Initially we have to decide the number and which charities to cover the dates we will be open. We use those who are experienced with the Bluebell Walk to cover the weekends, as the number of visitors can fluctuate widely dependent on the weather. If the Sunday in particular is too hot many visitors prefer the beach, too cold they stay at home, but when weather conditions are just right for a walk in the countryside and the bluebells are fully in bloom we are busy. The record number of visitors we have had on any one day is over 3000, yet on a cold and wet Sunday, numbers may only be in double figures! We then split the weekdays into Tuesday/Wednesday and Thursday/Friday leaving Mondays for charities who may not have done it before. We expect a lot from the charities, as they have to supply sufficient volunteers to run the Bluebell Walk efficiently, keep everything clean especially the loos (!), provide ample food which we ask is mainly home cooked, especially difficult when not knowing the number of visitors, but whatever the crowd they are to be welcomed and always served with a smile.
Charities like to know well in advance what dates they will cover, so we started thinking about the dates to open in November, which gives time to get the dates allocated before Christmas. This year we chose the weeks that were similar to earlier years, then arranged which charities their dates, but in January with the exceptionally mild weather, and bluebell leaves starting to appear, I became very concerned that we could have an unusually early spring. I persuaded my partners in the Bluebell Walk Partnership to bring our original start date forward by one week to Saturday 2 April, this meant swapping around with the charities to ensure every day was covered. Once agreed we printed the 2016 Publicity Leaflet, but little did I know that every day of March would be cold! I am rather chastened as we open tomorrow with few bluebells, few white wood anemones …
… and the wild daffodils still hanging on, as depicted in my photos taken late yesterday afternoon.
But ever optimistic I am encouraged as the forecast at long last is for a warm weekend, which will quickly bring more colour to Beatons Wood.
What’s new for this year?
Each year we make what we feel are improvements to help things run smoother and try and increase the visitor satisfaction and this year has been no exception. They were described in detail with my Blog dated 11 March, mainly changes around the Gate House area, and management of Beatons Wood by coppicing.
Challenges this year?
The question on what dates to be open has been dealt with above and in some depth by my first Blog of 4 March, but starting so early does it mean we have to extend the opening dates? If so will we find the experienced personnel to cover any extra days! Getting out of store all the furniture and equipment from last year, then getting it cleaned ready for the opening is always time consuming, as is preparing the buildings which tend to be used for a host of farming activities after each Bluebell Walk closes! New signing planned for this year has taken longer than expected and is only just being erected today! The card terminal which is cheaper to hire for the year, even though it is only used for those few weeks we are open, was kept on charge as requested, but a trial run at the beginning of the week showed it was faulty, so we had to wait for a suitable replacement, and the days tick by! We have to get permission each year to erect our directional signs from the authorities who are responsible for the road network, but this year the persons we normally deal with have changed, to those who have never heard of the Arlington Bluebell Walk, so naturally their agreement has been delayed and the signs have to go up tonight! Everyone rallies round to ensure everything will be in place for tomorrow to welcome our visitors and thus starts the 44th Arlington Bluebell Walk. Each Friday I intend to write a short Blog summarises the past week, also report on how we expect nature is dealing with the bluebells!
This message was added on Friday 1st April 2016
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