Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 27th April 2019

Ten of us turned up this morning at the town end of the Ock River Path, a number of us being absent due to a choir event happening elsewhere. Today’s session here, led by Eleanor, was hot on the heels of our previous visit when we’d laid the path with woodchip. We made our way along it, admiring our handiwork, loaded up with tools, tarpaulin and tea things to set up base in the usual spot.

Eleanor gave us a variety of tasks: to cut back the overgrown vegetation around the young trees we’ve planted in recent years, thereby allowing them light and nutrients; to pull up goose grass and nettles, but leaving islands for wildlife; to clear up fallen branches and to pick up litter.

Some dog mess had been spotted on our way in and thankfully Carolyn had some spare poo bags in her pocket, after recently inheriting a dog from a neighbour. Once we’d got that cleared up we were ready to go!

It was a beautiful spring day, with fresh leaves on the trees and everything bright, verdant and lush. We set to work efficiently and by break time had already cut back round the many trees in our green gym arboretum. Meanwhile Eleanor picked up litter and Kevin went round the site with a bow saw to cut up any larger branches.

Before we knew it, break time was upon us. Whilst drinking tea we spotted a muntjac deer browsing in the undergrowth. A kingfisher was also seen along the river.

It was decided we’d done a good morning’s work, and with everything looking lovely we called time on the session and made our way back to the car park.

Photos by Andrew:
Eleanor gives instructions.

Graham sharpens his tool.

One of the silver birch trees we planted here some time ago.
Joanna slashing in the wild.

Andrew shamelessly posing.

Who lives in a home like this?

Eleanor mid litter pick.

A snakes-head fritillary wild flower from one of the patches we sowed previously.

Janet and Kevin on tea break duty.


Hello deer!

Break time banter.

The re-laid woodchip path from our last session here.

Session's end.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 13th April 2019

A robust eighteen green gymmers turned up at today’s session at the town end of the Ock River Path. We made our way in sunshine and birdsong to our usual riverside base where our leader, Margaret, gave us our tasks. The priority was woodchipping the path, and two big piles of woodchip had been left by the town council, one at each end, ready for spreading. Other than that, there was litter picking and, in theory, tidying up the vegetation where we saw it was necessary.

Once we’d decided how best to proceed (bringing the woodchip to the middle of the path, and making our way out towards the ends) we cracked on with great efficiency, some of us wheelbarrowing and dragbagging the woodchip, others raking it evenly over the surface. And with so many of us, we’d completed the whole thing by break time.

After tea and biscuits, a quick update of the tea and coffee list by Sally, and some general chit chat, we decided that we might as well go home, especially since we’ll be returning here again in the near future.

We loaded our barrows with tools and made our way back, happy and pleased with a job well done.

Photos by Andrew and Joanna, except last photo - by Petra:

Assembling in the sunshine.

Adrian surveying the scene from the summit of one of the woodchip piles.

Andrew fixes the famous Green Gym sign into place.

Lesley and travelling tea kit!

Margaret gives her leader's speech.

Joanna busy raking the freshly laid woodchip.

A trio of path menders.

James takes a shortcut back from his abode.

Wild garlic!

Margaret leads by example.

Cherry blossom from a tree we planted some years ago.

One end of the path nearing completion as the rakers and wheelbarrow crew meet.

Meanwhile, Sally and Lesley prepare for the teatime rush.

Easter eggs are shared and scoffed.

Break time frivolities.

Sally updates the tea and coffee list under Graham's watchful eye.

Time to down shovels and barrows.

Home time already!

Novelty litter-pick find of the morning!

Friday, April 12, 2019

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.