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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

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Shide Quarry - Extra.

For those GG members interested in what Shide Quarry looked like when it was still being worked, back in the 1930's, have a look at the following link...

It is a film showing the manufacture of cement here on the Island, with the early scenes (about 1 min 10 secs into the video) showing "our" quarry. Later in the film they show clay being dug from the ground, I think this is where we work at the "fish ponds" between Dickson's Copse and Stag Lane (the ponds are the clay pits). The cement works was where the new Vestas wind turbine blade facility is at the bottom of Stag Lane.

Interesting to see the shots of the wagons coming through the (now blanked off) tunnel from the quarry and the extensive use of protective equipment / health and safety regulations throughout....!

There is no sound and it is a bit boring in places but still worthy of a viewing.


Wed 17th Dec 2014 - Shide Quarry, Newport.

Carrie's Photographs.

Sue's Photographs.
The work....

and The Party held afterwards.

Buddy demonstrating just how wet the quarry floor gets..

and his "Please give me a biscuit" look...!

Where was THE place to be on Wednesday morning this week? At the Green Gym Christmas Bash, held at Shide Quarry...!!! The overnight rain finally stopped around 10 o/c and the session was dry but overcast. Needless to say, the work had to be done before the party could get underway so it was loppers and saws at the ready and down the steps into the quarry. Nick, the ranger, already had a fire burning  to dispose of all the cuttings as we hacked away. The quarry floor can get very wet  and this encourages the willow to grow like crazy, needing yearly attention to keep it manageable. Fresh cuttings are not the easiest things to burn but Nick is an expert at getting a fire going, so we were soon dodging the airborne burning embers that make such a good job of "aerating" fleecy jackets! With a considerable area cut down and on the bonfire, it was soon time for the festivities to commence. The "food fairies" had made a beautiful job of erecting the gazebo and tables - all laden with yummy Yuletide fare. Many thanks to all those who brought along the food, especially Geoff who spent hours cooking all the jacket potatoes for us.....!
As another GG year draws to a close, I am sure that you will all join me in thanking Mark and the committee for all the hard work they do on our behalf. Our 2015 sessions will start on Wed 7th Jan 2015 - the new programme will be published on the web site soon - see you all there!

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

All that is left is for me, Bob the Blog (and Buddy), to wish you all a VERY

and all the best for 2015!

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Wed 10th Dec 2014 - Munsley Bog, Godshill.

The first problem with our GG session this week was..... getting there! Due to a road traffic accident at Blackwater, it was a trip around the countryside to get from Newport to Godshill. Having (eventually) arrived, we were tasked with cutting back the bramble, willow and overhanging tree branches to the south side of the raised walkway. Considering that we have at least two sessions here each year, it is amazing just how much it grows between visits. Undaunted with what appeared to be a very overgrown area, Team GG were soon giving the area their full attention which resulted in a considerable improvement by close of play. Needless to say, the gooey mud was soon grabbing at peoples wellies, stand still too long at your peril. With Christmas getting ever closer, it was yummy mince pies at tea break and the majority were off to have a seasonal luncheon at a local hostelry once the hard work was over. This area of marsh has improved dramatically since we started here, many years ago, and is now home to a wide variety of wildlife. On a previous visit, Mark managed to photograph a colony of Common Lizards that were spotted here.  Try this link.....  see the photo on our Twitter page . Don't forget that next week is our final session for 2014, to be held at Shide Chalkpit, so  bring along your festive "goodies"!

Carrie's Nature and History Natter

The month of December is the start of winter, highlighted by bare trees and widespread frost.  It was originally the tenth month of the year in the Roman calendar, and gets its name from the Latin word “decem” which means tenth.  However when the Romans added January and February to the calendar it became the twelfth month, but they still kept the name.
Dormice will have started their hibernation in October, building a nest-like structure for protection from the weather and also predators. Their body temperature drops in line with the air temperature, but must be kept above freezing for the animal to survive, normally at least 1C.  This dip is so dramatic that their metabolism reaches an ultra-slow state where it is just ticking over, and they survive on the fat deposits from their feasting during Autumn, which have to last them until they re-appear in March.
Hedgehogs also create hibernacula from leaves, situated in a safe location, and maintain a temperature in the hibernacula of between 0 and 5°C.  This is the optimum for them to hibernate efficiently.  Bats are more complex in their requirements, and each species seeks out specific conditions such as caves, tree hollows or buildings, preferring a relatively humid environment where there is little temperature fluctuation.  Despite these winter strategies, between 30 and 60 percent of bats and hedgehogs do not make it through to spring.
Mistletoe is familiar to everyone, and is best seen in winter.  Although it feeds off its host, it also possesses chlorophyll and is able to create its own food through photosynthesis.  It is associated with the mistle thrush which is supposed to love the sticky white berries, and spreads the plant from tree to tree by wiping the excess seeds and berries from its beak onto a twig of another tree.  From the earliest times mistletoe has been one of the most magical, mysterious, and sacred plants of European folklore. It was considered to bestow life and fertility; a protection against poison; and an aphrodisiac. The mistletoe of the sacred oak was especially sacred to the ancient Celtic Druids, and in the Middle Ages and later, branches of mistletoe were hung from ceilings to ward off evil spirits, and in Europe placed over house and stable doors to prevent the entrance of witches.
For its supposedly mystical power mistletoe has long been at the centre of much folklore. There is a story it was the sacred plant of Frigga goddess of love and the mother of Balder, the god of the summer sun. Balder had a dream of death which alarmed his mother for should he die, all life on earth would end.  In an attempt to prevent this Frigga went to air, fire, water, earth, every animal and plant seeking a promise that no harm would come to her son. He could not now be hurt by anything on or under the earth, but he did have one deadly enemy - Loki the god of evil.  He knew one plant Frigga had overlooked in her quest to keep her son safe, growing neither on nor under the earth but on apple and oak trees – mistletoe. So Loki made an arrow tip of the mistletoe, gave it to the blind god of winter, Hoder, who struck Balder dead. The sky paled, and all things in earth and heaven wept for the sun god.  He was finally restored by Frigga, whose tears were said to have turned in to the pearly white berries on the mistletoe plant, and Frigga kissed everyone who passed beneath the tree on which it grew.

