The announcement went up a week or so ago: new wood chippings are expected [I’d thought, from Kielder Forest Products, but see Comments below]; the park will be closed while the delivery and spreading is accomplished; volunteers would be very much appreciated (from lunch onwards, they say, but since the chippings are coming in at 8am, maybe an earlier foray to assess the situation would be helpful?) to help spread the tons and tons of material around the play zones.
After that first announcement, the delivery was delayed, so they’re expected today, Tuesday, and it’ll be a case of ‘all hands on deck’ to get the play areas nice and cushioned again with fresh smelling chippings.
In anticipation of the delivery, a small gang of volunteers have got to work already on the nasty weeds that managed to get through cracks in the membrane underneath the old chippings.
Over time, the wood chippings do decompose, and every few years they must be replaced to maintain safety in case of falls from a height. You might be surprised at the tonnage required to safely cover the play areas. I seem to recall that the big lorry from Kielder can carry some 20 tons. Delivery costs are the same up to that capacity, so although a ton, or cubic meter, has a fixed cost, the relative cost per meter transported goes down slightly the more chippings are purchased; it pays, in other words, to purchase the whole requirement in one go.
But a mound of 15 tons or so of wood chippings, near enough to a full lorry load, is something else to see, let alone to spread. It’s a job for an energetic group of folks, that’s for sure! One year George Little handled farmer Nick Howard’s front loader John Deere and scooped up two wheelbarrow loads at a time, dumping the chippings straight into waiting barrows. That was a lot less work! Other years the job has been facilitated by workers taking turns on the loading, the barrow trundling, and the raking out.
And oh! The delight when it’s finished! The place looks spruced (ha!) up, with such a clean fresh smell. Families will feel safer, mud problems will be minimised, and the place will be so refreshed that it’ll feel new.
Thanks to all the volunteers — it’s surely at least a little consolation to realise how much the work is appreciated when it’s done!