Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Annual Picnic, Withymead Nature Reserve, 22nd August 2015

Thirteen Green Gymmers plus three guests arrived at Withymead Nature Reserve near Goring for our annual picnic. Once again we had chosen the weather well as the day was a warm and sunny. First of all, Dorothy, the warden showed us a pretty yellow plant, wild parsnip, of the umbellifer family and warned us not to touch it as the sap causes severe burns similar to those from giant hogweed.

We then strolled down to the Thames, where, after the wild parsnip warning, we wouldn't have been surprised to see a great white shark, but there was only an inquisitive swan. We continued along the boardwalk through the reed bed, reading the helpful and informative notices along the way. We arrived at the site of the old boatyard, which was famous in its day and where you can still see the old slipway. We then made our way back through the garden to the car park and unloaded all the eagerly awaited food and drink.

The weather was so warm and sunny that we actually had to move the tables into the shade. Victor had brought a delicious tortilla. There was cold chicken, sausages, salads, crisps, a variety of cheeses, fruit, cake, Barry's speciality, an apple strudel, wine and soft drinks. Of course, the green Gym tea kit made an appearance so we finished off with tea and coffee. Ursula, who had coordinated the food arrangements and provided the disposable plates, cups etc. had also purchased a badminton set from the pound shop. Proving the cliche that you get what you pay for, at the third swipe the shuttlecock stuck fast in the racquet.

Time passed so quickly that we realised it was time to pack up and go home. We would like to thank wardens Dorothy and Keith for letting us use this beautiful reserve.

Wild parsnip, a dangerous, toxic plant.

Arriving at Withymead

By the river.

An inquisitive swan.

Relaxing in the reed bed.

By the old boat yard.

Enjoying the picnic.

Enjoying the picnic.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Caldecott School, 15th August 2015

This was our second visit to Caldecott Primary School, following on from our session here last summer.  We were here once again to assist with the raking of the wildflower meadow that has recently been created in the school grounds, and was cut a few days previously.

The meadow is looked after by Abingdon Carbon Cutters, and we were met on site by Marion Owen from that group, who oversaw our activities.  Upon arrival, and the unloading of tools, we were met by Marion and saw that Colin had arrived early and was already underway with the raking.

We soon joined in and variously raked and transported the rakings to a pile in the corner of the field.

Our task was achieved fairly speedily and we finished-up a little earlier than usual at around 12:15pm.

Next up in the programme will be the summer picnic at Withymead Nature Reserve on the 22nd August!

Marion instructs.
Poised to commence work.
The wildflower meadow.
And we're off!
Ursula and Dieuwke raking.
Raked piles.
Cuttings and saplings.
Tea Break and conversation.
Kate and Erin keep busy.
One of the young apple trees.
Evidence of our hard work!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Abbey Fishponds, 1st August 2015

It was the first day of August, and while assembling at Abbey Fishponds it was apparent that we had a relatively low turn-out when compared with previous weeks. The reason being that many of our regular number were away on their summer vacations!

We were however pleased to welcome along a new member, Jo, and including volunteers from the Abbey Fishponds group, we still had a 15-strong presence or thereabouts.

Site warden, Majorie, instructed us on a choice of activities for the morning, ranging from raking cut reeds, searching out and destroying any Himalayan Balsam, trimming an overgrown willow tree and litter picking. We thus divided up and set to work.

A pleasantly mild temperature, neither too hot nor too cold was experienced, with sporadic sunshine and most crucially, no precipitation!

The summer is a good time to visit the Fishponds reserve since many wild flowers provide a lovely burst of colour, and the paths are squelch-free underfoot unlike during many spells throughout the other seasons.

Today was also a worth a visit due to the variety and quantity of cakes and biscuits on offer at the break. A good morale-boost halfway through the session!

The Green Gym now takes a break for a week - a summer recess of sorts, but will return on 15th August for the next session at Caldecott School. New programme to follow soon...

Marjorie instructs...

The Himalayan Balsam-pullers set off across the site.

Bees on a teasel.

Jo and Dieuwke raking.

Eleanor tackles the willow tree.


Half-time on the mound.

Tea and cakes and conversation.

Refreshment paraphernalia.

Brambles and hops in the hedgerow.