Wednesday, April 29, 2020


I thought GG members needing prescriptions, but not wanting to queue up at the pharmacy, might be interested to know about Abimeds - a community medicines delivery service or see their Facebook page  It uses the local cycling club to make the deliveries in and around Abingdon. Boots and Jhoots are using the service and I think Lloyd’s will do soon as well.

The photo was taken one morning a few days ago when we (ie myself and husband Andy) got up very early to go for a walk to listen to the dawn chorus.  From Peachcroft, we went through Abbey Fishponds, onto the Sustrans track and then strolled around the lakes at Radley.  The birdsong was wonderful – definitely worth getting out of bed for!

Hope everyone is well,


Monday, April 27, 2020

Healthy Abingdon Children's Art Competition

We have been informed that the Healthy Abingdon group are running an art competition for children (closing date Friday 8 May).

It might be an extra thing for some of the younger relatives of our members to do at what is a difficult time.

The link with further information is here: 

More pond life

Hi to all! Here are some more pics of the tadpoles. It seems to be a good year for the pond which is swarming with them. We haven't named them all yet, that depends how long the lock-down continues!

We also have a couple of pigeons nesting in our fir tree. We've been watching them carrying up hefty branches to build their new des res and it seems like it's a big project, the female obviously won't move in until it has an en-suite!

Meanwhile the hedgehogs are still frequenting the patio at night for their free meal ticket. There were still three of them at the last count.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Further lockdown tales from James...

Housework Part 4
They say that in order for a craftsman to produce work of the highest quality he must have the right tools. This, I find, is as true of housework as it is of any other of any other activity. I have been doing quite a lot of hoovering, or to be more accurate, dysoning of late and have  had many a near mishap as the cable manages always to get entangled with my ankles, particularly when I am dysoning the stairs. So dangerous do I find this that I have taken to securing myself to the bannister rail with a length of rope and a carabiner.

Furthermore, some nooks are difficult to reach because the cable does not stretch far enough and I have to unhook the carabiner, unplug the Dyson from the socket, find another one nearer to the nook and reattach myself to the carabiner. All of this is most unsatisfactory and inhibits me from carrying out the task to the standard I have set for myself. Last week I decided that it was necessary for me to acquire a new set of tools, actually one tool – a cordless Dyson. It came two days ago.

Apart from the ghastly colour – purple – the new machine is magic and will, I am sure, transform my life. I am looking forward to dysoning the stairs tomorrow and may well be unable to resist dysoning every carpet and rug in the house, several times a week from then on. I will put the carabiner back on the shelf.

This self -isolating thing causes us to do some things we would not ordinarily dream of doing. One of these is to wipe down groceries with washing up liquid before putting them away in cupboards and fridges. This is fine for bottles and tins but it does tend to make biscuits rather soggy and it spoils their taste.

Meanwhile, although I am now proficient at most household tasks, there is one that I continue to struggle with. This is changing the duvet cover on our bed. Getting the corners of the main stuffed bit into the far corners of the cover is proving to be a major challenge. Every time I try it I seem to get myself trapped inside the cover unable to find the way out for several minutes. There must be a good guide on YouTube for which I will now have to search.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

News from Rosie

Hello Everyone
I hope all is well with you and that you are enjoying this sunshine.

A couple of pictures for you, the first is a lovely rainbow made of painted stones which has been left at the end of the road where I work. A really sweet touch is that you can take along a sharpie and write your own thank you message to all key workers on one of the stones. Certainly my work mates & myself are very encouraged by lovely things like this. We have also been spoilt with several cake deliveries from a local bakery! Postcards of Kindness and other letters for our 'family' whilst they are unable to see their own relatives.

