Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Cothill Fen, 9th February 2019

Twelve green gymmers turned up for our first outing at Cothill Fen for 2019. Today’s leader was Margaret, under the instruction of Judy Webb of Natural England and her colleague Steph. 

Two weeks had elapsed since our last session - owing to the snow of he previous weekend, thus we were raring to go!

It was a beautiful morning with pale winter sunlight breaking through the clouds as we made our way to the fen. On arrival, we could see how much it has transformed since our last visit in December. The pond has expanded considerably over the area, proving that all that reed cutting and raking has been worth it. In addition, there had been a lot of tree work around the perimeter. Many of the ash trees are dying but rather than chop them down completely, they had been topped to allow jet ants to continue living in them, as these attract rare beetles and insects.

Our task for today was mainly hazel coppicing in the woodland beyond the fen. The aim of doing this is to allow light right down to the woodland floor so flora and fauna can flourish. We were to put the logs into one pile, useful long wands into another and brush into a third pile.

Other than that, Judy commandeered three members to rake some cut reeds into a channel at the other end of the fen. While there, a section of alder trunk was recovered from a tree that had recently been felled. The rings were counted and verified and it was found to be 107 years old!

By tea break we had made considerable progress and were ready for our refreshments. In addition to the usual biscuits, we heartily delved into a box full of Devon fudge which Joanna and Andrew had brought back from their honeymoon on Dartmoor. We feared this might precipitate a sugar slump for the second half of the session, but if anyone was planning on this, as Eleanor pointed out: ‘we’ve chopped down all the trees – there’s nowhere to hide!’

Notices were given, with two quiz nights in the offing, and then it was back to work.

A frenzied last hour saw us make good headway into the woods and we were pleased to receive some praise from a local resident who congratulated us on our continued efforts.

During the morning, Judy performed her usual surveys for noteworthy specimens, and shortly before close, she came brandishing a winter polypore fungus for Andrew to photograph. See below for evidence!
-Joanna and Andrew



Photos by Andrew (and Margaret and Joanna where indicated):

Joanna comes in peace.

The ever-changing view across the fen.

Carolyn and Sally get down to business.

What Rosie saw.

Kevin's perfect pitch (forking).

The rake's progress.

Joanna distributes the fudge at breaktime.

Andrew shows off his trunk (photo by Margaret).

Eleanor with nowhere left to hide (photo by Margaret).

The pollarded ash/jet ant hotel (photo by Joanna).

1, 2, 3, 4... 107!

Wands and brash.

The winter polypore fungi.

In amongst the coppice stools (photo by Joanna).

Andrew takes his final photo of the session (photo by Joanna).



            

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Marmalade!

The 2019 batch of Green Gym marmalade has been made. £2 per jar. Place your order now!



Photos of the marmaladies cutting up peel and stirring and of the finished product by Eleanor:





Jarn Mound and Wild Garden, 26th January 2019

Today’s task, under the direction of Rachel from Oxford Preservation Trust was to clear the remaining wood, which had fallen in the storms and snow of 2017 – 18 and to transport it to the bonfire site in the middle of the wild garden.

This time OPT had arranged a Landrover and trailer to transport the wood. We split into two groups, most going to help load the trailer while the others stayed at the bonfire site. Graham, as usual, was the bonfire expert and soon had it lit. We cut and sawed the bigger branches into suitable sizes for the bonfire while waiting for the next trailer load. The wood was thrown down the bank and dragged over to the bonfire.

After our tea break we continued with the work and kept the bonfire going. The last trailer load was a long time arriving and we wondered whether we would get it all on to the bonfire in time, but with everyone working hard, the task was completed.

We look forward to seeing the development of the wild garden over the coming years.
-Eleanor



Photos by Margaret (first 6) and Eleanor (last 2):










Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Abraham Wood, Boars Hill, 19th January 2019

We met on Boars Hill for our meeting today,
Donning scarves, hats and gloves for it was cold, wet and grey.
Perfect weather, in fact, to be a green gym dodger
Yet 16 of us turned out, including new member, Roger.

