James Smith

GoodGym Barnsley

All In All It's Just A-nother Leaf Off That Wall 🎵

Sunday 26th March

Written by James Smith

Upon arrival at the lock-up in Locke Park, we found Amazing Anne and Zealous Zak busy getting all the tools out whilst waiting for us ... and we were early too! We were hoping to have a new Daniel come along for his first session today but something came up.

Two rakes, two wide sweeping brushes, a coal spade, a plethora of rubble sacks and a snow shovel were gathered from the shed and taken up to the Serpentine Walk. With all of the tools and equipment taken out from the store there was now room to store a bike in their which was useful. We had a leafy task to accomplish today and that was to sweep, rake and bag up all of the fallen leaves from beneath the trees in the beds. Some leaves were stuck under bushes, some had blown onto the path, but most were just piled up in the beds. We used rakes on the sloped banks under the trees to get the leaves down to the bottom near the path, from here one of us held open a bag while another picked up clumps of leaves or swept them into the waiting sacks. We all worked together gathering leaves for an hour before Anne had to leave to attend to other duties. GoodGym agreed to stay until all bags were 'full', I invert-commas because the guy who comes to take away the bags won't if they're completely full because of the weight, hence we had to only fill each of them 2/3-3/4 full, or risk the aging gardener refusing to shift them. The wet leaves do weigh quite a lot, so this is fair enough. When the friends of Locke Park left us to our own devices, a few other creatures decided to join us. A couple of robins and a starling were very happy to have newly exposed soil, due to our leaf removals, enabling optimal worm hunting territory.

When the main soil covered area under the trees was cleared, it was time for clearing the area around and above the steel pagoda. This particular area is a real magnet for leaves, and the ones on the ground were soon joined by an induced huge avalanche of leaves from above forming a moldy mountain of matter. This acted as quite a nice crashmat for a quick exit from the bed above too, though I'm not sure how safe it was to do this in hindsight. There were the odd bits of rubbish hidden in the bushes too which we gathered up and placed into a separate clear bag.

When all 9 of the rubble sacks were as full as they could be, they were lined up on the grass ready for collection by a gardener tomorrow. The tools were then placed back in the shed and we rode off into the sunset, leafing behind a much more presentable patch of park!

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The 'Old Spice' Routes

Wednesday 22nd March

Written by James Smith

This evening we met three Peter's to help out in the Hope in Community charity shop. Tall Peter and Small Peter were tonight joined by Big Peter, making up a terrific trio of Peters. We had our own topnotch trio though, made up of Cracking Kirsty , Jolly James and Daring Daniel.

Our task for the night was to move goods from the lock-up premises, near the old BCDP location, down the road to the Hope in Community charity shop. We only had one set of keys for the storage location so there had to be someone minding the building at all times, and we rotated who held this role. There were lots of bags of donated clothes in bin bags to be ferried down, large boxes full of disposable cups and many, many boxes full of Old Spice shower gel!. Most of the clothes were in very thin and weak bin bags, which Kirsty found out first hand when crossing a road with some full bags; the bags split half-way across said road and the clothes within spilled out onto the asphalt below. Thankfully there were no cars coming and James was nearby carrying a box of cups, able to offer assistance. Some of the fallen clothes were placed on top of James' box and the rest were safely carried by clothes horse Kirsty! Meanwhile Daniel was busy lugging crates of shower gel down the hill, and James was transporting boxes of cups with bags of clothes hung beneath. It was hard to see where to walk whilst carrying a huge box of cups so it was best practice to walk with someone else, especially because their were scaffolding poles to navigate, a busy road to cross, and quite a few slightly tipsy Irish people in skirmishes around the pub we had to walk past, still on the go from St Patrick's day it seemed. Some of them even tried to force their way into the charity shop, hence the need to keep doors locked and a Peter inside. Undeterred however we carried on carrying, even running back up the hill after delivering goods down it, eager to save time and get some hill reps in too!

The Spice Routes were perilous, but we ran through ramshackle ramparts and past treacherous taverns safely with our trolleys of exotic Old Spice!