I have been spending my evenings knitting, photo is of some little hearts which were requested by Swindon Hospital, they are being given out in pairs, one to the Covid patient and  one to their family at home, I hope they will bring a little comfort when people cannot visit their loved one in hospital. I have also made 30 hats for children in Mongolia, a friend has a contact out there, and some outfits for babies who are known as 'fish & chip' babies, born to extremely poor women in Africa, often with Aids, these babies are sent home from hospital wrapped in newspapers. I might send you a picture of these next time. Masons in Abingdon are a collection point for the outfits for these babies. Glad I did a wool shop before everywhere closed, although my sister has had to give me her stock as well, I'm just having a bit of a knitting phase!

A funny little story for you to finish with. Well, I thought it was funny but then it was my granddaughter!

Chloe was taking the girls for a walk and the 2 year old asked her if grandma could come on the walk with them. They were passing a bramble bush at the time so quick thinking Chloe said, grandma can't come today but maybe she can come with us when we go blackberrying. Chloe told me about this in a text later in the day, so I replied 'Yes, that's a date and I will bring lots of pots'. When Chloe read this to Lottie she became massively excited and jumping around shouted, 'yeah, Grandma's bringing lollipops!!' 
Aren't tiny people just too cute.

Keep safe my friends.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Updates from Joanna and Victor

Updates today from Joanna and Victor:

I cycled out to Cothill today. The fen itself is looking great - nicely waterlogged which goes to show how all our soggy hard work has been paying off - and the woodland beyond was carpeted with bluebells. Catching them in their prime was my main reason for going and I was rewarded with stunning scenes. There was not a soul to be seen, just a multitude of birds singing and a woodpecker pecking. Glorious.

This week I want to share with you something I found:

One of the things I did during my stay in Abingdon that I loved was the reading club from the library and although maybe you are not allowed to go there nowadays. I have discovered a web page that is a social network of people that likes to read. Hopefully you'll find it interesting:

Thursday, April 16, 2020

More from James...

Housework Part 3
This new passion of mine continues to be absorbing. Hoovering for example seems to flout the laws of physics. One hoovers a carpet one day and empties the cylinder holding the dust, then hoovers the same carpet again a week later only to find that a similar amount of dust has accumulated. The carpet does not appear to be any thinner but, judging by the amount of dust, it must be losing fibres by the truckload every time. A physical impossibility, Or is it? Perhaps dust is nothing to do with carpet fibres but something else entirely. What could it be? It must be something that falls, like winter snow, down from above. When it snows you can see the snowflakes falling but I have never seen a fall of dust so I suspect that it must be something that gets deposited at night when we are all abed. Who or what is doing this? One of these days I will set my alarm for 3.00 am, get up,  pick up a torch and investigate. I will report in due course.

I don’t know about you but we are finding it impossible to book a delivery by Waitrose. They never seem to have any slots but, by way of contrast, Majestic Wine takes our order and delivers within three or four days. This is wonderful so we have now given up on Waitrose and are relying entirely on Majestic. They do not do groceries very well so we are living on a restricted diet of beer and wine. Could be worse! We wait by the front door every day waiting for the Majestic van to arrive. When it does, we rush out, grab our essential supplies  and stack them in the garage, the spare bedrooms and in the attic. This is not hording. It is helping to preserve the jobs of the Majestic staff.

My laptop broke down last Friday and a man from PC World came yesterday to collect it for repair. When he arrived we did a gavotte. He rang the bell and stood back as I opened the door. He asked that I place the box on the doormat and stand back. I picked up the box and with something of a flourish leaned forward and placed the box on the doormat and then, as asked, stood back. The PCW man then stepped forward, bowed low and with a flourish of his right hand, picked up the box. Then, standing about three meters apart we each gave a little nod of the head before he climbed into his van and drove off.

Nice to think that such courtesies and customs are coming back I felt.

Joke - Over the Limit
One Saturday morning  a Green Gymmer was driving to the site when she noticed a flashing blue light in her rear view mirror. The police car overtook her and signalled for her to stop.

The young officer walked over and said “Madam, do you realise that you are on a 40 mph speed limit road and that you were doing over 70?”

