Hubcap has always yearned for his own piece of land to create a forest garden, keep fowl on and so forth - but dismissed it as being impossibly out of his price-range. However, on 26th November, his dreams came true in a most unexpected and wonderful way... two of his clients (infected by Mick's passion) joined forces and bought two adjacent plots of pasture and woodland (amounting to nearly 6 acres) in Newmillerdam, and want him to manage it for them (see pictures left and below)! This is excellent news for the environment, the local wildlife and the neighbours, because the land will be preserved as green space and not built on - the only development will be to turn it into a traditionally-managed piece of woodland, coppiced for firewood, and to increase biodiversity by planting hedgerow, fruit and nut trees, as well as preserving the numerous species of relatively rare wildflowers and marsh plants already established there.
The new owners have thrown themselves into the project with great enthusiasm, clearing
out tons of rubbish, putting up new fencing, taking steps to evict the current residents (a small herd of fly-grazing ponies - below left) and attacking the mammoth growth of brambles currently blanketing much of the site (below right). And Mick is in hog heaven, busily ordering trees, making his planting plans, getting stuck into his first bramble-strimming session (below centre), and planting the first of 400 hawthornes to make a new perimeter hedge; as well as being the fulfilment of a long-held dream, this is a particularly special place for him because, as a young boy, he learnt to fish in the beck you can see below left - and since the land includes a stretch of water-course, it means he'll be able to enjoy a spot of private fishing! (Alas, the water levels and fish population have both dropped significantly since his boyhood, but he's hoping to make some improvements in that respect). I'm delighted, too - looking forward to helping out, and to the day when we have our own archery range set up there! It's certainly going to make for a busy and interesting Christmas holiday...
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
This will be my last post before Christmas, so I'd like to wish you all the compliments of the festive season, and a happy and prosperous 2015. Our own Christmas officially started on the 14th, with the traditional TBS archery shoot followed by a slap-up lunch at The Crooked Billet (turkey dinner with all the trimmings plus Christmas pud for a tenner - can't be beat). Then at 2 pm we went across the field to St Mary's for the annual carol sing-song, and I led the congregation in 'Gaudete' again, same as last year (see left) - didn't feel quite so nervous this time! I was glad to be wearing my layers of medieval wool, as it's pretty nippy inside there, although I wasn't being particularly authentic - I had a long-sleeved tee-shirt, fleece trousers and snow boots on under that lot. And afterwards, Mick couldn't resist posing in Alex's splendid hat (see right!).
So that got our festivities off to a great start, and I'm now in the throes of sending off the last few Christmas cards, wrapping presents, decorating the house and getting ready to make our festive gift-drop visits (always one of my favourite things to do). We're also looking forward to our customary outing to Sandal Castle on Sunday 28th, to commemorate the Battle of Wakefield with the Friends of Sandal Castle - this year I'm starting things off with a lecture on Richard, Duke of York and the battle, after which we'll have a site tour, parade to lay a wreath at the Duke's monument, living history displays at the Visitor Centre, children's bill-drill and a finale called 'Weapons of 15th Century War' (see Events for further details). So if you're looking for a way to work off your Christmas dinner, why not come and join us? Admission is free, and it should be a good day - fingers crossed for fine weather!