Friends of Oxleas Woodlands

Oxleas Meadow, showing the cafe and the water tower
Oxleas Meadow, showing the cafe and the water tower

Bat walks, local history walks, rose garden restoration, woodland conservation and litter picking: the Friends of Oxleas Woodlands have been very active since their formation at the end of last year. Sue, the Friends’ secretary, wrote with an update:

As you know we have had a couple of Bat walks and Houses in the woods walk; which we are planning to offer again, weather permitting. We also have our regular activities, the litter collection once a month; the Saturday and new weekday conservation sessions with the Shooters Hill Woodland working group and a new gardening project to re-establish the rose gardens at Jackwood and Castle woods. I have attached a poster about this project including the dates of forthcoming gardening sessions.
Our activities have been developed in response to our members’ requests and we are really fortunate to have knowledgeable members who have been able to lead walks and deliver interesting talks on a range of subjects.
Up until now we have been able to open up all our activities to non members as well as members but with our large and growing membership (currently we have 92 members), we are needing to prioritise some activities such as the Walks to members (their friends/families) only. So far, we have not had to turn people away; we have just had to repeat the walks! Needless to say, we are always grateful for volunteers to work with us on the regular gardening, litter collection and conservation activities.

Friends of Oxleas Woodlands Rose Garden poster

The poster reads:

A massive thank you to all the volunteers who were able to help at short notice with clearing the rose beds at Jackwood Terrace (above). It took a total of 30 man & woman hours to weed the beds.
We have confirmation from the Council that they will add mulch when time allows, but volunteers may be needed to help with spreading.
Parks & Open Spaces did remove the roses from the Severndroog beds (below) with the intention of replacing them with wildflowers. They have now given permission for FOW to replace the roses in the autumn if funding can be secured. We have requested further information on sponsorship permission.
Whilst funding is secured for replacement roses (best planted in the autumn) we are looking for volunteers to help weed and prepare the Severndroog beds during August and September.
We will use this as an experiment to see what days and dates suit different people so please do let suereeve@virginmedia.com know when you can join us (see purple box above).
PS. We will offer to find a good use for the wildflower seeds too.

Bluebells in Oxleas Wood
Bluebells in Oxleas Wood

The next event that the Friends have planned is this Sunday, 14th October, when the Friends’ Chair Tom Wareham will lead  a repeat of the Houses in the Woods walk. This twilight wander through the woods visits the sites of some of the great houses that used to stand in the woodlands: Castle House; Castlewood; Jackwood; Wood Lodge; Warren Wood and Falconwood. Each participant on the walk is loaned an A4 folder with pictures of the houses before they were demolished. As the appropriate points on the walk it is possible to hold the pictures up against the current scenery and see where the houses stood. What a great way of presenting local history! The stories about the houses and gossip about their occupants are fascinating.

It’s very likely that Sunday’s walk is already fully booked, but contact Sue on suereeve@virginmedia.com if you’re interested.

The next dates for other planned Friends’ activities are:

Litter collection                            Saturday 27th October 10am – 12pm
Shooters Hill Working Party Saturday 13th October 10am, Friday 19th October 10am – 3pm
Rose beds & bulbs                      Sunday 4th November 10am-12pm,  Friday 9th November 2pm-4pm

Again, contact Sue for more information. The next members’ meeting is planned for 7.30pm on Tuesday 4th December in Shrewsbury House.

Path in Oxleas Woods
Path in Oxleas Woods
Detail of water feature on Jackwood Terrace
Detail of water feature on Jackwood Terrace

Apple Day and other October Events at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Apple Day poster

October is a busy month at Woodlands Farm with Apple Day on Sunday, an autumnal walk on 21st and events for children in half-term week which includes a spooky Halloween trailer ride.

Maureen sent me details of the annual Apple Day event:

Join us for a celebration of British apples on Sunday 14 October 2018 from 11am to 4pm. Discover and buy different types of traditional British apples. There will be live music by Skinners Rats, a variety of activities including: tractor and trailer rides (weather permitting), children’s craft fun, a treasure hunt, apple-pressing to make delicious juice, craft and local produce stalls (including our own honey, homemade jams, BBQ) and an opportunity to try some delicious Kentish cider. A great day out for all the family. Entry is £1 adult, and 50p for children. All proceeds go towards keeping Woodlands Farm here as a conservation project and valuable resource for the community. A great family day out!

An opportunity to stock up on the less well-known varieties of apple that supermarkets don’t seem to stock these days, and possibly even a rare Pitmaston Pineapple.

