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IoW GG links

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

The link to Twitter is

If you would like to leave us any comments then please use this link

Thursday 15 December 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......!

Friday 9 December 2011

Wed 7th Dec 2011 - Munsley Bog, Godshill.

Many thanks to Mark for the photographs.....!

I have just logged on to write up the blog for this week......but unfortunately I don'y have any material...! Your blog editor was suffering from the "dreaded lurgy" on Wednesday and didn't want to spread it around you all as it is NOT the best of Christmas pressies to give! If anyone has anything, pictures or editorial, then either e-mail it directly to me or forward via Mark.

PS Health is improving so should be along to the Christmas Bash next week.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Wed 30th Nov 2011 - Wetland Walk, Adgestone.

Mark's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

A huge rainbow appeared just as we were going to this week's Green Gym but fortunately the weather held reasonably dry with just a light shower. As this is one of the sites that we visit on a regular basis everyone is aware of what needs to be done so Team GG were soon spread across the area and tackling the most important tasks. One area that needed particular attention was the hedging along the southern boundary as this had become very overgrown. To make the best of what was existing, it was decided that around 15m to 20m would be treated to hedge laying which would tidy it up and encourage new growth where needed. The area was cleared of bramble and weeds then the standing hedging was trimmed back prior to "pleaching" the trunks and branches. Pleaching is where the diameter at the base is cut back to allow the wood to be leaned over whilst still being attached to the base. Once the hedge has been laid in one direction then the excess branches are trimmed away and the hedge is held in place with stakes. To tidy the whole thing up a woven set of thinner branches (called "heathers") are used to bind the tops of the stakes together.

The above picture shows what the finished hedge should look like but I hasten to add that this is NOT the hedge we laid...! The stakes and heathers that we used were coppiced from over at Mill Copse as there is no suitable hazel available on site.

During the session other teams were working on undergrowth removal, hedge planting, tree planting, litter picking and trimming back overgrown areas along the pathways. Wow.....what a busy Team GG we were ......!

Many thanks to Carrie and Mark for the work in progress photographs.

Friday 25 November 2011

Wed 23rd Nov 2011 - One Horse Field, Totland.

Mark's Photographs.

'Mark jokes that here we have the two Janets '.... tis a little joke the ladies will understand....???

Carrie's Photographs.

Once again Team GG found themselves heading west on Wednesday morning - this time all the way to One Horse Field in Totland. We have visited the site many times in the past and it is always interesting to see the outcome of our previous tasks. The jobs this time included the refitting of a repaired wooden bench, the planting of five new trees, raking up more of the previously cut bracken and planting cuttings to "fill in" existing hedge rows. With a good attendance and unseasonably warm weather, the workforce were soon spread around the field working hard and enjoying being out in the fresh air. The pictures above show the infill planting team hard at work.

Many thanks to Carrie & Mark for the photographs this week.

Friday 18 November 2011

Wed 16th Nov 2011 - The Pond, Bonchurch.

Once again Team GG found themselves at another new venue for our Wednesday Workout! If you had to choose just one letter to sum up this week then it would have to be "B" - standing for Bonchurch, Buddleia, Bramble, Bamboo & Bracken. Once we had managed to find somewhere to park then it was off for a walkthrough this beautiful area so the various tasks could be pointed out. The team were basically split into two working groups - some working alongside the roadside wall and the others over the far side of the pond. It soon became apparent that had we worked there every day for a week then there would still be plenty left to do! Having said that, many of the "locals" that passed by seemed to think that we were doing a grand job and the edge of the pond looked far more defined by the end of the session. One of the most difficult problems tackled was a huge clump of bamboo that was blocking out views of the pond from the road. Some was taken down to ground level but the remainder had to be trimmed down to size, so perhaps this work could be continued if we return there. The "shoreside" team were busy cutting back the overhanging foliage to reduce the amount of water pollution and to give access for sunlight. The team working along the roadside had to contend with dragging all the cut material some considerable distance so it could be piled on a composting area. The weather is still amazingly mild for the time of year and we had a great turnout to work at this wonderful site.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

This week's find was a Field Mushroom (Agaricus campestris), a widely eaten gilled mushroom closely related to the cultivated button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus). The cap is white, may have fine scales, and is 5 to 10 centimetres (2.0 to 3.9 in) in diameter; it is first hemispherical in shape before flattening out with maturity. The gills are initially pink, then red-brown and finally a dark brown, as is the spore print. It is common in fields and grassy areas after rain from late summer onwards worldwide, and is often found on lawns in suburban areas appearing in small groups, in fairy rings or solitary. Owing to the demise of horse drawn vehicles and the subsequent decrease in the number of horses on pasture, the old 'white outs' of years gone by are becoming rare events. The fact that we found this species in woodland is unusual, and the species is rarely found here.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs and nature lesson.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Wed 9th Nov 2011 - Afton Marsh, Freshwater.

