Sunningwell, 6th April 2019

This was our first visit of the 2019 programme to Sunningwell, where we have been working for three years now. A total of fourteen Green Gymmers assembled in the village car park, where, led by Margaret we met with Bob Evans who lives locally and co-ordinates our work here.

As usual at this location, a variety of tasks were on offer. The pond required clearing of weed, the wall of the church was to be cleared of ivy and other vegetation and the village green demanded attention in several areas. We thus divided into sub teams and got stuck in. 

James donned a set of waders and entered the pond with a couple of local volunteers, while Margaret and Sally assisted from the perimeter, dragging out dead reeds and weed and putting into piles, while taking care not to disturb the resident duck who is nesting on the island in the middle! Later Graham arrived with a wheelbarrow to transport the debris over to the cuttings pile on the green.

Meanwhile Kate and Lesley, who were joined by Andrew, kept themselves busy across the road with the job of grubbing up ivy from the church wall. The ivy and other growth had begun to penetrate deep within the structure and needed to be dealt with before too much lasting damage was done. The church warden and a couple of other locals assisted in pulling the ivy off the top and sides of the wall. Some sections were pulled back with ease, which other parts required the use of loppers or secateurs to cut through the large roots.

On the village green, the remainder of the group were engaged in a number of tasks, overseen by Bob. Clearance of overgrown vegetation at the edges of the green was the preeminent activity. Developing the green has been our priority for all our sessions here - in previous visits we have helped plant a hedge and wildflower patches have been established. We have been helping to look after this valuable community asset since it was saved from development after having been bought by a group of local residents.

At break time we were invited across to Bob's cottage adjacent to the green for refreshments. This made for a welcome break for us, not to have to bring our own tea kit and supplies. Indeed, while we had been working outside all morning, Bob's wife Kati had been busy in the kitchen, preparing an hugely impressive spread of hot and cold treats and a variety of drinks! We were well and truly spoiled, especially as the sun broke through the clouds as we sat out in the beautiful surroundings of their back garden. 

Well fed and watered, it was a little tricky to summon up the motivation to get going for the second half of the session. There was still much to be done in all departments however and as the clock struck 11:30am, we dragged ourselves back out of our chairs for the finale.

Another hectic hour elapsed with much to show for our efforts at the close of play. The pond was looking very clear, the church wall had been denuded and the village green was resplendent. A good morning's work and we very much look forward to returning next time to help with the upkeep of this beautiful and friendly village.

Fourteen Green Gymmers and one Bob.

Margaret on pond skimming detail.

James wades in (with some of the locals).

Kate in an ivy league of her own.

Meanwhile on the village green...

Dangerous work for some.

The village green preservation society.

Part of the hedge that we helped establish during previous sessions.

Michele and Dieuwke take some cuttings to the pile.

The daffodils and cherry tree at the church - past their best, but still a lovely splash of colour.

Graham wheels away the pond debris.

Perfecting the pond.

Off to Rowan Cottage for refreshments.

Some of Kati's amazing spread.

Tea time in the garden - around a smaller pond!

A clear pond at the end of the session.

The finished wall.

Spanish bluebells at the edge of the pond.


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