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Hinksey Heights Nature Trail, Saturday 30th of April, 2022

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This Saturday we were lucky enough to have the perfect weather for Green Gymming - blue skies, sunshine, no breeze, and plenty of good company!  We met Sally, our session leader, at the carpark of Hinksey Heights Nature Trail. Although the weather forecast had predicted a chilly start, it was already almost t-shirt weather when we arrived. We had three main tasks for the day, which Sally helpfully explained as we walked down to our campsite for the morning: 1. Create habit piles from dead wood near the beginning of the trail  2. Collect tree guards which saplings had outgrown ready to be collected by the Hinskey Heights tree team (taking care to also collect the wooden stakes, and the plastic ties which need to be carefully recycled) 3. Cut back some of the dead brambles by the stream to stop them choking up the stream, and creating nature piles from them As soon as we set down our tools Sally lifted her hand and told us to listed: a cuckoo was singing close to us in the woods! For thi

Abingdon Ock Path, Saturday 23rd of April 2022

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This week's blog post was written by Abingdon Green Gym Chair, Eleanor D!: Sixteen of us gathered by the bridge over the weir for our session at the town end of the Ock, where it joins the Thames, and we then made our way to base camp on the woodchip path. One of the tasks was to renew the path, and the Town Council had left us a pile of woodchip at each end. The nettles in the area between the woodchip path and the main path were already growing fairly high and threatening to swamp the young trees, so another task was to clear around them. Then, of course, there was litter picking, so some people set off to do that. When the nettles had been cleared, there were plenty of fallen branches to cut up and put on to habitat piles. We discovered some wild garlic and even a fritillary, which we had planted a few years ago before the lockdown. In the Autumn we used to plant bulbs and rhizomes of early Spring flowers such as wild daffodils, wild garlic, wood anemones and fritillaries, which

Hinksey Heights Golf Course, Saturday 9th of April 2022

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It was a lovely spring morning for the Abingdon Green Gym volunteers as we started our session up at the Hinksey Heights Golf Course, complete with blue skies and sky-larks singing. It was so clear and light we could see the Dreaming Spires easily from the top of the hill that we were working on. We had a healthy turnout of a baker's dozen, and we started off with a walk around one of the fairways which was being re-opened in order to check what work needed doing for the day. Ably led by our session leader for the morning, Sally, we had a few tasks this session: 1. Collecting up old tree guards and stakes to be re-used elsewhere on the site.  2. Creating some dead hedges to redirect walkers away from the fairway and directly onto the Chiswell Valley footpath.  3. Cutting down some overhanging greenery which was trailing down to head-level for cyclists and walkers.  There were hundreds of tree guards along the side of the fairway, which we collected and wrapped up inside one another

Riding for the Disabled, Saturday 2nd of April 2022

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This week's blog post was written by courageous Session Leader, Kevin: We had a dozen or more volunteers that turned out on a cold and frosty but sunny morning at the Riding for the Disabled. This is our third visit to the RDA. The task was the same as the last two trips, which was to clear a long and deep ditch which had been blocked, and which was causing flooding in the pass and making the fields/paddocks unusable. This time we finally finished the job and what water that was in the ditch was flowing nicely on its way - hurrah!  The staff at the RDA are very appreciative of our efforts each time we come, and not only do they give a hand but also supply lovely refreshments of home made cakes, tea, coffee and water! At the same time we get to know more about the RDA which has 16 horses at present which work with disabled adults and children. An addition to there complex is a new indoor area which they hope to organise shows and completions!  The bogged-down ditch James getting stu

Southern Town Park, Saturday 26th of March 2022

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This week's blog post was written by our esteemed chair, Eleanor D: Arriving at our usual meeting place for Southern Town Park, we found the car park ram packed with vehicles of parents bringing footballing kids. There was clearly some kind of tournament on. The earlier arrivals managed to squeeze into the remaining spaces but the others had to find spaces out in the road. We set off round the perimeter of the pitches to reach our encampment at the southern end and split into groups to pick litter, saw up fallen trees and work on the wild flower patch.  First, we needed to dig up nettles, cleavers and grass and clear ten patches to sow the new seeds. It was three years ago that we last worked on the patch. In 2020 we were prevented by Covid, in 2021 by bureaucracy but this year nothing could stop us. After the break we were ready to sow the seeds. We had meadow cranesbill, greater knapweed, small scabious, betony, foxglove, dark mullein, dropwort, white musk mallow and viper’s bugl

Thrupp Lake, Saturday 19th of March, 2022

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This week's blog was written by noble and esteemed session leader, Kevin: We were met by Tristan from Earth trust who manage the site with the help of various volunteer groups. Parking can be an issue near this lake as it is popular with dog walkers, joggers, bird watchers and families (but they are in the process of expanding the area for parking bays soon). Lucky enough for us, Tristan had access to the compound where we had ample space to our cars, although it was good to see about half of the team had either biked there or even walked. Once camp established, were greeted by a cacophony of the wild bird calls from the lake, spring being prime time for mating etc. The tasks for the morning work-out were to open up the bank side views of the lake, clear away brambles, reeds, and young shrubs that have grown up over the passed year, plus a bit of litter picking. Tristan had already been around and sprayed marked areas where he wanted us to clear. It was a lovely sunny morning makin

Pinkhill Meadow, Farmoor, Saturday 12th of March 2022

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This week's blog post was written by Abingdon Green Gym chair, Eleanor D., and the accompanying photos were kindly provided by Michele, Kevin, and Nicky!  This Saturday’s session was at Pinkhill Meadow Nature Reserve on the far side of Farmoor Reservoir, working under the direction of Kate Thatcher of Thames Water.  We met in the reservoir car park and drove in convoy across the central causeway with the wind whipping up waves on the water to either side. After parking, we made our way to the area where we were going to work. Pinkhill Meadow is a wetland site with boardwalks and hides, and is very popular with bird watchers. Kate led us to an area not normally open to the public, where our tasks were  to cut and stack reeds and to cut down sprouting willow. The scythers set to work while the willow cutters had to negotiate an area of thick gloopy mud to get to the willows. We set to work and found the sawing knives (there is probably a proper word for them), very useful for cutting