I’ve had my fingers crossed so tightly for the last few days that the weather would be good that I almost couldn’t uncross mine to actually get stuck in when we had a day of light drizzle rather than relentless rain on Tuesday. Why was it an important day? Well, we had members of the Pheonix Centre or ‘Crew Pheonix’ as they prefer to be known coming along to help clear out and around the pond and regular volunteers and we had Channel 4 doing some research filming on the project and Karen from the Buteman. A busy day and of course despite staggering arrival times in the plan, everyone arrived at exactly the same time!


First thing was first – checking out the progress made whilst I’ve been slacking off. I’ve not been able to get up the forest for volunteering these last couple of weeks, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find the compost toilet virtually complete – hurrah! And quite beautiful it looks too… well, for a toilet. We shall have a ‘grand opening’ in the Easter school holidays.

The first to arrive, a group of our regular adult volunteers, got stuck in on the top pond area, clearing out branches and checking to see what wildlife they could find – absolutely nothing apart from loads of frog spawn which had sprung up since the afternoon before. After reassurances from our wildlife expert that the pond wouldn’t be able to support as many tadpoles as had already been spawned anyway and we wouldn’t disturb them if we were careful, we carried on, still making sure to disturb them as little as possible. (I popped back later when the group had moved onto another area to find the pond teeming with frogs going about their business having paid no attention to our ministrations whatsoever).

Crew Pheonix, Karen from the Buteman and C4 film maker then turned up all at the same time, creating a mini whirlwind of activity after an on-the-spot adjustment to our risk assessment determined a change of work area was needed. The team quickly sorted out access to the lower part of the pond and we all got stuck in – well those of us not learning how to start fires for sausage cooking anyway!

It was good to see Director Jim Mitchell finally getting his hands dirty too! (I’ll get a ‘oi’ from Jim for that comment no doubt.) Actually, he doesn’t know about it yet, but when he pulled out the final nail to ‘complete’ the compost toilet for the cameras, remarking ‘I’m getting all the credit for no work’, he was actually pulling out a rather vital part of the building – but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.

Stephen from Crew Pheonix centre later gave me some great words of wisdom – when we work together, we’re a team, and being in a team makes him happy. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks everyone. The final photo doesn’t do justice to the difference we really made up there that day, but I can assure everyone that the treat of Hanne’s home-baked macaroons was very well deserved.