Many thanks to Sue for the photographs and to Carrie for her editorial.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Wed 3rd Dec 2014 - Arreton Down, Downend.

Carrie's Photographs.

Curious glances from the residents!

Sue's Photographs.

Mark's Photographs.

Mark's photographs showing part of team GG at work,
(including some from St George's and The Way Forward Group)

The "weather word" for our GG session this week was bracing! Although winter still hasn't really arrived yet, it was around 6C with a stiff NE wind blowing when we met on the top of the downs, so colder than we have been used to recently. The work site was to the south of the down, doing a "slash and burn" on the overgrown areas of the hedge line. With so many attending, we were able to attack the job from multiple points, working towards each other, clearing as we went. The cattle, that are used as mobile mowers, came by to investigate what we were doing, but soon lost interest and drifted away. Unlike our poor attempt at a bonfire last week, this week's one was soon roaring away needing constant "feeding" to keep it topped up. It must have been cooler as most people were still wearing their top coats, hats etc in spite of working hard at the task in hand. As the various working parties started to met up, it became apparent that we had achieved excellent progress at holding back the undergrowth for another year or two along a considerable length of the hedge. Well done to all those who took part.

Thanks to Sue, Carrie and Mark for the photographs this week.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Wed 26th Nov 2014 - All Saints' Church, Freshwater.

Sue's Photographs.

Team GG arrive - No, not in a hearse!

The "wall" of bramble

The problematic bonfire.

One area cleared.

After the bramble had gone - what a difference!

Still sending smoke signals at the end of the session.

Carrie's Photographs.

At the start...

and after Team GG had finished!

The best word to describe the weather for our GG session this week is borrowed from Carol Kirkwood (on the BBC weather) - "Mizzle". This weather adjective describes something between mist and drizzle, exactly what we had today! Our main task was to tackle overgrown areas around the paddock to the east of the church, down towards the Yar estuary. Some of this we had cleared before and this just needed a tidy-up but another part was new to us and VERY overgrown. Undaunted by the 10 foot high wall of brambles, Team GG were soon hacking away, cutting ever deeper into the undergrowth . Lighting a bonfire was problematical due to all the material being rather "green" and very wet but Peter, one of the church wardens, did a sterling job at getting it alight and keeping it burning! I am sure that the photographs above demonstrate how much progress was made during our time there, just amazing what was achieved.... well done to all! Other GG members were kept very busy in the main churchyard giving things a general spruce-up. Thank you to those who were on hand to demonstrate the church organ and to supply us with hot drinks and biscuits at tea break!

Carrie's Nature Find.

This week's find was spotted on a dead branch by Dorinda (see photo) and is called Auricularia auricula-judae  known as Jews Ear, Judas's ear fungus or the jelly ear fungus  It ranges from purple to dark brown or black in colour with a rubbery texture, and is most often found on dead elder trees but also on elm and beech trees. It was said that Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, hanged himself on an elder tree, which is the origin of the name.

This intriguing name stuck, as the taxonomic name Auricularia means ear and the epithet "auricula-judae" means "the ear of Judas."  It is pale brown in colour, and really does resemble a human ear in size, shape and texture. It is generally about 6 cm across, and when young is gelatinous and pliant, but as it gets older it goes black and hard. The spores are white and it grows singly or in groups on old wood.  It is one of the few fungi that has the ability to withstand freezing temperatures which is a useful attribute, since it develops new growths in January,  normally the coldest month of the year in Britain. It can actually freeze solid, and when thawed out shows no ill effects. It can be found all year long throughout Europe, Asia, the United States and Australia.

 The next GG session....Please note change of venue from the (original) printed programme! It is now at Arreton Down, Downend, near Newport (NOT One Horse Field) - see the online programme for full details.

Thanks to Sue and Carrie for the photographs this week and to Carrie for her Nature Find.