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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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Saturday 30 April 2016

Merstone Station - Update.

I know a lot of people ask why do we do GG sessions where we just rake up cut grass? Obviously it is VERY good exercise but the main reason is so that it encourages all the wild flowers to establish before the grass over grows them. We did a huge "Great British Rake Off" at Merstone, back in November  (Wed 18th Nov 2015 - Merstone Station. GG # 611.) and the photographs below make all that hard work seem very worthwhile…!!!!

Many thanks to Terry for sending them in for the blog.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Wed 27th April 2016 - Shanklin Family Centre (plus others). GG # 632.

Sue's Photographs.

Team 1 with the raw materials!

Team 2 getting themselves sorted.

Team 2 fencing.

Team 2.

Team 1 working on the entrance to the centre.

Work on the planters well underway.

Team 2 doing a "short back and sides".

Team 2 weeding.

Now, doesn't that look a whole lot better?

The children are going to finish the planting.
The area behind the pallets will eventually become a
"Mud Kitchen" for the children. (It sounds real fun!)

And before we leave - a final sweep through and tidy-up.

Mark's Photographs.

Why we check the work area carefully at this time of year…
a nesting blackbird.

Working on the entrance - first impressions are important.

One GGmer finds all this work too much - tyred already (bad joke!)

Hacking out a dead tree stump.

Above and below - the beautiful Bluebells in Batt's Copse.
Flowers like that are why we bother to litter-pick such areas.

I had better start this blog entry by explaining the (plus others) in the title. We were scheduled to work at the Shanklin Family Centre today, which is a Banardo's Centre. When Mark did his usual pre-session visit he decided that the area we were due to be working on was rather small for the number of GGmers attending. So it was arranged that we could also work at the adjacent St Blasius C of E Primary School (we last worked there in 2004) and also Batt's Copse (we had been there before, back in 2009) - what a slave driver Mark is! Group one were detailed to work at improve a grassy area, adjacent to the centre, by building car tyre planters and giving the whole garden a makeover. Group 2 worked in the attractive gardens of the primary school, getting them ready for planting by pupils. This included lifting a fallen fence panel back into place; tidying, weeding and pruning all around the garden and the two ponds; and training a large rambling rose over an arch. Group 3 were dispatched to Batts copse to work on a (much needed!) litter-pick. (Sue apologises for not getting any photographs of Team 3 over in the copse). As can be seen, from the photographs above, this was a well attended session so a good job that Mark had the foresight to arrange alternative work. Although it was a bright, sunny morning, the temperatures are still down on the average for this time of year.

At tea break we did all manage to meet up and the kind staff at the Barnado's Centre supplied us with the tea, coffee and biscuits - thank you very much ladies - much appreciated!

Many thanks to Sue and Mark for taking the photographs this week.

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Wed 20th April 2016 - Martin's Wood (The Bee Fields), Newchurch. GG # 631.

Mark's Photographs.

Removing the redundant plastic rabbit guards.

Tackling the pesky bramble!

It looks as though the wood mice have been busy...

Another "scrape" takes shape.

Just part of the new bee "housing estate".
Steve's Photographs.

A return to this tremendous site for Hymenoptera (bees, solitary wasps etc), where we've been exposing new ground for their burrowing requirements for several years. Having all met up in the village car park, it was a short walk down to the EMH "Field of Memories" - an area planted with hundreds of daffodils and beautiful to see every spring. The area requiring our attention was just to the north of this field and we were soon as busy as bees (sorry - rubbish joke!) attacking the turf. For those who haven't seen the previous blogs about this site, we create "scrapes" to make things easier for the numerous bee and wasps that reside in the area. The soil here is the light, sandy type that is typical throughout the River Yar valley - our task is to remove the covering turf to expose the soil and then pile the turf in a pile around the edge. Have a look at the above photographs to get a better idea of what is difficult to explain in words! Other GG Team members busied themselves removing the plastic rabbit protection guards from the trees that had outgrown them and trying to reduce the amounts of bramble that springs up between the trees. Of course we did the usual litter-pick across the whole area we were working on. We had a visit from the IW Community Action Awards judges during the session who seemed very interested in the work we have been doing here both today and over previous years. 

