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Friday 19th December 2008
After several busy months in which we tidied up the paths, dug ditches, pruned back overgrown foliage and cleared out the river; this is the last meeting for the volunteers until 2009. The Rangers have kindly arranged for us all to have lunch, the catering provided by the Rissi family from Millfield Cafe. Whilst sitting at the dining table one of the volunteers happened to be looking out of the window and noticed a woodpecker had come down to the bird feeding area to take advantage on the nuts and seeds hanging there. It isn’t often that we see such a shy bird in a relatively open space – a very nice end to the year.

Sunday 14th December 2008
Festive Fun Day. A lovely afternoon in which carol singers sang a mixture of traditional and modern songs much to all of the visitors delight. At the same time the Rangers held several creative events in the information room e.g. making table decorations and making gift bags for presents. The volunteer rangers and the PDSA manned stalls outside for fundraising. Although the weather was a bit cloudy and very cold the event went off extremely well.

Saturday 30th August 2008
All work carried out was within the ‘Quarry’ area. This was originally a sandstone quarry, but was turned into a ‘Chinese Garden’ by Lord Armstrong. Part of the muddy path was cleared and repaired, two of the volunteers spent several hours trying to remove graffiti which defaces and ‘uglifies’ the sandstone walls of the quarry. This is a hard task, and not all of the graffiti was able to be removed. Several of us also cleared away ivy growing over the wall at the top of the quarry, this has let much more light into the interior and has opened it out a lot, so that more people may see it from the path and feel able to go down and visit the area. In Lord Armstrong’s time there were several stands of bamboo, but, unfortunately there is very little of this left here now. Finally the paths at the top of the quarry were cleared and swept, with some of the overhanging growth removed.

Wednesday 28th August 2008
This morning we repaired the gate into the small nature area used for educational visits. Unfortunately this had been vandalised by presumably mindless louts. The padlockand chain were missing. Then the Park Ranger spotted large pieces of plastic in the river by bridge and in the process of getting that out she found the padlock! The rest of the time was spent on path clearing.

Sunday 24th August 2008
A lovely morning, bright and sunny. We collected the tools and put them in a couple of wheelbarrows to take them to ‘the Banqueting Hall’ at the upper level of the Dene. The path alongside the Banqueting Hall was covered with mud because of all the heavy rain and very messy. We shovelled all the mud off the path and down to a depth where the hardcore level was uncovered. We had taken up several loads of granite to cover these paths but discovered this wasn’t necessary one the mud had been removed, hopefully the next rainfall will now just run off into the Ouseburn. Interesting to dwell on the thought that Lord Armstrong had a water powered organ installed to provide music for his guests!

Tuesday 5th August 2008
After a very busy few months tending and ‘looking after’ the Dene, today, we did various 'tidying up' jobs. Two of us went to St. Mary's Well, cleared out the overflow and swept up all the dead leaves which had accumulated at the bottom. The rest of the Volunteers along with the Park Ranger went to the Chapel to tidy up around this ancient building. It is good to see that people still leave flowers and tiny shrines in the way that pilgrims did so long ago. Finally we all progressed down to the Lord Armstrong’s Banqueting Hall, widening the path and clearing the weeds around the Hall itself.

Sunday 3rd August 2008
Today was an ‘Environment Day’ so there were several stalls and displays on Colemans Field. The Volunteer Rangers made £84 for the ‘tool fund’ on the tombola and plant stalls. We thank everyone who came along and contributed to the event. The Friends of Jesmond Dene also manned a stall and were able to explain about the history of the Dene to members of the public. Fortunately the weather stayed dry more or less apart from the odd shower or two and frequent gusts of wind.

Saturday 29th March 2008
Another busy but enjoyable day, working on trees. This morning was warm and sunny and two of us took out tree growth opposite to the Banqueting Hall, whilst the rest of us dragged out the wood and tidied up along the paths. It was our intention to finish the work in the afternoon i.e. take out more trees but unfortunately the weather changed and everyone got soaked by heavy rain. No-one had taken waterproofs as the morning had been so fine so after felling a couple of trees the task was abandoned. - rain stopped play.

Wednesday 26th march 2008
In the morning we took out some small trees along the river bank opposite to the banqueting hall to improve the view. The Rangers - Jo and Sarah worked in the river removing debris, overhanging branches and those trees growing from the river bank. The afternoon session was devoted to more 'lumberjack' work in the proposed new nature area behind Pets Corner. A large tree this time had snapped off at the base and damaged the fence - so had to be removed.

Thursday 14th March 2008
Back again to 'The Grotto' and immediate area for more tree thinning, and lopping of overgrown ivy. This entailed cutting down some fairly large trees which resulted in more physical hard work. Felling then moving the fallen trees to a pile ready for chipping took a lot of strenuous effort but the result is worth it. In the past Lady Armstrong was said to have liked the effect 'The Grotto' had on unsuspecting guests. It has a different character to other parts of the Dene - being a bit mysterious and moody - almost gothic. In the time of the Armstrongs there was a pond in The Grotto (now long gone) which probably added to the already atmosphereic surrounding.

Sunday 9th March 2008
A beautiful bright morning. We were working in 'The Grotto' today and as we walked along we saw that The River Ouseburn was so still that the river banks reflected almost perfect symmetry. On reaching The Grotto, the Park Rangers, Jo and Sarah directed us to lop back the mass of ivy which was overhanging the whole area.
After clearing this out of the way the rock face became visible and we were able to continue by taking down some small trees and saplings which had seeded themselves over the years. This was hard work as even the smallest trees are fairly hefty and require a lot of physical effort to move them. Once down they had to be hauled out of the way and up a bank to await chipping. the resultant chips can then be used on some of the paths - a perfect way to recycle the organic material.

February 2008
A very busy morning working in the area opposite Pets Corner. We divided into three 'work' groups to cover the various tasks. One group cleared the river of fallen branches and logs. A second group dug out the old path in the small nature area and relaid this with wood chippings. This is to tidy up the area in preparation for school visits. The third group continued clearing an area of shrubs, tree saplings, and rubbish in preparation for the creation of a new meadow'. It was a lovely clear day and a pleasure to work outside.

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