For those who don't already know, we are a volunteer community group who work with Bristol City Council to conserve, improve and promote this wonderful Estate.
Have a browse round the site and get an idea of the sort of things do we get involved in. Here are some of the key areas:
• Funding additional facilities such as new notice boards, litter bins, steps and minor repair work on to certain buildings.
• Organising a number of seasonal events.
• Conservation work, particularly in the woodland and along the banks of the Hazel Brook. For instance, we hope to play a major part in the 3 year woodland maintenance activities which has just started.
• Opening the Castle, the Kitchen Garden, and the Dairy Garden which would otherwise remain closed to the public.
• Further development of the Kitchen Garden as the facilities improve and the landscaping of the site is developed.
• Liaising with the Council and the local community to achieve the right balance of priorities for the Estate.
• Supporting visits to Blaise by schools, community and special interest groups.
As we enter 2017, we face not only the January frosts but also frozen Council Park budgets, making the job of maintaining the fabric of Blaise even harder than it was last year.
This will clearly be our biggest challenge and to meet it we will need to put more emphasis into mobilising volunteer support, deciding on our top priorities and implementing these with the funding we have at our disposal.
We must also ensure that our voices are heard by the Council as they implement their austerity budget plans.
But we cannot do this without the help of the local community and in particular, the Friends of Blaise and your suggestions and support are now needed more than ever.
However the current situation that the Council now finds itself is leading to a closer more cooperative relationship with them for our volunteer work and funding contributions, and this has got to be a good thing for us in the longer term.
As a reminder, the Kitchen Garden is open all year round on Saturdays and Wednesdays 10am to 1pm.
The castle is closed until April, and 2017 opening times will be put up as soon as they are confirmed.
Alastair Blackwell Chairman