Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Looking after the plants in the Triangle beds

 Our volunteers had taken our eyes off the rapidly growing 'weeds' in the Triangle  herb and fruit bush beds opposite the cafe. This is the  planted space that visitors see as they walk past the cafe and into the park. We can do better. Only one regular  and another occasional volunteer have done much in a few months, clearing the long grass from the winding path through the herb bed. Oh dear! 

The rain really helped everything grow rapidly.

We are now playing 'catch-up' by having extra informal gardening sessions.  

 On  25th May 2021 three volunteers  got down on their knees busy weeding at the Triangle space. They pulled up some long grass under and around the raspberries  and some minor pruning of the raspberry canes so the berries can be seen more easily. As we were still following Lewisham's Covid distancing rules, three was a good number and we brought our own tools.

There were other informal sessions whenever individuals could turn up. As far as possible, plants and twigs were piled beside the hedgerow to make a 'dead hedge' of sorts.

We are now managing the plants better. 9th September and three volunteers gathered to prune the plum (which should have happened in August!), prune back the raspberry canes that had fruited this year and also keep the canes that are still fruiting as the weather is so mild. 

Another hastily arranged session on 15th September had the plum and apple tree in focus. The long grass was raked away and the trees were given a thick layer of partly rotted woodchip mulch. We were careful to make sure to leave a circular space between the tree trunks and the woodchips.

Mulching helps the fruit trees

Mulching will help the trees. Why? 

1. Mulching reduces evaporation from the soil around the trees in dry weather, keeping the roots moist.

2. Rain falling onto the mulch filters slowly through to the roots so they don't become too wet.

3. Mulch can help prevent weeds taking over the area round the tree. Weeds can compete with the tree roots for nutrients

4.Wood chips around trees can support  mycorrhizal fungi. These  fungi  are helpful to the tree roots

5. When wood chips have rotted down they are good for improving the soil.

Plenty of good reasons then? The orchard trees get the same care and attention.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Mayow Park gets gleaming new cricket training nets in 2021 to mixed review

 In October 2020 the final decision was made by Lewisham officers and the London Cricket Trust to locate new cricket nets at the western end of Mayow Park, very close to the wonderful and much loved Holm Oak (Quercus ilex for those that appreciate its Latin name).

New nets location overlaid on old nets site

Remains of old cricket nets area


The new structure was completed in July 2021
Brand new cricket nets in their woodland setting

What has changed? 
The new footprint of the nets is 30% longer than, and more than double the width of, the previous one, which had long since been neglected as a cricket training area and morphed over years into a respectfully used community workout space (coming in very handy during the lockdown, used by personal trainers and casual athletes alike).The new facility’s vertical footprint reaches 4 metres high, not including the elevated ground constructed to make a level pitch at the far end. A paved pathway to the nets was also added, perhaps to avoid any muddy shoes treading on the artificial turf.  The nets are angled roughly North-East to South-East and located within a wooded setting, boasting views of very old trees, and (when the weather cooperates) beautiful dappled sunlight. Almost within touching distance are ancient oaks some of which are well over 300 years old. The aerial photo really highlights the woodland feel. A tourist brochure would surely highlight this location as ideal for any number of activities, playing cricket included. 

Change for the better? 

Such brand new training nets will be a joy to cricket fans, seeing not the changed historical landscape but the state-of-the-art sports facility (with five years’ funded maintenance courtesy of the London Cricket Trust). 

Park users have been assured that local schools are keen to have their pupils use the all-weather, all-season net facility and that the majority of net users will be from the local community, in walking distance (hopefully, since the park entrance closest to the nets is in a very residential area with limited parking). Locals may also get to see nationally recognised clubs joining in on the fun. 

In the long term, removing a section of grassy field from Sunday afternoon family picnics and community leisure was deemed worth it with the aim of having healthier and more active local young people (and women too) who it is hoped will now have the means to develop a great love for this quintessentially English game. Mayow Park is one of 50 new and planned locations across London, where the London Cricket Trust is bringing cricket facilities to the people, in collaboration with local councils*. 

*See  https://wisden.com/stories/your-game/club-cricket/the-club-debate-can-the-london-cricket-trust-boost-the-game-in-the-capital  

But a singular view on cricket may miss other important factors that one hopes decision makers also took into account: namely, the social, environmental and visual impacts of the changes (not to mention the long-term costs of upkeep to the nets). To what extent were these factors considered by the London Cricket Trust and Lewisham Council when choosing the location and plans for the nets - and do the benefits outweigh the costs?

