February

Beneath the ground things are stirring and there is hope in the air as we begin to hear, see and feel the spring coming on. I always think February is one of the best of the months as the days are visibly longer and for the first time in ages new growth starts appearing as each day goes by. It is true that we can still experience harsh weather but there always seems to me to be light at the end of the tunnel. This year that flicker of light and hope is important as so many of us have been through a wretched time in recent months; now on the cusp of spring, we have the vaccines that our scientists have developed with astonishing brilliance, which will bring normality back to our lives and prevent the old and vulnerable living in constant dread of the virus.

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Ewhurst LEAP tree survey

Many thanks to all those that took part in this tree survey on 2nd January 2021.

For the survey we had four groups of people (maintaining social distancing) making various tree measurements and photos in the village and Ewhurst Green, to add to Treezilla. This is a “citizen science project that is aiming to encourage members of the public, local authorities, business, local groups and other organisations to collaborate in mapping, measuring and monitoring trees across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland”.

Treezilla measures the “eco-benefits” of the trees as they are added. On the day we could only measure a small fraction of the trees in the village but the numbers are still impressive. The measured trees give an annual saving of £3,840. Just imagine what benefits all the trees in parish are giving!

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December

We decided to explore more footpaths this month, as there were still several on the map that we hadn’t walked. The idea has always been to walk from the house and not use the car and it is surprising how much latitude this gives. The first of December was a lovely sunny day, ideal for rambling and we decided to head in the direction of Lukyns, a large mansion on the edge of the parish. To get there we followed a route that was very familiar, up to the badger wood at Gull’s Isle and then along to Radnor Place Farm. There is always something new to see in these woods and I noticed some enormous bracket fungi growing on the fallen trunk of a silver birch tree, one of these looked remarkably like a Cornish pasty, though I doubt it would be as tasty. The nearest match I can get in the guide book is Laetioporus sulphurous, which loses its yellow colour as it ages and looks a similar shape. The other bracket was white and I think was Piptoporus betulinus (Birch Polpore), which, as its name suggests, is commonly found on Birch trees. This is not edible but has been used in various ways; it is an effective razor strop, though few men use the type of razor that is sharpened in this manner today, it is also good as tinder and can be utilised as an absorbent or for polishing.

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Looking back – and forwards

Featured

The time between Christmas and New Year is a time for thinking about the old year and looking towards the new.  In 2020 LEAP was necessarily very quiet, but despite this we did manage to do some footpath clearance, meadow making, litter picking (twice!) and scrub clearance around the pond.  We also have set up a new and better website, at the same location as the old one (EwhurstLeap.org.uk).

We are lucky to have some marvellous descriptions of rambles around the parish written by one of our volunteers, Richard Sellwood, all of which can be found on the new website.

The parish council has also been very generous, and with the money they gave us we have been getting equipment to help with our pond and footpath work.

The committee would like to say thank you to everybody involved.

As we are in Tier 4 we have to be careful for the first working party of the new year.  All voluntary work is allowed but we must keep 2 metres apart.  So on Saturday we would like you to help with a Tree Survey.

This is part of a citizen science project called “Treezilla”.  We will work in pairs, staying 2 meters apart, find trees and take some measurements.  Alice and I will provide every pair with a written description of the project, a map of Ewhurst and a simple form to fill in for each tree you find.  Note we will only be measuring solitary trees in public places, not in gardens or woods.

Please come with a tape measure to measure the girth of the trees, a pen and something to press on (like a clipboard if you have one) to fill in the forms.  A camera, e.g., a mobile phone camera, will also be useful.

It would be lovely to see all those of you that can make it.  Please meet in the Village Hall car park at 10am on 2nd January.  We will get together again at midday and you can pass back your surveys.  If you have taken any pictures, please reply to this email with the pictures when you get back home afterwards.

All the best,
Eddie

ps. During this horrible pandemic, please email us if there is anything we can help with, or even if you just want a chat.

A Changing Season.

The weather in November is unpredictable. It started with gales and heavy rain; after the storm, as I walked through Sayer’s Croft and Canfold Wood, I was thinking of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner when he complains, ‘Water, water, everywhere,’ for it seemed that rainwater had found out every crevice, ditch and channel to run down. The marshy area near Sayers Croft Farm had been transformed into a small lake and the adjacent fields were flooded. There are many moles in the field and I wondered what happened to them when their tunnels are saturated by heavy rain. We know that moles dig deeper tunnels in the winter because the warmer soil lower down means that worms are still plentiful and also the moles find protection from freezing temperatures. There has, however, been little research, as far as I can tell, on what they do when their tunnels are flooded. The only mention of this in Kenneth Mellanby’s monograph on moles states that they find other drier tunnels. In the heavy clay of Ewhurst waterlogging must be a perennial problem and yet it does not deter a large population of these animals flourishing in the region.

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November

John Lewis-Stempel writes in his book Meadowlands:


November is one of my favourite months, with its faded afternoons of cemetery eerines, and its churchy smell of damp moulding leaves.

John Lewis-Stempel

The clocks have gone back and the evening comes early, the sun setting in late afternoon, creating the gloomy half light so characteristic of this month. It is a month that starts with a commemoration of the dead, as 2nd November is All Souls Day when in some countries church bells toll to comfort the dead and candles are lit in remembrance of them. The traditions also include the giving of soul cakes to children who come to sing or pray for loved one’s souls.

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LEAP working party

The lockdown has ended, but despite being in Tier 2 of national restrictions, we can hold a LEAP working party!

This Saturday we are going to do some work in the village pond – not as much perhaps as previous years because it might be too cold to actually enter the pond, and we must be more careful.  We have two new LEAP waders (welly boot sizes 9 and 11) if anyone wants to get in.  We do not have any cromes though; these are the funny forks with long handles for pulling weeds out of the pond.

We need to cut back the pond surrounds, taking the cuttings up to the compost bins by the cemetery.

We have to maintain social distancing, and not share tools.  Please bring your own shears, forks, scythes and wheelbarrows.  I will have the three quarantined LEAP shears you can borrow, but they cannot be shared.  The Covid-19 risk assessment has not changed from last time, and will be available if you want to see it.

We will meet at 10am on Saturday (5th December) in the Village Hall car park, and finish around midday.  We will have a break, but because we cannot provide the usual refreshments please bring your own!

If there are too many of us to easily stay at least 2m apart then I will have to limit numbers.  I think this is unlikely but might be necessary.  There is no need to wear masks because we are outside.  If you are feeling at all unwell then please do not come.

I am looking forward to seeing you there!

[Note: See Local restriction tiers: what you need to know – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) for Exemptions from gatherings limits in all tiers, which includes: “for work or providing voluntary or charitable services” ]

Late October.

I often think about the Bronte sisters at this time of the year, as they loved wild weather and their haunted literature summons the elements in a primal way that deeply inspires me. The word “wuthering” means a strong wind or place where there is a strong wind, coming from old Norse, the word is picked up in Yorkshire dialect. It sounds a blustery, feral word and Emily Bronte chose it to name the hostile place at the heart of her only novel. At the beginning of the story, it is a gale that traps Lockwood for the night at Wuthering Heights, where he witnesses the extraordinary visitation of Catherine Linton:

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