Abingdon Green Gym were at the Tesco end of the Ock River Path this week. Margaret was our leader for this session and our principal tasks were to pull up the invasive Himalayan Balsam and to pick litter.
It was a gloriously sunny morning and we were quite grateful for the cool of the shade as we made our way with the tools and refreshments to our usual spot to set up our base. While James put up the Green Gym sign post, Dan busily cleared the path and a suitable area from stinging nettles, so that we could put down our tools in comfort.
Margaret then briefed the group on our tasks for the day and we welcomed a new member, Sophie.
We then split into two groups - four litter pickers and eight Himalayan Balsam pullers.
The litter pickers fitted bags to their hoops and were very careful only to put cans, plastic and glass bottles in the clear sacks for recycling by the Council and everything else we found in the blue sacks. It was hard going to find litter under the vegetation, but we ended up with quite a haul. We were stopped by a number of passers-by to thank us for our efforts and to find out a bit more about Abingdon Green Gym, which was rewarding.
Our finds of the day were a Spiderman chair, which Petra found, and two pyramidal orchids in the verge. The chair came in very handy at break time when we were joined briefly by Margaret's partner, Steve, and his grandson, Oliver, who particularly appreciated it. However, we had to send a search party for Margaret as she had got stuck in the mud in the stream on her quest to pull up balsam! Luckily, she managed to extricate herself (and her wellies!) intact and came to no harm.
Dieuwke provided the very welcome refreshments this week and we were treated to custard creams, which were devoured with relish.
After the break, the main focus for the HB pullers was a large area towards the far end of the path, just beyond the humpback bridge, by the wheat field and we all joined forces to tackle this invasive plant. We could see that the balsam had already started to encroach onto the field. It seemed to be a sea of balsam! But we got stuck in and managed to remove a good number of plants, which we then had fun in crushing.
All-in-all, we had a very rewarding morning.
Photos by Sally, Sophie and Margaret: