Friday, March 29, 2013

New Programme for Spring 2013

Our new programme has just been published - see below (click on image to enlarge) or on our main website where it can be downloaded as a pdf file. 

Please note that there is no session this Saturday 30th March due to the Easter holiday - we will re-commence on Saturday April 6th.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Green Gym stall at Abingdon Passion Play, Abbey Gardens, 24th March 2013

Green Gym had a fund raising stall at the Abingdon Passion Play in the Abbey Gardens. Although still bitterly cold it fortunately wasn't snowing or raining.

We sold our own brand Green Gym Marmalade, Easter nest cakes, Scripture cake with recipes, lemon curd and bags of little Easter eggs. Plenty of people visited our stall so it was worth the effort.

We were then able to watch the play, in which two of our members were singing and acting in crowd scenes.

Ursula and Carolyn behind the stall at the Passion Play

Southern Town Park, 23rd March 2013

Eight brave Green Gymmers turned up at Southern Town Park in driving snow. The western side we had intended to work on was partially flooded so we continued with bramble cutting in the areas on the Peep o Day Lane side, a task we had started in some sessions before Christmas.

Some people ranged all over the park picking up litter, of which there was plenty.

It was bitterly cold and by 11 o'clock we decided we had had enough as there was no let up in the snow. We had considered going for a walk around the Stonehill House grounds, where we plan to work at a later date, but we decided to leave this until the weather improved.

Please note that there is no Green Gym session next week (Easter Saturday) and that the new programme for the post-Easter period will be published soon - watch this space!

Kevin and Victor cutting back brambles

Robert piling up brambles

Ursula litter picking

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Change of plans for next session - 23rd March 2013

Due to unforeseen circumstances, there is a change of plans for our next session on Saturday 23rd March.  We will no longer be going to Stonehill House but instead will be going to Southern Town Park, where we will be bramble bashing and litter picking on the western side (your right hand side as you face the playing fields). Meet in the Youth Football Club car park in Lambrick Way at 9.30.

Please let session leaders Eleanor and Kevin know if you will be coming (see our main website/current programme for contact details).

Hopefully the session at Stonehill House will be re-scheduled for a later date.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

County Hall Museum Quiz, 16th March 2013

On the evening of the Cothill session, Green Gym fielded two teams at the quiz in aid of the County Hall museum, organised by the Museum Friends at the St Helen's Church Centre.

Our teams were the Shady Greens and the Wellie Boots. Questions were very varied and challenging and we also had several sets of questions to do on paper, including anagrams of musical instruments, putting American presents in the right order, recognising animals from pictures of their feet and naming bridges from photos.

A delicious fish and chip supper was provided at the interval. Both Green Gym teams acquitted themselves very well with the Wellie Boots coming third and the Shady Greens fifth. The latter team, however, won a larger share of the raffle prizes!

Cothill Fen, 16th March 2013

Just six of us arrived for the session at Cothill Fen on a rather rainy morning. We plodded up the very muddy path to the site to start work under the direction of Bob Silverwood.

One task was to build a temporary bridge over the stream using logs and Kevin, Margaret, Robert and Dieuwke set to work figuring out the best design and constructing it. The finished result was very satisfactory as you see from the photos.

Carolyn and Eleanor went to bulk out the dead hedge, which Green Gym had made at the February session, filling in sections that were thinner than others.

At the tea break Judy Webb took over from Bob and told us a bit about the history of the reserve and future plans for it.

The tasks after the break were cutting down some trees at the edge of the fen and continuing work on the dead hedge. Luckily the rain had stopped and we actually had some blue sky and sunshine for a brief interval.

temporary bridge built over the stream

Carolyn bulking out the dead hedge, built during our last session here

Kevin and Margaret pose on the new bridge

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wolvercote Common, 9th March 2013

This was our first visit to Wolvercote Common to help the Commoners Committee. After an anxious moment when it was feared that only about one and a half Green Gymmers would commit to the session, in the end eight of us turned up, outnumbering the Commoners two to one. The day was damp and cloudy but fortunately the relentless rain of the previous day had passed, though inevitably the site had become very soggy.

The tasks consisted of cutting back vegetation and overhanging branches from the ditch and opening it up so it drained into the neighbouring canal, while leaving enough bushes to screen the view of the railway, which runs parallel to the canal. The work was heavy and a lot of sawing was required, while being careful not to sink into the mud. The wood was then transported on to drier land to be further cut up and sorted into logs and brash with the straightest branches being trimmed for use as pea sticks. The rest was piled into habitat piles, with the larger logs being set aside for the use of the Commoners.

The local people have "estovers" rights, that is, the right to take wood from the common for their own use. This was a new word for us, so it shows that Green Gym is educational as well as healthy! Some work on digging and deepening the ditch was also needed, though the recent rain made this difficult.

Our final task was to carry the logs and pile them up by the kissing gate so the locals could help themselves. We thank Jane Carey and Michael Buck of the Commoners Committee for inviting us to work there and we hope to return in the Summer for hay raking. It will be interesting to see the Common in a different season with, hopefully warm weather and blue skies.

- Eleanor
ready for work
tea break
Kate and Sally trimming the wood
Robert and Eleanor working on trees by the ditch
Margaret, Dieuwke and Carolyn cutting up wood
carrying logs to the gate


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Green Gym on the Abingdon Blog

The Green Gym's activities at the Ock Valley Walk last Saturday have been featured in an entry on the popular Abingdon Blog.  It can be viewed here -

Monday, March 4, 2013

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 2nd March 2013

Saturday, 2nd of March, we worked on the Ock path at the town end.  The wood chip path needed renewing.  We relay the path once a year with fresh woodchip, which the town council provides.  This time we found a large heap at one end of the path, but on closer inspection it turned out to be recycled Christmas trees.  This does seem to be a good use of old Christmas trees.  It remains to be seen whether it lasts as well as the woodchip we normally use.  We had a good group of volunteers, and managed to complete about half the path, as well as clearing a lot of bramble encroaching on the path.

Part of the group did a comprehensive litter pick, and it was surprising how many bottles, cans, crisp packets etc. had accumulated since our last clean up. 

The bulbs we planted last autumn among the newly planted trees are not showing yet, but some snowdrops and crocuses around Chris’s memorial tree have come up. The new plantation of trees is doing very well, and a lot of them have now grown above the tree guards.

The morning was particularly cold, as the sun did not deign to come out until later that afternoon. 

shovelling woodchip
clearing vegetation

the path takes shape