The Gymmer said nothing so the officer said “Madam, please show me your driving licence”
“I don’t have one’ she replied.

“Dear me” said the policeman,” well, show me your insurance certificate”
“I don’t have one of those either” said the  Gymmer “In fact I do not own this car, I have stolen it and what’s more I have just murdered my husband and his body is in the boot.”

The policeman was taken aback and did not know what to do so he phoned HQ for support. After a few minutes another police car arrive with a Chief Inspector.

He walks over to the Gymmer  and said “ I understand from my officer that you do not have a driving licence or any insurance , that this car is stolen and that you have a body in the boot.”

‘Oh no !.There must be some mistake” said the Gymmer and handed over a perfectly valid driving licence and insurance certificate naming her as the owner of the car. “And do take a look in the boot.” The Chief Inspector examined the documents,  furrowed his brow then went round the back and opened the boot only to find a pair of wellies, a green waterproof jacket and a bowsaw.

“Well” said the Gymmer pointing at the young officer, “As you have discovered Chief Inspector, you cannot believe a single word that young policeman of yours says. Why, he even accused me of speeding!!!”

Friday, April 10, 2020

More tales from Kevin's pond

Hi, once again I have donned my snorkel, mask and flippers to explore the vast underwater wilderness, or maybe just put my waterproof camera into our pond to see what I could find.
Well, the tadpoles have now left the hatchery and are spreading across the pond. As you can see the juveniles are hanging around in the sun (as youths do) on a lily pad.

Also have seen a couple of newts, one of which posed long enough for me to take it's picture, I don't which kind he is, more than likely a common one or maybe not, perhaps someone could enlighten us?

Could do with some more rain water for the pond is starting to dry out, as well as Jim drinking it! The water butts are empty and I don't like to use tap water because (a) its a waste of good clean Thames water (not directly from the Thames or is it?) and (b) I have it on good authority from Rob Dayala that the chemicals added for treatment causes algae to cloud the water. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

News from Joanna and Lesley

Today we are blessed with updates from Joanna and Lesley:

With Andrew away on his ship, I find myself leading a much more unstructured life. Andrew is the cook of the household and when working from home my day was punctuated by regular mealtimes, favourite TV programmes we like to watch together and reasonable bedtimes. With Andrew away all that goes to pot! So last night I dug out my camera and found myself googling the best manual settings to photograph the moon at about one o’clock on the morning. We’ve had a magnificent pink moon supermoon over the past couple of nights. And here’s the result!

Best wishes to Andrew as he rejoins Ocean Reliance.  
I'm enjoying reading all the blogs and having a laugh too.

Yesterday I went for a bike ride by the Marina and the backroads of Southern Town Park. I checked out the Flower Garden. I then met Barbara coming in the opposite direction.  We stopped and had a nice 'distance chat'. She said she had met Carolyn and Kevin earlier.

I went on a 7.30-8.30am shop to Waitrose today and felt very emotional while queuing up at a safe distance from everyone - surreal times!

I've been looking at live webcams on my laptop which I've found fascinating - the site is if anyone is interested. The cameras cover wildlife sites of African reserves, birds nests, bee hives, a gorilla forest etc. and also domestic animals at home. I'm also logging in to the Salisbury Cathedral peregrines.

Wishing you all well.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Housework part 2 and the latest joke from James!

A pair of posts today from James:

Housework Part 2
I wrote earlier about my newfound fascination with housework, and I am now able to confirm that my enthusiasm is undiminished, indeed it has redoubled.

The work itself is absorbing but in addition to the feelings of rapturous joy at seeing spotless kitchen surfaces and carpets devoid of any biscuit crumbs, I am learning so much. For example I can now change the filters on a vacuum cleaner and I know which squeezy bottle to use for cleaning bathroom mirrors without leaving unsightly smears. My mother would be proud – and no doubt rather surprised.

