6 Abingdon Green Gymmers made their way to Watlington Hill National Trust site to participate in this event organised by Sonning Common Green Gym. Representatives from most of the other Oxfordshire Green Gyms were present, Abingdon, Bicester, Chipping Norton, Wallingford as well as Newbury & Thatcham Green Gym from just over the border. There were 49 participants overall, making for a good social/networking event meeting old friends and making new ones.
We parked up, put on our boots and set off to site where there was much scrub cutting to be done. The NT wanted the site cleared of scrub and trees in order to encourage and allow wild flower habitat to grow. So we set to our task after a 10 minute walk to site, started chopping and taking cut scrub towards one or other of the many bonfires that had been started.
The wind was bitingly cold, but the work was physical so kept the cold at bay. Tea break came along at 10:45 (we welcomed it being early!) where there was a huge choice of homemade cakes to be had along with speeches from the head of the GP practice at Sonning Common John Hasler and the founder of Green Gym, Dr William Bird, who was back then a junior GP working for John with a new idea of how to improve the health of the locals. They retold the story of how Green Gym started 20 years ago.
We all got back to cutting scrub having had a nice warm cuppa and sustaining cake and chat with other green gymmers from around the county. At 12:30 it was announced that lunch was ready – potatoes for everyone all baked in the heat of the fire. More speeches came from Craig Lister head of Green Gyms within TCV who spoke about the positive effect that participating in Green Gym has been proven to have, amongst news that TCV Green Gym has outreached as far as Italy, South Korea and New South Wales, Australia!
Gradually then we took the walk back to the car park said our goodbyes and departed having had a truly fulfilling morning.