Apples at Woodlands Farm
Apples at Woodlands Farm
Apples at Woodlands Farm
Apples at Woodlands Farm

The following week, on Sunday 21st October, there is the Farm in Autumn Guided Walk starting at  11:00am and lasting about an hour and a half. We are asked to wear suitable shoes for muddy conditions. This walk isn’t suitable for buggies.

Hannah, the Farm’s Education Officer wrote about Woodlands’ half-term events for children:

Autumn Half Term Holiday Activities
Autumn Wildlife Explorers Wednesday 24th October 11am – 3pm £3 per child.
This farm explorer’s session will be about autumn at the farm. Find out about what happens during autumn at the farm as well as about the different wildlife which hibernates and what work we do on the hedgerows in autumn, there will also be an autumn scavenger hunt.
This is the last in a series of farm explorer’s sessions throughout the year. Pick up your farm passport to collect stamps for each farm explorer’s session you attend. Collect as many as you can throughout the year to get a certificate and prize! £3 per child. No need to book, just drop in. More information call 020 8319 8900.
Horrible Halloween – craft and spooky Tractor/Trailer ride Friday 26th October Sessions from 2-4pm and 6-8pm £5 per person
Join us for a spooky time at the farm. Make a spooky craft before enjoying a creepy tractor and trailer ride around the farm, but be careful you don’t know what you will see on this Halloween trip! This event is for children age 4-11 years. Due to space on the trailer you have to book for adults and children. To book call 020 8319 8900.
For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

Autumn fungi at Woodlands Farm
Autumn fungi at Woodlands Farm
Autumn fungi at Woodlands Farm
Autumn fungi at Woodlands Farm

Hannah is also the person to contact about the last of the farm’s ecological surveys for the year:

Monday 15th October, 2pm – Bee Walk – this is the last bumble bee walk of the year.
Tuesday 16th October, 4pm – Mammal survey – putting the traps out
Wednesday 17th October, 9am – Mammal survey – bringing the traps.

It’s been another interesting year for wildlife surveys at the farm, with all the usual ones being run, including bees, butterflies, moths, bats, tree health, aquatic life, the wildflower meadow and mammals. The Longworth traps have only yielded wood mice this year, none of the voles or shrews that have previously been found. Perhaps Wednesday will be different!

Hawk Moth at Woodlands Farm
Hawk Moth at Woodlands Farm

Bat Walks at Woodlands Farm, Shrewsbury Park and Oxleas Woodlands

Woodlands Farm Bat Walk poster

There are opportunities to search for bats in three of our local green spaces during the next month: bat walks are being held at Woodlands Farm on 23rd August, at Shrewsbury Park on 7th September and in Oxleas Woodlands on 21st September.

The Woodlands Farm bat walk is this Thursday starting at 8.00pm. Booking is required, call 020 8319 8900, and there is a charge of £6 for adults and £4 for children to help fund the farm’s work. The farm participates in the Bat Conservation Trust‘s National Bat Monitoring Programme each year,  surveying for four species of bat at the start and end of July. The first survey this year was the best ever in terms of the number and variety of bats detected, with many contacts with larger bat species such as Noctules and Leisler’s as well as the usual Common and Soprano Pipistrelles. There were fewer bats at the end of July survey, though still quite a few pipistrelles.

Brown Long-eared Bat at Bat Fest
Brown Long-eared Bat at Bat Fest

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park‘s bat walk starts at 7.30pm on Friday 7th September. It’s free, but booking is necessary, as their web site says:

It’s time to adjust your night vision for the now annual Bat Walk. After a short intro – next to the notice board by the Plum Lane car park – Les Clark will lead the walk through the woods and glades where the bats hang out. Bat detectors supplied!
This time we ask that you book your free place in advance using;
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bat-walk-tickets-48480937790
A maximum of 50 people allows everyone to get the most out of the experience. If you don’t have computer access please drop a note through the door at 189 Plum Lane with your name and phone number.
Wear suitable footwear (maybe bug spray too) and bring a small torch if you have one. The walk is approximately 1 1/2 hours. Dogs are welcome if kept on a lead.
If it’s raining neither bats nor us will be coming out!

Serotine bat at the BCT’s Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Serotine bat at the BCT’s Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

Oxleas Woodlands Bat Walk poster

The Friends of Oxleas Woodlands will be meeting at 7.25pm on Friday 21st September. Again, booking is necessary, with details given on the Friends’ poster:

Following on the success of our first bat walk in May where people saw a number of bats we are offering this second walk.
Bat detectors will be provided so that you can hear the bats in action as they hunt for insects, and try to identify which species of bat there are in the woods.
Please dress warmly for the evening and wear footwear suitable for walking in the woods. You may want to bring a torch too!
Numbers are limited to 30, including children, so BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL.
To book your place please email the Friends’ Secretary, Sue Reeve at suereeve@virginmedia.com as soon as possible.
We need your name and how many you are booking for; (Max 2 adults and three children per booking, but please contact us if you need to vary this or wish to book for friends too.) We will also need a telephone number to contact you in case we need to cancel due to bad weather. (Bat’s don’t like it when it’s too cold or raining!).
This activity is free of charge to Friends of Oxleas Woodlands members but a nominal charge of £3 per person will be made to non members on the night.
We will meet at the Crookston Road, SE9 entrance to the woods at 7.25pm and set off promptly at 7.30pm.

Seeing our open spaces at night, and the views over the lights of London, is enjoyable even if the bats don’t co-operate, but let’s hope they do!

Hibernating Daubenton’s Bat at Westerham Mines
Hibernating Daubenton’s Bat at Westerham Mines
Pipistrelle bat at the BCT’s Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Pipistrelle bat at the BCT’s Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

Shrewsbury Park summer festival on Sunday

Shrewsbury Park Summer Spree leaflet

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are holding their annual summer festival this Sunday, 8th July, between 12 noon and 5.00pm.

The Friends‘ e-mail described the event:

Shrewsbury Park Spree is this Sunday!
Don’t miss our fantastic attractions – so much fun for the kids and plenty for the adults too! local crafts and the tombola, not to mention wonderful music, dance performances, and lots and lots of cake!
We have local artists and craftspeople, yoga and fitness demos, face painting, community interest stalls, dog-related stalls, kiddies games area, tempting lunches, tantalising tombola and some fab surprises!
From 12pm – 5pm
Don’t miss it!
New! Astronaut School
Shows are FREE but booking is essential. The show is for children aged 3 – 8 (strictly no under 3’s allowed) and all children must be supervised by a parent/guardian. To book please follow the below link…
For more information, or to book, please contact ross.bolwell@eea.org.uk | 020 8853 4809

The Astronaut School sounds interesting. It is described as “an immersive theatre show for 3-8 year olds and their families combining live performance, music, storytelling and painting into one interactive theatre show.” Places can also be booked through the Emergency Exit Arts (EEA) web site.

There’s no dog show this year, but Jazz Nights, Pytchwood, the Gillies and the Bexley Ukulele Group will be providing musical entertainment again, along with the Eltham Hill Steel Pans. STEPZDance also return. I hear that there will be Nepalese food from Namaste, and possibly Pizza from Rust Bucket Pizza. Should be a good afternoon once again.

Pytchwood and the Gillies at the 2017 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Pytchwood and the Gillies at the 2017 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Fastest Dog event at the 2017 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Fastest Dog event at the 2017 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Fastest Dog event at the 2017 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Fastest Dog event at the 2017 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Fastest Dog event at the 2017 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Fastest Dog event at the 2017 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival

Falconwood model railway to lose its home

Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running
Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running

The Falconwood Model Railway has finally been told to move from its current site on Rochester Way, and will be homeless from the end of this year unless another site can be found.

The Welling and District Model Engineering Society recently posted the announcement on its website:

National Grid is building a cable tunnel from Bexley to Woolwich to cope with increased electricity demands in London. This project was first proposed in 2008, at which time we were warned that our miniature railway site, at Falconwood, would be required for one of the Tunnel Head-houses and that, consequently, we would have to relocate. The project was then put “on hold” and we were given various dates when the project was likely to restart – all of which passed with no activity.
We have now been told that the site will definitely be required by National Grid in early 2019.
We do not have a definite date when we will need to be off the site, but it is very likely that no Public Running Days or Parties will be held in 2019. National Grid has, however, guaranteed that we can complete our 2018 season of planned events, including the Santa Special in December.
Meanwhile, we are negotiating with National Grid and local Councils to identify assistance with relocation and suitable sites to which we can move the Welling and District Model Engineering Society facilities and its Miniature Railway.
A number of persons who come to our Public Events have suggested that a petition be raised. We thank them all for their thoughts, but a petition would be unlikely to change the tunnel plans and might adversely affect our relocation negotiations.
As soon as we have any updated information, we will post it on this site and notices will be posted at our Miniature Railway at remaining Public events this year. In addition, we have set up an email address if you have any questions about W&DMES activities, or the relocation progress.
If you have any suggestions about suitable sites to which we could relocate, or can offer any form of assistance with the move, please contact us using the email address or speak to one of the members at the Miniature Railway.

