The Diary of Stonecrop Wood
1985-1987 part

Updated 3 May 2001

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  1. 3 June 1985
    Contractors have not yet replaced the fence at the front of the wood and cleared the cut laurel (persons responsible for the cut laurel unknown).
    Lower right hand corner contains oak, beech, holly and some laurel by the boundary "fence"
    Bottom left hand corner beeches, holly, much laurel, one Holm oak and stinging nettles near the bungalow called "Beeches"
    Whole of deciduous part has many beech seedlings. Upper end has bracken and sweet chestnut trees as well as beech and odd small oak. Sweet chestnuts predominant at top end of deciduous part.
    Start of coniferous area: Maritime and Scots pines and some common Rhododendron ponticum. Real assault course! The odd silver birch scattered about and small spindly Rowan near right side in line with house. More spindly Rowans scattered around. Walking boots + rucksack needed and secateurs - Male blackbirds x 2 singing 8pm.
    Top right end of the wood bounded by another mixed pine wood. Both sides bounded by properties. Left side also has a caravan and there are small oaks planted near here.
    Top left end bounded by small bit of somebody's garden and many brambles.
    Near bottom end of coniferous part numerous small birches (above wild rhododendrons).
    Toward left hand side of coniferous part brambles impassable. Foxes earths in middle of coniferous part with paths going into left hand garden with caravan. Top left hand side has a few small oaks planted as well as Rowan and Ash. Mosquitos-a-plenty!

  2. 5 June 1985
    Cleared a path circumnavigating the coniferous part of the wood (more or less). Very "Dr. Livingstone I presume-ish"!! Pulled up bracken from path and laid it down on path. Cut away the long trailing brambles which are lethal. John used his machete and secateurs. I used just secateurs. I pulled bracken from around the saplings planted by Woodland Trust. Mr Gregson ("Beeches") emerged and started complaining again but I managed to placate him, I think. I told him the large jobs would be done in autumn-winter and we would arrange a hedge of laurel on his side in future.
    Mr D.C. Faulkner (house with caravan on left) said he would like a firebreak and a proper stile on west side of the wood instead of barbed wire, which endangered his son - also a good fence on north side of the wood to inhibit undesirables entering from future housing estate (he was responsible for the laurel cutting on the road side of the wood). The foxes earths were probably once badger setts.
    Birds: in deciduous part I heard baby blue tits. In coniferous part there was a green woodpecker half way up drive to "Roman Heights". 2 woodpecker holes in one tree. I also heard a fairly near cuckoo.
    I also trimmed back any laurel and rhododendron which was on path and laid cuttings on path.

  3. 6 June 1985
    Tidied up footpath, cut around upper part of the wood (coniferous area). I also arranged a pile of logs to discourage people from walking around the bottom of the Gregsons' garden. Heard green woodpecker, John thought he saw a fox. Some of the saplings planted by the Woodland Trust away from the path are surrounded by giant bracken!! I have cleared some of it from saplings near our path. John slashed a few bracken and I picked up the pieces and stacked them as before as best I could. John cannot bend so he slashed them with machete.

  4. 10 June 1985
    John plotted types of trees and other greenery on his diagrams. I pulled up bracken and a few bracken stumps where John had hacked them with his machete. I cleared bracken up to the level of chopped trees toward top end of deciduous part. There is still more to go and we shall stop level with the end of the Gregsons' garden which is end of deciduous part. There are many beech seedlings near the Gregsons' fence. Heard green woodpecker again. There is an animal hole in bank (mossy) where some of my bulbs are planted. (I had planted loads of spring-flowering bulbs, mainly daffodils, in 1983 with the "help" of the Gregsons' 2 sweet little boys!).
    Afterwards we tried to get to the wood from Springdale Road side - the fire last year was only a few yards from top boundary fence. There is no easy route to the wood because of brambles. A man told us they are going to build to the north of Stonecrop Wood. The small fallen dead beech tree has been chopped up a bit since we last visited. Showed John ferns growing in trunk of Holm Oak. There is a medium sized Rowan growing in deciduous part of the wood toward top right end. Grass beginning to grow near the Gregsons' house in part of the wood where there had been building rubble.

  5. 16 June 1985
    Phone call from Dr. Beverley Trowbridge asking us not to do any work in the wood. I gather Mr Gregson had complained again! She was quite happy about the footpath we cut although, maybe, we should have left it until Autumn. She asked us not to try to remove the bracken. I told her about Mr Faulkner cutting the front laurel and about the barbed wire which Mr Faulkner did not like. I also mentioned the proposed house building on the north side of the wood and suggested that they should fix up a good fence there.

  6. 27 June 1985
    "Jogged" up to the wood with rucksack on back - not at all comfortable. Nothing much changed except that somebody had dumped a small pile of garden refuse (birch and cotoneaster cuttings) at top end of the wood on our footpath adjacent to top garden. Cleared a small amount of bracken which was regrowing or falling over footpath. Also trimmed some regrown brambles, otherwise path still quite clear. Met nobody! I moved the dumped garden refuse and placed it close to the fence. No mossies! I was early, before 7pm.

