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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wed 14th Dec 2011 - Shide Quarry, Newport.

Mark's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

It now seems to have become a tradition for Green Gym that our last meeting of the year is held at Shide Quarry, so that was where we all met up on this Wednesday morning. Considerable planning is needed to ensure that everyone brings along all that is required then man handling everything from the road down into the quarry. Just to add to the Christmas "feeling" - this year we had a heavy hail storm just as the fire was about to be lit but it would take more than that to spoil the Christmas Bash...! The working party were soon attacking the overgrown area to the east of the site and while the cooks were working their magic on the hot soup and another fire was lit to deal with the cut material. Although the sun shone through later, it was noted that warming oneself by the bonfire was a popular pastime. After a shorter than usual tea break, it was back to work whilst the soup finished cooking on the open fire. Everyone seemed to be more than happy once the bowls of hot soup were handed around accompanied by all the usual trimmings of crusty bread, sausage rolls, cookies, mince pies etc, etc. The numbers attending were down a little on previous years (perhaps the weather?) but a quick head count showed around 25 Green Gymers were there - with many of them sporting Yuletide head ware.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

This week's find was an Oak apple, the common name for a large, round, vaguely apple-like gall commonly found on many species of oak. These range in size from 2-5cm, and are caused by chemicals injected by the larva of certain kinds of gall wasp in the family Cynipidae. The adult female wasp lays single eggs in developing leaf buds, and the larvae feed on the gall tissue resulting from their secretions. Oak galls have been used in the production of ink since at least the time of the Roman Empire, and from the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century iron gall ink was the main medium used for writing in the western world. In folklore it is said if a 'worm' is found inside the gall on Michelmas Day then the year will be pleasant and unexceptional; if a spider is found then it will be a bad year with shortages and ruined crops; if a fly is found then it will be a moderate season, and if nothing is found then serious diseases will occur all that year.
Oak Apple Day (or Royal Oak Day) is a former public holiday in England on 29 May, that commemorated the restoration of Charles II in 1660. The popular name refers to the event during the English Civil War when Charles hid in an oak tree. The commemoration persists in some areas today, although festivities have little to do with the Restoration.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs and nature lesson - not only for this week but all the other blog pages she has contributed to throughout the year.

All that is left to say is....

and we look forward to seeing you all in 2012......!

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