Like most vacuum cleaners ours has a variety of different heads which can be fitted onto the end of the hose. Before the lockdown unlocked my domestic fervour I had no idea what all these different heads were for. For all I knew they might have been parts of a Kenwood Chef which somehow had got into the wrong box. Not only do I now know what they do  but I am becoming quite skilled at using them. Furthermore , I also know how a Kenwood Chef works.

As you would expect, I am constantly making copious notes as I scrub and polish everything in sight. I have it in mind to write a book when this is all over which would be a combination of a textbook and a motivational guide. Move over Mrs Beeton! I confidently expect film rights and a TV series to follow shortly after publication.

While I am ever deeper into the wonderful world of domestic science, Ursula continues unbated with her studies of classical guitar and is getting better by the day. I am aware that some other Green Gym ladies can also play a musical instrument and am therefore wondering if  a girl band might be in the offing – how about ‘The Green Gymslips’?

And the joke...

The Green Gym Short List
The Abingdon Green Gym were getting a little short in numbers and wanted about a half dozen new members, so it was decided to advertise in the local paper. The Chairman (C) and the Secretary (S) met to review the replies.

C. How many responses have we had? 
S. Well, 35 replied to the advertisement but we do not want that many, so I have whittled them down to a short list of six. We should meet them soon.
C. Good. That’s fine. I guess that you’ve already taken a look through the replies. What sort of people are they ?
S. Quite impressive actually. I feel sure they will be valuable additions to our team. To give you a flavour, one of them spent fifteen years as a lumberjack in northern Canada, another planted a ten acre forest on the slopes of Ben Nevis entirely unaided, and a third is exceptionally strong having been a champion all-in wrestler for some years past. The other three are much the same.
C. Wow, they all sound ideal for our group. Do you have any reservations or doubts at all?
S. Yes. I was quite surprised to find that no men replied to our ad’.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A culinary update from Eleanor

Eleanor has provided a couple of photos for us, showcasing a recent culinary triumph - her legendary meringues (or what is left of them!), and in the interests of balance, a less successful dessert - what she describes as her bunny rabbit (road kill) jelly.

Here we go...

The meringues.

...and the jelly!!

Andrew's return to sea!

Amidst the current chaos and the ongoing lockdown, I have been summoned back to work and will be re-joining my ship tomorrow. While most of my trips away are relatively short i.e. a month or so, this one could be a little longer. I have been advised pack for a lengthy duration, and once I walk up the gangway, I'm unlikely to be permitted back onto land until our work is complete or the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Therefore I have to be sure while packing that I haven't forgotten anything vital!

See below for a picture of the survey ship that I'll be joining - this is the vessel that I have sailed on most frequently over the past few years and has become my second home! If anyone is interested, you can click HERE for a link to a page to learn more!

Anyway, I will continue to update the blog as contributions come in from our members, but service may be a little slower than usual.

Stay safe!

Ocean Reliance

Sunday, April 5, 2020

An update from Rosie and another joke from James!

Today we hear the latest from Rosie and James provides us with another mirthful moment!

Kevin - great hedgehog pictures, thank you ... any news on the frogspawn?

Yesterday I was able to have a nice cuppa with my sister, without breaking any isolation rules. She lives in the same road as me, and her house faces onto a big green. So I thought how lovely it would be if we met outside her house, each bringing our own cup of tea from home, Elisabeth sat on her doorstep and I sat about 4 meters away on the green and we enjoyed a good old catch up after not seeing each other for a month or more. That may become a Saturday habit whilst the lockdown lasts. Careless photography means that you can't properly see the wellies on my carefully selected mug!

Managed to get a picture of the beautiful peacock butterfly that has been sunning itself in my garden the last couple of days. I had to lie on my belly and commando crawl to get near it, bit messy as I'd just mowed the grass!

One other little picture in case This Little Piggy hasn't popped up on your Facebook yet.

Have a safe week and I look forward to hearing about your adventures at home.