  7. 10 July 1985
    Nothing much to report except that in 2 weeks some bracken had grown on footpath and some brambles had to be pruned. Placed offending bracken on path. Bitten by one mossie. Must visit at least once a fortnight otherwise path will become overgrown. Heard green woodpecker. Bracken enormous in places and tends to fall over path. Arrived at the wood about 8.30pm and left 9.30pm.

  8. 23 July 1985
    Nothing much to report. Cleared our path with John's help. Squirrels were probably in pinetrees feeding off cones. Placed a few rotten branches across a couple of clearings which could be mistaken for paths. brambles still growing although I think bracken is slowing down. This summer has been pretty poor so far with just a few days of good weather periodically. NB: Laurel we had cut in April has grown about 10 inches since.

  9. 7 August 1985
    Nothing much to report, trimmed the path as usual. Bracken seems to be slower growing and some real tall bracken has been blown over by gales recently. Signs of chicken manure thrown over bracken at top end of the wood where garden refuse had been placed some time ago. Just enough to pong horribly! Saw and heard green woodpecker. The weather has still been mostly awful with just an odd good break.

  10. 31 August 1985
    The cut laurel at front of the wood has been removed by the contactors and a new wooden fence has been erected - strong but crude. Otherwise nothing to report. Growing season is certainly slowing down. Green woodpecker still around. Weather during this week has improved after all the rain. Grass is spreading from the Gregsons' into the wood covering the unsightly bare earth which had resulted from the building of the bungalow. A very slow process - but plenty of seed heads on the grass.

  11. 19 October 1985
    I thought the laurel had been removed from the front, that which had been cut down by Mr Faulkner, but today it appears not to have been removed! Has somebody cut some down and dumped it behind the new fence since we last visited? Cleared the footpath at the back which had a few bramble shoots growing. Later John and I cut down the laurel in the bottom right hand corner and we made a pile at the front. I tidied up the pile after we had finished. At the top end of the wood where the garden backs on to the wood - there appeared to be a pile of pine needles scattered where garden rubbish had been dumped once before. It appears that the cut laurel at front of wood in front of the fence may have been recently poisoned, because all the regrowth has turned brown. We also chopped down a rhododendron (large) with the laurel.

  12. 26 October 1985
    Continued removing the laurel, this time starting on the bottom left of centre. I cleared some of the dumped rubbish from behind the new wooden fence and made a temporary pile on path. Made a huge pile behind this on path which we have rerouted around new pile. We have cleared about 1/3 of the lower left side. These last 2 visits we have been joined by a robin! Also on these occasions there have been some sort of birds squawking?

  13. 2 November 1985
    Continued removing the laurel from where we left off last week gradually moving toward the left hand side. Suddenly I heard one of the Gregsons' little boys call out, "Daddy, that lady is here again!" An Irishman and his wife chatted and he came back and collected some wood that we had cut down. He said he would come back tomorrow and take some from the piles but he would put the piles back neatly! We now have 6 piles altogether including the first one we made back in the spring. The robin came back again - same time about 3pm GMT.

  14. 9 November 1985
    Continued cutting down the laurel in less than perfect weather! Have now reached the "hedge" at the front up by the Gregsons' place. All the heavy stuff is down and there is just smaller stuff to remove and then the removal of suckers, seedlings and regrowth. John did a round of top end and all was OK. The bracken is dying down. We cleared, starting last week, laurel from around 1 good holly tree with a few berries on it and one which was leaning over which did not have any berries. We have removed all the cut laurel etc. which was dumped behind the fence and put on the piles.

  15. 13 November 1985
    I took a half day's leave and continued cutting down the laurel, the last little bit jutting out in the middle of the laurel-infested lower section. Trouble was I had just arrived when Mr Gregson approached from nowhere with his usual complaint about laurel cutting. I explained I had no intention of touching the laurel level with the beech trees by his front garden (about 10ft of his fence) but he started complaining about the bit jutting out. At one point he became quite rude and I told him to go away or I would chop all the laurel down!! He finally went away after he'd apologised but I told him quite firmly that I intended to cut that bit down anyway and no more. After that I would start pulling up suckers and seedlings, and I would try to force the laurel by his property to layer sideways with the help of large stones.
    Later, he came back saying he'd spoken to Dr. Trowbridge so I stopped (I had got rid of more than half of the bit that was left). He started complaining about the piles of laurel so I said I would see if the contractors could remove it (which I had intended to do anyway when we had got rid of all the large stuff). He muttered a bit and said he might help us get rid of it with his "ute". He gives me the impression that if he runs out of one thing to complain about he finds another and so on. I was beginning to feel like Bernard Cribbins singing, "There was I digging a hole - hole in the ground - so big and sorta round it was....etc.". After he'd gone I started on the suckers and the seedlings and did a round of the top end.

  16. 14 November 1985
    Dr. Beverley Trowbridge phoned about 6.45pm and asked us not to cut down any more laurel. OK to remove seedlings and suckers but no big cutting. She was quite happy that Mr Gregson might help us with carting away the piles. Also, could we cut up the logs (if possible) of the felled pines at the top end. She likes our path! She visited the wood 2 weeks ago.

