Thornham's Blog

thornham field centre, walks and walled garden are part of the Thorham Estate in north Suffolk

Monday, 27 April 2009

Farming at Thornham

It was good last week to see the sheep on Blacksmith's Meadow being rounded up by sheep dog Roy. They had to be gathered together to be put through a foot dip. There were in fact two dogs earlier in the morning and they just knew their job so well. The sheep weren't stressed they just moved gently into the penned area. So much easier than when the Field Centre and Walks staff have tried to round them up without the help of the dogs! That took hours and everyone was stressed!

On Red House Farm they are busy with planting spring barley and sugar beet. They are spraying the crops and making best use of the lovely weather.

Our scarecrow fortunately doesn't stop the birds coming from the garden by the Field Centre office, we like to see him there!
Not everyone is interested in the farm or the garden, the play equipment is always popular.

Monday, 6 April 2009

more exciting signs of spring at Thornham

Click on play and watch the video of the toad spawn and emerging tadpoles. The toad spawn is laid in long strings rather than the clump of frog spawn. Look at the bottom of the film for the tadpoles swimming around and as the camera moves up, the movement on the water is where there are masses of tadpoles breaking through the surface of the water on the pond. This video was taken of the pond on the left of the Spinney edging Hobby Close, not Spinney pond which edges the Park.

Blue tits have begun to build a nest in our box which has a camera inside, which is hugely exciting as they haven't used this box for the last couple of years. When you come to Thornham, the television screen to view the nest is in the lobby of the large meeting room known as the Display Centre.

The peacocks are strutting about displaying their magnificent feathers, the primroses and daffodils are out and the countryside is bursting into the green of spring. Well worth a visit to Thornham. Don't forget the Thornham Walks Easter egg trail and Easter bonnet competition on Easter Sunday 12th April. Start 2.00 p.m. meet at the main car park, children £3 accompanying adults free.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Seasonal changes

As part of our work to give schools as much back up and follow up material as possible we are compiling an archive of photos for their use. Each month we are taking the same 32 photos of areas of Thornham used by school groups for them to compare and contrast what changes occur as the seasons change.

We have done January, February and March.

No: 1 Farm Pond in January No: 1 Farm Pond in February

No: 13 Pinetum in February No: 13 Pinetum in March

Check out the web site as the year progresses and click on the teachers' area of the site.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Environmental art at Thornham

Environmental art is a popular course for both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils.

A group of KS1 children made miniature gardens this week.

They had good fun collecting natural things in Red Wood and working as a team to design their gardens.

The children are encouraged to look for patterns and symmertry in nature, to look at colours and the variations in shades. They may collect materials on sticky cards, or enjoy a session mud painting. They may make banners or leaf rubbings or decorate trees with chalk. There are several artistic activies to choose from.

click here for link to thornham courses and then click on art.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

If you are coming on a day trip to Thornham.........

If you are coming on a school day trip to Thornham you may wonder what it will be like. Your teacher will have chosen a course for you to follow from our list on our web site Your teacher will have clicked on the teacher icon and selected 2009 courses. This will probably fit in with what you are doing at school, although you may be doing a fun course such as Team Building or Outdoor Living Skills.

Most schools arrive by coach, the coach parks in our coach park. Look out for the sheep in the field by the coach park. At the moment they are Norfolk Horn Sheep, though we sometimes have other breeds.

Your Thornham tutor will meet your coach and take you to the main Field Centre buildings

You come through the main entrance and see the Thornham Walks' notice board. Thornham Walks staff look after the 12 miles of footpaths at Thornham which are open to the public.

The path goes by the picnic site where you may have lunch if the weather is good. If there is time after lunch, you may be able to go on the play equipment.

As you turn the corner you will see the entrance to Thornham Walks, there is about half a mile of surface foot path which goes round our Walled Garden, look out for the ancient oak tree on the left which is about 600 years old. There are several information boards dotted along this path to help explain things about Thornham to you. The first one tells you how the late Lord Henniker and his wife started Thornham Walks, Field Centre and Walled Garden.

You will see the Field Centre and Walks office ahead of you and then as you go down the slope you will see the Display Centre where you will leave your bags and eat your lunch if the weather is bad. You may use the Green Room which is through the archway if the Display Centre is being used. This is a picture of Jean, our Education Officer outside the Display Centre.

We hope you have a lovely day!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Wildlife and vegetable gardening at Thornham

When you visit Thornham take a look at our wildlife and vegetable garden. The garden began as a resource for schools to give them ideas how to attract wildlife to their own play grounds (see our Playground Pioneers course on our web site go to teachers' page then click on course list) The vegetables were added as back up for our food, farming and the environment course which teaches children where their food comes from.

The garden has expanded hugely this year, it is looked after by Tim Page from the Upper Waveney Valley Project.

Tim and his team of volunteers have this year made 6 new raised beds which will be planted with potatoes, parsnips, runner beans, broad beans, lettuce, onions, garlic, squash etc. Herbs are grown in old tyres, and soft fruit in one of the raised beds.

Tim plans to grow sweet peas and nasturtiums in hanging baskets to attract insects, he is going to add to the mixed wildflowers which are planted near the pond which he has recently cleaned out. The log pile behind the pond has been extended, this provides shelter for newts over winter and shelter for woodlice, snails etc. Sunflowers and globe thistles will be planted behind the pond for their nectar and then seeds. There are several bird feeding stations around the garden and honey suckle is growing up the side of the shed.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Signs of Spring

There are some positive signs of spring, the song thrushes are singing around the Walled Garden and nut hatches in the Pinetum.

The snow drops are still looking really good.

The flowers are out on the yew, but not yet releasing their pollen.

John, the Ranger, has been doing work in the Nuttery which is just outside the Walled Garden. He has been coppicing and planting 6 new hazel coppice stools. The coppicing was done in the past so tool handles, chair legs, thatching pegs etc could be made from the wood before it got too big. John usually leaves between 6 and 10 young shoots in case the deer attack all the new growth. The coppicing will happen about once every 8 years.