Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

Winning a prize lifts the spirits

CPRE logoWe’ve won a prize – a CPRE Mark to be precise. A slightly cryptic name perhaps; exciting nonetheless and something that has lifted our spirits. The Bedfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has run the Living Countryside Awards for three years. They aim to recognise landowners, individuals and commercial users of the land who are making special efforts to preserve and enhance the visual appearance and biodiversity of Bedfordshire and to make a living from the countryside.

We get very excited about our little bit of Bedfordshire and have been known to go on about it when anyone’s prepared to listen – the wonderful views to the chalk hills of Pegsdon, ancient hedgerows, the appearance of orchids on what was arable land, common blue butterflies in June,  buzzards, local people enjoying it too. It’s really nice to hear that other people feel the same way and the fact that they were prepared to give us a lovely brass plaque too, just makes us happier. Thanks to everyone involved.


  1. Margaret Morgan Margaret Morgan
    December 29, 2010    

    Hi Jane and Guy!

    Read about your CPRE award last week and am glad you’re inviting comments-I was going to e-mail you anyway!! Congratulations.

    I’m learning beekeeping and have 2 national hives in the garden. I need to invent a screen for these as well and wonder if you’d be willing to share ideas. Our woodpeckers have become curious and I’m wondering if we could get our heads together about providing a cloaking device-not quite a Harry Potter invisibility cloak – but you’ll get the drift. My current bending of chicken wire is not in keeping with obelisks, spheres and hurdles! I seem to remember you were hoping to keep bees in the future too…

    Keep smiling-despite the cold and damp.

    Margaret Morgan

    • December 30, 2010    

      Hello Margaret,
      Thanks for your message and congratulations.

      We sold the last of our bees in July – I just couldn’t find the time to look after them properly. I do miss them and it will be strange next spring not to enjoy that first warm day and the very pleasant opening of a hive for the first time. Still; probably better to do fewer things to a higher standard. Perhaps at some point I will acquire some more.

      I had problems with green woodpeckers – probably just one individual, and lost lots of brood boxes to him or her over the last two winters. All my own fault as I hadn’t got wire around them in time. I think a woven willow screen could work. Having sat here for a while, enjoying quite a large piece of my mother-in-law’s excellent Christmas cake, I’ve got to wondering about the possibility of creating something akin to a ‘hive cover’ that could simply be lowered into place as winter sets in. I started thinking ‘box’ then moved to ‘cone’ which made me wonder if a cone could be an obelisk of a certain size and shape – to sit over the hive in the winter, providing protection from marauding woodpeckers and then, in spring, rather than sitting redundant in a corner, it could be placed in your garden and used as a frame on which to grow sweet peas.

      A flight of fancy perhaps but I think willow could be used in a number of ways to create a cloaking device for hives. Perhaps if you let me know how high you keep your hives in the winter and if you are thinking of something that protects both hives in one go. One option could be to create something with living willow that is permanent and that can be modified easily in the winter to create your woodpecker barrier. Good thing about living willow is that it produces catkins with lots of pollen, very early in the season (if you choose the right variety).

      As you can no doubt tell, I could go on. Let me know what you think and perhaps we could talk about it.

      Thanks again for contacting us.
      Best wishes,
      Guy and Jane

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