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  • hilly 3:46 pm on October 5, 2017
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    October at Woodlands Farm: sloe gin, Apple Day, half-term activities and ecological surveys 

    Hedgerow liqueurs 2017 poster

    There’s lots going on at Woodlands Farm during October: a Hedgerow Liqueurs course on Sunday, the annual Apple Day fête, half-term activities for children and the regular range of ecological surveys.

    Hannah, the Education Officer at the farm, wrote with details of the Hedgerow Liqueurs course:

    Sunday 8th October 2017     12.00—4.30pm
    Price £12 (£8 members)  18+ years only
    Sloes are scarce, so we will be using a mixture of fresh picked fruit and frozen fruit, to make together our delicious sloe gin this year, in good time for Christmas
    Bring your own gin or spirit of choice together with at least a one litre, wide neck (>2.5cm) container. Kilner type jars, 1.5 litre, will be available at cost price. Sugar and sloes will be provided by Woodlands Farm.
    Book early via the Farm Office, numbers limited


    Sloe berries at Woodlands Farm

    Sloe berries at Woodlands Farm

    Apple Day Poster 2017 colour A4

    This is followed by the annual Apple Day fair on the following Sunday:

    Join us for a celebration of traditional British apples on Sunday 15th October 2017, from 11am-4pm. Discover and buy many different types of traditional British apples. There will be a variety of activities including a treasure hunt, apple pressing to make delicious juice, stalls selling local produce, including our own honey and home-made jams, cakes and try some Kentish Cider. A great day out for all the family. Entry is free, but donations are welcome and go towards the running of the Farm. No parking on site. Please use public transport.

    Archy, the farm’s new Manx Loaghtan ram, should be out in the field with the ewes by then: he’s getting a bit frustrated in his current home in the barn. The farm will also be getting some longhorn cattle soon as they start to focus more on rare breed animals.

    Archy, the farm's new Manx Loaghtan ram

    Archy, the farm’s new Manx Loaghtan ram

    At the end of the month it’s half term week, and as usual the Farm have laid on some interesting and educational activities for children. Again Hannah wrote with the details:

    October Half Term Events
    Wednesday 25th October   Farm Rhymes and Riddles 1pm-3pm £2 per child
    Test your skills at solving rhymes and riddles as you try our trail. Can you figure out what animal each riddle is about, while exploring the farm. Work them all out and get a prize! There will also be a chance to meet some of our animals. No need to book just drop in.
    Thursday 26th October   Leaf Lanterns 10am – 12noon and 1pm-3pm £4 per child
    Join us for an autumn walk round the farm to find out about different types of trees and leaves. We will be collecting what we find to then use to make and decorate a leaf lantern to take home. Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900.
    Friday 27th October     Halloween Trail and crafts 11am-3pm £3 per child.
    Halloween is just round the corner so join us for a day of spooky crafts. There will be a creepy animal facts trail round the farm where you can find out all the gruesome and scary things about British wildlife. Come dressed up to get in the full spooky spirit. No need to book, just drop in.


    Some of the farm's awards this year

    Some of the farm’s awards this year


    The farm’s regular schedule of ecological surveys continues through the month. Previous months have seen surveys of pond life, bees, moths, bats and wild flower meadow plants (lots of magical missile-repelling Corky Fruited Water Dropworts), and the first mammal surveys. The mammal surveys continue this month and there is the last of the monthly bee walks of 2017. The currently planned survey activities for October are:

    Wednesday 11th October 3.30pm – Mammal survey setting up traps
    Thursday 12th October, 9am – Mammal survey collect traps
    Tuesday 17th October, 3.30pm – Mammal survey setting up traps
    Wednesday 18th October 9am – Mammal survey, collect traps
    Wednesday 18th October, 2pm – Bee walk – last of the year
    Monday 30th October, 10am – Dipping pond maintenance. Wellies or waders recommended!

    If you’d like to help with the wildlife surveys contact Hannah Ricketts on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

    Sexing a Wood Mouse

    Sexing a Wood Mouse

    Common Carder Bee at Woodlands Farm

    Common Carder Bee at Woodlands Farm

  • hilly 11:29 am on September 7, 2017
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    Woodlands Farm 20th Anniversary Family Fun Day 

    Woodlands Farm 20th anniversary poster

    It is 20 years since the Woodlands Farm Trust was established to run the farm following the successful People Against the River Crossing campaign to save the farm and Oxleas Wood from being destroyed to create a motorway, and as part of their celebrations the farm are holding a Family Fun Day this Sunday, 10th September.

