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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 30 April 2014

Wed 30th April 2014 - Pan Mills Meadow, Shide, Newport.

Mark's Photographs.

Just a sample of the rubbish collected..!

Carrie's Photographs.

With our leader, Mark, back from his vacation it was almost guaranteed that the sun would shine on Team GG once again..... and it did! Having parked up in the car park at Matalan (many thanks to the management for letting us do that) it was a short trek along the cycleway to find where we were tasked to work this week. It soon became very obvious that the footpaths, roadway and river banks had suffered considerable damage due to water run-off during the winter flooding. We were soon  wheel barrowing  everything back to where it came from originally and then making the surface good again. Instead of the stone chippings that we had used on previous sessions, this time it was piles of the much lighter wood chips (thank goodness!) for us to distribute around the pathways. Other members of the team walked the banks of the streams to collect all the rubbish that had been washed down in the floods.... everything from car tyres to carpets and curtains..! Needless to say, the overhanging undergrowth was cut back and by the end of the session the pathways were looking as good as new. The good weather and central location certainly encouraged a particularly strong turnout, nice to see so many GGmers all beavering away. Three new trees were planted to commemorate 10 year of Green Gyming here on the Island. Mark talked us into having a group shot around one of them - see Press Release for details.

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

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Wed 23rd April 2014 - River Yar and Norton Spit, Yarmouth.

Sue's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

The recent GG love affair with West Wight continued with this week's session. Our task was to do a huge litter-pick along the river bank of the Eastern Yar from the Yacht Club to the Old Mill and then over the other side of the main road on Norton Spit. With our leader, Mark, away this week.... we failed  to book the good weather we usually have, instead we had drizzle turning to more persistent rain by time we had finished. The photographs above show just how wide we roamed with the litter pickers and black bin bags in hand. They also depict just how many bags of rubbish we managed to collect....!!!

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

We were indundated with finds for this week's nature lesson, the first of which was Sea Spinach (Tetragonia Tetragonioides) a leafy ground cover plant also known as New Zealand spinach.  It prefers a moist environment forming a thick carpet on the ground or climbs through other vegetation to hang downwards.  Its leaves are triangular and bright green while its flowers are yellow and the fruit a small hard pod covered with small horns. It grows well in saline ground, being used as a food or ornamental plant for ground cover. It has similar flavour and texture properties to spinach, and is cooked the same way.

Our second find was Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) a highly aromatic and flavorful herb with culinary and medicinal uses and, along with the similar-tasting anise, is one of the primary ingredients of absinthe. It is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the mouse moth and the anise swallowtail, and its name is from Middle English fenel or fenyl.  It is erect, glaucous green, grows to heights of up to 2.5 m, with hollow stems, and its finely dissected leaves have threadlike segments about 0.5 mm wide. It has become naturalised along roadsides, in pastures, and in other open sites in many regions including northern Europe, the United States, southern Canada and in much of Asia and Australia.

Our final find is the caterpillar of the brown tailed moth - kindly identified by Dr Colin Pope, County Ecologist - whose cocoons are spun in leaves and can house several hundred caterpillars, feeding on bramble, blackthorn and other deciduous trees.  They are found in considerable numbers throughout the South East of England and in many areas are regarded as a pest.  They are dark brown in colour with a distinct white broken line down each side, with the body covered in tufts of brown hairs with two distinct orange/red dots on the back towards the tail end of the caterpillar. They have up to up to two million spikes and barbed hairs that can penetrate the skin causing an irritation and skin rash, so you are advised to avoid touching them.

Many thanks to Sue and Carrie for the (numerous!) photographs this week and to Carrie for the excellent Nature Lesson.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Wed 16th April 2014 - Fort Victoria, Yarmouth.

Carrie's Photograph.

Tony's Photographs.

Team GG seems to be spending an awful lot of time in the West Wight recently, we were there again this week and will be back next week as well...! Having met up in the car park at Fort Vic, we could not fail to notice the Ranger lining up wheelbarrows and shovels, a good pointer to what our task would be this week. There was a sigh of relief when we were informed that there was "only 6 tonnes of chippings to put down" - that should be a simple job for the GG path experts. Oh how easy it is to be fooled by figures... After a lengthy trek through the woods to the pile of chippings, we discovered it was quarter mile round trip with each barrow load to the area we were to repair. That in itself would have been "interesting" enough but the route was through woodlands and VERY undulating....phew! Needless to say, we soon got into the swing of things with barrow loaders, transporters and rakers all doing their bit to reduce the pre dumped pile.
Other members of the team were working down on the foreshore trying to return the sand to the beach. The winter storms had blown it all over the grassy picnic / play area so it was raked-up and wheelbarrowed back to where it should be. Other team members gave pathways a trim and litter pick ready for the Easter visitors. Let's hope they appreciate all our efforts.....

*STOP PRESS* Have a look at this week's County Press (dated April 17th) page 44 where there is a half page feature on the Green Gym. Fame at last....!

