We’d like to help get the building prettied up a bit – any suggestions and help welcome! – but it’s already great value – here’s what a friend who used it for his kid’s party last year wrote:
It’s a very nice venue. The woods were centre stage for us but we also used the building to gather everyone together at the start and we were in there again after our party activities in the woods for pasta and birthday cake.
It would have been really helpful to have a fridge and a cooker or hob. Also the chairs that are there are difficult for little kids to manouevre and took up too much space when we set them up around the tables (this wouldn’t matter so much with a smaller group). We brought our own, but some people might want a basic sound/speaker set-up?
It’s great that you have time to set up and tidy up – a lot of places have a small timeframe and that can be very stressful. Also it was easy to clean up and look after – nothing breakable or needing polishing! We had lots of muddy kids in there but it wasn’t a big deal to mop up after them. Lots of powerpoints too, which is useful.
I think everyone who came enjoyed it and thought it was a real find as a venue. A lot of people hadn’t realised it was there, but one person had been at a party there in the summertime and had really liked it then too.
The courtyard could be prettied up very easily too, which would make a good outdoor eating area in summer, particularly if you had a couple of picnic tables. In fact, I thought it would be a brilliant spot for a summer pop-up if you’d have any interest in me trying that out?!
And even an AGM, beforehand from 12.00. What more could anyone want?
Seriously, from 1-4pm Dacres Wood will be open for our regular last Saturday of the month Open Day. Dani will be organising an arts themed activity for kids, in anticipation of Dacres Wood being a major venue for the Sydenham Visual Arts Trail the following two weekends. Visitors to the Open Day may have a chance to meet some of the artists preparing for this.
At 1.15pm we will hold an official opening of the new bridge / walkway running across the pond at Dacres Wood, by our local Councillor Susan Wise.
The new bridge has been largely funded by the Perry Vale local assembly and allows visitors a closer look at the wildlife in and around the pond as well as providing a new route through and viewpoints of the reserve. We are promised a rather special ribbon for Susan to cut, made for us by Ema’s Secret Adventurers, who meet at Dacres Wood on Tuesday mornings.
As always, our Open Day is an opportunity for any one just to enjoy the space, and meet the Friends. If you want to get more involved, why not come along to our AGM, which will start at 12.00, and after a brief formal part, will be mainly a discussion about future plans and ideas.
Thanks to Fiona B who contacted us with this recipe ahead of Saturday’s blackberrying Open Day:
150g/5oz unsalted butter, softened
150/5oz caster sugar
150/5oz ground almonds
150/5oz self raising flour
1 free range egg
10ml/ 2 teaspoons cinnamon
10ml/2teaspoons vanilla extract
225/8oz fresh blackberries
Plus some for decoration
Icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark4. Check temperature for fan ovens.
Grease and line the base of a 23cm/9 inch spring form tin
Put the butter, sugar, almonds, flour, egg, vanilla extract and 5ml/ 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a bowl and beat well together.
Spread half the mixture into the prepared tin, lightly flatten the stiff mixture with a fork.
Sprinkle over the blackberries, carefully dot and then evenly spread the remaining mixture over the blackberries to cover them.
Place the tin on a baking tray and bake for about 1 hour until golden on top. Test after 45 mins with a skewer, cover with foil to prevent burning the top if it is not ready, cook for another 15 minutes or so. Leave to cool completely in the tin. If still quite warm will break up when removed.
Dust the top with the remaining cinnamon and icing sugar, arrange a few blackberries on top for decoration
Last Saturday saw our last regular “last Saturday” Open Day for 2016, although the last Saturday of October will see volunteers from GoodGym Lewisham helping clear reeds from the pond.
But now we are thinking ahead, to 2017 and beyond.
Of course, we will resume our regular “last Saturday” Open Days, which we hope will continue to offer so many parents an opportunity to show their kids nature right here in SE23.
But Tim is also planning to resume his regular photo-blogging about plants and fungi, but on a regular day each month, and will be encouraging other people with an interest in plants and photography to join him.
Following the course run by Richard “Bugman” Jones on collecting insects, we are also thinking of similar monthly visits to photograph and identify insects and other invertebra. Unfortunately, to identify many species, it is necessary to kill them, so we plan to limit this to these proposed monthly visits, or ad hoc visits from experts with the sort of training Richard offers.
Finally, we are thinking of regular monthly conservation volunteering days, which will complement the work already being done by Thames 21 volunteers, and to be done by GoodGym Lewisham.
If you are interested in any of these opportunities to get more involved with Dacres Wood, please comment here, but when we have firmed up on actual dates, we will be contacting our growing mailing list, and using various local media to spread the message further.
In 2017, from March, depending a bit on the weather, we’re going to have two regular sessions at the nature reserve on the last Tuesdays of each month – so
From 9.30, a group of conservation volunteers will spend a couple of hours doing whatever might be needed round the site to improve bio-diversity, conditions for our wildlife, people getting about.
Then, in the afternoon from 2.30 for an hour, another group will go round identifying plants, seeing what flowers are out, what leaves appearing, and taking photos which will be posted to the website and on Facebook as a record of the reserve through the seasons
For both, just turn up, although be ready to get muddy, or even wet, if doing conservation work in the pond, so dress sensibly. And, you will be expected to accept some basic health and safety requirements. For identifying plants, please bring cameras, and share photos!
If you want to check about any of these, post a comment below
From April, we will be resuming our regular Open Days on the last Saturday of each month, so
These will be from 1.00 pm to 4.00 pm, and an opportunity just to look around the reserve in your own time. However, we hope also to organise special activities, appealing to young families, such as a Teddy Bears’ Picnic, and blackberrying combined with den building. (The yields of blackberries were not great in 2016, but kids still had a lot of fun with their dens!)
We are also planning to set up moth traps the evening before, and have one of more volunteers come in to identify what there is fluttering around the reserve at the different times of the year. We will be doing this to develop a record of the sites bio-diversity, but we hope also to be able to share some of what we find with Open Day visitors. Also, on the “last Saturday” mornings, from 11.00, volunteers who have done a “Curious entomologists” course with professional entomologist Richard Jones will also look for other insects.
All welcome – and a special welcome to those who like us are interested to know what insects we have! We will be at the entrance for 11.00, but leave a message with the comments below if you want to come along, but are not sure if you will be there at 11.00!