SOCIAL IMPACTS:

Someone on one of the local FB groups posted a very succinct summary of their thoughts on 3rd July 2021, which highlight the social impact of the new nets in a park that already has so much to offer:

I think lockdown has shown how much people value the space, to spend time in nature, for their wellbeing, meet friends and family safely, walk their dogs etc. I thought the amenities were sufficient:

2 children's play areas, outdoor gym equipment, 2 sets of picnic tables, a football/cricket (schools pitch) in the centre of the field. A cafe, a thriving community space, tennis courts, a bowling area/  theatre/ event space.

I'm not sure why we couldn't keep it at that? I wonder if it's in danger of becoming over 'curated' zones to the point where people won't have enough space to walk in the park and enjoy being in nature.🤷🏼‍♀️ Especially people who don't have access to their own outdoor space. It's only 17 acres for approximately 28,500 people. I wonder what % of them play cricket?🤔

Indeed, stats on how many cricket players (current or aspiring) live in the community surrounding Mayow Park would be very welcome!

ENVIRONMENT AND LANDSCAPE IMPACTS:

In the past, park surveys carried out by Mayow Park users indicated very many people value the variety and age of the trees, the gently sloping land, the shade cast by trees on hot summer days. They make this park so special.

So to what extent have these new nets enhanced the treescape and the flow of the park slopes? Realistically views of trees in particular have been negatively affected.

Take a close look at the proximity of the Holm oak to the site. Look around the earth works surrounding the nets as soon as you can and before the evidence is removed. Can you see tree roots sticking out of the uneven, scarred earth? Logic suggests they can only have come from the Holm oak. If anyone wishes to correct this logic, please comment.

Tree roots

More tree roots
But this is only parkland after all, only amenity grassland that has been disturbed, a small price to pay when making way for human improvement, surely? 

Only parkland?

Lewisham Council declared a climate emergency early in 2020. We are already seeing severe changes in weather patterns.

Surely parks should be recognised     for the important contribution they make to help mitigate all the climate change challenges that are being thrown at us?

We can each make individual choices, reflecting our priorities and our desired future. Can the importance of attempting to spread the love of one sport across one parkscape be balanced against damaging an environment that some see as vital for everyone and not just one sporting group?

Only time will tell, when we see how the facilities are used and maintained, the grass will have grown back, and perhaps eyes adjusted to the new view…

The new view from Recreation Rd entrance
Alona and Carin

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Minibeast safari

On Saturday 24th July 2021 Friends of Mayow Park hosted a bug hunt, led by FOMP’s old friend Iain Boulton. We all met by the Victorian fountain and Iain explained the bug hunt activity. Many people call such creatures ‘bugs’ or ‘creepy crawlies’ or ‘minibeast’. Whatever word you prefer, we were planning to spend one or two hours in the meadow opposite the cafe, hunting for what we could find.

There were 18 of us, including 8 children.

We had all heard about the unpromising weather we should expect on Saturday afternoon but the rain held off and later in the afternoon we saw some sun.

Iain brought with him some sweep nets and a few copies of a Field Studies Council guide* to help us identify these little critters. He gave a demo on how to use a sweep net in the meadow. And we were off in family groups, into the long grass, hunting to see what we could find. The list included

Lots of grasshoppers

A painted wing fly

A ladybird or two

A hoverfly larva

Snails

Woodlice

Some very small flies

This is an interim post as we hope to get drawings from some the children who took part.

7-spot ladybird

green grasshopper

*https://www.field-studies-council.org/shop/publications/garden-bugs-and-beasties/  

June 2021 litter picking fun

 3rd June 2021.  What a great day for our park litter clean-up as part of Tidy Britain’s Great British Spring Clean. Thank you for the love and care shown to Mayow Park. 

Early this morning  ( 8am) some individuals gave their time to collect litter to make the park a more pleasant place to spend time in. This was ahead of our community clean-up.

Then, a few hours later, Friends of Mayow Park volunteers with Glendale and the local Safer Neighbourhood Team held a communal annual litter picking event.

We had 7 children in 3 family groups, FOMP committee members, Glendale’s Fabio, Emanuel, Ainsley and Vieira plus two PCSOs - Andrea and her colleague.  Vieira brought his two children on his day off!

In total we collected NINE bags of rubbish even after the early morning clean-up session.

Thank you to Lisa L and Hannah L for bringing your children to join and help. 

Thank you to Glendale for supplying black bags and  the loan of  litter picker sticks. 