  17. 16 November 1985
    Started tidying up in cut laurel area. Tidied up stumps - pulled a few roots, put dead wood pile that was on path onto the green piles. Started to rain, so we quit.

  18. 23 November 1985
    Continued pulling or cutting roots and suckers etc. Inspected the top end - Pulled or cut mostly, regrowth from first patch of laurel that we cut last spring.

  19. 7 December 1985
    Continued cutting stumps and pulling suckers, mostly at the bottom right end. Could not manage the really big ones. Sunshine for a change!

  20. 8 December 1985
    Continued as before, where I left off yesterday. Found one or two bits that John had not seen because they were in a pile area! Started to rain a bit but stopped after a while. Saw a green woodpecker at about a distance of about 40 feet just before I reached the wood (in housing estate between Roman Road and the wood). It was feeding on a lawn and as I passed, it flew off and perched on a birch tree trunk.

  21. 14 December 1985
    Cut more stumps in the wood. John got blister again - I continued. Still more to do. I can only do the small ones.

  22. 21 December 1985
    Same again as last week - although I was alone - John keeps getting blisters on his squash playing hand and has lost interest in cutting stumps!
  23. 11 January 1986
    Did the round - all OK. Pruned back a little of the laurel hedge, on the right hand side of the wood, in the deciduous part. Must remove suckers and seedlings on that side.

  24. 8 February 1986
    Snow that fell on Thursday night and during the day (not much in Broadstone area - but somewhat more at Winfrith) still left on the ground especially in the wood. Very attractive. Cut a few more minor laurel stumps, did the round of the top end and pulled the odd laurel seedling from the bottom right hand side. There were large-ish ?dog prints all the way around the cleared footpath at top end and no human footprints. It looked as though a ?dog had walked many times around the footpath - alone! -there were similar prints on the beautiful garden at the back. There were branches cut from a pine tree placed in the same place as garden rubbish, previously - ? from aforesaid garden. The paw prints were probably fox prints that had enlarged due to some melting of the snow. There were signs of regrowth on cut laurel, but only signs of one daffodil bulb leaves poking through.

  25. 22 February 1986
    Cleared a new "dead-end" path at lower left hand side of top half of the wood - from original path to fence by Mr Faulkner's garden then turned left until we reached Mr Gregson's fence. Many brambles in this area, which was why we diverted when we cut original path! I also pulled up the odd seedling of laurel along the lower right hand laurel hedge and cut one or two of the small stumps. In wooded area beyond the fence at the rear of the wood a strange square hole had been dug and partially filled in again.

  26. 1 March 1986
    Snow on the ground so did a round of the wood only. Daffodils popping up through the snow at long last. Took 5 photos but a bit too grey and dark. Fox prints again mostly sticking to the path. Regrowth from laurel cut last April (by Mr Gregson's place) is about 18 inches high.

  27. 28 March 1986
    Have placed stones where I intend to plant snowdrops in Autumn, on slight incline below daffodils but above bluebells at lowest point of planted bulbs. They will be to the left of a small beech tree (looking up). Bluebells and a few daffodils are growing on a small part of newly cleared path. We did a round of the paths. Nothing has really started growing yet. In top end of the wood behind Mr Gregson's place there is one very attractive Scots pine tree which has got 2 or 3 stems instead of the usual one. These stems are covered in ivy. I think this tree is the only one in the wood that is ivy-covered.

  28. 19 April 1986
    Nothing much to report. Growth on brambles only just bursting out. Managed to remove a large laurel "seedling", I had previously been unable to do because I had no saw with me, by wiggling it and cutting its roots. Pulled one or two remaining real seedlings! Daffodils appear to be deteriorating, leaves getting thin and not so many flowers. The bracken is just beginning to poke through in places.

  29. 10 May 1986
    Bracken about 10" high in places. Not much growth in the brambles. One patch of daffodils is still OK but others have become thin and mostly with no flowers. The piles of laurel look pretty dead now, with just a few lower pieces re-rooting. It is the 3rd spring that the daffodils have flowered (I planted the bluebells - some pink!! and daffodils in Autumn 1983).

  30. 19 May 1986
    Collected 2 dustbin liners of rubbish and placed in the garden of the Scottish lady opposite Mr Gregson's after seeing her dustbins there and asking permission. Pulled up bracken on path and trimmed the odd bramble and rhodo along the path. Quite a warm evening at long last. Bracken is growing quite fast now. Laurels (cut) are sprouting shoots. From Scottish lady's home, view of top of the wood is obliterated by laurel. We could not cut it due to Mr Gregson's complaints. I recently received letter from Dr. Beverley Trowbridge about removing litter...and the piles of laurel later in the summer.

  31. 4 June 1986
    Cleared footpath of bracken and brambles. Heard green woodpecker. Blackbirds singing and occasional robin. Somebody had planted a very sad looking conker tree outside the wood at front! (About 18" tall). The continuation of the pinewood at the back of the wood has most of its trees marked with plastic orange markers with numbers on. I walked over to the housing estate about 200 yards away and a young fellow said "they" were doing a survey with regards to building houses. The trees are marked right up to the "fence", including one which has its roots in Stonecrop Wood but is bent over the "fence" onto the adjacent woodland.

