The site was Little Meadow, a lovely spot right next to the Thames Path, not the main reserve where we had been before. However, the tranquillity was disturbed by the proximity to the railway viaduct. Why is it that trains are never so frequent when you are actually waiting for one? We were grateful for the very clear directions sent by the wardens as we would never have found our way without them. As the site was half a mile from the nearest road we were also grateful for the loan of wheelbarrows to transport the food and drink.
It was the time of the annual cut of the wildflower meadow and while the wardens, Dorothy and Keith used the mower and strimmer, we joined the regular Withymead volunteers in raking up the cut vegetation and transporting it to the heaps at either end of the meadow by pitchfork or in builders' bags, while some people used scythes and slashers to cut the grass by the river bank that the machines couldn't get to. There was a great deal of knapweed in the meadow and the bees were very busy. It was rather sad to see their forage area becoming smaller and smaller as the mower did its work.
The weather was warm and sunny and we were glad to stop for our half time break. We carried on until one o'clock and it was surprising to see how much the uncut area had diminished and the heaps had grown.
Dorothy, Keith and Robert from Sonning Common Green Gym joined us for our picnic. Everyone had brought something so there was cold chicken, sausages, French Bread, salad, cheese, biscuits, crisps, fruit and cake and drinks, both soft and alcoholic.
As we made our way back to the cars, the sky darkened and just as we arrived, the rain began to fall. We couldn't have been luckier with the weather!
|Raking up the cut vegetation|
|Carolyn, Lauren and Lesley|
|Kevin and Victor cutting by hand|
|Dorothy with the mower|
|Ursula and Sally, drag queens|
|Victor finds a new use for a wheelbarrow|
|Relaxing after the feast|