It was such a big job tonight that we stayed slightly later than usual (with everyone's agreement) and it was decided to forgo the exercise session that I had planned for afterwards as we were doing a lot already- the heavy lifting, trolley pulling, trolley pushing, trolley steering, bin bag dropping, car avoiding, bin bag carrying, crate filling, crate carrying, hill running and box unpacking being more than enough exertion for the night.

We had managed to get a whole side of the shop cleared and moved in the extended time that we had been there. I'm always amazed by how much GoodGym Barnsley can get done in a relatively short space of time! The 'after' photo doesn't quite show all we did, as we decided to shift the last few crates too; never leave a job half finished... apart from sometimes!

With the job well done, we said our goodbyes to the now two Peter's (we had mislaid one of them during the course of the evening) and headed back to Glasshouse for a debrief and a stretch off.

Great job GoodGymers and the three Peters!

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When Bush Comes To Shove

Wednesday 8th March

Written by James Smith

On the run tonight we were aiding the Barnsley Litter Pickers with their ongoing battle against public rubbish. Members of this local community litterpicking group had tasked us with clearing up the Shawlands area.

We made our way safely and steadily up the frosty Racecommon Road, after all it wasn't a race... come-on! We then shaw-footedly took a right onto Shaw Lane, at the end of which we prepped our pickers and other plogging paraphernalia for action. Picking our way along Shaw Street and Shaw Lane we made them sparkle even more than they already were in the icy conditions. Our goal for the evening was to hit Broadway (the road)- there's no business like snow business.

Having reached the dizzying heights of Broadway, we set off into icy wastelands between Keresforth Close and Raley Street. There were large spiky bushes around the perimeter of the field and at the feet of these there was a lot of litter hiding in the snow waiting to be prised out with pickers. Higher up in the bushes there were quite a lot of hanging ornaments drooping from the branches... full dog poo bags!! Why do people bag it up in a non-degradable film and think the best place for it is in a tree?! It wasn't just the odd one either, there must have been about 20, and they were just the ones visible in the snowy darkness.

After filling up 3 bags full of rubbish, it was time to hit the streets again to search out a kerbside litter bin. As ever, this was easier said than done, not finding one until half way back to base, giving the arms a good workout having to carry the full bags all that way.

Upon reaching the endpoint of the evenings activities, a fitness session was forgone as there had been a lot of exertion with all the bag carrying antics.

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The Stakes Were High

Wednesday 1st March

Written by James Smith

This Wednesday evening we ran up the all-uphill Dodworth Road to visit our favourite allotment and its illustrious owners from the YMCA.

When we rocked up at the allotment, Marvelous Mike and Awesome Andrea were waiting for us in their car on the road by the allotment. We managed to recognize each other through the darkness and both parties closed in for a meet and greet. It's great that the two of them took the time to come out and meet us this evening as they had to attend to other YMCA duties straight afterwards; their attendance is very much appreciated!

We talked about putting on some community missions at weekends which they are keen for, and even said that we could maybe have our own GG space in the allotment grounds to plant in and tend to. There will also be some fruit pressing and juice making sessions in summer which we can take part in. Yay! Being 'pressed' for time we decided to focus on the task at hand tonight.

Golden moldies!

We had a briefing on what was required from us. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, was to construct a leaf-mold holding area. To accomplish this we had to hammer 4 stakes into the ground to form a square and wrap chicken wire around the outside of them. This was easier said than done! The reason being that the poles/ stakes were very long and the enclosure only needed to be about 80 cm high, meaning the ~6 ft poles would need to be hammered in to approximately their half -way point. We first used a narrow stake-hole digging spade to excavate soil in order to give the vast stanchions a good foothold. Then one of us inserted the stake into the hole and held it in place at arms length about half way down the shaft to keep it straight whilst it was being bashed 'int ground. The other person used a fragmented sledge-hammer to bash away at the top of the pole to drive it into the earth. We took turns with the roles so everyone got a go at everything. The tops of the poles got quite damaged during the intense hammering session, but we managed to hammer them deep enough in. At times we even had to use logs and pallets to stand on to be able reach the top of the poles with a sufficient enough angle. We then packed the soil down around the base of the poles. When we had eventually finished this task, the next thing on the agenda was to wrap chicken wire around the outside of the poles to form an enclosure. The first roll we had managed to go around just 3 of the poles, but luckily there was another little bit of wire mesh in the lock-up that we used to fill the gap. This was again a great team effort with people holding, unfurling and securing the wire.