  32. 19 June 1986
    Cleared paths of regrowth of bracken and brambles. Chatted to Mr D.C. Faulkner. Apparently the new housing estate (Bovis Homes) are going to be 5 to the acre. He also said "they" are going to leave a belt of trees of about 50 ft all round the estate. Somebody had left some tissue and a sanitary towel or towels in centre of lower end of the wood. Bitten by mossies. Beautiful sunny weather for nearly a week now, also very warm.

  33. 7 July 1986
    Cleared main path of bracken and regrowth of brambles. Bracken now huge and leaning over. Too dark to clear extra bit. Returned home via woods at back. Most difficult because what path there was originally is completely covered in brambles. The two dogs in large garden at the back came out and barked at me again! That is at least the second time that has happened. Heard green woodpecker ... and foxes in centre of coniferous part of the wood as it got dark. Sprinkled some seeds from our red campions on new grass grown in open bit at side of Mr Gregson's back garden.

  34. 13 July 1986
    John came with me. I scattered some more red campion seeds alongside Mr Gregson's. Gave paths a really good clearing. We also cleared a path from back of the wood toward the path by the housing estate - so we can approach the wood from Springdale road. Heard two green woodpeckers and actually saw them! Cleared bits of rhododendron in coniferous part on path behind the Gregsons' and "unearthed" a few oak seedlings from small oak tree near by.

  35. 31 July 1986
    Things still growing. Bracken so tall it is falling over but there was not too much to do because a huge job was done last time! All paths cleared including the path out of the wood behind. Heard much rustling in tall trees and evidence of chewed pine cones on ground, the squirrels were about above us! Heard green woodpecker(s) many times.

  36. 2 August 1986
    John and I made a quick round of the wood on our way home from Subodh's - from Springdale Road end. All OK.

  37. 4 August 1986
    Went to the wood via the wood at back to scatter some foxglove seeds in grass by Mr Gregson's (upper bit of grass).

  38. 9 August 1986
    Scattered more foxglove seeds on grass by Mr Gregson's (lower bit this time) - also a very few red campion seeds.

  39. 14 August 1986
    Scattered more foxglove seeds by the Gregsons' -upper grass bit again - quick prune - not much growing now. Notices of proposed development by wood on Springdale Road - 43 dwellings. These notices went up today. One must complain in the next 14 days!

  40. 20 August 1986
    Large billboard up on Springdale Road advertising Bovis Homes - Executive-style homes. Goadsby and Harding are their agents. Cleared the odd bramble on paths. Saw Mr Gregson - not to speak to - and others in his garden. Heard green woodpeckers and magpies.

  41. 6 September 1986
    Planted about 50 snowdrop bulbs by Mr Gregson's. Did a quick round. Only small amounts of cutting of brambles etc. necessary.

  42. 10 September 1986
    Planted about 100 snowdrop bulbs to the left of the 50 planted last time. Helluva job digging the hole in hard stony soil due to very little leaf mould near Mr Gregson's. John did the rounds of the footpaths and pruned the necessary brambles. He also started cutting back the regrowth of laurel from last winter's massive laurel removal. Saw a fox close up and almost saw a green woodpecker!

  43. 28 September 1986
    Quick shufti at the wood on way back home from Man o' War Bay. Bracken dying down and hardly any growth on the brambles. Found trowel I lost on last visit - couldn't find it then due to it getting dark. Saw evidence at far end of the wood -on prospective building site, of much pine seed eating by a squirrel! No sign of any heavier berrying on mature-ish holly trees at bottom end of the wood.

  44. 2 October 1986
    Sprinkled more seeds (Nettle-leaved bell flower) in the 2 places by Mr Gregson's. Pruned back laurel regrowth by Mr Gregson's - leaving enough to form a new hedge. Heard green woodpecker - almost saw it, as it was close.

  45. 3 October 1986
    Continued where I left off yesterday, but this time I started cutting the stumps away. Still have a lot to do here because this was the section tackled in April-June 1985 which we quit doing when Mr Gregson got stroppy. (It now appears we started working in the wood before the start of this diary, this apart from the bulb planting in Autumn 1983). Heard green woodpecker again - I think!

  46. 9 October 1986
    Continued where I left off last week.

  47. 13 October 1986
    Continued where I left off on Thursday last. Finished clearing this section of laurel and small stumps. Also removed small stumps from near the "pan handle" laurel "hedge" which Mr Gregson made us stop cutting last Autumn! I thought I had removed all these stumps last year, but not all as I recently observed. I trimmed the "pan handle" and the remaining hedge by Mr Gregson's house to stop the ends flopping over and layering themselves! Also I placed branches, from ?Mr Gregson's 2 piles of wood along the side of the regrowing laurel hedge in order to mark the line of where the hedge is to be, so we can remove anything that grows in front of line of branches in future. (The piles of laurel may be carted off by Flight Refuelling Sports and Social Club for their Guy Fawkes night!) Did quick round of upper part of the wood - only the odd bramble needed cutting - bracken all dead now. This job was done on 10 September last time.