Many thanks to Carrie and Tony for the excellent photographs this week.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Wed 9th April 2014 - Golden Hill Fort, Freshwater.

Mark's Photographs.

Sue's Photographs.

Carrie's Photograph.

The trip out to West Wight was much quicker this week as the Bouldner Road is now open again - so no detour! This GG session at Golden Hill Fort was the 15th one held there and....true to form..... "recreational wheelbarrowing" was our task for the day. Over the years, the Rangers have gradually increased the amount of stone chippings that they pre-dump, ready for our path laying skills. This time they came up with a cunning new plan involving pre-dumping around 6 tonnes (just to give us a false sense of security) then keep topping them up with the trailer throughout the session.....sneaky eh! At a rough guess we managed to barrow around 12 tonnes during the session, which was pretty good considering how muddy the paths had become during the VERY wet winter. It is not so bad when the pathway is close to the drop point but as you get further and further away, the conga line of barrows becomes somewhat erratic. Other members of the team worked hard at cutting back all the undergrowth that was overhanging the pathways. Oh well, I am sure that all the dog walkers will be appreciative of our efforts? There were certainly a few tired bodies by going home time - so a huge well done to everyone who came along. Fort Victoria next week, wonder if the Rangers will dare to push their luck there.. 15 tonnes....????

STOP PRESS... If you haven't already done so, then have a look at the all new Green Gym web site. Sue and Terry have done a wonderful job of revamping the whole thing, it looks great! This link should work (fingers crossed)

Carrie's Nature Natter.

April is an amazing month for wildlife, as the trees and shrubs burst into leaf with fresh, vibrant green foliage, and the woodland floor can be a mass of white wood anemone, ramsons, and later in the month is packed with bluebells.  In our meadows cuckoo flowers, green winged orchid, cowslip and adders tongue are steadily emerging.

While our overwintering bird visitors such as redwings, fieldfares, swans, geese and waders leave in April, the summer visitors which replace them include house martins and many warblers such as whitethroats, marsh, sedge and willow warblers.  The three birds that most signify summer are the swallow, nightingale and the cuckoo, while some of our resident bird species such as blue tits and blackbirds may have their first broods.

By April frog’s spawn has become tadpoles, and the adults now leave the ponds to live on land until the Autumn.  They feed on slugs, snails and insects, so are very popular with gardeners.  Adders and slowworms emerge from hibernation and as they are cold blooded, need to bask for long periods in order to get their body temperature up the level where they are fully functional.

Among our mammals badger activity is high by now; sets will have been spring cleaned and adults are making foraging sorties each night.  As their young are born from mid-January to mid-March and remain in the breeding chamber for about eight weeks, the early young will already be appearing above ground in April.

This month also sees the appearance of peacock, orange tip and speckled wood butterflies, and some species of damsel flies can also be spotted on warm days near open water.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photograph and Nature Natter and to Sue for her photographs.

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Wed 2nd April 2014 - Carisbrooke Priory.

 Mark's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

Although the rain was tipping down at 09:30 on Wednesday morning, by the time we met up at The Priory it had stopped and remained dry for our GG session. It had been some 3 years since we last visited this venue but we were soon scattered across the area of the walled garden working on numerous tasks including tree / shrub trimming, weeding boarders, cleaning paths and giving the area a general tidy-up. Goodness knows how many wheel barrow loads were taken over to the composting area, so it was a good job that we had an excellent attendance of GGmers. We even had entertainment, with squirrels performing their aerial antics in the trees above our heads as we worked. Many thanks to our hosts who supplied the tea and biscuits this week, they were certainly kept busy during our tea break...!

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

This week's find - kindly identified by our Chairman Mark - is a very pretty Snake's Head Fritillary (Fritillaira Meleagris), and these very unusual looking wildflowers are the only native fritillary species in the United Kingdom.  Different shades of purple flower begin to appear in the Spring, and a closer look reveals a checked pattern like silvery scales, which can also be seen on the luminous white form. They are found in the damp, lowland meadows and pastures of Europe, including south-east England, thrive on land which has never been used for intensive agriculture, and are now quite rare. Their other names include the checkered daffodil, checkered lily, chess flower, and frog cup.  They were also once known as leper lilies and lazarus bells, as the bell-shaped flowers resembled the bells worn by lepers in the Middle Ages to announce their presence.  They can be found in a number of locations including Europe, Russia and the U.K..

Message from Mark.

The IWGG would like to thank Carisbrooke Priory  for their hospitality today and for the marvellous facilities used to host our AGM.   As you can see it is a great time of year for a visit, lovely homemade cakes too!  

We have visited this venue many times over the years.  One particular time lodges in my memory, as it was  the site of the 1st anniversary celebrations of our independent group and my leading it, back in 2006. See the photo below - note the old van too!

Many thanks to Carrie and Mark for their contributions this week.