Wheelbarrow Challenge

The Abingdon Green Gym were relaying the woodchip path on the Ock Island, as they did every year, when a new recruit arrived on the scene, a young man who seemed rather cocky. He started bragging that he could outdo any established member in any task involving strength.

After a little while one of the older members had had enough. “I’ve been listening to you boasting about how strong you are but I’ll bet that I can carry something in the wheelbarrow over to the end of the path that you won’t be able to wheel back”. “OK” said the young man. ”That’s nonsense but let’s see what you can do.”

The older member reached out and grabbed the handles of the wheelbarrow. He then nodded to the young man and said “All right. Get in.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Hedgehog update and more from the Spanish lockdown!

Today's updates come from Kevin and Victor:

We now have 3 Hedgehogs visiting, not sure if it is a family, if they are not,then they aren't social distancing.

Good to see the small one has survived the winter. Maybe the mild wet January/February was in their favour, but we didn't see them around during that period though.

Jim the dog is not interested in them. I think it may have been when he pick one up for the first time and realised it wasn't a good idea!

We have also heard from Victor again, who is still in lockdown in Madrid until at least the 26th April, but thankfully safe.

He has been enjoying James' jokes and the other recent posts on here and has supplied a photo showing the latest art from his kids!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Today's posts from James and Lesley

Today we have another joke from James and some words supplied by Lesley:

In a Monastery Garden

A man who had been an active member of his local Green Gym wanted, for some reason,  to become a monk and decided to join a monastery where he thought his experience would be valuable in looking after the gardens there. The man went to talk to the head monk.
The head monk said “You are welcome to join us and to join the garden maintenance group but to be a monk you must take a vow of silence and you are only allowed to say two words every three years”.

The man agreed and after the first three years the head monk came to him and said “What are your two words?”
“Loppers blunt” said the man.

Three more years went by and the head monk came to him again and said “What are your two words?”
“Bowsaw rusty” the man exclaimed.

Three more years went by and the head monk came to him again and said “What are your two words?”
“I resign” said the man.

“Well” the head monk replied, “I’m not surprised. You’ve done nothing but complain ever since you got here”.

Meanwhile Lesley has supplied some words that she has copied from a friend's Facebook post:

It was March 2020 ...
The streets were empty, the shops closed, people couldn't get out.
But spring did not know, and the flowers began to bloom, the sun shone, the birds sang, the swallows would soon arrive, the sky was blue, the morning arrived early.

It was March 2020 ...
Young people had to study online, and find occupations at home, people could no longer go shopping, or go to the hairdresser. Soon there would be no more room in hospitals, and people continued to get sick.
But spring did not know, the time to go to the garden arrived, the grass greened.

It was March 2020 ...
People have been put in lockdown. to protect grandparents, families and children. No more meetings or meals, family celebrations. The fear became real and the days were therefore similar.
But spring did not know, apples, cherry trees and others bloomed, the leaves grew.

People started reading, playing with their families, learning a language, singing on the balcony inviting neighbors to do the same, being supportive and focusing on other values. (Some learned how to do housework!!)

People realized the importance of health, of suffering, of this world that had stopped, of the economy that has plummeted.
But spring didn't know. the flowers gave way to the fruit, the birds made their nest, the swallows had arrived.

Then the day of liberation came, people found out on TV, the virus had lost, people took to the streets, sang, cried, kissed their neighbors, without masks or gloves.

And that's when summer came, because spring didn't know. He continued to be there despite everything, despite the virus, fear and death. Because spring didn't know, he taught people the power of life.

Everything's gonna be fine, stay home, protect yourself, and enjoy life - but mainly remain confident and keep smiling!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

A musical interlude from Joanna and Andrew (and Joanna's daughter, Gertie!)

