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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 27 August 2015

Wed 26th Aug 2015 - Millennium Green, Haylands, Ryde. GG # 599.

Rain…What rain…!!!!

Well we had a wet start, a wet middle and yes a wet ending.  However as the photos indicate we were lucky enough to have a few sunny spells and were also lucky enough to have some select Green Gymers who braved the monsoon conditions.

We set about clearing the board walk of mud along its length, this has a tendency to build up with time and could if left rot the supporting timber.

The group pulled horse-tails in one meadow, and in the butterfly meadow where we had the continued battle against succession we removed any bramble, self sown small oak and willow whips.  Note; Succession is where meadows become scrub, become woody shrubs, become forest if left.

Some recently damaged trees which were creating hazards gave us further tasks clearing away the leaning boughs and building a dead hedge.

Many thanks to Mark for the photographs and editorial this week. Well done to all those who braved the elements (Bob the Blog chickened out..!)

Have a look in the IoW CP - dated Friday 28th Aug - page 47. There is a letter from Carole about the work everyone has been doing at the All Saints' Churchyard, Freshwater.

Please do not forget that the next GG session will be the 600th.

This was taken from the weather forecast for Wednesday morning - and for once, they got it right, it bucketed it down.!

Met Office Warnings Issued For: Isle of Wight 
  1. Yellow warning of rain 

    0625 on Wed 26 August
    1700 on Wed 26 August
    Updated  2 hours ago Active
    Outbreaks of rain, heavy at times, will continue to affect parts of southern England this morning, before becoming confined to parts of southeast England and East Anglia by Wednesday afternoon.

    Much of the warning area has seen wet weather over recent days and therefore the public should be aware that this further rain may cause minor surface water flooding and perhaps local disruption to transport. Additionally strong winds will affect some southern coastal areas.This is a further update to pull the warning out of Cornwall, west Devon and southeast Wales, which saw their heaviest rain overnight.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Wed 19th Aug 2015 - Fort Victoria, Yarmouth. GG # 598.

Sue's Photographs.

The soggy BBQ.

With the summer months task of Pesky Plant Pulling now complete, our GG sessions will revert to maintaining the sites we frequent. This week we were back at a very old favourite, the wonderful country park out at Fort Victoria, doing a job that we seem to do a lot of, building pathways. The pathway we were working on was the one that runs along the southern most boundary - a relatively new access that we helped to cut from the undergrowth. The rangers had been kind enough to arrange pre-dumping for the piles of crushed limestone, so this considerably reduced the amount wheelbarrowing for us (thanks guys!). As can be seen from the photographs above, we had not forgotten how to compete with Island Roads. Perhaps it was the large number of GGmers attending or the fact that we were to have a BBQ on completion but the programmed work was completed in double quick time!

And so to the annual GG BBQ……. A glance at the photograph above will show that it was held in accordance with the UK summer, BBQ rules - in the pouring rain..! The work session was dry and overcast but soon after we started cooking the heavens opened and it poured down. Mention must be made of Steve and Mick, our two cooks, who valiantly battled at the grills in a vain attempt to keep the home fires burning. In spite of the inclement conditions, we did manage to tuck into anything that didn't need cooking even if it was whilst sheltering under umbrellas or a tree. A big thank you to everyone who brought along all that yummy food and if anyone wishes to purchase a job lot of venison burgers and sausages, at a knock down price, please contact Mark!

The eagle eyed ones reading this blog might have noticed the recent addition of a "session counter" in the blog title above (GG # ???). Not only does this make record keeping a bit easier, but shows that we are quickly approaching the six hundredth GG session. There is a rumour is that we will be getting cake on that day…? As a matter of interest, my blog counter indicates that this is my 496th GG blog, so will soon be going through the 500 barrier.

Many thanks to Sue for the photographs this week.

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Carrie's Nature and History Natter - August.

Carrie's Nature and History Natter - August.

August – the month when high summer turns to late summer – if we have had hot weather (perhaps not quite yet this year) the countryside looks a bit tired and parched.  In the hedgerows blackberries have begun to ripen turning from green to red then black and tasting delicious.  Hungry starlings and blackbirds are taking advantage of ripe elderberries, and the hawthorn berries will provide sustenance for many species through the winter months.

Hot days also bring the restful sound of grasshoppers calling ('stridulating') from the long grass, advertising their territories.  They are difficult to spot due to their green or brown colour, but soon hop to reveal themselves if disturbed, only to disappear again.  In Britain the species most likely to be spotted are the common green, common field and the meadow grasshopper.  Other insects on the wing include the meadow brown, small skipper butterflies and large whites.  Gatekeepers are particularly attractive orange and brown butterflies that are currently on the wing, and can be found near hedgerows.

Where grasslands, be they pastures or meadows, are overgrazed the ground is often exposed (poached) and plants such as ragwort and creeping thistle colonise and thrive, and this often happens in hard grazed fields supporting horses.  Ragwort is poisonous to livestock and they avoid grazing it, so large areas can be dominated by its bright yellow ragwort flowers at this time of the year, and earlier.  The cinnabar moth (the adult is black and red) feeds on this species at its caterpillar stage.  The caterpillars are black and orange to ward off predators who may view them as a tasty snack. The caterpillar stores alkaloids from the plant which means that birds do indeed find them nasty to eat.

