Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Updates from Roger and Barbara

Today we have contributions from Roger and Barbara:

Hi all Abingdon Green Gymmers. Hope you are staying well. I am working from home full-time now, but am lucky enough to have a workstation with a garden view, although it's a constant reminder of what needs to be done! I have offered to be "redeployed" by the council in the near future; hopefully to some active, practical community work. Please let me know if any of you needs any assistance. Take care, Roger

Hello Everyone I hope you are all staying well.  I’ve been trying to keep myself sane by taking pictures of wildlife when going out for my daily exercise – so far I’ve got a Little Egret at Abbey Fishponds, a Dunnock perched in a tree in Barton Fields, a heron at Abbey Meadows and a Great Crested Grebe on Thrupp Lake (at least I think it was – it was a bit far away!).  Also the cowslips are coming out on Barton Fields.

Best wishes, Barbara.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The next instalment...

Today we have a fantastic round of contributions from Henry and Helen, Ursula and Sally:

It’s been an interesting few weeks (putting it mildly) but we have both now settled in to working from home which looks like it will be an arrangement for many weeks to come. We had a couple of days of holiday to use up before the end of March and, with our green fingers itching, we spent our days out doing a ‘mini Green Gym’ in our garden.

After a very soggy February and March, the recent sunny weather meant that the ground was dry enough for Henry to do the inaugural lawn cut for 2020. This also included some much-needed raking where the moss had taken hold.

At the back of the garden, the border which we had painstakingly created last summer was beginning to show the first signs of spring growth with the clematis starting its climb of the trellis, the hydrangea sprouting strongly and the tulip bulbs poking their way through. Helen busily spent Thursday afternoon planting in some spring pansies which we managed to rescue before the supermarkets went into crisis mode.

We also got round to a long-awaited activity - putting up a solitary beehive which we were gifted for Christmas. The hive has a number of small holes where solitary bee species (such as Mason bees and Leaf-cutter bees) can lay their eggs. Hopefully this will encourage more pollinators into the garden come the summer time. We’ll keep you updated!
-Henry and Helen

The solitary beehive on its south-facing wall.

We couldn’t bee-lieve (groan) our eyes when we saw a potential beehive resident land on Henry’s hat!

A couple of our pots full of springtime cheer.

I remember where I bought this lovely pot of raspberry jam.  It was on a walk up to the Wittenham Clumps.  There is a smallholding at the end of the track that leads out of Dorchester towards Days Lock and the Clumps. The old man keeps a lovely flock of chickens, and he showed me how to let them peck corn straight out of my hand.  He also sells produce like tomatoes, some vegetables, fruit and of course eggs, out of a little stall at the front.  When he is not around you just leave the money in the honesty box. 

Whether he is still there, with his wife who made the jam, I don’t know, as it has been quite some time since we walked that way.  It became a bit less tempting because the landowner fenced all his fields, leaving a rather narrow path between horrible barbed wire on the way down to the lock and along the river.  But there are other small producers along that lane selling surplus seedlings, flowers and eggs.  So maybe still worth a visit, when we are allowed out again.

For GG members in need of an outlet for their spirit of adventure, they might be interested in this!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Updates from Victor, Andrew and Joanna and James

Our first update today comes from Victor, who is at home in Madrid:

Although I'm working from home, we are spending lots of time together learning to paint, cooking, playing guitar (well, we are 3 and 0 years old,... so you can imagine what we are learning :)),...

For me it's the first time going through something similar and it's being a very weird time. And it's very nice to keep connected with the people you love. This is why I wanted to contribute with some words (that hopefully you can understand ;))

Furthermore we though you were the best people to ask for advice. During this lockdown time, we've been trying to figure it out what we are doing wrong with our plants but we have not been able to understand it so maybe you can help us with some advice.

I will show you two pictures one from my artists in action and the other from the Spanish "green gymmers" trying to solve our problem.

See you!

Meanwhile, Andrew and Joanna have been out for their daily exercise in Abingdon, taking in Green Gym work sites at the town end Ock Valley Walk yesterday and then down to Southern Town Park today, including a look to see how our wildflower patch is faring. We returned home to a delicious vegan supper, cooked by Joanna's daughter Gertie, who is staying with us at the moment after having to finish university early.

Andrew and Joanna along the Ock Valley Walk.

Our Southern Town Park wildflower patch.

Gertie and Joanna.

Finally for today, James has made a couple of contributions:

It’s not just us humans that are having a hard time at the moment. I managed to photograph one of our local pigeons on our fence this morning. Doesn't look too happy does he?

Also, he sent a Green Gym-themed joke to share:

A Green Gymmer from Essex visits one of our sites near Abingdon.  The Essex Gymmer asks ‘How big is the site you look after?” to which the Abingdon Gymmer replies “Can you see those trees over there ? That’s the boundary of this site. It’s our biggest one”

The Essex Gymmer  responded “Wow. It takes me three days to drive around  the boundary  of our largest site”

The Abingdon Gymmer said “ Hmmm. I had a car like that once”

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Updates from Rosie, Margaret, Kevin and Eleanor

A few more contributions from Green Gym members on what would usually be our work day:

How's everyone doing? Saturday morning does not seem right without you and for some ridiculous reason I set my alarm this morning, never do that on a Saturday but most of this week I haven't had a clue which day it is!

Anyway I've learnt new skills this week, had to download and connect for a meeting on Zoom, are you impressed?  Quite a challenge for me but it was great to see friends and have a good natter. I'm sure lots of you have been doing things like that.

Now my kids are wanting to use the Houseparty App!... how easily we can all be connected these day, it's wonderful particularly for those of us living alone.