And a very big THANK YOU to B & G Cafe for providing drinks to volunteers after the event.

Some of the rubbish collected

  A few of the wonderful volunteers 

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

The perks of volunteering by Pippa Moss

 What I did the other day wasn't in itself that exciting, I was ultimately just pulling up weeds.

But I came home with a real glow after those 2 hours.  

I'll tell you the reasons.

Firstly it is very tangible when there's some lovely fruit bushes being swamped by nettles, long grass and 'sticky buds' (also known as ‘goosegrass’). You literally feel like you are freeing them ready to provide more berries later than might otherwise have been the case.

Volunteers captured on camera

Also you get to chat with other volunteers (just 2 others at the moment while we still have to play safe 2m apart).. and pick up good tips. One tip from Alona being that our large piles of 'waste' can be used to make a little natural fence along behind the compost bins, where the old weeds will dry out and provide some goodness back into the ground.

waste greenery piled under hedge

Plus it was great to work with Bella, co-chair of Friends of Home Park as we hadn't managed to meet in person despite numerous online chats.

Finally and fabulously was the number of people who stopped as they passed to say hello. Neighbours, Pat from the Sydenham Society, Chrissie from the library, dog walker friends, Hakan a park regular who also looks after the SE26 community Facebook group, Iris from Grow Mayow, parents wanting to learn about the plants and herbs, a wave to Glendale driving past in a van…

It was Mayow at its best to be honest and while there's still some work to do around the Triangle Garden near the cafe, it was a fabulous sociable start.

Next week is #VolunteersWeek. A time to celebrate all you and others do to volunteer in our community. Share on our social media what you get up to, especially to keep our green spaces green. Thank you.

Monday, 1 March 2021

My litter picking adventure by Matilda

 The Friends of Mayow Park committee found out that some of our younger park users care enough about the park that they decided to do something about the litter problem. Read Matilda's report below. Would you be willing to take part in Matilda's suggestion for a monthly litter-pick?

We welcome posts from children who want to improve Mayow Park for everyone to enjoy.

My name's Matilda and I live very close to Mayow Park in Adamsrill Road. It's my favourite park because I know all of the names of most of the dogs, everyone in the park says hello to you, and there are lots of places to explore.

But recently I noticed that there has been more and more horrible litter being dropped, particularly in the areas where me and my friends like to explore, in the trees along the sides of the park.

So I decided to do something about it. First of all I asked for a litter picking stick for Christmas, which I got, and then I got a group of friends together who were also annoyed at the litter. This group was made up of twins Rosanna & Zander, Jessica, Prue and Barnaby.

Matilda's Christmas present
We collected 5 big bags of rubbish just from one side of the park alone, in the beautiful green trees, and 2 refuse sacks full. 

I think there should be one day a month when everyone who enjoys the park should come and pick some litter up, at least one bag. You don't even need a litter picking stick, my Grandad says you can use a stick with a nail in the end.
A small selection of rubbish collected
Oh and also, please stop walking on the lovely flowers, my brother is 2 and gets very upset and recently started an argument with a grown man about it!

Matilda. 6.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

A rill in the park

                                  
My previous post highlighted the lake in Mayow Park created by weeks of heavy rainfall, a lake that rises or soaks away, very much dependent on the weather. And the post referred to Adams Rill that flowed in past history. 

After  heavy rainfall overnight 4th/ 5th February saw the return of a very shallow lake, it seems a new rill has found a route to the lake.


AS

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Mayow Park's lost stream?

Black poplar in middle of lake

After reading Pippa’s blog about the temporary lake  which arrived in Mayow Park in the last week of January and the fun it brought to park users, people asked how it came to be and why in that location?

I’ll try to explain.

Weeks and weeks of heavy rainfall, with occasional drier days; that’s how 2020 ended and 2021 started, continuing right through January. The spongy ground was saturated, unable to absorb more precipitation.  In Mayow Park the paths were muddy, the grass was muddier and some of the drains were mud-hidden, no longer visible or able to do what they were designed to do.

Deep puddles everywhere

Then the snow arrived, just for one day, but heavy snow. Sunday 24th January. For a few short hours people went into the park, played with the snow,  made snow people; dogs, children and adults enjoyed the novelty. But by the end of the day much of the snow had melted and the rain returned.

Water flowed in rivulets along the paths and down slopes, creating deep puddles in places, towards the shallow river valley to the eastern side, where once a rill* flowed. 

