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Meldreth Primary School

The school has been closed for Christmas and New Year since our previous report on festive celebrations in school, so with little else to report, I thought it might be a good time to reflect upon the great linden tree that has dominated the playground since the school opened in 1910.

‘Linden’ of course is the old English name for the lime tree and sounds a good deal more romantic than the appellation of ‘The Tree’ that is usually used to identify this majestic plant. I suspect that initially there may have been a second lime alongside our survivor, to balance another pair that grow in the caretaker’s garden, however I have no information or record of this being the case. Our own lime continues to thrive uncontested for light or water and has grown to a considerable height accordingly. Generations of older children at the school have at one time or another set their clinometers to 45˚ and walked backwards until they find themselves in line with the topmost twigs, enabling them to work out the actual height of the tree by creating a simple right angled triangle with the peak. In summer I am always delighted when children present me with enormous lime hawk moth caterpillars that have fallen from above and present the enquiry ‘What is it and what shall we do with it? All have used the trunk as a meeting place or a hang-out at playtimes while netball club and Nature Club members have always gathered beneath it’s boughs to take their weekly registers, peering up at the odd collection of hoops, ropes, balls, book bags and jumpers that the lower branches have snatched as children have hurled them into the air!

The detritus that falls from the tree keeps Ms James busy through the seasons. Pollen and tiny petals dust the school buildings and playground in Spring, while sticky leaf sap drips on everyone and everything below the tree during summer. Leaves and seeds cover the ground in abundance from October onwards while smaller twigs are shaken loose throughout the winter. Needless to say, the safety issues that such a giant presents demand that we have regular checks from the arboreal department to ensure that the structure of the tree is sound.

Our playground is undulating and broken in places where roots stretch towards the surface while feasting on the water supply below the school buildings: no doubt with tendrils snaking through our drainage system too! Our property managers are often quick to remind us that while the


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