Joanna and her daughter Gertie have started up the Lockdown Folk Club! For all the stir crazy amongst you, here's Gertie singing the first verse of Crazy Man Michael, accompanied by Joanna on the guitar. The song was written by Richard Thompson, the tune by Dave Swarbrick, and it was sung by Sandy Denny on the 1969 album Liege and Lief by Fairport Convention. While much of album comprised traditional folk songs, this was an original composition and the final song on an album which, in 2002, was voted by Radio 2 listeners as the 'most important folk album of all time'. It's a classic! 

Meanwhile, Andrew and Joanna have another musical project of their very own - Vanishing Faces. It's an unusual mix of folk and electronic music that has kept them busy for the past few months. Their first 5 track EP is now up on the Bandcamp website, where it can be previewed and either bought as a download or a limited edition CD. You can find it here -

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Updates from James and Rosie

Today's blog entries are from James and Rosie:

Journey of Discovery

Being in self isolation is indeed a strange experience but I am finding that it does have some unexpected and surprising benefits. It is proving to be an opportunity to learn about subjects that, in my case certainly, have not been ones that have attracted my interest before.

One of these subjects is housework. Yes, housework! Don’t fall off your chair when I say that. It’s true. For some time past we have had one of those cleaning companies come to our house once a week with an army of four or five young ladies who hoover, dust, polish and scrub every surface in every room. They get through this in about one hour, which amazes me. However, in the present circumstances we have regrettably had to bring this to and end and resign ourselves to doing all the housework ourselves.

Being an enlightened modern man (no sniggering please!) I have never been reluctant to do my bit which hitherto has been more of a supporting role than actually doing anything but now that that option is no longer available, I am having to don the apron and marigolds and get stuck in and I have now been doing this for a week and I am loving it. The girls were good but really only did the basics.

First of all there has been the ordinary everyday stuff like washing the kitchen floor and hoovering the carpets. It all reminds me of a Green Gym Session where, after a morning’s work, we look with pride at what we have achieved and we feel that warm glow of fulfilment.  I look at the floor before getting to work with the bucket of Flash and a brush and I actually see the floor. I see crumbs, spots and specks, and footmarks which, I confess, I had not noticed before. When I have finished all this has gone and the floor is pristine. The joy this brings moistens my eye. The same, more or less, applies to hoovering the carpets.

Secondly there are the jobs which are less common but need to be done from time to time. These typically involve climbing a stepladder, moving heavy furniture, and rearranging shelves which have not been touched for years. The discoveries one makes are revelatory. For example at the back of a high bookshelf I found a small voice recorder that I bought ages ago and had forgotten I had and a still unopened packet of peanuts (BBD 2013). While up the stepladder I was able to observe a small spider crawling along the top of the curtain rail. I was able to gently move him to a more suitable habitat.

This whole experience is like an adventure with new discoveries at every turn. What’s great about it is that I am only at the beginning and am looking forward to many more weeks of awe and wonderment.

PS If you believe any of the above, you are probably suffering from cabin fever and you should go and have a good lie down!!

Hi Everyone,

Lovely to see lots more posts this week, I hope everyone is managing and keeping their spirits up. Thank you Andrew for keeping us all in touch with each other.

I thought in true Green Gym style I would use my 'hand tools' to cut the grass!! It lasted just about long enough to take this photo!
I have enjoyed watching Mr Robin in and out of the shed this week building his nest, now looking forward to babies. Three years ago there were 5 and two years ago 4 but last year they didn't nest in my shed, so I was super excited to spot him the other day. DON'T judge my shed! And the chimney pot doesn't belong to it, that belongs to the folks across the road!

Finally just for fun I'll send you a copy of the text I received the other day from my daughter about my granddaughters Millie 4 and Lottie 2.

We saw a robin in the garden so I was telling the girls about your robins in the shed... "grandma has got a mummy and a daddy robin in her shed and they're making a nest.." both girls getting quite excited, I explained that they will lay some eggs in the nest and Lottie starts jumping around shouting "yay yay!!"  ... Followed by "I eat them all up!!"

Good job she is not allowed to visit!

Take care, Rosie