Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ock Valley Walk, Tesco End, 17th March 2018

Ten hardy Green Gymmers, well prepared to face the second attack of the “Beast from the East”, assembled for litter picking and clearing fallen branches. Unfortunately this blog doesn’t contain photos. It was far too cold even to think of photos and anyway, this would have involved removing gloves to press buttons.

There was a lot of litter, which had accumulated since the last time we had been here last Autumn. There was a bitterly cold wind and occasional flurries of snow, but the snow had not yet settled and covered the litter. There were also many fallen branches to be cleared, brought down by the winter storms and snow falls.

We were very glad of our mid morning break with cups of tea and coffee to warm us up and plenty of biscuits. We bravely carried on until almost 12:30pm, with branches cut up and put on piles and leaving about eight bags of rubbish and recycling by the roadside for the council contractors to pick up on Monday.

A huge thank you to the Green Gymmers who weren’t deterred by the weather. You did a grand job!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Two Pine Fen, Frilford Heath Golf Club, 13th March 2018

Some hardy Green Gymmers, who couldn’t get enough of it on Saturdays, assembled for a session at Two Pine Fen on Frilford Golf Course.

The task was to rake off the dead vegetation and thatch from the area, under the direction of Judy Webb, to allow the Spring and Summer flowers to come through. The reason that we have to do a midweek session here is that the area is in the range of flying golf balls so we have to come when it is not so busy and part of the course is closed for maintenance. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to come back and see the wild flowers, such as orchids, unless we take up golf.

We found that the fen was wetter than in previous years, which is a good sign, though there were a lot more oak leaves to rake up, which must have blown over from a nearby wood.

We piled the raked vegetation up near the stream that runs through the fen. Rod d’Ayala is going to dam the stream so the water can spread out on to the fen, and will use the raked material to fill the channel.

We worked hard, with a tea break at 11 o’clock and didn’t have to retreat to the shelter of the trees too often to avoid flying golf balls. Some of us had to go home at midday but several people stayed on until four o’clock to get the job finished.

We are really grateful to the people who give up their time to put in extra work during the week.

Photos by Sally and Eleanor:

Abrahams Wood, Boars Hill, 10th March 2018

After last Saturday’s session was cancelled due to the heavy snowfall, the Green Gym resumed their activities this week. We returned to Abrahams Wood, Boars Hill, to work with the Oxford Preservation Trust under the guidance of Rachel Sanderson.

After gathering tools from (Green Gym session leader) Kevin's car, we began the fairly lengthy stroll down the hill from the parking spot to the lower gate of the wood.  Eleanor hung back for a while to wait for Margaret to appear and help her carry the all-important tea kit to the work site.

Having assembled, Rachel ran through the morning's itinerary which was primarily to clear away fallen branches, and to continue removing laurel overgrowth.  Furthermore we were to rebuild some of the willow doughnuts that protect the hazel coppice stools in the wood from being attacked by deer. 

Many of the fallen branches were in area where bluebells and other spring flowers bloom, thus adding a dash of urgency to the operation.

We made considerable headway without delay, being fourteen-strong in number and experienced in this type of task.  Indeed, many of the rogue branches were dispatched with before the tea break and consolidated into piles. We were joined by a couple of local volunteers at this point too, which accelerated our progress.

Eleanor whipped out one of her delicious coffee and walnut cakes at the interval, which was a welcome addition to the usual biscuits and beverages.  It was devoured with haste, with only a single piece kept aside for her husband after the end of the session. 

During this time, we were visited by a couple of the local residents who thanked us for our continued hard work in the area, which was nice. Rachel also outlined the plans for the management of Abrahams Wood in future, which we are glad to be a part of.

The final hour of the session was more of the same, and saw us continue apace, clearing the paths and tackling the other jobs that had been assigned earlier on.

We will return here on our next programme and some of us may visit to admire the bluebells and wood anemones before then!

The meeting point.

Ready and raring to go.

The Green Gymmers wend their way down to the wood.

Rachel issues instruction.

A willow doughnut in urgent need of repair.

There's a path there somewhere...

A frog in the hand.

The path begins to reappear.

A visit from some locals at the intermission.

Eleanor cuts the cake as Margaret takes care of the teas and coffees.

The last of the season's snowdrops.

Some pesky laurel regrowth.

Turkeytail fungus on a fallen tree branch.

Kevin consolidates some cut branches into a pile.

The homeward ascent.

A sign of some stature.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Kennington Memorial Field, 24th Febuary 2018

It was a bitterly cold day, though fine and sunny as eleven Green Gymmers met for our twice yearly session at Kennington Memorial Field, under the direction of Rachel from Oxford Preservation Trust.

Our task was to clear scrub from the south eastern slope to allow primroses and cowslips to come through later in the Spring. We also had a bonfire to burn the scrub. There were hawthorn and blackthorn bushes all tangled up with briars and brambles, the ends of which had taken root again in the ground. We had to keep moving to keep warm. Later on we were also joined by some Kennington families. We carried the cut scrub over to the fire, where the people tending it were able to keep a bit warmer.

We were glad when it was break time and we could enjoy hot drinks. Then we carried on with the work and began to feel a little bit warmer. At last it was time to stop cutting and carry the remaining piles over to the fire. We were pleased with how much clearing we had managed to do and I shall certainly look forward to visiting the site later in the Spring to see the flowers.   

Photos by Margaret:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 17th February 2018

A dozen or so Green Gymmers assembled at an unfamiliar spot along the Ock Valley Walk on Saturday.  Described by session leader Eleanor as the flat bridge over the humpy bridge, the revised meeting point was necessary due to the ongoing closure of the normal crossing at St Helen's Court due to safety concerns. This necessitated a longer than usual walk to the woodchip path where we set up shop, ready for a morning of tree planting and litter picking.

Eleanor had visited in advance and set out a number of colour-co-ordinated canes, marking the locations of whips of different tree species that were to be planted. Oak, beech, silver birch and alder were all represented and we therefore split into sub-groups to hunt these cryptically arranged sticks and get digging.

Among our number were four new members - Tom, Christina, Zoe and Rob.  It was remarked to them that it was best not to get too used to planting trees, for we more usually chop them back!

All the saplings had been planted by the break time and attached to stakes, with tree guards and weed-suppression mats fitted.  Therefore we were re-briefed at this time for our subsequent details.  These were litter picking for some, and for others, the tidying up of stray tree branches and weeds.

As usual, and even despite the closure of the bridge making the path a dead end, there was litter aplenty.  Rich pickings.  Amongst our haul this time was a luggage set. The bags were eventually hand-carried to the agreed rubbish collection point.

In conclusion, it was a busy and productive session for the members of the Abingdon Green Gym, old and new.

A wheelbarrow and a sign.

Early morning light.

Members old and new.

Eleanor makes her point.

The new recruits were offered the rare opportunity to plant some trees rather than chopping them down.

Tea break is taken seriously at the Green Gym.

Various degrees of camouflage attire.

Looking for inspiration in the most unlikely of places.

Bin bags.

Trees as far as the eye can see.

Packing up time.