  48. 26 October 1986
    Quick round of the wood. Very little bramble regrowth. Sprinkled Common St. John's Wort seeds in usual 2 places. Pulled up a few laurel regrowth. More roots to cut out.

  49. 8 November 1986
    Pulled up a few more laurel regrowth. Very few berries on largest holly tree in lower end of the wood even though the laurel was cleared all around it. Weather lovely and sunny. Heard green woodpecker briefly.

  50. 9 November 1986
    Started pulling up laurel regrowth at lower right end by road, also rhododendron regrowth in that area. Cleared all laurel from all the old piles of the wood as best as I could under such awkward circumstances. I cut the large stem at bottom left area of the wood which has stuck out from the "hedge" by the Gregsons'. I plonked the end under the dead leaves and covered the stump with dead leaves! I did similar with a previous stem that stuck out last year, and later the leaves sagged but it has since revived - obviously it had rooted at the other end which was touching the ground. We shall have to watch and see what happens with this stem! I cut a bit of straggly holly around laurel regrowth in order to make it easier to pull up this laurel regrowth at a later date. There is a helluva lot to remove and I hope I can finish before end of next February! The promised rain arrived later than forecast. It started on-off drizzle at about 2.30pm and gradually got worse. Did a quick round of top end of the wood - All OK!

  51. 15 November 1986
    Cut a few more stumps and regrowth. John did the rounds of the top end. Weather sunny. John also chopped a bit out of the remaining "panhandle" part of the laurel "hedge"!! - the bit I sawed last week hasn't really sagged much at all, except it is leaning over more.

  52. 29 November 1986
    Horrible cold miserable foggy day - all day. Did quick round and cut a few laurel regrowth and young growth by the "Panhandle" of laurel by the Gregsons'. The stem which I cut last winter which stuck out from the "pan handle", has re-rooted (I had cut it at ground level and left it in position - and it has re-rooted). The robin was flitting around as usual!

  53. 30 November 1986
    John, bless him, came with me to the wood but he got bogged down rabbiting to Mr Faulkner! Apparently the new houses to be built behind the wood cannot be built until the new road across Holes Bay is built from Poole to Broadstone. We started removing the "Panhandle" when Mr Gregson appeared before we started cutting. After discussion - fairly friendly- about the laurel he has agreed to help us take the piles to the dump in his "ute", which is at his business address. We cut some good stems of laurel and stuffed them in the ground in about 3 rows along the lower (front) end of his boundary - they should root to form a hedge so that we can remove more laurel from inside the wood, once he has his screen from the road. We managed to agree about removing the "Panhandle" but John went before we had started on the stumps - which I removed! Mr Gregson said his bungalow is 4 and a half years old so therefore the Woodland Trust was given the wood in about June 1982. Moved this year's oak seedling (1984 acorn) away from one of the piles of laurel. I might move those seedlings in top end of the wood on path near rhododendrons on the left hand side. Must bring a trowel next time.

  54. 7 December 1986
    Mr Gregson lent us one of his "utes" and we started clearing the piles of laurel starting with the ones by the fence. We made 4 trips in very dull weather (it was raining when we got up!) and cleared roughly 2 and a half piles. Reckon we shall need at least 2 full days more to complete the job. John stacked the broom upright at the back of the truck and stupidly turned the truck around in Mr Gregson's drive and the broom handle broke when it touched the laurel opposite the Gregsons' house. While we were piling on the laurel, about 4 people walked around the wood, but we never got any offers of help. It will be a huge job moving the piles of laurel from the inside of the wood down to the fence.

  55. 13 December 1986
    Moved a very large amount of the wood from the piles inside the wood to the front ready for taking to dump. Mr Gregson has brought a "ute" to his home. Also removed removable stumps which were under the piles and others which were tripping me up going back and forth. Had to trim back some dangling holly to ease the movement of the piles of wood. Heard and saw at the top of a big tree in the wood a jay which was flying in a southerly direction.
    Spoke to a middle-aged fellow who appeared to be a keen bird watcher. He often walked past the wood and said that - in the past (last year for example) he had seen spotted woodpeckers (he did not state which sort!) nesting in the wood - but he hadn't seen them this year. I realise now that the strange squawking birds I heard some time ago must have been jays.

  56. 14 December 1986
    Made 4 trips to the dump in Mr Gregson's 6ft x 9ft truck. Had to fill up with petrol which delayed us a bit. Also we found Chapel Close for a lady who had been looking for the past hour or so. I had a hunch it was off Chapel Lane, near where Angie used to live, so I went with the lady along the muddy lane to Wareham Road etc. with John following in his car! My hunch paid off! I hope the lunch awaiting her wasn't too cold. We have now cleared most of the laurel piles! There is the big one in the "pit" and the 2 or 3 new small ones and what's left of the 2 piles on the original path into the wood. I reckon 2 more trips should be enough to the dump. Heard green woodpecker and an owl later on as we were finally leaving. I shall have to move remaining piles to the front - which will take some time with regards to the one in the "pit". Beautiful weather last 2 days, especially today - because it didn't rain once!