House martins are finally emerging from their mud cup nests, encouraged by the adults who chatter and swoop around them.  Large flocks of martins and swallows can be seen over fields and swallows in particular can be seen lined up together on telegraph wires preening themselves.  Many birds are in the middle of their moult and can look rather dowdy, but feathers are replaced gradually so as not to ground the bird.  Woodpigeons may still be sitting on another brood of eggs, and will swoop down through air with several wing claps, displaying and defending their territory.  Starlings, jackdaws and house sparrows may also be seen tending to their young in the nest, with the starlings chattering and whistling at each other from the eaves and other high places.  They are excellent mimics and can be mistaken for other birds, even sometimes emulating man-made sounds, such as telephones!

In history the month of August was called Sextilis in the Roman calendar, because it was the sixth month of the year.  However, after January and February were added, it became the eighth month and had 29 days.  When Julius Caesar created the Julian calendar in 45BC, two days were added giving the month 31 days.  It was later renamed Augustus in honour of the first emperor of Rome, Caesar Augustus.  The symbols of August are the agate or onyx as the birthstone, the Zodiac signs Leo and Virgo and its flowers are poppy or gladiolus.  In the Saxon language it is known as Weodmontha (weed month) and in Germanic Ernte-mond (harvest month).

Wed 12th Aug 2015 - Barncourt Farm, Redhill Lane, Wroxall. GG # 597.

Sue's Photographs.

A wall of pink...

Getting stuck in.

Violet Ground Beetle (Carabus Violaceus)

The dreaded HB - close up.

Just one pile of pulled HB.

And….at the end….try and spot a pinkie!
Carrie's Photographs.

Not a trick camera shot….they really do grow this BIG…!

Our recent run of GG sessions in the Ventnor area continued with a return visit to deal with the Himalayan Balsam problem in the fields adjacent to the IoW Donkey Sanctuary. Having parked up in the field almost opposite the farm, it was a short trek along Redhill Lane to find the venue. Once we had climbed the stile into the field it became apparent that we had our work cut out - huge areas of the dreaded pink flowers were distributed across the entire field! Undaunted, Team GG set about pulling as much of the HB as possible, thereby reducing the chance of it reseeding and causing us ongoing problems in future years. Due to the good turn-out, we made significant progress and there was a lot less pink visible by the end of the session. Considering the weather warnings, forecasting heavy rain later in the day, we were lucky to have some sun. Mark assures us that we have now completed the pesky plant pulling for this year (Hip hip hooray!!!) so we will soon be back to the wheel barrows and crushed limestone? Watch this space……
Many thanks to the owners of Barncourt Farm for allowing us to park in their field.

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

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Wed 5th Aug 2015 - Shade Makers, Castleworks, Wroxall. GG # 596.

Carrie's Photographs.


Before we started.

Road Repair Team.

Tidy up along the road.

Discovering a window.

Above and below….. admiring our efforts…!

Mark's Photographs.

Work starts….

The Road Repair Team at work.

Our hosts for the session.

Part of the platform stone wall uncovered.

An old bird's nest.

Some of the rubbish we collected…!

Phew…. didn't we do well…!

The majority of our recent GG sessions seem to held over in the Ventnor areas and this week was no exception. This Wednesday we were to work at a new site for us - the old railway yard, which was once formed part of the Wroxall railway station. The public car park, where most of us parked, was in fact where the station itself once stood…! Those interested in the history of this station may wish to look at the following link - - there are some nice historical photographs towards the end.
Enough of the history and on with the task in hand! Inspection of the site showed a VERY overgrown area, that had once been part of a platform, plus a recently delivered pile of crushed limestone about 4 cubic metres in size. Mark explained that we were to cut back as much of the undergrowth as possible and the limestone was to repair the rather rutted approach track to the site. Team wheelbarrow and shovel set to work on the road repairs and managed to complete that in just a little over half an hour..! As we hacked into the brambles and weeds a natural stone wall slowly appeared which, as we cut back further, revealed the surfaced platform area. Hopefully the photographs will show this much better than I can describe it.
As a matter of interest, the building that formed the backdrop to the platform we were working on was originally a slaughter house / bacon factory. It was extensively damaged a couple of years ago, during the St Jude's Day storm - see photograph below.

Tea break this week was amazing! The ladies at Shade Makers had made loads of yummy cakes for us and served us with copious amounts of tea and coffee. We were then given a quick talk about the work they do (building carnival floats and costumes) with a guided tour of the workshops and stores area. I think everyone in our group was very impressed with the complexity and size of the float..! Thank you to our hosts for making us feel so welcome. For further details of Shade Makers, please use this link
The session continued with working on the platform area while others were tasked to give the general area a quick makeover - including hedge trimming and litter pick along the adjacent footpath. Although excellent progress was made, we fell short of exposing the whole of the platform in the time we had - perhaps a return visit could be arranged Mark? We did have a couple of light rain showers during the morning and, perhaps due to it being a new venue, an exceptional turnout of GGmers (approx 40 plus?).

Many thanks to Carrie and Mark for the photographs.