Sunday, October 27, 2013

Abingdon Eco Fair, 26th October 2013

This was a change form our usual outdoor session. 26th October was the day of the Abingdon Eco Fair in the Guildhall, organised by Abingdon Carbon Cutters and Green Gym had a publicity stall alongside Abingdon Naturalists and Friends of Radley Lakes.

There was a rota of helpers to man the stall so everybody had a chance to look around the many stalls at the fair, which included allotments, gardening, composting, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, RSPB, eco build and renovation, the Abingdon Hydro project to get electricity from the weir, not forgetting a bric a brac and white elephant stall where you could take anything away for free. There was also tea, coffee and cakes and homemade soup with bread to enjoy as well as apple juicing with free samples.

Mayor Samantha Bowring, who is also a Green Gymmer when her busy schedule allows, made a speech to launch Abingdon as a Transition Town. There was also entertainment from two folk groups and the Abingdon Community Choir.

There was quite a lot of interest in our stall and by the end of the afternoon eight people had signed up to register interest and receive the programme.

The same evening, Green Gym fielded two teams at the Friends of Radley Lakes Quiz, where they did reasonably well, neither winning, nor getting the booby prize.

There is also a report on the Eco Fair event on the Abingdon Blog site here...

Sally behind the stall

Eleanor behind the stall

James and Ursula by the stall

Mayor Samantha making her speech

a view of the fair

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 19th October 2013

We met by the bridge over the weir to start our tidy up of the town end of the Ock Walk. The tasks were to clear around the young trees, cut vegetation back from the wood chip path, which had become very overgrown, pick up litter and plant bulbs for the Spring.

We were joined a bit later by Mayor Samantha, who helps us when mayoral duties allow, with baby Charlotte.

As October had been very mild with no frost, the nettles had not died back and we even found some Himalayan Balsam still in flower. It was hard work clearing patches to plant the bulbs but at least the ground was soft because of the recent rain. Fortunately the rain held off during the morning.

After the coffee break some of us turned our attention to planting the bulbs, though some further raking and pulling up of nettles needed to be done first. We planted crocuses around the memorial tree and wild flower bulbs in three patches we had cleared. These comprised wood anemones, wild garlic, English bluebells, fritillaries and wild daffodils. We hope that most of these will flower before the nettles grow up and smother everything again.

By the end of the session, we had collected several bags of litter and made the area much tidier and it was after 12.30 as we made our way back to the bridge.
- Eleanor

Ursula cutting back nettles

Kevin and Carolyn by the young trees

James, Samantha and baby Charlotte

coffee break

planting around the memorial tree

Margaret planting wild flower bulbs

New Green Gym Autumn 2013 Programme

Abingdon Green Gym's new Autumn 2013 programme has just been published. This has information on all sessions to be held between this coming Saturday 26th October and Saturday 11th January 2014.

See below for full details or view/download a pdf version on our website -

Monday, October 14, 2013

Frilford Heath Golf Club, 12th October 2013

Saturday's session was once again at Frilford Heath Golf Course, working on Boundary Fen. The morning got off to a bad start as we found the gate leading to the place we usually park was locked. Alison, from Natural England, which manages the site, tried in vain to find somebody with a key, and in the end we had to park in another car park across the main road. By this time we had lost about 45 minutes of work and there was a lot to do.

The weather, however, after a night and early morning of rain, was amazingly mild and sunny. We saw a comma butterfly sunning itself and several varieties of ladybird. We worked hard raking reeds and piling them up on the edge of the fen along with sticks and branches. This would give the fen flora a chance to grow through, and with the conifer debris removed, would preserve its alkaline nature.

Judy Webb was also there and as usual she found some interesting fungi. We stopped for a later and foreshortened coffee break before battling on to try and finish the raking. Considering the unforeseen delay to the task, we felt we had all done pretty well. We packed up and returned to the car park. We will probably be back early in the new year and plan to use this car park in future. It isn't very much farther to walk and there are no locked gates.

Photos by Dr Judy Webb:
Alison and sedge



working hard at Boundary House Fen

work and rest!

honey fungus

orange peel fungus 'Aleuria Aurantia'

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cothill Fen, 5th October 2013

Ten Green Gymmers met in the car park opposite the Merry Miller pub for our session at Cothill Fen. We always look forward to coming here as this alkaline fen is an interesting place in terms of its biodiversity and different from many of the places where we work.

We made our way along the footpath to the fen, where Bob from Natural England was waiting to give us instructions to start us off and then we were left in charge of Judy, who is a wildlife expert in the area. We noticed some changes since our last visit, New fencing had been erected and the plan is to link the fen with Parsonage Moor next door. Ponies already graze Parsonage Moor for part of the year and more ponies from Anglesey will be brought in next year. These ponies are used to boggy places and should have the sense to avoid the deep water.

We set to work raking up the cut grass and reeds and piling them on to the existing piles. Natural England have found a contractor who will be able to take the piles away for composting. There was also a lot of alder to be cut back from the edge of the fen. It is important to leave the fen clear of new tree growth.

At tea break time we had a pleasant surprise when Dieuwke brought out some cakes to celebrate her birthday the previous day. Judy showed us some interesting fungi she had collected. She also told us that a national fen inspector had been very impressed by improvements in the fen over the past ten years. It had suffered greatly from a drop in the water table due to local gravel extraction, but was now well on the way to recovery.

We carried on working until it was time to pack up and look forward to returning for our last Green Gym session before Christmas.

Tea and cake!

Margaret and pitchfork

Judy Webb's fungi
more work on the fen

raking up reeds