It’s been a particularly tough week for outdoor workers of late with that chilly east wind dropping the temperatures below freezing even during the daytime, but with Easter and the open season upon us we’ve carried on regardless. By this date we would normally have cut the lawns a few times, spruced up planted areas and would be ‘simply’ blowing the paths of debris each day prior to opening. This year however the winter season refuses to let go, and keeps giving us snow and ice to deal with!
At the start of this week the grounds team were busy clearing drives of snow and ice, but thanks to the drying if chilly breeze; we did manage to move onto other tasks as the week progressed. Some of the benches have enjoyed a winter spruce up to keep them lichen and algae free, coppice prunings have been tidied away and stored for re-use, and the courtyard gravel has been levelled and re-levelled following the necessary snow shovelling with the tractor last Saturday.
The sunshine is threatening to peek through over Easter, and I hope it brings warmer temperatures for our weekend visitors. It may still be a little cool to sit outdoors, but we’ve been busy in many areas of the grounds, which are all set for the season ahead. The last of the Snowdrops are hanging on in there and the Lent Lilies are going strong in quantity, raising their heads when the sun peaks through.
Before I finish this quick grounds update, I just have to mention a brief highlight we enjoyed on Thursday afternoon. I had in my diary a visit from ‘Bob’s Birds’, who were visiting to scout out the best locations for hawk flying during our June Grounds Weekend. We were introduced to Richard, a Harris Hawk who delighted us with his flying skills. From my gloved hand he flew straight to the nearest Wellingtonia branch, where he waited until a morsel of food was held, when he’d swoop down and claim it in an instant.
Our local Crows are very territorial, and they were quick to let Richard know that they didn’t approve of his presence. Richard did pay them close attention, but in a very regal way he shrugged off their dives with little respect, and they eventually kept their distance. We’re looking forward to welcoming Bob and his birds back at the end of June, which looks to be a fascinating weekend – more on this later.
Before I finish up I just want to mention the Forest School Family Taster Day. Planned for this Monday, April 1st, it is a new venture for Compton Verney; one we believe holds much potential for growth and development.
Learning about wildlife and nature in a woodland environment with a trained practitioner offers such a special experience to youngsters – I’ve tried it with my little ones and they loved it! There are so many engaging activities available and children and adults alike really do find it fascinating. If you have the opportunity to visit on Monday, it would be great if you could come down, join in and show your support for Forest School activity at Compton Verney.
I have one eye on the forecast for the weekend, and will keep my fingers crossed that the sun shines and everyone has a great Easter visiting Compton Verney – of course!