The society has been running since 1945 and has given pleasure to generations of children (and adults). Let’s hope they can continue in a new home.

Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running
Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running
Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running
Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running

 

Woodlands Farm Summer Show

Woodlands Farm Summer Show 2018 poster

This weekend will be busy with the Plumstead Make Merry at Plumstead Common on Saturday 9th from 12 noon to 6pm and Woodlands Farm‘s Summer Show on Sunday 10th June between 11.00am and 4.30pm.

Hannah, the Farm’s Education Officer wrote with details of the Woodlands Farm event:

Come along to our annual summer show which is part of Open Farm Sunday. Enjoy a sheep shearing display or have a go on our new tractor ride. There will be local stalls selling produce and crafts as well as children’s activities, a BBQ and live music. This event is free but donations are welcome. For more information call 020 8319 8900.

For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

Once again this year the Summer Show is combined with  Open Farm Sunday – the farming industry’s annual open day when hundreds of farms across the country will be open to the public. It’ll be a good opportunity to see the farm’s new red tractor.

Also as in previous years Hannah has organised a set of surveys of the farm’s flora and fauna. The next ones are:

Thursday 14th June – Pond Survey, 2pm
Thursday 21st June – Bee Walk, 2pm.
Tuesday 26th June – Wild flowers survey, 1pm

All are welcome at the surveys, though it might be wise to let Hannah know if you are coming in case of changes.

Sheeps shearing at Woodlands Farm's 2017 Summer Show
Sheeps shearing at Woodlands Farm’s 2017 Summer Show
The band at Woodlands Farm's 2017 Summer Show
The band at Woodlands Farm’s 2017 Summer Show
Clouds at Woodlands Farm's 2017 Summer Show
Clouds at Woodlands Farm’s 2017 Summer Show

Friends of Oxleas Woodlands Bat Walk

Friends of Oxleas Woodlands Bat walk poster

The recently formed Friends of Oxleas Woodlands are holding a bat walk next Friday, 27th April starting at 8.00pm at the Crookston Road entrance to the woodlands.  The walk is free, but places are limited and booking is necessary. Their poster gives the details:

Oxleas Woodlands Bat Walk.
Friday 27thApril at 8pm
Come along and meet our local Bat population.
Use bat detectors to hear the bats in action as they hunt for insects, and try to identify which species of Bat there are in the woods. Bat detectors will be provided. But dress warmly for the evening and wear footwear suitable for walking in the woods. You may want to bring a torch too!
Numbers will be limited to 40, including children. So BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL.
Email the Friends’ Secretary, Sue Reeve at suereeve@virginmedia.com to book your place.
We will need to know your name and how many you are booking for; (Max 2 adults and three children per booking, but please contact us if you need to vary this or wish to book for friends too.) We will also need a telephone number to contact you in case there is a need to cancel due to bad weather. (Bat’s don’t like it when it’s raining!).
Meet at the Crookston Road entrance to the woods at 7.55pm.
We are planning another bat walk later in the year.

Serotine bat at the BCT's Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Serotine bat at the BCT’s Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

This is the Friends’ first event since their inaugural general meeting on 7th March, but they plan to hold  other events such as history walks and  wildlife and plant surveys. They have also held a number of litter picking sessions; the next one is on Saturday 21st April meeting at the café at 10am, or at the traffic lights at the Welling Way/Rochester Way Junction at about 10.15.

The bats should be out of hibernation now, feeling very hungry after the long winter, and trying to make up ground on their feeding schedule which will have been delayed by the poor weather. Usually the females will form maternity colonies in May before giving birth to a single pup during June.

Recent bat walks in the area, such as those at Shrewsbury Park and Woodlands Farm have also spotted hedgehogs as they looked for bats, so if you get a place on the walk keep a look out.

The Friends plan to hold another bat walk later in the year, so if you don’t get a place on this one there will be a further opportunity later on.

Pipistrelle bat at the BCT's Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Pipistrelle bat at the BCT’s Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Serotine bat at the BCT's Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Serotine bat at the BCT’s Halloween is For Bats event at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day 2018

Lambing Day 2018 Poster

It’s Woodlands Farm‘s annual Lambing Day fair this Sunday, 15th April 2018, and it looks like the weather is going to improve just in time.

