Beyond Lockdown - A volunteer's perspective

Lockdown has had a big effect on all of us, not least our volunteers, many of whom had to stop work with us altogether at the height of the Covid-19 crisis. Great Fen volunteer Caroline Lewis shares her experience of coming back

Lockdown – March 2020 and a sudden end to the early spring days spent at Ramsey Heights.   For the next few months all the energy that normally goes into cleaning up and sorting out ready for the summer, hacking back brambles, pulling up fast-growing nettles and watching the first (Brimstone) butterflies appear had to be re-directed. 

The regular trips to Ramsey Heights were replaced with a daily nature-watch at home (40+ different species including a beautiful sparrowhawk and a family of bank voles), lots of local walks and a number of projects at home and in the garden. Oh, and then there was work, too.  Busy I was!

Did I miss the Wildlife Trust during Lockdown? The answer is a resounding YES. I missed the camaraderie of working in a small team and the regular proper physical exercise.  

 

Freedom - having excitedly (yes, really!) returned to Ramsey Heights in late July after a 4 month break, I discovered 3 things:

  1. Just getting out into a “new” environment after so long came with a huge sense of freedom and almost trepidation (a bit like the first day at a new job).  Bizarre but true!
  2. The forest elves had been busy whilst we were away, keeping some of the paths open and the birds fed. Thank you – getting some control over the undergrowth would have been so much harder without you.
  3. Despite being outdoors on most days during Lockdown, walking and working in the garden on your own is not the same as being properly fit. 
Volunteer Caroline at Ramsey Heights in the Great Fen

Caroline, volunteering in the jungle (!) at the Great Fen

Faced with the jungle-like appearance of some of the lesser paths at the Countryside Centre in July, some muscles resisted and others protested. That first (half) day was spent helping to make the children’s pond-dipping area useable again (mostly nettles, forget-me-nots and some much more resistant burdocks to clear). Not that hot, not that difficult but I came away aching (in a good way), sweaty, covered in dust and bits of undergrowth and feeling very chuffed with what we had achieved and I was happy to be back. 

Since then I’ve helped clear some of the rampaging brambles (lots more to do!), swept up behind the brush-cutting (more needed) and had another attempt at clearing the pond-dipping area (those weeds will keep growing). 

Working outdoors with somebody else, having a laugh on a hot summers day or comparing just how wet you got during that sudden torrential downpour (totally soaked – we abandoned the plan) have all added to that sense of achievement and well-being from getting hands-on and physically tired doing something worthwhile...

Yes, beyond Lockdown, I am glad to be back!

Events at the Great Fen