Blue Flower

Saturday 2/9/23  There were 8 of us today including Howard, a new volunteer, he had walked along the Nar Valley Way and saw our sign and enquired about volunteering with us as he is moving to Narborough next year.

Fred brought a historic irrigation pump to try to turn the water wheel, as the pump we use for open days has become unreliable and the irrigation pump will be an interesting feature. Ryan oiled the water wheel bearings and helped Fred connect the pump to the feed pipe. Fred started the pump and it eventually turned the water wheel, but not constantly, so the pump was re-positioned on the upper bank nearer the water wheel, most of us helped with this including Graeme who joined us in the afternoon. The pump turned the wheel again but not as well as before. Fred will look into refurbishing the pump to improve the performance. The plan is to refit the pump on a small trailer so it can be taken to the mill more easily.

I showed Howard around the site and explained the mill history, we put the information boards out beside the various features as we went around. Eddie cut all the grass on site, helped by Debra who also went across the bridge and cut the footpath. Ryan strimmed the tunnel exit and other areas, he then mowed the paths through the wildflower meadow with the ride on mower, Howard helped him move the picnic bench to cut the clearing, this was all in preparation for our visitors today.

Peter Wilkinson, Breckland Council Chairman organised a sponsored walk to raise money for Swaffham and Litcham Home Hospice, the walk included a visit to the bone mill. There were 11 walkers, they crossed our bridge and I showed them round the mill, they saw the water wheel turning as well as displays and slideshows in the visitor centre. They were interested in the human skull bone found on site. I told them about our open days on 16th & 17th and some of them hope to attend. Peter has always helped the bone mill including supporting our recent grant applications. Fred and Debra made a donation to the Hospice.

Anne Marie weeded and watered the gardens, the Cosmos she planted by the tunnel exit a while ago is doing well. Debra and Anne Marie pulled up lots of tall weeds in the wildflower meadow. Henry the black Labrador was with us all day, he kept finding big logs to be thrown for him, when Eddie and Howard cut them up for the woodburner he had to make do with a small log.

Howard filed splinters off the surround and cover for the boiling house foundation bracket which was removed to allow access while we work on the fallen wall, he then cleaned, sanded and painted the cover. The bracket and cover will be replaced after the wall is repaired, so we took the opportunity to refurbish it while its in storage.

Debra made tea and we had several breaks at our outside table. At lunch time we decided to organise a meeting soon about repairing the damaged walls. Debra took a picture of a Dragon Fly which landed on my shoulder. Eddie repaired the wildlife sign we made last time as the edging pieces had fallen off, Fred gave us some new sealant which Eddie used to refit the edging, Geoff’s sash clamps held the pieces in place while it set.

I cleaned the bottles Ryan found in the river at The Maltings on Sunday, I used the bird feeder cleaning brush to wash the insides, then Eddie put them on display in the visitor centre with the other bottles found at The Maltings. Debra noticed our new Cherry tree commemorating the King’s Coronation had been gnawed around the trunk, so she put a tree guard around it. Andrew told us the damage was likely to be from Badgers.

Thursday 7/9/23 This was the last Thursday Ryan was able to go to the mill, as he starts his welding apprenticeship this month. We plan to have more weekend work parties so working people are able to join us. Ryan cleared a large part of the main trench with a hoe as it was full of weeds, then cut the grass between the river and wagon with Barry’s mower.

Eddie organised the work party this week as I have Covid and could not attend. I worked from home sorting out recent photos for Debra to print and add to the albums for the open days, I also updated the website.

Eddie cut the grass on the entrance track, then cut the paths in the wildflower meadow. He also tightened up loose screws in our big table and added extra screws to hold down warped panels. The table has served us well, it was second hand when we were given it in 2016, Barry varnished it soon after we got it.

Howard rubbed down and painted the front wagon doors as they were a bit blotchy in a certain light, he then painted the roof end rails as they got missed when we repainted the wagon.

Anne Marie pulled up a lot of tall weeds from the wildflower meadow. We’ll be cutting the whole meadow soon and letting the flower seeds drop, but we don’t want weed seeds in the seed bank so they need to be pulled up first. Anne Marie watered all the plants in the afternoon as it was a very hot dry day.

Graham Bartlett  

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