Maureen from the farm sent me details:

All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Lambing Day. Come and see our new-born lambs, and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including home-made preserves, cakes and honey. Relax in our café, enjoy the treasure hunt or get involved in craft activities.
All proceeds from donations and our stalls go towards keeping Woodlands Farm here as a conservation project and valuable resource for the community.
Entry: £2 adult, £1 children under 16, £5 Family Ticket (2 adults & up to 3 children).
A great family day out! No parking, please use public transport. Buses 89 and 486 stop outside the farm. Sorry, no dogs allowed.

Like last year the first lambs born in 2018 were the black Manx Loaghtans, but the others weren’t far behind. There’s a chance to see them all between 11am and 4pm on Sunday. The entrance price is £2 for adults £1 for children. The fair will also have the usual stalls, country crafts, children’s activities and café and barbecue.

Woodlands Farm's first lambs of 2018
Some of Woodlands Farm’s first lambs of 2018
The Manx Loaghtans were Woodlands Farm's first lambs of 2018
The Manx Loaghtans were Woodlands Farm’s first lambs of 2018
Woodlands Farm's first lambs of 2018
Some of Woodlands Farm’s first lambs of 2018

Falconwood Miniature Railway Public Running 2018

Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running
Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running

Welling and District Model Engineering Society  have just announced their programme of public running dates and other events for 2018, as their web site says:

We look forward to welcoming you back in 2018 for another summer of nostalgia, riding behind our steam and electric locomotives. The dates and timings have now been confirmed.
The railway and clubhouse will be open from 2:00-5:00pm. Train rides will be available for children and adults(!), with the last ticket issued at 4:30pm. Refreshments are available in the clubhouse.
Due to a reduction in car parking space, there is no parking on site on Public Running Days except for those with Blue Badges.
    Sunday April 8th 22nd
    Sunday May 6th 20th
    Sunday June 3rd 17th
   Sunday July 1st 15th 29th
    Sunday August 12th 26th
    Sunday September 9th 23rd
    Sunday October 7th (last running)

Santa Special 2018
Tickets for the 2018 Santa Special, to be held on Sunday December 16th, will be on sale at the last two Public Running Events, September 23rd and October 7th. Prices are yet to be determined. Please note we can only accept payment in cash. Tickets are prices are to be confirmed, with a maximum of 4 tickets per family, Admission to the Santa Special is by ticket ONLY.
The maximum age of children will be 8 years, and each ticket allows one adult to travel with the child. Please note that no parking will be allowed on site on the day of the Santa Special.
Open Day 2018
We will be holding an open day for visiting clubs on Saturday 6th October.

Before heading down to Falconwood it’s worth checking the Welling and District Model Engineering Society web site for any updates or late cancellations.

Details of how to get to the WDMES site, plus a sound recording and video of the miniature railway in action can be seen in previous posts about the model railway.

Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running
Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running
Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running
Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running
Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running
Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running

New Year’s Day guided walk around Woodlands Farm

The meadows at Woodlands Farm
The meadows at Woodlands Farm

What better way to start  2018 than with a New Year’s Day guided walk around Woodlands Farm? Hannah from the farm sent details:

New Year’s Day Guided Walk Monday 1st January 2018 11am – 12.30pm
Start the year with a bracing stroll around Woodlands Farm- a winter guided walk to counter the seasonal excesses. This will be an easy paced walk to look at the farm and animals in winter and the way the farm works with nature. Please wear suitable clothing and footwear for walking across fields. This walk is not suitable for children under 10 years. Meet outside the cafe in the farmyard. Free, donations welcome.

For more information, see our website or email admin@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

Woodlands Farm is located on the borders of the London boroughs of Bexley and Greenwich. At 89 acres, it is the largest city farm in the UK. Our priorities are education and conservation, and we are part of the Natural England Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. Our education programme attracts visitors from pre-school to third-age groups. The Trust aims to involve local community groups, schools, volunteers and businesses in farming and conservation, helping to bridge the current town-country divide.

While at the farm there’s a chance to see two new calves: crosses between the farm’s British Whites cows, Snowdrop and Honeysuckle and Aberdeen Angus bulls. There may even be a third calf by Monday as the farm’s other British White, Clover is due to give birth any day.

Happy New Year!

One of the farm's British White/Aberdeen Angus cross calves
One of the farm’s British White/Aberdeen Angus cross calves
Clover the British White cow
Clover the British White cow