These are photos of the care home where I work and have been this week. So far we have managed to keep our 'family' there safe but a number of staff are off, including my jobshare, so I will be at Framland extra hours over the next two weeks at least. It's useful to us that the uni & schools are closed because we have several young people on  bank staff who are coming in to help with housekeeping and kitchen work.

I only have one tree in my garden and have enjoyed watching the blossom breaking out over the last few days sunny days, every year I wait with bated breath to see if I may be going to have a plum harvest in August!

Finally a picture from my front garden of the flower I have taught my granddaughters to call Please Don't Forget Me!

Take care of yourselves, speak soon.


The plum tree with blossom.

The 'please don't forget me' flowers!

Inspired by an afternoon zoom chat appointment with Sally, I decided to see if I had the ingredients available to bake a cake.

Turning out self raising flour, some sugar from eons ago (I rarely buy sugar), baking powder, and eggs,  I thought - yep I could make a cake with that, now what flavour- well I have lemons, and an orange, let’s have a go.

So this morning I set about it and while I was already in the kitchen with the oven on thought I would make some cheese scones to boot.

Roll on a couple of hours and they’re baked and I’ve had a slice with a cup of tea whilst chatting to Sally on zoom. All is well 😊

The frogs have been busy over the last couple of weeks in our pond, I will pass on any progress in the hatchery as they develop.

And finally an update from Eleanor, including a joke (presumably devised before Prince Charles developed Covid-19 and when hospital visits were still possible!):

Sorry I haven’t contributed anything to the blog so far. I’m not being creative/reading “War and Peace” (actually, I’ve read it.)/painting water colours/learning Mandarin. I’ve been looking after my 3 year old grandson while my son and daughter-in-law work from home i.e.here in Abingdon. I end the day totally exhausted, but with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the exploits of Peppa Pig.

Anyway, here is a joke:

Prince Charles goes to visit a hospital in Glasgow. He approaches a bed and speaks to a patient, “What do you do?”
The patient replies, “Fair fa’ yer honest, sonsie face, great chieftain of the pudden race”
Unable to understand a word, the prince smiles stiffly and moves on to the next bed.
“How long have you been here?”
The patient replies,” Some hae meat and cannae eat and some wad eat that want it.”
Again, the prince is totally flummoxed and moves on to the next bed.
“How is your recovery progressing?”
The patient replies, “Wee sleekit, cowering, timorous beastie, Oh what a panic in thy breastie.”
Utterly bemused, the prince turns to the doctor and asks, “Is this a psychiatric ward?”
“No sir”, replies the doctor. It’s a Serious Burns Unit”. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Further tales from isolation...

Today we have updates from Dieuwke and Kevin:

Yesterday we were joined by our neighbours on both sides for a cuppa at the bottom of the garden. We were able to chat across the fence & watch the two little girls next door (4 and 1) play in the sunshine. They had such fun - it was lovely. Our other neighbour is building a workshop on his side of the fence and we were able to admire that. We are so lucky a)to have a garden b)to have brilliant neighbours.

I have been told by the Cinnamon trust that I am now a key worker! I apparently qualify for this because I am a volunteer dog-walker for an elderly, housebound couple. My walks with the dog do not count towards my once-a-day exercise allowance. (so any of you might consider volunteering?).

Normally we would write a letter to the Times confirming  the first sighting of spring hedgehogs!

We have been feeding them, they scoff a saucer full of hedgehog food each night.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Updates from some of our members during the lockdown...

Hello Folks

Who’da thought it?  A Saturday morning without loppers or bowsaws, and not wearing our eye-catching green T-Shirts and fleeces. I suppose we could always wear them around the house and eat biscuits at 11.00 but it would not be the same would it?

It looks like Green Gym sessions will be off the agenda for some time although, as far as I am aware, the Prime Minister has not specifically told Green Gym to close the shop and put our loppers into cold storage. So, what do we do to keep ourselves moderately green until that nasty Mr Coron O’Virus departs our shores?

We thought that some sharing of ideas and tips among the Gymmers might be useful and it would enable us to keep in touch with each other, hence this idea of using the blog for the purpose. Apart from news and tips, we could use this for sharing photos, poems, and making comments and asking questions for example.  We hope that you like the idea, and that you will submit your own contributions so that we can update the blog on a regular basis such as weekly.

Ursula and I both being over 70 (although you will no doubt find that hard to believe!) are in one of the risk categories. We are therefore following government advice as far as possible and more or less self-isolating, only going out for the occasional shop at the Coop and for brisk walks. This means that we have to find things to do around the house for weeks, perhaps months.

Some tidying and redecoration is on the agenda but this will not be enough to see us through more than a couple of weeks or so. We need something else. Ursula will increase the time she spends learning to play the classical guitar and I will be dabbling with some oilpaints and do a bit of writing.

What about you?  Some of you will be continuing to work or study but others will be like us – self isolating.  What will you be doing? We’d love to know and you may have tips and suggestions that others of us had not thought of and would welcome.

We will consult with you later to see if you would like some additional platform for communications between us but for now we will just use the blog.

Andrew has agreed to compile the contributions onto the blog, so do send your contributions to him at his email address.

Clematis Alpina Blue Dancer - a lovely early flowering clematis.

Save me from the destructive Green Gymmer!

Meanwhile, an update from Margaret...

I’ve been green gyming at home today, outside in the lovely sunshine topping up on exercise and vitamin D.
The lawn is in need of a lot of tlc with all this rain we’ve had, but cutting today has been step one 😊

Hope all you green gym-ers also have opportunities to get into the sunshine and have a little relaxation outdoors in nature.
Best wishes,


And finally some inspiring words provided by Sally (poem by Kitty O'Meara):