Local people may be aware that Mayow Park sits atop very heavy clay which is slow to absorb heavy rain so the water flowed and flowed following downhill routes. It flowed to the lowest level, down into the meadow opposite the cafe and into the scrub area just below Mayow Road. Small lakes have formed here before, lasting a couple of days, but the lake this time was larger than many of the folk round here can remember. It seemed wider and deeper than ever. Dogs had swimming fun. Children came in waterproof boots to have a splashing time.  And Barney brought his paddle board to add to the entertainment – see photo by Pippa in her blog.

The water could not go far.  It slowly soaked away over the next few days. As water receded, the black poplar, which had stood in the middle of the now shrinking lake, gradually moved to drier terrain. The story of the lake was the buzz of local social media. For a few days it brought some joy in these times of social distancing and remote socialising.

With warmer, wetter winters in southern England predicted into the future due to our changing climate, we can expect to see this occasional lake to return when weather conditions are right.

The lake slowly drained away

*NOTE: A rill is a shallow brook or stream. The rill (Adamsrill) no longer visibly flows but it seems likely that,  in bygone times, it travelled via Mayow Park through culverts to Bell Green and the River Pool.  Nowadays after heavy rain, it revives in back gardens along Adamsrill Road - named after Mayow Wynell Adams (1809 – 1898). He was the local dignitary who offered the site that is now Mayow Park. (Street names Mayow Road, Wynell Road and Adamsrill Road honour his name).

For more info on Adams’ Rill, here is a blog written by 'Running Past' in February 2018 that is worth reading. https://runner500.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/adams-rill-a-lost-sydenham-stream/

A.S Friends of Mayow Park

Monday, 1 February 2021

New Lake in Mayow Park

 Since the snow melted Mayow Park has been getting a bigger and bigger lake in the dip in the meadow area, not far from the cafe. Dogs and kids have loved having a paddle in it. I’m not sure the poor tree in the middle (a black poplar) is having such a fun time though - hopefully it’ll be OK. Our new lake is a really lovely brown colour surrounded by mud but in a lockdown anything can appear exciting and having such a large amount of water and a paddle board in the shed...well we did start joking about it. 

Our relatives in Australia on the morning Zoom call (who have warm weather and turquoise sea at their disposal) were very keen for us to do it. So on my morning dog walk I saw my husband stroll into the park with the big backpack on and couldn’t quite believe he was actually going to do it.

Anyway it’s a great board that you unroll and pump up and it comes on all our seaside trips.


People started wondering what he was up to as he got inflating. Anyway off he went to have a paddle round Mayow lake (with no fin clipped on in case it was too shallow). The dog was very excited and soon was on the board too!


So exactly one week after the snowy snowman Sunday we had paddle-board (or puddle-board?) Sunday.

I think it made people smile and we got the video to send to the Australians! Honestly though... a muddy puddle-lake compared to Manly Beach... Oh well, it really is the small pleasures these days. I’m actually pretty good at paddle-boarding but for some reason didn’t feel like showing off my skills. I’ll let the husband take the glory this time (and Scooter).

Pippa Moss

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Mayow Winter Wonderland

 What a pleasure on Sunday just gone (24th January) to head into Mayow after a couple of hours of heavy snowflakes descending, to see the park all white and becoming a snowman art show!

I had headed there with my dog Scooter who was witnessing snow for the first time and rather loving it.

My children, now a tween and teen, were not dressed in time to come with me (at midday!!) but I felt like a kid myself and repaired with great pleasure a head back onto a rejected toppled snowman - Scooter then promptly ran off with the stick arm!



There were some real works of art as you can see in the photos and it was a pleasure to see family groups taking photos next to their achievements. We had all got so tired of the mud and my word it had been SO muddy in the park recently. The white stuff was so much better to see.

It did only last that morning and early afternoon as it then started to drizzle and mostly melted the snow. However it was a magical morning and brought much-needed smiles to everyone.



So good to clear the Covid news-filled head - even so, I’d only been out the house for two minutes when the thought popped into my head ‘The NHS really don’t need anyone slipping over right now.’ In a way, that was a real concern and since Sunday the ice in the park does need watching out for.

Lockdown and what we are hearing in the news cannot help but dampen all our spirits but our dear park, which really does change weekly (even if some weeks it’s just that a temporary pond has arrived!), and all the friendly familiar faces you see as you do the loops is just such a saviour.

But the snowman day was the one which saw real joy back in people’s faces - I wish we could bottle that joy and eek it out over the next weeks - until the snowdrops and daffodils come (with the hope too of entering a lower tier!). Stay safe all.

Pippa Moss FOMP