Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Mill Road, Marcham, 28th July 2018

This Saturday was a return visit to Marcham for further efforts to clear the himalayan balsam. This was not originally on the programme, but instead down as TBA with arrangements made in the interim.

We met by the barn where we used to enjoy our coffee breaks and watch the house martins nesting in the spring. Unfortunately the barn has had an upgrade, with new doors and windows - to be put to a more useful purpose that we can only guess at.  This means we now take our kit with us to where a kind person has dedicated a bench to a chap who died a few years ago.  He must have enjoyed the spot next to the stream.  A good choice, and it is here that we have to cross to get at the balsam.

The stream water level was low which hadn't been the case a few month ago when waders would have been required!  But now it easy to paddle across in wellies, while being careful of the silt that had gathered at the edge - as some of the first to go across found out.  It could easily seep over the top of the wellies, much to our amusement when this happened.

The dry weather had hardened the ground, needing extra effort to pluck the balsam out with roots and all. This meant that there was enough to keep us going for the session.  It was a cooler day than the last few weeks, with a gusty wind and this made for more pleasant working conditions.

Break time saw us eagerly heading for the bench.  Once convened, James informed us that a branch had fallen down very near his head caused by the wind!  Furthermore, heading our way we noticed some ominous dark clouds! With the wind getting up and the imminent prospect of getting soaked, a decision was made to have a quick break and head home. But before we could achieve this we had to scurry to the shelter of some trees to keep dry, carrying our precious coffee and biscuits.

By the time we had finished our break the storm had passed, so changing our mind we continued until our usual deadline, meaning we could work off that extra biscuit(s) we shouldn't have had!

There was a great turn out of eighteen and we left some good-sized piles of plucked balsam.
-Kevin



The balsam with seeds ready to burst and be carried downstream.


Janet commencing to do battle with the Balsam!





Eleanor relishing the prospect of a good workout on the Balsam!





Carolyn thinking she might enter her prize balsam plant at the next flower show!





We tried to ignore it, but it wouldn't go away!

The storm tried to spoil our party, but the need for coffee and biscuits was too strong.

Satisfaction piling!

Michele leaving no prisoner?


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Update to Programme - 28th July

The venue for the Green Gym session scheduled for Saturday 28th July has now been confirmed as Manor Farm, Marcham. The main task of the day will be to continue the Himalayan Balsam pulling.  

The meeting place for this site is the car park outside Cumber's Farm Shop, Mill Road, Marcham at 9:30am.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Ock Valley Walk, Tesco End, 14th July 2018

The green gym was at the Tesco end of Ock path today for litter picking and Himalayan balsam pulling. The session leader was Sally, who briefed us on our tasks before we got to work. A small group went to fish a trolley out of the stream as well.

It was another hot and sunny day, so we tried to stick to the shade. We returned to the field we visited on June 23rd - first to try and get the Himalayan balsam removed. The litter picking team also had their work cut out for them and collected two full bags of rubbish! We discovered that the Ock Valley Flood Group was doing a spot of litter picking too and had already managed to get the trolley recovered.

Refreshments this week were provided by Kevin and Carolyn, including some lovely chocolate biscuits. The break in the shade was well deserved; and needed.

After break the focus was on Himalayan balsam pulling. We managed to get the ditch, most of the farmers field and other small patches cleared, and the heat means that it is not coming back as much. We didn’t manage to clear all of it, so we’ve got something to look forward to next time!
-Sophie










Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 7th July 2018

The weather continues brilliantly and Kevin led the Green Gym Session on the Ock island, town end, in his usual laid-back style.

One of the necessary tasks was to cut back the nettles encroaching on the path and the other cutting overhanging branches to save cyclists from being unseated in a most undignified way.

The nettles are exceptionally tall by now, and the newly planted trees had to be rescued once again. The rest of the trees are doing well and should soon do their job of suppressing the rampant nettles.

Litter was plentiful, especially drink cans and bottles, and several sacks were easily filled.  Hurrah for Eleanor’s carrot cake at break time, much needed fuel for the second half of litter picking, nettle slashing and general tidying.
-Ursula








Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Elizabeth Daryush Memorial Garden, 30th June 2018

Abingdon Green Gym were at the Elizabeth Daryush Memorial Garden this week for pond cleaning, nettle whacking and Himalayan balsam pulling. James was our leader for this session.

It was a hot and sunny morning out in the sun so we set up camp in the shade. James then briefed us on our tasks. Most people went to help clear the pond of cressula, and Margaret and Charles went to clear the nettles away from the wildflower patch and surrounding area. A small team also went out to clear Himalayan balsam although there was only a small patch so efforts could be concentrated on the pond clearing.

Eleanor provided the refreshments this week which was very appreciated as the pond was in full sun! After a short break we returned to work.

All the nettles that needed to be cleared were, and we made quite a dent on the cressula in the pond, however it was very hard to get it all without disturbing the other plants in the pond. In the pond itself we found a spiders nest with a tunnel entrance, a newt, some tadpoles and plenty of dragonflies.

All in all a rewarding, albeit a bit sweaty, morning. 
-Sophie



A newt found in the pond.




Hard at work in the pond.




Spider's nest.




Mating dragonflies.




Nettle slashing.

Cressula pile.