Fifteen green gymmers turned up for today’s session at Jarn Mound, led by James under the direction of Rachel Sanderson of the Oxford Preservation Trust.
On entering the site we were confronted by a huge fallen branch from one of the liquidambar trees originally planted by Sir Arthur Evans, probably in 1932. It had fallen right across the footpath and was a sad, if beautiful, sight to see.
In the wind and rain, we gathered at our meeting point, a shelter built amongst the trees, and Rachel’s first job was to ring the local fire brigade to let them know that we were having a bonfire. When one of the latecomers asked what the phone call was about Rachel explained we needed to let them know… because of course we couldn’t have hunky men in firemen’s uniforms turning up, she said with a knowing smile and shrug of her shoulders!
With Jarn Mound itself already cleared of its overgrown vegetation – a job which had been earmarked for us – by another eager volunteer group the previous week, our tasks for the day turned out to be fourfold: to drag the branches which had fallen in the winter snow from the other end of the site to the bonfire – continuing the work from last April; to cut down saplings which had sprung up around the pond area; to cut back some shrubbery and to clear some steps down from the footpath. Graham was put in charge of the fire and we set off to carry out the various jobs.
Within half an hour of starting work, the skies cleared and we were blessed with mellow autumn sunshine for the rest of the session.
By tea break we had made good progress in all areas. The bonfire was blazing and the mood upbeat. Then the draggers carried on dragging, the cutters carried on cutting and three of us went to deal with a shrub that needed clearing. For those step counters amongst us, it was a good 300 steps between the end of the site where the snow-damaged branches lay and where the bonfire was lit, so depending on how many journeys you made, you built up quite a count (the bloggers achieved 13,000 steps between them!).
At the end of the morning the bonfire was still roaring! However, the last few loads of tree debris were already well alight and so Rachel and Mark stayed on a little longer to ensure that the flames died down as expected. The remainder of the group gathered together the tools and other paraphernalia and headed homewards. The conclusion of another successful session.
-Joanna and Andrew
|Storm damage to one of the liquidambar trees.|
|Rachel calls security when a pair of shadowy figures appear.|
|Graham gets the fire started.|
|The beginning of something big.|
|Kevin and Mark discuss tactics.|
|Fuel is dragged towards the fire.|
|The draggers are dragging.|
|Some of the fallen branches to be cleared.|
|Andrew gets sawing.|
|A hard-hatted Margaret looks on.|
|Branch clearance progress.|
|Graham takes charge of the bonfire.|
|Joanna and some illuminated tree debris.|
|A roaring success.|
|A denuded Jarn Mound.|
|Tea break banter/staring into space.|
|Graham keeps a watchful eye on the bonfire during the break.|
|James commands attention.|
|A sub-team clear foliage around one of the gates.|
|The 'after' photo.|
|Andrew spending an unreasonable amount of time trying to achieve the perfect fire photo.|