    Hannah, the Education Officer at the farm wrote with details:

    Woodlands Farm 20th Anniversary Family Fun Day
    Sunday 10th September 11am-3pm
    Woodlands Farm is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Join the celebrations by coming along to our Family Fun Day. Find out all about how the farm was saved 20 years ago as well as what is involved in the day to day running of the farm with a chance to meet the animals and find out about animal care. There also will be guided foraging walks and apple pressing. Our activities include children’s crafts, trails, vintage tractors and lots more for all the family. On the day we will be collecting memories from people who remember the farm from years ago or even memories of recent years. If you previously volunteered or assisted the farm please join us at our memories area to catch up with old faces and share your experiences at the farm. A fun day out for all the family! This event is free, but donations are welcome.
    For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

    It’ll be fascinating to find out more about the events that led to the farm and woods being saved for the local community.

    Sheep Shearing at Woodlands Farm Summer Show

    Sheep Shearing at Woodlands Farm Summer Show

    Bob the pony cart rides at Woodlands Farm Summer Show

    Bob the pony cart rides at Woodlands Farm Summer Show

  • hilly 10:44 am on August 28, 2017
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    Bat Walks at Woodlands Farm and Shrewsbury Park 

    Shrewsbury Park bat walk poster Sept 2017

    This weekend has seen the annual celebration of bats that is International Bat Weekend, so it is fitting that we have two bat walks in Shooters Hill this week: one at Woodlands Farm on Thursday,  31st August and then at Shrewsbury Park on Friday, 1st September.

    Details of the Woodlands Farm Bat Walk are on their web site:

    Thu 31st Aug 19:30 – 21:00 Join us for a bat walk around the farm. Woodlands Farm has a number of different species of bats, using bat detectors we will try to find some. The walk will start at 7.45pm. Please bring a torch and wear sturdy shoes. £6 adults, £4 per child. Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900.

    The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are holding their second bat walk of the year on Friday. Kris Inglis wrote with the details:

    Friday 1 September 8.00 pm Shrewsbury Park
    • Walk is free to members, £2 others (but free to join on the day)
    • Wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather
    • Children must be accompanied by an adult
    • Walk lasts about 1 1/2 hours and torches are helpful
    • Dogs must be kept on a lead
    If you have mobility issues or enquiries please contact us on werfsp@gmail.com and we will help you participate. The trail is a mix of paved path, gravel and grass.
    If it’s raining, neither the bats nor us will be coming out!
    Meet in the car park for an introduction from bat-wise FSP members who will lead this adventure through the Park at sunset using our eyes, ears and bat detectors!

    It’s been a good year for bats in my experience. The National Bat Monitoring Programme field surveys in July went well. At Woodlands Farm volunteers detected a good number of pipistrelles, and also overflying noctules. We even detected pipistrelles in our Canning Town survey area which in previous years has had none, or perhaps a single pipistrelle detected at Canning Town Recreation Ground. It doesn’t help that the area has the noisy and polluting A13 running through it. There were also quite a few pipistrelles in the May Shrewsbury Park bat walk. As a bonus hedgehogs were seen at both the farm and Shrewsbury Park.

    One of my batty highlights of this summer was a bat walk at South Mere in Thamesmead led by Karen Sutton the Biodiversity Team Manager at Thames Water. There are lots, and I mean lots of insects flying over and around the lake, and these attract a large number of bats: noctules and the larger bats and possibly Daubenton’s bats over the water and common and soprano pipistrelles in the lakeside trees. It was a spectacular display of agile bats flying close to us spectators, and so many that it was difficult to distinguish their calls on our bat detectors to decide exactly which bat species were present.

    The highlight this year  so far though was our waterway survey along the River Cray near Hall Place. For the first time since the Waterway Survey has been carried out here there were definite detections and sightings of Daubenton’s bats feeding over the river. They flit about very close to the water surface capturing their insect prey using their large feet or tail membranes. I recorded some of the echolocation calls using my new toy, a Peersonic bat recorder: the result is shown in the trace below which was analysed using the Audacity free audio editing software. I can foresee hours of fun analysing the details of bat calls!

    Recording and spectrogram of Daubenton's bat in Audacity

    Recording and spectrogram of Daubenton’s bat in Audacity


    Hibernating Daubenton's Bat

    Hibernating Daubenton’s Bat

  • hilly 10:21 pm on July 6, 2017
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    Shrewsbury Park summer festival on Sunday 

    Shrewsbury Park festival leaflet


    The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are holding another of their marvellous summer festivals this Sunday, 9th July. The event kicks off with the official opening of the new drinking fountain, The Watering Hole, at 12.30pm by the Mayor of Woolwich, Peter Brooks along with “at least two” of our local Councillors. The new fountain was partly funded by the councillors’ ward budgets as well as money raised over the years by the Friends.

