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To look at the Isle of Wight Green Gym web page (contains details of sessions etc) please use the following link :-

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Thursday 26 February 2009

Wed 25th Feb 2009 - Mornington Road, Cowes.

Yet another new site for the Green Gym this week in Mornington Road Cowes, with an excellent turnout on a mild, dry day. This area has been designated as a village green, but has been very neglected for some time, suffering from litter, dumping of garden refuse and other mess. The plan is to let more light into the area, keep it clean and tidy with better access, and possible generate a wetland area at the bottom of the site, which is very steep with lots of water run off. There were many tasks to keep us occupied including coppicing, opening pathways, clearing and restoring steps, litter picking. There is a very interesting structure at the top of the site with a round shape , next to a metal cover and what looks like a tunnel behind which they have been unable to identify, but Mark (Earp) may have solved this for them.
Mark's History Lesson.

The old maps show there are two of these structures in the area, one at Northwood and this may be the other - a bell jar reservoir (a bit like an upside down bell) and ice well. The curved part which is visible is the rounded part of the bell with a square opening at the top, and these type of ice houses were normally built on north facing areas (which this is) and used to store foodstuffs such as cheese, wine etc. They were usually attached to big manor houses owned by wealthy families, and the tunnel at the back may be another access route into the reservoir. The structure with the metal cover next to the bell jar is the ice well which was filled with cold water and ice. The bricks used in the construction date from the 1780’s to 1860’s, which can be identified by their colour and construction and may have been made locally, as there were many brickworks on the Island during this period.

Thursday 19 February 2009

Wed 18th Feb 2009 - Ryde Cemetery.

This week was our first visit to Ryde Cemetery and we had a good turnout on a dry if cloudy day. The Ryde Cemetery Restoration project initiative aims to conserve and restore the area to its former Victorian glory, by repairing and restoring the original Victorian Chapels, key historic tombs, historical walls and railings; ensuring the cemetery is conserved for the long term; training to increase heritage skills; encourage its appreciation as a heritage site; create a conservation area and potentially a local nature reserve. It is also hoped the project will enhance the ecological heritage value of the cemetery, which is rich in wildflowers and provides a home to butterflies, foxes, bats, other birds and mammals. We certainly found some very interesting looking spiders, together with a very small bee which was fluttering its wings very rapidly to get warm - we put him in a nice dry spot under a big tree, so hope he will survive. Some of the tombs and monuments are absolutely amazing with some beautiful carvings (see photo), it’s just like walking into a history book. We found representations of all three armed services including a Flying Officer Osborne from 1941 and a Colonel Charles Hunter of the Royal Artillery from 21 February 1916 which was the first day of the Battle of Verdun.

Carrie’s History Lesson: Ryde Cemetery is older than any other on the Island, predating the Burial Act of 1853 by more than ten years. In September 1840 George Player, Lord of the Manor, offered Newchurch Parish one acre of free land in Ryde, with the first internment in 1841, and official opening in 1842 when the chapel dedicated to St Paul was consecrated. The original part is believed to have been laid out on the site of an old sandpit, and the Ordnance Survey of 1862-63 shows several excavations labelled sandpits to the north. In 1861 two new chapels were built, one Church of England the other Non-Conformist, with the chapel dedicated to St Paul becoming the town mortuary. It was enlarged in 1862 with a portion set aside for Roman Catholics, consecrated by Bishop Grant in 1863. A second large extension took the burial area out to Pellhurst Road to the west, but there have been no significant changes since 1939 and at present there is no room for new burial spaces.
Many thanks to Carrie for the text & photographs.

Thursday 12 February 2009

Wed 11th Feb 2009 - Nansen Hill, Ventnor.

A return to Nansen Hill was this week’s task, although this time we were working at the bottom instead of clinging to the top. Green Gymmers numbering 25 turned up on a beautiful, crisp sunny morning, joining rangers Nick and Richard for the tasks at hand. This was clearing blackthorn and buddleia, to continue the regeneration of the natural grassland by letting in the light. Although very attractive to butterflies in your garden, in this particular area Buddleia is invasive and swamps the natural flora and fauna.

Carrie's Nature Lesson - Buddleia are native to north western China and Japan and is also called summer lilac. As well as butterflies, they are also attractive to bees and humming birds, with showy 4” to 10” long upright or nodding racemes. The common colour is lilac with orange in the throat, and available in pink, red, purple and white. Bloom time is from mid to late summer until frost, and many of the flowers are sweetly fragrant. The plant was named after the Reverend Adam Buddle, who was a botanist and a rector is Essex, England.
Many thanks to cub reporter Carrie for the editorial and photographs.

Thursday 5 February 2009

Wed 04th Feb 2009 - Mundsley Bog, Godshill

Green Gym was back at Mundsley Bog this week, a venue we have visited several times endeavouring to restore the natural bog in this area which was originally completed overgrown with bracken, scrub and brambles. The weather was bright, dry and sunny if somewhat cold, and wellies were definitely the order of the day following recent rain and melted snow. About twenty hardy volunteers got stuck in with loppers, slashers and bow saws, and the main area tackled this week was on the right hand side as you walk down the wooden causeway. We certainly made good headway with this as you can see from the pictures.
Once again, many thanks to Carrie for the text and pictures.