October 7, 2019


Volunteering to cut down trees, knees-ups and courses on how to run an apiary.

Most of us eat far too much at Crimble. And do too little to expend those calories. But help may be in sight. Jon Bishop (Bedford’s Country Park Officer and a man who’s responsible for several sites in the region) is always looking for help from capable volunteers.

Expect hard work that’s certain to burn thousands of calories. Usually it’s felling trees, coppicing, building hedgerows, and removing unwanted growths such as ivy. But it’s a bit of a social event too. And it will get you out of the house to make new friends. So that’s a good way to start the new year.

If you’re interested in being a Priory Country Park Volunteer (you’ll be amply rewarded in drinks and biscuits) then you can get hold of Jon Bishop by emailing him using prioryrangers@bedford.gov.uk. Sessions are usually on either the first or the last Sunday of the month (yet are subject to change, so check first) and the meeting-point is the park ranger’s compound behind the Cloverdale Retreat café. Volunteers always meet at 9.30am for a 10.00am start. And, if you cannot get away on a Sunday or you’re a glutton for punishment, other opportunities are available during the week. Quite a few stalwarts seem to hardly ever go home. It is that much fun!

Not everyone lives near Priory Park. And help is needed on the other sites in the area. If you would like to know in general terms about local opportunities for volunteers then you should contact Katie Lewis who is the Events & Community Engagement Officer within Environment Services at Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford MK42 9AP. You can call her on 01234 228759. Or email her using events@bedford.gov.uk




Starting in February 2020 Bedford Beekeepers Association is running two ‘Introduction to Beekeeping’ courses; one in Luton and one in Bedford. Each involves 6 indoor theory sessions followed, when they finish and the days are warming up, by outdoor practical sessions.

The cost is £70 a course. But all equipment, including protective clothing, is provided. Below you can see what the courses are likely to include (this list is for guidance only and may be subject to change):


Indoor Theory

Week 1 – Life cycle of bees

Week 2 – The beekeeping year

Week 3 – Healthy bees    

Week 4 – Swarming

Week 5 – Honey harvest      

Week 6 – Surviving winter     

Outdoor Practical (weather dependent)

Week 7 – Protective clothing in the apiary

Week 8 – Using the smoker

Week 9 – Recognising and handling bees, broods, pollen and honey

Week 10 – Making an artificial swarm

Week 11 – Varroa monitoring and treatment

Week 12 – Extracting honey

Bedford’s theory sessions will be held indoors at Moggerhanger Village Hall for six Tuesday evenings starting on 25th March 2020 and lasting from 7.30pm to 10pm. These will be followed by practical sessions outdoors at Priory Country Park Training Apiary on Sunday mornings starting at 10.30 from April to September.

Meanwhile Luton’s theory sessions will be held indoors at Stockwood Park’s Discovery Centre for six Sunday mornings starting on 1st March 2020 and lasting from 10.30am to 12.30pm. These will be followed by practical sessions outdoors at Stockwood Park Training Apiary on Sunday mornings starting at 10.30 from April to September.

This course is suitable for complete beginners and new beekeepers who need help. Bedford Beekeepers Association invite anyone interested to book a place on the course by visiting their dedicated website page at www.bedsbka.org.uk/training/introduction-to-beekeeping/

They meanwhile recommend that newcomers to the course prepare themselves by reading ‘Is Beekeeping for You?’ That’s also on their site.



Interested in hemlock? Not the plant or poison. The morris-dancers.

With midwinter upon us the Hemlock Morris team is soon going to be out and about, entertaining whilst keeping their earthy pagan traditions alive.

They practice in Bedford on a Monday night at the Ent Shed on Castle Road, though they are looking for a new practice venue to use from February. Can you help?

They are also running a bit of a recruitment drive and, to that end, will be having two taster sessions on the Sunday 20th January and Sunday 27th January 2020 from 8pm.

Hemlock Morris’s motivation is to keep alive a tradition that’s already endured for 400 years or so. That’s if we’re talking about the dancing, which is a mix of traditional English Cotswold Morris and Border Morris from the English/Welsh borders. They cavort at local and national events (music festivals, village fetes and in and around Bedford and anywhere within a couple of hours drive of Bedford) throughout the year.

But let’s not forget the drinking, which likewise seems to be an intrinsic part of these good-natured get-togethers, and dates back to pre-history. But now, abandoning one age-old tradition that is a little anachronous, they actually let girls do it too!

Email hemlockcommittee@gmail.com for further details. Photos are on the Hemlock Morris Facebook page and, likewise, on their website page at www.hemlockmorris.com.

It’s definitely worth going if knee-slapping together with the waving of handkerchiefs, pigs’ bladders and clubs holds an appeal. If it doesn’t then apparently there is a 2009 mockumentary starring Sir Derek Jacobi and called ‘A Life with Bells On’ that has a cult following. Maybe you should watch it. Then you can get in touch with these guys via their website at http://hemlockmorris.com/

Paul Dunwell
Paul Dunwell
Paul originally trained as an infantryman then a teacher. He was perhaps the UK’s youngest lecturer and assistant examiner, and taught for almost a decade before moving into Swiss-based commerce then international market intelligence. He’s been a copywriter for almost 30 years. Educated to master’s level twice, he writes for almost every purpose and kind of client imaginable. Paul has 4 children. As you can see from the photo, his other great love is the outdoors. Paul’s ambitions are to catch big fish through small holes in the ice, to be recognized as the rightful King of Swaziland, and to retire early in order to spend more time with his money. Paul’s professional profile is at LinkedIn

Comments are closed.