One of the useful tools (besides a good spade) we find excellent for creating "scrapes" is a thing called a MATTOCK. Think of a pick axe with blades, instead of points, and you have the idea . also great for grubbing out bramble roots!


The earliest mattocks were deer antlers but later evolved into several basic designs. They have a broad blade, at 90 degrees to the handle, and another parallel with the handle, like the one shown here, that is perfect for cutting. It has been renowned for centuries for its versatility as a hand tool for breaking up hard ground, grubbing out tree roots and digging out stones, they are used by the army for digging 'foxholes' and were also used as primitive pole weapons in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. Smaller versions are invaluable in archaeological excavation.

Many thanks to Mark and Steve for taking the photographs this week.

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Wed 13th April 2016 - West Wight Sports and Community Centre. GG # 630.

A rather overgrown border.

The tidy-up starts..

Just in case we forget who we are?

More border work.

Filling the skip...

and dancing in the skip.

All those weeds have to go somewhere.

Tidy everything up as you go along.

"Trimming" a rather overgrown hedge.

More skip dancing..!

Cleaning up the last bits.

We filled the skip - and added as much again to the compost heap.

A much neater looking hedge.

What an improvement!

If you have just looked down through the photographs above, then I think you would have to be impressed with the scope and amount of work that Team GG achieved today. One thing about our visits to this venue is, they NEVER run out of jobs for us to tackle..! Having been given a comprehensive brief, before being let loose, allowed everyone to pick a task and then get "stuck in". The attendance numbers seemed to be down a little this week, perhaps people were put off having to pay to park? One thing is certain, it wasn't the weather that deterred anyone as it was a glorious sunny day and just about perfect for working outside. Someone remarked that they would much rather be outside doing Green Gym than being stuck in the sports centre on a running machine! Many thanks to the staff who supplied the tea, coffee and biscuits for our tea break. We did have a group from Branstone Farm joining us for a "taster session" - thanks for all your help and we hope you enjoyed your first session?
The AGM was held on completion of the working session.

Many thanks to Sue for capturing everything with her camera.

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Wed 6th April 2016 - St Mary's RC Primary School, Ryde. GG # 629.

A rather overgrown flower bed...

A pond area needing that GG touch.

Moving the new "flower beds".

Deep in the woods - attacking a fallen oak.

Tending the garden area.

Using the compost that the children had made.

Working on the pond area.

The planter gets attention.

A general tidy up.

The new planting area - with moved boat!

A much improved pond.

Just some of the trimmings, all piled up.

Now, doesn't that look better?

We ran out of plants….and time….oh well, next time?

Obviously Mark felt that we didn't achieve a high enough academic standard when we went to school a few weeks ago…. so he sent us back to "try harder" this week! With the children still on Easter holidays, it was a good chance for Team GG to give the grounds a makeover in preparation for their return. It was almost a year to the day since we last visited this particular venue. 
After a rather protracted walk around the site to look at all the things on the "to do" list, we were soon working in numerous groups across almost the whole area. Sue must have been kept very busy, running around trying to get everything photographed for the blog this week! Some of the more unusual tasks involved setting out a new planting area (this involved moving car tyres and a BOAT!) and sawing up part of a rather large oak tree that had fallen during the winter. The pond area received particular attention as did the pathways through the wooded section. As we are starting to get into the time of the year when the birds start nesting, great care was taken to ensure that we kept well clear of any such activity. Many thanks to the school staff who supplied the tea, coffee, biscuits etc for our tea break this week. The weather was typical of that for April, sun and showers but most of us went home dry. The photographs above show just how many people attended and the wide scope of the work accomplished - thanks for taking them Sue.

Please do not forget that the GG AGM will be held after next Wednesday's session…. DO NOT FORGET TO PUT ENOUGH MONEY IN THE CAR PARK TICKET MACHINE… you will get a hefty fine!