Team GG were back in West Wight this week and at a site we have visited many times in the past, the wonderful wetland walk at Afton. Past experience has shown that wellies are the preferred footwear for this venue and that was certainly the case this week! The group split into three working parties, the first tackling a ditching and hedge cutting job and the other two groups working on cutting / stacking trees and undergrowth. As we were working with the ranger, it wasn't long before we had a fire going and much of the bramble etc was soon reduced to organic ashes. The larger pieces were stacked neatly to form habitat piles for the local wildlife to enjoy. Once again the weather held good for us, the low cloud at the start of the session soon lifted to allow the sun to show through. With mid day temperatures around 15/16 C who would think it is almost mid November.....?

Carrie's Nature Lesson

This week's find was a beautiful Fly Agaric (Latin Name Amanita Muscaria), which is often found in pine woodlands, and also around the base of birch trees. It is found throughout the UK from September to November, and has a cap which measures up to 25cms across. It has tiny, hair-like roots which attach to tree roots, and in this way the toadstool can siphon off some of the nutrients from the tree, although this does not seem to damage the tree in any way. The caps are round when young and become flat as they nature, the white spots drop off with age. The fly agaric is poisonous and is known to cause hallucinations, violent stomach upsets, uncontrollable muscle spasms and could be fatal. It has been used as a fly killer - hence the name - where small pieces of the fungi were added to saucers of milk and when the flies came to feed they died.

Did you know? that the toadstool did not get its name from being a piece of amphibian furniture, but is from 'toad-stuhl' a German name, which means seat of death.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs and nature lesson.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Wed 2nd Nov 2011 - Granny’s Meade, Freshwater.

Carrie's Photographs.

Eddie's Photographs.

Yes, another new venue for GG members to spend their Wednesday mornings working on. It was out to West Wight (again!) on a bright and warm Wednesday morning to work on this meadow site. We were expecting to do quite a lot of tree and hedge planting on this session but due to the warm weather, it was decided to put this back a couple of weeks to give the new trees & shrubs a better start in life. The field had recently had the hedgerows cut back with a mechanical flail type machine which had left a considerable amount of debris across the grass. One team set about raking this aside and sowing grass seed to cover the exposed areas and another started preparing the ground for the hedge planting that will take place later. Part of the meadow is to be planted with more mature trees so to give them a good start in life we erected some 30 - 40 metres of chestnut fencing complete with the supporting posts. Three trees were planted up with the remainder to follow at a later date. This session was also attended by people from the local area and it is hoped that a "Friends of Granny's Meade Group" can be set up to deal with the day to day running of the site. During the morning lots of wild flower seeds were placed around the field so by next summer it should be looking like a "proper" English meadow. We look forward to returning when everything has become established.
Many thanks to Carrie & Eddie for the pictures this week.
P.S. There is a nice group shot of some of the GGmers (page 25) and a mention of our work at St Mary's, Ryde (page 28) in IoW County Press dated Nov 4th 2011.

Friday 28 October 2011

Wed 26th Oct 2011 - St Mary’s RC Primary School, Ryde.

I just knew I shouldn't have mentioned Green Gym's good luck with the weather in the last blog - as we had a wet morning this Wednesday! At least it didn't pour down all morning - more like short, sharp showers. It was nice to return to this site and see how the children had been developing the grounds since our last visit. Everything was looking very good but we were tasked to work on 3 main areas. The "natural" area had become very overgrown with brambles so these were cut back and the roots dug out. The willow trees to the south of this area were cut back to allow the sunlight access and allow regrowth (hopefully NOT brambles!) The pond area had the perimeter hedge trimmed back and the pond weed was skimmed off and a general tidy up. The third task was to cut back some of the non-native trees and shrubs along the woodland walk area, once again to let the sunlight through. A good turnout of GGmers considering it was half term holidays and the less than perfect weather!

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs this week.

Friday 21 October 2011

Wed 19th Oct 2011 - Mill Copse, Yarmouth.

Had you been in the area of Mill Copse on Wednesday morning this week you may have been thinking..."If you go down to the woods today, you will be in for a BIG surprise..!" With 30 plus GG members all beavering away at clearing away pre-felled trees, undergrowth etc and neatly putting the logs into piles whilst burning the rubbish, it was certainly busy. Once again the weather held good for us, amazing considering we are well into October (I will now get the blame when it rains on a Wednesday morning...). The object of our work there is to try and clear areas within the copse to let the light in and allow the plants on the ground to compete. Many of the trees in this area were planted in the 1960's and are of the quick growing conifer types that really aren't much good for anything except making logs. Even then they have a high resin content which can cause flue problems if the logs are used in log burning stoves. At least they will make good nature habitats while they are stacked up in the copse!

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs this week.

Thursday 13 October 2011

Wed 12th Oct 2011 - Golden Hill Fort, Freshwater.