  57. 21 December 1986
    Dragged the remaining piles of wood down to the front, leaving a small bit in the "pit", further in. Tried to set fire to the remaining wood in the "pit" but it was too wet. Started clearing one or two paths through the holly. A family walked around wood, I think looking for holly with berries on it. John also did a quick round of top end. A woman started chatting, apparently members of her family do work for the "Conservation Volunteers". Her son Nigel is interested in bats and uses a bat finding machine. Maybe we will have some help, who knows! The robin is getting very friendly.
    Had to cut one or two small stumps, where the 2 piles of wood, on the original footpath into the wood were. Weather was cold and frosty first thing, but became dull and slight drizzle on and off most of the day.

  58. 26 December 1986
    We continued clearing 3 paths in the holly, one along the fence between the wood and next door bit ("Roman Heights"). I also pruned overhanging laurel from that side. Friendly robin(s) around. Carted holly etc. down to the front. We looked at the old house for sale, opposite "Woodland Trust" gate sign. House has subsidence problems, in bad repair and overgrown superb wooded garden at back - about 1 acre at least. Behind this garden is more proper woodland and then it is Upton Heath. I believe the people who had lived there died there, hence the dilapidated condition.
  59. 4 January 1987
    In poor weather we borrowed Mr Gregson's truck one more time and made 2 trips to the dump. We have now cleared all the piles! There is just a bit of tidying up of small bits left behind. John did a round of the top end of the wood. He said he found a hole up there.

  60. 17 January 1987
    The snow that fell mostly on Wednesday last is still on the ground - the temperatures for 7 days now have been mostly below freezing. Did quick round of the whole wood. All paths we have cut including those in holly have been used by foxes; no human prints at all. Foxes have been very active indeed!

  61. 21 January 1987
    Mr Colin Buttery an Assistant Regional Officer who has taken over from Dr. Beverley Trowbridge phoned this evening to say "thank you" for the work done. He has mentioned that he is going to arrange to have the laurel stumps sprayed with a herbicide in April-May time. He is also going to arrange a meeting at a weekend sometime.

  62. 24 January 1987
    Cut a few more small stumps. John did a round of top end and cut a narrow path across the centre of the top end of the wood. Lots of birds singing and squawking, many magpies doing the squawking! Two small boys and "Heinz variety" mutt (bitch) played briefly in the wood. Also a tall-ish, thin, late middle-aged man walked through the wood from top end to bottom end. Only laurel to be removed now is regrowth on larger stumps still present.

  63. 31 January 1987
    Beautiful cold sunny day. I picked up old scattered cuttings of laurel and chucked them at the front. I also cut the remaining regrowth from the stumps. I do not think there is much left to do at the front end of the wood - maybe along the hedge on the right side of the wood (looking in).
    Eric Smith (Broadstone Light Operatic Society) walked by and we chatted. Some birds were singing. Also cut one or two small stumps. Did quick round of top end of the wood. It has not rained properly since before the snowfall this month.

  64. 15 February 1987
    Beautiful cold sunny day after frosty night. Walked to Naked Cross, bought 6 little oaks and 6 x 4ft bamboos and then walked to the wood and planted them in bare areas where laurel has been removed or where the beeches have formed leaf mould. These oaks were originally planted in Naked Cross nurseries in Autumn 1984. Did quick round of top end of the wood. All OK.

  65. 16 February 1987
    John confined to bed with lumbago diagnosed by Dr. Mulholland and Mrs Lindley (private physio) separately. So I took day off work. I bought 4 more little oaks + 3 canes from Naked Cross. Planted 3 of the oaks in the wood (2 might not grow because I think the tap roots are damaged). I now have 9 little oaks planted in the wood and 2 seedlings from fallen acorns from 1985 crop, which I had moved originally when we were removing the laurel piles as they would have been trampled on. Now they are in their permanent positions.

  66. 8 March 1987
    John and I did a quick round of the wood. The "tree surgeons" had been and cut some branches from the oak trees at front end of the wood. Unfortunately somebody has stolen 8 of my 9 x 4ft bamboo canes which marked my oak seedlings. Also somebody has vandalised the largest of the 2 patches of snowdrops. They have ripped off the leaves and then plonked the stones that marked the position on top of what remained of the leaves. The other patch of snowdrops were untouched probably because they never flowered and were not seen by the bloody vandals.

  67. 4 April 1987
    After walking to Upton Way to look at a house for sale we walked home via the wood. My damaged patch of snowdrops appeared somewhat revived (the leaves had grown a bit as a result of the flowers being removed). Quite a number of the daffodils are still appearing although they look a bit thin and very few seem to have flower buds (none blooming yet). At back of the wood a branch from a pine tree had fallen in the last storm and flattened part of the single wire fence. We moved it.