Loaded up with equipment we went to Abraham Wood,
The dreaming spires shrouded in mist – the view wasn’t too good.
Today was Margaret’s turn to lead our session
Along with OPT’s Rachel, keen to make some progression.

The woodland had been transformed, with the laurel nearly beat
Thanks to a grant from Network Rail on the Trust’s balance sheet.
On reaching our base Rachel stood before an old oak tree
To give us our tasks, of which there were three:

The first was the paths: to rake and make them clear
So on either side bluebells and garlic can germinate without fear.
This should make for a pleasant wander through the bowers
And walkers won’t inadvertently stray, trampling precious wildflowers.

The second – the most strenuous – was to dig up pesky bamboo
If we keep at it, bit by bit, we’ll surely break through.
Those brave of us to participate in this backbreaking task
Most deserved their biscuits at break time, and tea from the flask.

The third involved 'copparding' the many stands of hazel
This was something we'd done before, but it required a re-appriasal.
The purpose is to promote new growth but deter the nibbling of muntjac deer
Thus weaving donuts around the stems was the aim of each volunteer.

As usual, everyone worked diligently right throughout the wood
The clear instructions ensured that the importance of each job was well understood.
That the weather was lousy hardly seemed to matter
We were happy to make progress here and have a good natter.

By 12:30pm we downed tools and back to our cars we retreated,
Our first session of the year, successfully completed.
Jarn mound will be the venue as we gather again next time
Another week, another blog, but perhaps not in rhyme!
-Joanna and Andrew





We met on Boars Hill for our meeting today,
Donning scarves, hats and gloves for it was cold, wet and grey.


Loaded up with equipment we went to Abraham Wood,
The dreaming spires shrouded in mist – the view wasn’t too good.

On reaching our base Rachel stood before an old oak tree
To give us our tasks, of which there were three.

The woodland had been transformed, with the laurel nearly beat
Thanks to a grant from Network Rail on the Trust’s balance sheet.

The first task was the paths: to rake and make them clear
So on either side bluebells and garlic can germinate without fear.



Those brave of us to participate in the bamboo task
Most deserved their biscuits at break time, and tea from the flask.


'Copparding' one of the many stands of hazel. This was something we'd done before, but it required a re-appriasal.


Copparding will promote hazel re-growth but deter the nibbling of muntjac deer
Thus weaving donuts around the stems was the aim of each volunteer.

The most strenuous task was to dig up pesky bamboo
If we keep at it, bit by bit, we’ll surely break through.







By 12:30pm we downed tools and back to our cars we retreated,
Our first session of the year, successfully completed.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

AGM, 12th January 2019

In advance of our outdoor sessions for 2019, The Green Gym AGM was held in the Perry Room of the All Saints Church on Appleford Drive.  We assembled here as we have at the beginning of January for the past couple of years, with current chairman Kevin overseeing proceedings.

On the agenda were the usual discussions relating to our activities over the past year, our intended sessions for the coming year, as well as the financial report (comprehensively compiled by treasurer Sally again) plus any new tools and equipment required.

The only change to the committee from 2018 was the appointment of James as programme co-ordinator, taking over from Eleanor who had held the post for many years. Later, we presented Eleanor with a card and some flowers to thank her for her hard work for over a decade. She confessed that the role had worn her down eventually, so James can't complain that he hasn't been warned!

The meeting continued for just shy of two hours, with the usual mix of keen discussion and mild controversy. The perennial issue of the glove bag and its contents was left unresolved, but otherwise it appeared that everyone was largely happy with the various outcomes. 

Afterwards we sauntered across the street to Kevin and Carolyn's house and  assembled our buffet lunch with all members contributing food. There we met our newest recruit - springer spaniel, Jim!

After Eleanor's presentation and the raising of a toast to the year ahead, we tucked in to a veritable smorgasbord of delights. One particular highlight (Eleanor's meringues aside) was Ursula's super grain salad - based on a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe. This went down very well indeed. Considerable interest was registered in the dish, and the recipe was therefore supplied and has been reproduced below.

This Saturday we will be meeting up on Boars Hill to work off all the calories.
-Andrew




On the agenda.

Luncheon is served!

Jim and Kevin.

The recipe that Ursula provided for her super grains salad.