As the GG team members were driving to Golden Hill on Wednesday morning they needed to use the car window wipers - an ominous sign as the last time we worked there we all got soaked...! By the time we had all mustered in the car park, the weather was improving and there was only the occasional light shower during the morning. With somewhere around 30 people in attendance, we split into 3 groups - two were tasked to clear pond areas with the third burning up material that had been cleared earlier in the year. For ponds to function and thrive, they need to be in open areas that have access to sunlight. This certainly was NOT the situation when we started on the two "ponds" as they were both very overgrown. The undergrowth, brambles, unwanted trees were cut back and piled neatly in cleared areas with all the rubbish collected and removed. Fortunately both these areas were dry at the present time but we expect they will soon be filling up as the weather comes on to winter. The burning of material seemed to go well with the piles looking far smaller at the end of the work session.

Many thanks to Eddie for the photographs this week.

Friday 7 October 2011

Wed 5th Oct 2011 - Seagrove Dell, Seaview.

This week the GG Team were back to work at a site we first visited almost 3 years ago to the day. The pond and surrounding area at Seagrove Dell had certainly thrived in our absence, so it was was good that we had a excellent turnout to tackle all the jobs! Due to the recent "Indian Summer", the pond area was almost dry so team A were soon in there removing the overgrown bullrushes, brambles and weeds etc. Team B started cutting back the trees and shrubs that were stopping sunlight reaching the pond, team C attacked the VERY overgrown area at the far end of the site with team D cutting back the hedge along the footpath. As if by magic the outline of the pond was revealed and by the time we all packed up, the area looked much as we had left it some 3 years previously. Although we had some light rain during the morning, the showers held off until we had finished - so perhaps the weather gods had decided to help out by starting to fill the pond again?

Have a look in the County Press (page 21) this week - there is a nice half page article about our recent visit out to Yarmouth. Fame again for Team GG....!!!!

Many thanks to Carrie and Mark for the photographs this week.

Friday 30 September 2011

Wed 28th Sept 2011 - Heytesbury Road Recreation Ground, Yarmouth.

Almost every other week recently I seem to be starting this blog with "This week GG were at another new venue..." and this week is yet another one on the ever growing list! Perhaps it was the glorious weather (blue sky and temperatures in the mid 20's C) or the thought of the wonderful views across the marsh that encouraged around 40 GG members to turn out on Wednesday morning. As we walked through the beautifully cut grass on the recreation ground, you could almost hear the comments " Well, not much for us to get stuck into here" - how wrong we were! Mark soon pointed us in the direction of an area that seems to left to do it's own thing for ever and a day - so lopers, saws and slashers were the tools of the day. The plan was that we would reclaim the area around a drainage ditch from the brambles and undergrowth that had covered the whole area. The cut down items were stacked into nature piles and the team made steady progress at hacking into the "jungle". The sun was particularly hot so many thanks to the kind lady who came out with jugs of cold water to keep the troops happy.....!

Press release from Mark........(and also thanks to him for the photograph this week)

Island’s High Sheriff joins the Isle of Wight Green Gym

The Island’s Green Gym conservation group has had the pleasure recently of welcoming a special new member to their ranks. The Island’s High Sheriff, Susie Sheldon, joined them for a session to help with the clearing of scrub on some land in Yarmouth.

The IW Green Gym is an independent conservation group linked nationally to the BTCV. They work right across the Island with charities, schools, parishes and councils to help improve the environment. Yarmouth Town Council was the partner on this occasion and supported the group. This week’s task was on a site which acts almost as a buffer zone between the recreation ground and the far quieter environment of Rofford Marsh with its valuable habitat, with SSSI status, important for wildlife with specialist flora and fauna including wading birds such as Snipe and Little Ringed Plover. The IW Green Gym is almost always well attended with 41 volunteers all doing their bit this week to help with the management of scrub along the site’s boundary. It is important to occasionally clear some areas of scrub, both to maintain the habitat and to inspect such things as ditches and boundaries. The group got to work and succeeded in completing the project in hand, in spite of some vicious bramble which has a tendency to attempt to fight back! Many volunteers were cutting away the scrub whilst others including pupils from St Georges School and a group from OSEL were busy creating habitat piles for the benefit of invertebrates and small mammals. During the morning their special guest the High Sheriff, Susie Sheldon involved herself in the task as she learnt about the IW Green Gym and the work the dedicated volunteers do, week in and week out around the Island.

Susie commented “This is volunteering and community work at its best, with people of all different ages and abilities sharing in the hard work, physical exercise, and social interaction at the same time as learning about the rural environment. I really enjoyed meeting all the people involved and relished the work, even the brambles.

The IW Green Gym volunteers enjoyed meeting Susie and were taken by her willingness to get stuck in with the task in hand. In response the Group’s Chairman Mark Russell said

“Our group is of course very practical in our approach to things; it is quite clear that Susie is in tune with this attitude to life and I know this was appreciated by the other volunteers. All in all it was a fantastic session in what was tremendously hot weather, so I’d like to thank Susie very much for finding time to come along and support us this week.”

For details of the IW Green Gym’s Autumn 2011 programme visit or telephone 866459.

Contact Details:

Mark Russell – Chairman

The Isle of Wight Green Gym is an independent community group providing an opportunity for caring for the environment and at the same time improving your health through various conservation tasks. We are one of around 90 nationwide and are affiliated to the BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers).