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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

Saturday 27 August 2011

Wed 24th Aug 2011 - Watershoot Bay, Niton.

Carrie's Photographs.

Mark's Photographs.

The IW Green Gym conservation group held their weekly session last week on Watershoot Bay, 29 volunteers took part on this, the group's adopted beach. This is the fourth successive year in which the group has cleaned the shore of debris, the majority of which had been washed in on the tide. Over that period more than 100 bags have been removed from the beach. Again this year's beach clean was possible with thanks to help from The National Trust and the CPRE.

In total, the following items were collected :-

13 full bags of rubbish

1 large acetylene type gas canister

1 25lt oil drum

2 large tangles of rope

4 x 1m sq pieces of plastic

A large rudder

"I would like to thank everyone who joined us on the day. Amongst a wide variety of things we found polystyrene, plastic bottles and segments of fishing net of varying sizes, just some examples of the many hundreds of items recovered, all potentially harmful to marine life or sea-birds and now safely removed. The information we gather all goes towards the ongoing campaign for cleaner seas."

Mark Russell, IW Green Gym chairman

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

An unusual find this week in the location of Watershoot Bay, of a plant that is becoming rare in Britain - Atropa Belladonna or more commonly Deadly Nightshade. The bell-shaped flowers are tyrian purple with green tinges and faintly scented, and its fruits are berries which are green ripening to a shiny black. It has a long history of use as a medicine, cosmetic, and poison. Before the Middle Ages it was used as an anaesthetic for surgery, and the ancient Romans used it as a poison; predating this it was used to make poison tipped arrows. It is one of the most toxic plants found in the Western hemisphere, and all parts of the plant contain tropane alkaloids. It was used in traditional treatments for centuries for an assortment of conditions including headache, menstrual symptoms, peptic ulcer disease, histaminic reaction, inflammation, and motion sickness.
It is said that Macbeth of Scotland, when still one of the lieutenants of King Duncan I of Scotland, used it during a truce to poison the troops of the invading Harold Harefoot, King of England, to the point that the English troops were unable to stand their ground and had to retreat to their ships.

Many thanks to Carrie & Mark for this week's contributions.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Wed 17th August 2011 - Alverstone Mead.

Carrie's Photographs.

Eddie's Photographs.

This week Team GG were "rolling in the hay" but perhaps a more exact description would be - gathering in the hay, putting it into rolls and then stacking them up (doesn't sound anywhere near as exciting - does it?)
The grass in Skinner's Meadow had been cut and turned before we arrived so it was all hands to the rakes to gather it all into elongated piles ready for digestion by the munching machine. This clever device "eats" the hay, rolls it into a huge cylinder, wraps it with a biodegradable wrapper and then ejects the finished roll. With just short of 40 GG members working hard, by the time it came around to tea break, the majority of the field was raked up. The team then split into two - one continuing with the hay making and the other tackling some ragwort in a nearby field. Excellent progress was made with both tasks and John (the warden) seemed happy with our efforts. As per usual it was a delight to visit this wonderful site and see how some of our previous tasks were progressing.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

The warden at Alverstone Mead - John found a fascinating insect during this week's visit - a Great Green Bush Cricket. These are the largest insects found in England in limited areas in the south around July to October. It prefers to live on rough grassland and on uncut fields which have long tall grass, but it still needs bare patches of grass in its environment so it can lay its egg in the soil. They are about five centimetres in length, mainly grass green in colour, with a cone-shaped head, a brown stripe on the top and two long antennae. It also has six green legs, and the long hind ones can help it jump up to one metre in the air. Its wings are green, quite long and usually placed over the body when the cricket rests. They can often be heard before they are seen, particularly on hot summer afternoons and at night when the males want to attract females. The males sing very loud high-pitched songs, which are produced by rubbing their hind legs very quickly against their forewings. This action is called 'stridulation'. Male Great Green Bush Crickets can sing different songs to attract females and the females can listen to the songs by using ears which are situated on their front legs.

Many thanks to Carrie & Eddie for the photographs and to Carrie for the Nature Lesson.

13th & 14th August 2011 - Healing Festival, Ventnor Botanical Gardens.

On 13th and 14th August Green Gym were represented at the first Healing Festival. It was held at Ventnor Botanical Gardens and was a huge success; two days of fun, fantasy and fresh air. The atmosphere was lovely and there were circus things for everyone to try out - Bobby and Abigail were very good at twirling the plates on sticks - I couldn't even get mine to go round more than twice and Bobby wiggled those hips to get the hula hoop going.
Elspeth and her daughter Anna built an amazing mini-willow dome which was used all weekend by children of all ages, even tiny tots were toddling inside to hide, it was admired by all, while Roger sat and looked bemused or amused at their efforts. The grandchildren Maisie and Raf together with Abs took colouring books inside and made the most of the shade and privacy in their new den.
Mark and Colin put up the stakes for the willow hurdle and we invited all comers to add a few willow wands, and many people came and had a go and were interested in what GG does. Mark showed how he missed his vocation as a very good instructor.
I did some willow circles which were very popular especially on Saturday and people were walking around with them on their heads like crowns, looked good. Bobby did a larger one to show what could be done and several people did some to use at xmas as the base for festive wreaths. We used several large piles of willow and ended up cutting some from the gardens as our own supplies ran down [with permission of course].
Angela and Pete came along on Sunday to help mind the stall and with us and Bobby to pack up, a big thank you to all. I don't think any of us expected it to be such a success with many hundreds of people visiting the festival and lots of therapies available to try out. We have been invited back next year and look forward to going again - if only to get another henna tattoo!

Many thanks to June for the above.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Wed 10th Aug 2011 - Wetland Walk, Lake.

One of our regular visits this week to the site near the waterworks owned by Natural Enterprise, which is the site of a community orchard and wetland walk. Work had already been done in the form of a large amount of strimming, but one of our tasks was to rake all the cut material into a big pile, which hopefully will help the wild flowers on the undertake some treatment work to the various wood items on the site, and we managed to coat both the picnic benches, the wooden fruit sculptures and also a small bench and some railings - then we ran out of teak oil!

We were also joined by a couple of members of the Isle of Wight Orchard Group, which has recently been set up on the Island. The work of Orchard Groups can include recording existing orchards and providing protection from threats through management, conservation, education and celebration, and orchards are also wonderful for wildlife, protect the soil, water and climate.

Many thanks to Eddie for the photographs and to Carrie for the editorial.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Wed 3rd August 2011 - Medina Valley Centre, Dodnor.

Eddie's Photographs.

Bob's Photographs.
Pathway Maintenance.......

Tree Removal........

The Medina Valley Centre was venue for the GG meeting this week, a place we have visited many times over the years. The weather was gloriously hot (perhaps a little TOO hot!) which encouraged lots of members along to this wonderful site on the banks of the Medina river.
We were given two main tasks - maintaing the wood chip pathway (which we had built previously) and the removal of some "rogue" saplings that were growing in a meadow area. With the team split into two groups, excellent progress was accomplished with both jobs and it can be seen from the photographs above, both undertakings were completed by the close of play.

Carrie wasn't with us this week (all say ahhhh....!) so - instead of her usual Nature Lesson spot - I have included the picture below.....

For those of you who have never been along to one of our meetings, the work schedule is split into two parts with a tea break between them. Besides being a chance to let the muscles relax, it is a great time to chat with friends and sometimes eat the occasional piece of cake (thanks MVC...!) or biscuit! Who said that exercise can't be fun?