, but this was muddy beyond compare. Before the mud though there was a surprise when we got out of the mini bus, had we gone back in time, or rapidly forward? This tree, carefully decorated with glass baubles, in the middle of the forest, are we early or late for Christmas?

For about half an hour we cleared an overgrown bridleway. Then, downing our loppers and saws and collecting a variety of spades and large forks we set off for the mud. For hours we laboured, cutting a ditch and trying to discover the whereabouts of a rumoured drain. This bridleway was so deep in mud that the strongest horse must have had difficulty getting through it. Every so often there was a cry for help as one of us sunk so deep that we needed a hand to be pulled out. Our wellies slurped and sucked as the mud threatened to go over the tops.
a very satisfactory flow
of muddy water
How many people to find a
drain pipe?

On the left, the drain is not a rumour, but is very deep; it will have to wait for another week to be properly connected. On the right the ditch is working and muddy water is draining off the bridleway down the hill.
All three photos of Coasties are courtesy of one of my colleagues, Tristan Eyre, as I forgot my camera.

Tomorrow is the Malton Food Festival and the Malton and Norton Fairtrade group, is having a stall in a local church, thank you to St Michael's, We have tried a new form of publicity this year with a display in House Martins window,, thank you House Martins.

Only chocolate wrappers, not the real thing, on display, this window can get very sunny. I will be missing the selling, but I have done my bit transporting the goods to Malton, team work in our small society.     

As usual all our supplies are from Fairer World in York,

Back to my small society on Monday for the annual bird survey on Fylingdales Moor watch out for results next week.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

what must they all make of it?

I am referring to my readers from other countries, what does this volunteering mean to them? In the last month there have been readers from Malaysia and Indonesia in the far east, France and Canada, ( who I think are friends of mine, loyally doing their bit for an old friend) and a large number from Russia, Romania and the United States. A few months ago, after the UK, Latvia topped the list! Some of these countries do have a history of volunteering, I am fairly sure that others don't. So, tell me, what do you all make of it?

Over the last fortnight I have been outdoors in the sunshine (now gone again) and indoors on the phone and a lovely Fairtrade meal in York.

Coasties, were doing work on a bridleway near Harwood Dale, it was perfect; sunny, but not too hot, quiet except for a very noisy chiffchaff and as usual a sense of a job well done at the end of the afternoon. As we ate lunch I looked up at the trees and the blue sky and realised how lucky I am. I have travelled thousands of miles for a scene like this and here it is on my doorstep (well nearly).

As usual these days Short Stop, goes smoothly. Two referrals, one from Iran the other from Pakistan the first week and just one, another man from Iran, the second week. I email some suggestions round to my colleagues about tweaking the system to make it even better. For example we need to know which hosts are perhaps being over used? I know I tended to start at the beginning of my list, now each week I try to phone different people first. Providers in the small society need a break like everyone else. As usual I have chat with some of the hosts, and then realise that I am using up the 'free' minutes on my phone and it is only the beginning of my phone month.

I was at Farndale for the daffodil information unit on Bank Holiday Monday, it was so warm we were all in just our regulation polo shirts, a first this year for me. I have to tell a lovely family picnicking amongst the flowers that really they are trespassing on the private land in the field next to the path. Most visitors think that National Parks are like parks in towns and that the land is in common ownership. Alas this is not so, the path is a public right of way, but almost all the land is in private ownership and so should not be picnicked on. There is Open Access land that we can all walk over and a quick picnic there is OK, but these fields are not in that category. They are very apologetic and offer to go immediately, but stay and finish your lunch I tell them.

We have also been recipients of other volunteers' activities this month. A fascinating evening walk organised by the Leeds Civic Trust,, around what remains of medieval Leeds, more than you would have imagined, if you include current street layouts. Then another history walk, this time round Appleton in the Moors, a planned Abbey village again from the Middle Ages. Led on this occasion by one of my North York Moors volunteer colleagues. Both walks which might sound a little dry were far from it; enlivened by the enthusiasm of the volunteer walk leaders. Tales of good and bad deeds and in Leeds a form of medieval tax evasion, nothing changes! As I said to a passer by, the modern Starbucks.

Then last night an evening of singing, drumming and eating to celebrate World Fair Trade day, organised by York Fair Trade Forum, . As you can see from the empty Fair Trade wine bottles a good time was had by all, my small society is fun as well as good for the soul. Yes we did go on the train!

My friend in Leeds is still in her temporary accommodation. She has once again had to clean up a place that was deemed fit for her and her baby by the housing providers, but not by her. I thought the cooker was new, but no it was now shiny and white, where it had been grimy and blackened. Elbow grease, rather than cooking grease.

So, if you my overseas visitors to this blog need an explanation, please leave a comment and I will do what I can to explain the vagaries of the British volunteering scene.