Leaf-mold area erected, it was time to pack up and set off on the run back. We locked up the container and got ready to set off back to town where there were some fitness activities for us to partake in!

Arriving back in town we found a quiet-ish area at the top of the Glasshouse car park. Here we did bodyweight circuits consisting of:

  • Jumping Jacks - 30 seconds
  • Squats - 15 repetitions
  • Push-ups - 10 repetitions
  • Lunges - 10 per leg
  • Planking - 30 seconds

Repeating these twice with a short break in between.

After this, we had a quick warm down, a full stretch off, then all went our separate ways.

Good work all!

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Under Locke and Key at The Courthouse

Wednesday 22nd February

Written by James Smith

Tonight Daniel and James hit the ground running to Hope House; there we met Peter and a couple of other familiar faces who regularly volunteer at the BCDP who were waiting for us inside. The bags of food to take to the homeless were already made up for us tonight, so all we had to do was pop them in rucksacks and make up a flask of hot drink to take with us. We received a list of areas that we needed to check and planned a route accordingly.

First we headed to the car park near The Courthouse pub. Here we found a tent hidden in some bushes, we checked for anyone inside by shouting that we were Peter (as we were instructed to by the man himself), but there was nobody inside. From here we had an uphill struggle to Locke Park to check for rough sleepers there. Up there we headed to the bushes around the bowling greens, we also checked around the back of the storage shed near the Serpentine Walk. Again, we didn't find anyone anywhere in the park, or evidence of encampments. Even though we didn't find anyone at the locations we checked tonight, it is still useful for the BCDP as they then know where people are staying and where not to bother checking later so they can focus their efforts elsewhere.

Parking up the wrong tree!

With both destinations checked, we headed back to Hope House to report back and drop off the bags. After this we headed back to Glasshouse up the stairs from the car park below. At the top of the stairs we found a space in the courtyard with a view over the roundabout from which we had just ascended. Here we did the Roxanne fitness push-ups challenge. The song Roxanne by The Police was put on and every time 'Roxanne' was sung we did a press-up from a plank position which we were holding the rest of the time. In total this means doing 27 press-ups!

After this bit of fun fitness we headed inside to the stairwell for the led stretching off session and announcements (more sign-ups 😻).

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Bushing Up On Our Litteracy

Wednesday 15th February

Written by James Smith

The day after Valentine's GoodGym had a cold date with Locke Park. February marks the last of the winter months within which the Friends of Locke Park are hesitant to meet us; next month we will be looking forward to being joined by the voluntary custodians of the greenspace once again.

Thus, this evening we were on our tod. The planned task was to clear the pavements along the western flanks of the park, delving into the bushes bordering the car park on our way. We arrived at the park via Blenheim Road, stopping on Park Road to distribute litterpicking kit. I had attached torches to the litterpickers so we could zero in on the detritus in the dark. We had several bin bags to fill, and Daniel even brought his own Barnsley Council purple bag being the plogging keen bean that he is. We made our way west along Park Road, each taking a side of the road, prizing up car-flattened cans and other miscellaneous mess to fill our bags. Turning up onto Keresforth Hall Road, we then ventured into Locke Park Car Park. There were a few inhabited cars and vans here, no doubt taking in the magnificent views of the sprawling victorian park.. had the vista not been pitch black. They may have been engaging in dog related activities... There were a few inhabited bushes here too, inhabited by rubbish which we were soon to evict! Bushes are strong magnets for litter so we spent the majority of the pick here, around 30 minutes.

Don't be bagsful

After filling 4 bags full, it was time for some fun fitness! We were to do circuits on the training equipment, around 20 reps (or 30 seconds) on each item, with some very slow movements on the last few reps on every piece of equipment. We rowed, twisted, twirled, stepped, skied, pressed and pulled!

Our next activity was to find a street bin, around which we could leave our bags. We headed back onto Blenheim and left onto Longcar Lane, where we knew there was a street bin, then carried on back down to Glasshouse whereupon we climbed the stairwell levels alternating between box jumps and squats. At the top we stretched off all of the key muscles we had used during our very active evening.

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