Sunday, October 5, 2014

Little Meadow, Goring-on-Thames, 4th October 2014

Although billed on our programme as being at Withymead Nature Reserve, Saturday's session was actually held at Little Meadow, south of Goring-on-Thames.  The site is a three acre wildflower meadow, managed by the same charitable trust as nearby Withymead.  The Green Gym had visited the site on a previous occasion during the summer of 2013.

Little Meadow is our farthest-flung site from Abingdon, being a 30-40 minute drive away for most.  However, the location of the meadow on the banks of the Thames, on the edge of Goring itself, is quite delightful and we are therefore more than happy to make the journey!

Due to the lengthier commute, we assembled slightly later than usual at 10am, at which time we parked up and met with the local volunteer group.  Tools were unloaded and divided up for transporting to the meadow itself, a good ten minutes walk from the parking spot.

Upon arrival at the site, work was already underway, with site wardens Dorothy and Keith mowing and strimming the meadow.  A few eager volunteers had already begun raking up the cuttings and stacking them in one of two piles at the edge of the work area using pitchforks.  This was the final phase of cutting the meadow for the year, the bulk of the work already having been completed on previous sessions.  No matter, there was still plenty left for us and the other volunteers to do.  With both groups combined there were in excess of 20 workers.  Keith briefly instructed us on what was to be done and we got underway.

Unusually, given our good run of recent weather, we were less fortunate this time.  Rain fell persistently throughout the morning, making mowing conditions slightly less than ideal.  Not to worry, we had all come prepared with our waterproofs and the precipitation was light enough not to cause too much bother.

The site, as well as being besides the Thames, is flanked by the railway line running through to Reading and ultimately, London Paddington.  Therefore, many trains thundered past at regular intervals throughout the morning.  A good result of this is that there is a fairly large bridge taking the track across the river, thus providing us with an ideal, sheltered spot for taking refreshments, away from the rain.  We retreated under cover later than we would ordinarily do, given the later start.  We were even more ready than usual to take tea and coffee, supplemented by the odd biscuit or three!

Fully refreshed, it was disappointing to learn that the rain had not eased, on the contrary, it was perhaps heavier than before.  There was only a small patch of the meadow still to clear so there was never any question of packing in early, however.  Work continued apace, a slight pause in proceedings only taking place when a rabbit was spotted having taken refuge in the last remaining patch of uncut vegetation.  The rabbit was encouraged to scarper and the site was completed.  A good morning's work.

The rain still fell as we carried the tools back along the path to the car park.  It seemed to many like a longer journey on the return leg, perhaps due to being tired and soggy?!  Oh well, it all felt worthwhile and we look forward to returning to this beautiful location again in the not too distant future.  Hopefully the weather will be kinder for us then.

All parked up and ready for the off

Dorothy with the mower

Raking gets underway

Taking refuge under the bridge for refreshments

A mown meadow, train passing in background

Finishing up

The Thames Path as it passes through the meadow

Rain-soaked and packing up

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