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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wed 14th Feb 2018 - Dickson's Copse, Newport. GG # 722.

If ever there was a song that summed up a particular GG session then it has to this one...

Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me follow, down to the hollow
And there let me wallow in glorious mud.

(Copyright - Flanders and Swann)

Although Mark had forewarned us by e-mail that wellies would be required, I don't think we were really prepared for just how muddy this session was going to get! With one team working at cutting down the willow that is trying it's best to take over the marsh, the others started digging trenches across the flooded areas of footpath. Once the trenches were dug down deep enough, pipes were installed to carry the water under the pathway with rock filled catchment sumps to stop the pipes becoming blocked. Just below the surface is thick, sticky, yellow clay - fine for making bricks and cement but awful to try and hand dig..! The marsh team did a wonderful job at cutting back the willow, the remains of which was piled high in "islands" around the area. Not an easy task when standing in welly deep mud and water. Hopefully, at a later date, the remaining stumps will be treated to stop any regrowth. Although the session started dry, by tea break the rain had started and became even heavier towards the end of the session. What a way to spend Valentine's Day..!!!

Photographs will be added as they arrive.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Wed 7th Feb 2018 - Nansen Hill, Ventnor. GG # 721.

Terry's Photographs.

Just in case you don't read the title banner
and are uncertain where we were working .... 

The long trek to the worksite (see text below)

But, when you get to the top, what a VIEW...!

Getting "stuck in".

What a fine body of GGmers!

A much needed tea break for something warm.

Hacking into the wilderness.

Amazing views from up there.

Just some of the areas we have now cleared.

I seem to remember there was an old Clint Eastwood movie called 'Heartbreak Ridge" - GG has renamed Nansen Hill on a similar theme " Heart Attack Hill"...! You would think we would have all learned our lesson when we visited here just a few weeks ago, but no, a full team turned up for the physical punishment of climbing THE hill. We were to continue cutting back the undergrowth that would slowly take over this valuable downland if it wasn't for the likes of us hacking it all down. Had the wind not been so cold (it was a North Easterly - brrrr!) then it would have been a perfect day for the job in hand. The bonfire seemed to be very reluctant to get started, even with the stiff wind cutting across,  but eventually it was coaxed into life and a considerable amount of cuttings were disposed of. We managed to arrange the tea break site out of the wind but still able to take in the glorious views across the eastern side of the Island, with a back drop of the Mainland beyond - truly stunning to see. Strangely enough, it was a whole lot easier coming back down that hill than it was going up!

Many thanks to Terry for taking the photographs this week.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wed 31st Jan 2018 - Brading Downs LNR. GG # 720.

Terry's Photographs.

As left by the contractors.

Above and below - tree fungi.
(Top is "King Alfred's Cakes" below is Shelf Fungi.)

Tidying-up the bits the contractors couldn't deal with.

A much appreciated tea break..!

Rather ominous rain clouds.

Starting to pile up our cuttings.

Looking much better.

One GGmer takes a rest.

Logs for the fire?

It is unusual for GG to work up on Brading Down so early in the year - and today we found out why.... it is bloody cold..! We soon filled up the designated car park so the late comers had to park a bit further down the hill but, we eventually managed to get started on the tasks in hand. The areas designated as "scenic car parks" were a bit of a misnomer due to large areas of undergrowth blocking the views..! Prior to our visit, the majority of the undergrowth had been mechanically flailed which had left regions under the trees requiring our attention. With loppers and bow saws in hand, we were soon tackling the brambles and shrubs - the cuttings being neatly piled across the site. To make this area even more accessible to the public, some of the team tackled the over grown areas along the footpaths leading down to the Adgestone road.
As mentioned above it was a cold, strong wind blowing across the Downs and some people were made aware of what the term "wind chill factor" really means...! Most of the session was dry but there were a few sharp showers, one of which had hail in it. A quick glance at the photographs above will confirm that it was definitely a "three layer with wooly hat" sort of session.

Many thanks to Terry for taking the photographs this week.

If you are wondering what is going on up on Brading Down, then look at the following press release from G2N.  Nice to know that GG is playing a part in the Big Plan!

The Island 2000 Trust will be delivering a new project worth over £25,000 after securing a £20,000 grant from Postcode Local Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
The project is focused on the Gift to Nature reserve at Brading Down, one of the Island’s most iconic viewpoints and is intended to encourage more people onto the Downs and learn more about this wonderful place.
Visitors to Brading Down in 2018 will notice big improvements, with better surfacing on the car parks, a new picnic area, new seats and more signs giving information about the remarkable archaeology and heritage of the area. Work has already started to improve the panoramic views of the east Wight, and is expected to continue throughout the summer.
Island 2000 CEO Graham Biss said:
“We have thirty sites across the Isle of Wight and Brading Down already is one of the best-loved sites managed by Gift to Nature, but we want more visitors to the Island and Islanders to enjoy this special place.
“As well as being a great place for a picnic it’s got an extraordinary story to tell – did you realise that the Down is home to Roman and Iron Age field systems?”

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wed 24th Jan 2018 - The Old West Medina Cement Mill, Dodnor. GG # 719.

Mark's Photographs.

One of the treated tree stumps (in the foreground)

The Great Wall of Dodnor..???

Some VERY damp GGmers.

Clearing one of the kiln areas.

An old hob-nailed working boot.

The interface between old and new. (But it is ALL old)

Although this week was technically a new venue for Green Gym, we have worked "just over the fence" many times before (at Dickson's Copse and on the footpath adjacent to the mill pond). Having all assembled at the end of Stag lane, Mark accompanied us through the Vestas wind turbine factory car park to the work site. The ruins of the old cement mills had, over many years, become very overgrown but the majority of this had recently been cleared by contractors. The area is to be subjected to an archeological investigation at a later date so we had been asked to try and clear away some of the undergrowth from on and around the remaining structures. After Mark had introduced us to the site and pointed out the "no go" areas (some of the remains are dangerous to enter / climb upon) we split into small groups each working at one of the designated tasks. It is interesting to work on such an old, historical site and we hope that we will be invited to continue the work we have started, albeit with better weather next time. Ah...the weather...well, considering the rather wet and windy conditions (see below) we had a reasonable turn-out of GGmers which included two new recruits. 

The Weather. Green Gym used to be renowned for always (well, nearly always!) having the best weather of the week on a Wednesday morning. Just recently we seem to be "enjoying" storm after storm - with the one this week taking the name Georgina. Gale force winds and torrential rain were the order of the day although the worst held back until towards the end of the session. The radar plot below shows the position of the storm front at around midday Wednesday. Yes, we all got VERY wet!

The Old West Medina Cement Mills.  Should you like further reading on the subject then there is a book available - full of the history, facts, photographs and maps. 

If you are interested then please have a word with Mark as he is able to obtain copies of this excellent book for the very reasonable sum of £10. (I have one and it is well worth the outlay!) 

Mark did a great job of taking photographs in the rain - so a big thanks to him..!