  68. 19 April 1987
    Did a quick round of wood, not much growing as yet, although the bracken has started coming up. John and his Mum came too. Only 1 group of daffodils have flowered - those near the Gregsons' fence below the large beech tree. No sign of leaves on either group of snowdrops. Six little oak trees appear OK. I cannot find the other 3 (2 had damaged tap roots). One of 1985 seedlings which I had moved appears OK. Other has gone. I cleared a very small path in the holly section. No signs of wild flower seeds scattered last year by the Gregsons'. Bluebell leaves showing. Saw dead slow worm on extra bit of path by D.C. Faulkner's near back of Mr Gregson's (another "Panhandle"!). "Noises off" woke John from a snooze on the mossy bank. Ma unimpressed by this noise!

  69. 7 May 1987
    Cleared path at top end of the wood of bracken - some getting quite tall already; not much bramble re-growth as yet. Patch of blue, pink and white "bluebells" near D.C. Faulkner's garden in full flower. No sign of any seedlings of the wild flower seeds scattered last year over the 2 patches near the Gregsons' place. The sticks of laurel bunged in the ground at bottom end of the wood by the Gregsons' don't look too healthy. I have now found 8 of the 9 little oaks I planted still alive. (I can see them now as they have little leaves on them). The one that has not survived is actually missing, I think. 2 of the 8 look as though they have been chewed but at least 6 appear healthy. Green woodpecker chortling away very close.

  70. 26 May 1987
    There are still 8 little oaks although 1 has small leaves compared to the others. No sign of any of my wild flower seeds coming up at all. Green woodpecker chortling away again. Quite a few self-planted oaks now showing throughout the wood. Did a quick prune around the top end path - brambles are now growing fast like the bracken.

  71. 8 June 1987
    John and I did a good prune of the footpaths at top end of the wood. John shifted the moveable rotten logs off the paths. Heard green woodpecker and the drumming of a ? greater spotted woodpecker. The 8 little oaks are still doing fine. No sign of any growth from my scattered wildflower seeds in the 2 grassy patches by the Gregsons' but there are signs of children making a "den" up at top right end of the wood in laurel hedge. The laurel "cuttings" appear dead by lower boundary by the Gregsons'.

  72. 4 July 1987
    Did a good thorough prune of the paths - much growth of brambles, laurel, bracken etc. Heard strange song bird! Still 8 oak trees growing out of the 9 planted. Pulled up a few bits of laurel regrowth which came away easily.

  73. 18 July 1987
    Did quick prune of paths at top half of the wood. Started to pour with rain. Heard green woodpecker before rain started. Pulled up a few regrown laurel suckers and shoots. No sign of any seedlings of the wildflower seeds I scattered last year. Scattered a few red campion seeds near grassy area by the Gregsons' back garden (not in grass this time).
    Work has started in clearing pines from the land behind the wood near Springdale Road end. A screen of trees appear to be remaining along Springdale Road - unless this is temporary so as not to make the new development too noticeable!

  74. 25 July 1987
    A quick round of the wood and quick prune of the paths at the top end. Not a lot to do since last week. Green woodpecker around. No more felling near Springdale Road, only clearing of topsoil and levelling of ground and channels dug for drains to be put in. (A few trees have been felled by the road just for access for machines).

  75. 2 August 1987
    Good prune of top end paths and a few laurel suckers pulled up from lower end of the wood. A white-ish powdery coating on leaves of some of the little oaks I planted, mostly down at the front by road (? mildew).
    The builders now have 3 "portacabins" on their site, one the "Site Office", another the "Kitchen and Diner" and the third is the lavatory! No more trees have been felled. Foundations ??? of 2 houses are being laid although they do not look large enough.

  76. 7 August 1987
    John and I took ladder, nails, hammer and board "Woodland Trust - NO DUMPING" which he had made up and he hammered it to the large pine by the top end fence. Green woodpecker calling.
    The building site now has the beginnings of a road leading from Springdale Road.

  77. 14 August 1987
    We did a quick prune of the paths - not much has grown since we did it 2 weeks ago, must be slowing down now. Heard green woodpecker. Pulled up or out a few laurel suckers in lower end of the wood. The planted little oaks underneath the big oak have a white-ish powdery substance on their leaves - ?? mildew because it is very dark there.
    Not much work has been done on building site since last Friday.

  78. 29 August 1987
    Did quick-ish round of top end - not much to prune. Most of the "jungle" of bracken and bramble behind the garden at the back of the wood had been chopped down and "sprinkled" around nearby, off the path - so it would not be noticed, I presume. The fox-earth does not look lived in now. Heard a green woodpecker and saw a wren. Pulled up a few bits of laurel re-growth at bottom end of the wood. A strange faecal deposit near the Gregsons' - small, round and very soft.
    Building site is slowly progressing - with some very grotty-looking foundations. The "portacabins" have been fenced off with wooden fencing topped with barbed wire. Still only 2 houses.

