On Monday, our contractors arrived to mark out the footings of the new "Environmental Education Centre". I must say, I prefer the name to "Countryside Classroom", which sounds schoolish, but I would really have liked to call it "The Nature Lab".
Call it what you will, it's huge! We looked at the array of wooden pegs and thought "This is much bigger than we originally planned". However, it's not really as big as all that; a great deal of the space is taken up by the wrap-around balcony and the disabled access ramp.
Before all the marker-pegs were in the ground, the pile driver arrived. I was most amused by the name of the company which is "The Severn Bore Piling Company". Perhaps we should have a competition to dream up witty names for pile drivers. "Piles R Us"? "Totally Boring"? Let me know your thoughts when you see me. Please don't write in.
Moving swiftly on. The next event on the site will be the arrival of the little Portakabin to be used by the construction team. This will be on the hard-standing at the start of the Heron Trail. Meanwhile, next week, work starts on the services trench which will run all the way from the new building to a point quite a long way up the High Street where we will be plumbed into the mains sewers.
Although you can't see it, the building itself is already under construction, in a hangar in Derbyshire. It will be dismantled and brought onto the site in Mid March, ready for fitting out.
I hope you are all pleased with the design. It will match our vistors' centre and the "living sedum roof" will be an interesting feature, planted with stonecrops like the ones that grow all over the bare gravel nearby.
Of course there will be a bit of a mess for a while, but it will be worth it! Meanwhile, school visits and all our activities will continue to be based at the Visitors' Centre.
The building will be manned by the Wildlife Trust who will run the education programme. Most of the funding comes from the Aggregate Levy, which is a tax on gravel quarries, managed by Natural England. The Wildlife Trust, Hunts District Council and The Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve are all partners in the project which will deliver a wide range of activities, not just for children and not just biology.