    This year’s festival is packed with events and music. As well as the amazing dog show, there will be community stalls, crafts people, ice cream, face painting and yoga. Local Tai Chi teacher Dorothy Ng will present  a Tai Chi demonstration from 1pm to 1.30pm, and the StepZ Dance troupe will be showing their skills.  Intriguingly Emergency Exit Arts will be revealing the secret life the urban meerkat in their Meerkat Menagerie and the astronomers of the Royal Observatory’s Flamsteed Society will be bringing along their specialist telescopes and equipment for some solar observing.

    Musical entertainment will be provided by Jazz Nights, folk duo Pytchwood, Susan Turner and Mark (Gilly) Evans of the Gillies and the Bexley Ukulele Band.

    Registration for entry to the dog show events starts at 12.30pm, costing £2.00 per class, with the following competitions:

    • Fun agility course;
    • Best rescue dog;
    • Best fancy dress;
    • Puppy class (under 12 months);
    • Best child handler;
    • Obedience class;
    • Best biscuit catcher;
    • Dog most like its owner;
    • Fastest dog.

    Unmissable, as usual.


    Agility competition at the 2013 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival

    Agility competition at the 2013 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival

    Solar telescopes at the 2015 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival

    Solar telescopes at the 2015 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival

  • hilly 10:25 am on June 19, 2017
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    Opera Gala to celebrate 150 years of All Saints Shooters Hill 

    Peter Knapp, Tristan Stocks, Chiara Vinci, Tony Baker, and Jeremy Silver at "Incanto" The Magic of Naples

    Peter Knapp, Tristan Stocks, Chiara Vinci, Tony Baker, and Jeremy Silver at Woolwich Opera Works’  “Incanto” The Magic of Naples at All Saints Church

    Woolwich Opera Works will be presenting an Opera Gala to celebrate 150 years of All Saints Shooters Hill next Sunday, 25th June at 4pm at All Saints Church. The concert was almost cancelled because of the very sad news that Sally Silver, one of WOW’s founders had been diagnosed with Glioblasoma Grade 4 brain tumour. Geoff Sheath emailed the news:

    We have long had plans for an Opera Gala to celebrate our 150th anniversary but at the very moment that we were due to send out invitations Sally Silver, who is organising the music for us, was taken seriously ill. After extensive tests tragically she was diagnosed with brain cancer and the prognosis is not good.. We seriously considered cancelling the Gala but Sally has been determined to go ahead. She is continuing to sing as well as ever as she awaits treatment. She would be so encouraged if the event were a sell-out, so I hope you are still able to come, and will encourage your friends and family to come too.
    Tea, coffee and cakes will be served in the interval to help cover our expenses and there will be a retiring collection to cover the musicians’ expenses. Any surplus will go to Brain Tumour Research.
    The tradition is that people dress up for Opera Galas. Don’t worry if you can’t but if you can that would be fabulous! Better still, wear a hat – the symbol of Brain Tumour research.

    The concert will include operatic highlights such as: Rigoletto quartet (Verdi); Lakmé Flower Duet (Delibes); and The Pearl Fishers duet (Bizet), and features an international line up of soloists, led by Jeremy Silver at the piano, including bass-baritone Tony Baker, mezzo soprano Carolyn Dobbin, soprano Carole Irvine, baritone Alejandro Lopez Montoya, tenor Dominic Natoli and Sally Silver herself.

    Entrance to the concert is free, and tickets aren’t essential, but if you would like to reserve a seat you can do so at https://billetto.co.uk/en/e/opera-gala-to-celebrate-150-years-of-all-saints-shooters-hill-tickets-199612  There was a standing ovation at Woolwich Opera Works’ last marvellous concert at All Saints, Incanto: The Magic of Naples, and this one is bound to be very popular, so I’d recommend booking a ticket beforehand.

    There is a justgiving page to raise funds to support Sally in her fight against brain cancer here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Glioblastomablasted

    There are some more photographs taken at WOW’s Incanto concert on flickr here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/e-shootershill/

    Chiara Vinci, Tristan Stocks, Tony Baker, and Jeremy Silver at "Incanto" The Magic of Naples

    Chiara Vinci, Tristan Stocks, Tony Baker, and Jeremy Silver at “Incanto” The Magic of Naples

    I was slightly surprised to hear that All Saints was 150 years old: the church looks much more modern than that, so I headed down to the Greenwich Heritage Centre to find out about its history. There, I found that I was partly correct: the archives included a pamphlet entitled: “Consecration of New Church Saturday 6th July 1957  The original church consecrated in 1881, was destroyed by enemy action in 1944”. This contained a history of the church from its origins in 1867, starting with this passage:

    In 1867, when a zealous Diocesan Missioner came searching for a place in which to set up the banner of Jesus Christ he found lightly wooded country where now we have our hilly streets and closely packed houses. A large meadow extended from what is now Eglinton Hill to Plum Lane and a country lane led up from Herbert Road to Shrewsbury Lane with a stile where now we have the junction of Genesta Road and Eglinton Hill. The area was sprinkled with a few cottage houses, but there were no houses at all on what is now called Ripon Road.