  79. 16 September 1987
    Did round of the wood but found that the building site has now been cleared of most of the trees leaving a narrow perimeter band around the whole once wooded area. Most of our cleared path leading to the back of the wood has gone and we have started clearing a new one around the temporary fence that "they" have erected.
    Not much growing in the wood now. Pulled up a few laurel regrowth and I "lifted the skirts" of the 2 reasonably shaped holly trees at front of the wood. One, the "leaning tower of Pisa" has no berries, probably a male, while its fellow has loads of green berries on it. Previously this tree has only ever had a few berries because it was surrounded by laurel until last year - and last year was too soon to produce lots of berries. Heard a green woodpecker. John actually saw him attached to a tree! My planted oak trees still OK although a couple at front of the wood look tatty - leaves appear "mouldy" or have disappeared. The remaining oaks are also looking "mouldy" but otherwise OK at present. Bits of rotting wood lying around the wood look as though they have been "chewed". Our "planted" laurel hedge by the Gregsons' looks dead. Our sign is still OK with about 30ft between it and builder's temporary fence. There was a man working on site, until it got too dark, with a bulldozer. You can see our sign from Springdale Road now.

  80. 26 September 1987
    More pine trees have been cut down in building site leaving a narrow screen by the path by Springdale Close - light hits that path for the first time! Cleared more brambles from our new path around site fence, and I cut a load of bracken and put it down on new path in order to keep regrowth of bramble down.
    Did round of the wood - virtually no regrowth. Heard and saw green woodpecker. John cut a few laurel regrowth in lower end of the wood and chucked some fallen acorns, from below mature oak trees, around deciduous part of the wood.

  81. 10 October 1987
    Did round of top end of the wood. Widened path where 3 oak seedlings growing on path by D.C. Faulkner's place. Hopefully people will walk around the seedlings now! Quite a bit of the holly has berries on this year as well as our most prominent berried specimen. We collected lots of acorns that had been blown down from the 4 mature oaks at bottom right hand (east) corner of the wood and then scattered them in the empty places under the beech trees where the laurel was. Heard green woodpecker. More foundations for more houses are on building site.

  82. 11 October 1987
    Made 2 trips to the wood each with a bagful of acorns and I sprinkled them around the deciduous area of the wood. I had collected these acorns mostly from trees along the Roman Road where oaks are numerous. Heard blackbird singing in distance.

  83. 12 October 1987
    Collected 2 more bagfuls of acorns from along Roman Road and deposited them in deciduous part of the wood. Heard green woodpecker. Workmen working on building site.

  84. 13 October 1987
    Letter written to Colin Buttery regarding the completed clearing of building site.

  85. 16 October 1987
    Quick round of the wood after "hurricane" last night. (Prior to this "hurricane" Michael Fish made his most unforgettable TV weather forecast!) 1 mature sweet chestnut tree uprooted and leaning against a mature pine at top end of deciduous part of the wood. Surrounding pine trees look quite old and could cause problems in the future as they are leaning a bit and the earth appears raised on SW sides of them (I think this has always been the case, though). A small tree is leaning over path near D.C. Faulkner's place (extra bit - which I have also called "The Panhandle"!). We can deal with that - but not the big chestnut!
    I think that fellow with the 2 big mean dogs at the back of the wood has dumped bits of fallen pine - it is too neat to have fallen naturally and I cannot see any tears on pine nearby, so reckon he's been "at it" again. If it wasn't for those bloody dogs I'd go and sort him out! Letter written to Colin Buttery.

  86. 17 October 1987
    Quick round with John. (Telephone tape message to Colin Buttery of written letter before posting).
    Saw the man who owns the big garden at back pottering with a spaniel (brown) I believe. Is this one of the mean dogs?
    The uprooted tree is also being supported by a smaller sweet chestnut tree as well as the pine.

  87. 31 October 1987
    Pulled up laurel regrowth at lower end of the wood. We then started cutting the laurel "hedge" on the lower right side which had grown and was spreading inwards at its usual high rate of knots. We have laid the cuttings along the boundary fence. Heard green woodpecker who was flying hither and thither and going berserk! 3 groups of people came through the wood mostly walking dogs. One a couple we had met about 2 years ago who were then interested in the piles of cut laurel for firewood, the husband had worked at Plessey's in the 60's. Building site still progressing.

  88. 22 November 1987
    Quick round of the wood before dark. I flung all of the pine cuttings in top left hand corner of the wood (west) back into the garden from whence they came! The new house nearest the back of the wood is very near the boundary of the wood, therefore the back garden is going to be small. Also it shows that the building site fencing only surrounds the actual buildings.

  89. 5 December 1987
    We cut down the large branch of laurel in the laurel hedge along right side of the wood near the front. Robin pottering around in area! Tidied up a bit in this area until too dark. The rubbish that I chucked back into the garden at back has not been chucked back again - so that man must be guilty of all those pine cuttings and storm damage.

  90. 19 December 1987
    I pulled up new laurel growth (or cut it) from lower end of the wood. I also trimmed back the screen of laurel at bottom end by the Gregsons'! John pruned back laurel along east side along middle bit. Plenty of robins singing - at least that was what it sounded like.

  91. 27 December 1987
    John continued pruning laurel hedge on east side of the wood. I pulled up laurel roots in bottom end of the wood and pulled up new suckers in same areas. I also shaped a female young holly tree with 1 berry on it near the Gregsons'.

Composed, transcribed and copyright © 2001, Rosemary Doughty. All Rights Reserved.
with some help from John Palmer.