Friday, 29 May 2015

Focus on faces for Anglesey Abbey's latest photo competition

We love sharing everyone's photos of Anglesey Abbey on our Community Wall: summer flowers, spring bulbs, winter stems, autumn colours, mellow stone, glorious vistas and stunning close ups... 

But for some reason, hardly anyone ever sends us photos of our amazing statues or stone figures on the house.

We're asking everyone who visits or works at Anglesey Abbey to spend some time with our statues this June and to send us photographs of faces that catch their eye. 

All photos sent to us at will be entered into our June 'Focus on Faces' photo competition.

The competition is open to everyone. 

So whether you focus on faces that are human, mythical or animal, send your photos to:

by 30 June 2015.

We'll contact you if your photo is displayed on the Community Wall and we'll send a £10 NT gift card to one adult and one under-14 for the most striking photograph.

We hope you enjoy getting to know our statues and carvings better and we're looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Kate Boursnell
Volunteer Community Reporter
Anglesey Abbey

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Cuckoo and dunnock project at Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey is playing its part in a research project to find out whether birds discourage cuckoos from laying eggs in their nests.

Cuckoos are known as ‘brood parasites’. They lay a single egg in other birds’ nests, then leave the host birds to rear the cuckoo chicks. The host birds’ eggs or chicks don’t survive. Dunnocks are a favourite host bird and we have several dunnocks nesting here in the grounds at Anglesey Abbey.

Jenny York from Cambridge University’s Dept of Zoology is looking for the answers to 2 questions about dunnock behaviour:

1. Do dunnocks respond differently to cuckoos than to other nest predators like magpies?
2. Do dunnocks’ alarm calls affect how other dunnocks nearby respond to cuckoos?

Jenny will be using model cuckoos and magpies and recordings of dunnock alarm calls to answer these questions.

Photos copyright North East Wildlife.

Kate Boursnell

Volunteer Community Reporter

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Ground force...

The villagers in Reach put in a ground force effort last weekend planting a hedge at Reach 24 along the front edge. Funded by the Woodlands Trust and The National Trust. 

There were plans for all day planting, when I arrived at 9.30 things were well underway. I get going at 11.30 to make into Cambridge for a volunteering fair but things were all most complete as you can see from the pics below.

The hedge should provided a nice barrier between the track and the cricket pitch; meaning the fence will not need to replaced in a few years as by then the hedge should be established. It will also provide good extra habitat and berries for wildlife. 

Lois Baker 
Community Ranger
Wicken Fen

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Building community bridges....

Literally! The second bridge at the gutter bridge community woodland was built on Friday so walkers wanting to enjoy the wood at the edge of Swaffham Bulbeck can now happy cross the inner ditch with out loosing a welly!

After  morning of heaving, bolting, screwing, preserving and by village working group members and me and Maddie the first user of the bridge turned up at just the right time!

We were also able to instal an NT omega there as well. 

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Valentines TLC for the trees at White Fen

This valentines the trees at White Fen got some extra care and attention. 

Planted from 2010-2014 there are now over 6000 saplings at the Lode and Long Meadow Community woodland on White Fen. To give them the best chance of survival our team of volunteers spent the  morning straightening their canes, replacing their guards and clearing ants nest out from the old guards. A full on tree spa treatment!

The morning ended with a campfire lunch and marshmallows for the hard workers!

To find out more about White Fen or becoming a volunteer tree checker please contact Lois:


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Willow weaving wonders!

The community volunteer team at Anglesey Abbey got together on a beautifully chilly February day to carry out some much needed repairs to the sensory tunnel. 

Under the expert instruction of Jane Frost, a local willow-weaving guru, we wove away! Maddie even had a go sawing – a great way to keep warm!! 

We have added supports, as our poor willow tunnel was starting to wilt, so hopefully our tunnel will cope with the hundreds of children who love to run through on their way to the treehouse! We have added some circular peep-holes too.

With the left-over willow, we have run some willow weaving with visiting families which have gone down really well.

Why not pop down to the treehouse to inspect our handiwork?!  

Sophie Atkinson
Family Volunteering Project Co-ordinator and Community Engagement Assistant
Anglesey Abbey 

Photography © Sophie Atkinson 

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Fish in the Forest

You never know where you’ll end up when you step into the storytelling circle in Hoe Fen. Last Tuesday I was transported into the cold depths of Russia – perhaps not such a shock since it was pretty cold already!

While in Russia I met farmer Oleg, who had made a very fortunate discovery...

Farmer Oleg finding treasure!

While digging he had found a chest of gold! But, rather than celebrating this wonderful news with his wife like most men would, he chose not to do so. Fearing her wagging tongue, he had to hide his find, otherwise the evil King Igor would come and claim the gold for himself. What could he do?! His wife Alyona had heard him trying to hide the treasure and had become suspicious.

Then Oleg came up with an ingenious plan. He went to the market and bought fish, cakes and sausages.

At the market he bought fish...


and sausages.

Returning to the forest, he laid the fish on the grass, hung the cakes from a tree and tied sausages from a fishing line. He then rushed home to tell his wife. His wife was amazed!

Fish swimming in the grass!

Then suddenly King Igor turned up at their door, demanding the gold he had heard was there. 

King Igor and his majestic cloak
Oleg’s poor confused wife told the King of the fish swimming in the grass, the sausages in the river and the cakes growing from the trees. It was clear to King Igor this woman was mad as a march hare. She’d clearly made up the story about the gold. King Igor left empty handed. 

But while many may have thought Oleg had outwitted his wife, she was no dizzy goose. Alyona had in fact pocketed some gold herself!

Then the scenes of Russia melted away and I was back in the storytelling circle. I was now in the company of the Home Educators’ drama group who had been putting on a performance of the play they were working on this term.

Chatting to the cast, everyone had loved taking part. Naomi's favourite part was using coconut shells to make the sound of King Igor galloping, while Billy loved his role as narrator. 

Billy and Ethan - the narrators of the tale
Farmer Oleg, played by Hadley, explained the use of Lego as currency to me –I’ll be holding onto the next long yellow piece of Lego I find as it’s worth 200 rupees! 

King Igor’s fabulous cloak had been made by Jo and Lotte from lovely autumnal leaves. Lotte, who played the not so ditsy wife, loved lighting her candle and getting to have the last line of the play!

Their director Jo says...

"The process of taking our Russian folktale (first told to them in the treehouse many weeks ago) and turning it into a play with props and costumes has been a real journey for our Home Ed group. For most of the children, it is their first foray into the world of drama, let alone performing outdoors, where the natural environment can create greater demands on projecting one's voice. (Hercules aircraft overhead, not withstanding!)

I was amazed at Ethan's natural ability for turning two thirds of the story into a script, which included him researching Russian Geography and canvassing the cast on which Russian names they liked best for their characters!

If you had asked 3 of the cast whether they would be in a performance when we first met in September, they would have run a mile! So what they achieved yesterday (albeit a work in progress) was amazing!"

The full cast were...

Narrators: Billy and Ethan
Farmer Oleg: Hadley
Farmer's wife, Alyona: Lotte
King Igor: Jem
Fishmonger Larisa: Naomi
Baker Alina: Esme
Butcher Marta: Penny
King's soldiers: Naomi and Esme

We hope the Home Educators will continue putting on fabulous performances. I look forward to where they'll take me next time!

Sophie Atkinson
Family Volunteering Project Co-ordinator and Community Engagement Assistant
Anglesey Abbey 

Photography © Sophie Atkinson