Preparations well in hand
Six weeks tomorrow it will be Saturday 8 April, the first day of the 2017 Arlington Bluebell Walk and there is still so much to do! The photo shows how the bluebells are now beginning to appear and will soon smother the brown leaves from last autumn. I am always amazed how quickly the green leaves of both the wood anemones and bluebells grow, then to see the white flowers of the wood anemones carpet the forest floor, their brightness emphasised by the masses of bluebell leaves amongst them.
This photo shows the wild daffodils that are on either side of the Millennium Avenue, first introduced by seed some years back from a few plants in our garden. It shows how they multiply when ground conditions are favourable, just as one sees with the wood anemones and bluebells in Beatons Wood, but over centuries!
Major building works are slowly being completed. One is to increase the size of the Bluebell Barn kitchen by a third. What a difference it will make having that extra space, so the volunteers of the various charities can work productively. There is now ample shelf storage space, the fridge and dishwasher are conveniently sited and, more importantly, there is plenty of room round the working surfaces.
The brick building opposite the Bluebell Barn, which we call the Old Granary, had been used by the local Conservative Association for many years but they have now re-located to Eastbourne to obtain better transport facilities. We are taking the opportunity to make the ground floor open plan, so my daughter Philippa Vine can expand her Cookery School, which currently she runs in a rather restricted area of her Bluebell Farm Shop. We are also taking the opportunity of putting in a wider door with a gentle slope to accommodate wheelchairs, installing double glazed windows and a new patio door. The upstairs office will be used as a Farm Office for both Michael Vine my son in law and myself to run our respective farming activities.
Over the Bluebell Walk period the ground floor of the Old Granary will be used as a base by the Sussex Wildlife Trust, to explain the important work they do in the County and hopefully recruit new members. I first became a member in the 1970’s so hopefully they can attract more members from our Bluebell Walk visitors. In June 1988 Dr Tony Whitbread, the CEO of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, carried out a detailed survey of Beatons Wood so, if he is willing, I will be asking him to carry out another survey next year, as it would be interesting to find out if there have been any significant changes over the past 30 years.
It is surprising the number of alterations I listed during the 2016 Bluebell Walk, some quite minor but which I felt were necessary to enhance our visitors’ experience, so I am looking forward to hearing what comments are made this year. I hope the response is favourable regarding what I feel are improvements, but I may be wrong!
My aim is to try and have it posted on the website on Friday 24 March.