    According to David Lloyd Bathe’s “Steeped in History” the country lane leading up to Shrewsbury Lane was Mayplace Lane. The diocesan missioner, the Rev. William Nesbit McGuiness, set up a church in a large tent at the top of Eglinton Hill, where the fire station flats now stand. He attracted a congregation of 200 people to hear him preach.  In 1868 an iron building was erected lower down the hill which was used as a church until the Rev. McGuiness was given grants to buy the plot of land between Cantwell and Herbert roads and build a day school there. This was completed in 1872.
    The Rev. McGuiness then took on the task of raising money to build a church next to the school. For several year he wrote, by hand, an average of 10,000 letters a year asking for money for the church. He received about £9000 in donations from all over Britain, as well as from Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. The first part of the church, the nave, was consecrated in 1875 and the final part of the building, the tower consecrated on 11th April 1881. A sketch of the Rev. McGuiness’ All Saints Church from the Greenwich Heritage Centre is shown below, and there is a coloured photo taken from “Steeped in History” further down. It was located higher up Ripon Road than the current church, as can be seen in the bomb damage map.

    Sketch of original All Saints Church from Greenwich Heritage Centre

    Sketch of original All Saints Church from Greenwich Heritage Centre

    During the war the church was hit a number of times, but was repaired by the vicar, the Rev W.H.G. Gilbert and his team of volunteers. It was finally destroyed on 30th August 1944. The snippet from the LCC bomb damage map below shows the church near the top and the day school to its North. Heavy damage is shown in darker colours, with black indicating “total Destruction”, purple “damaged beyond repair” and red “seriously damaged – doubtful if repairable”. The circle indicates a V2 rocket hit which,  “Steeped in History” says was what finally destroyed the old All Saints Church.
    The All Saints congregation kept going with services held in temporary buildings such as an iron building at the junction between Eglinton Hill and Cantwell Road for 4 years until 1948 and then in the church hall which the civil authorities had been using during the war. Over the years the congregation donated £5000 to the rebuilding fund which augmented the war damage allocation. The foundation stone for the new church was laid on 18th February 1956 and the consecration took place on 6th July 1957, almost 60 years ago – a second anniversary to be celebrated.

    Snippet from LCC bomb damage map

    Snippet from LCC bomb damage map

    The new church was built down the hill on the site of the destroyed day school near the junction of Ripon Road and Herbert Road. The architect was Thomas F. Ford who, according to wikipedia “was a prolific ecclesiastical architect, Diocesan Architect for Southwark, an Ashpitel Prize winner at the Royal Institute of British Architects, founder of Thomas Ford Architects and with his brother Ralph, who owned the largest and most complete collection of English Bibles in England, a translator in 1948 of the New Testament.” He was also the architect for the Church of St Mary the Virgin at Welling and All Saints Church at New Eltham. In the consecration pamphlet Thomas described the architecture of All Saints Shooters Hill as follows:

    The architectural style of the building is derived from the Greek Classic of the early 19th century, modified and adapted to suit modern materials and requirements. What little detail there is of mouldings and enrichments retains that precision of line and care for proportion which earned for this style the title of “The Reign of Elegance”.

    The east wall of the church is covered with a painting by Hans Feibusch. Hans was an artist and sculptor who was best known for his murals in Anglican churches: he worked in 28 UK churches as a muralist. Originally from Germany, and of Jewish heritage, he came to Britain in 1933 when the Nazis came to power. Thomas Ford, who often worked with Hans, described the All Saints’ mural in the consecration pamphlet:

    The East wall is covered with a large painting by Mr. Hans Feibusch depicting the Ascension scene with Our Lord in the act of going up into Heaven. Below him are two angel figures speaking to the assembled disciples, who are in postures that suggest wonder, adoration and worship. This work is painted direct upon the plaster wall, and in form and colour makes a magnificent end to the church. The colouring of the rest of the interior has been most carefully considered so as to enhance, and not conflict, with the riot of colour on the East wall.

    Hans’ mural will provide the backdrop to WOW’s singers in what I’m sure will be another excellent concert on Sunday. Don’t forget to wear a hat.

    A rare coloured photograph of the original All Saints Church from David Bathe's "Steeped in History"

    A rare coloured photograph of the original All Saints Church from David Bathe’s “Steeped in History”

    All Saints Church, Herbert Road

    All Saints Church, Herbert Road

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