Monday 26th February
Written by Laura Williams
A dry but blustery evening saw 10 GoodGymers head to the GET OUT garden in Harley Grove this evening to assist the brilliant Frankie with some serious digging work.
But first the fitness
A small group gathered by the little wall at the end of the street to run through tonight’s workout. As luck would have it, the wall was dry and so we were able to add tricep dips, split squats and a couple of variations of the seated leg lower too.
We spent a little time on some upper body stretches this week, agreeing that a short step-by-step flexibility routine, tackling tight traps and the hardworking rotator cuff group is an excellent use of five minutes at the start of the week.
Making our way up to the GET OUT gate, we joined several new arrivals to head in and see what needed to be done tonight.
The GET OUT garden is a community garden and food forest project in Bow. A previously un-used area of around half an acre has been transformed into a ‘productive food forest that reflects the principles of permaculture, and acts as a hub for education and connecting to nature'.
Frankie was superbly well prepared, taping off the area, laying out tools, and even creating twine hooks for our lights.
The team wasted no time in making a start, first rooting out the tough alkatel weed, then removing soil, and then turning the remaining soil. Barrows were filled and shuttled over to the compost area.
All the stages of this task proved to be a thoroughly good workout.
The time went quickly and productively, and it was something of a surprise when we realised it was just a few minutes before 8.
Following a quick spade-cleaning tutorial from Frankie (mud = rust) we dropped the last of the tools at the shed; gathered head torches (thanks Emma), and posed (patiently) for that final pic.
It was a great evening: lovely to be back with the knowledgeable and fun Frankie; good to be outside, working hard, being productive and enjoying one another’s company. And an added bonus, tonight we celebrated our John’s 1000th deed (tonight’s was 1009).
Next week, we return to the Yurt Café in Limehouse to see Larry!
Monday 19th February
Written by Laura Williams
A relatively mild Monday evening saw 11 GoodGymers join Ken from the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park (FoTHCP) for a big ivy-removal session this evening.
Having gathered at the park entrance from 6:40 for tonight’s Standing Abs Workout, shortly after 7pm we were gathering the last of the loppers and lining up the wheelbarrows ready to make our way around to tonight’s task location.
The best health and safety briefing ever
Following Ken through what appeared to be a particularly dense section of the park, we arrived at our designated spot, where Ken proceeded to run through ‘the best health and safety briefing ever’.
Tonight we were pulling ivy away from graves, headstones and undergrowth, allowing gravestones to be visible and ground to be clear of this densely-growing climber.
Ken ran through the ivy removal basics, from the role of the lopper to the whys and wherefores of controlling this pretty plant, after which the team promptly grabbed gloves and head torches and chose a spot at which to start.
We were relieved to have the additional lighting, as, although only a few days from the next full moon, without head torches and work lights, locating and plucking the ivy could have been a tricky task.
As the first five wheelbarrows were piled high with ivy, a willing wheeling team quickly assembled. Ken accompanied the barrows to the park’s green waste pile, returning with some pungent bin bags.
With a ten-minute countdown given at 7:50, GoodGymers proceeded to move far behind the gravestones for a final push.
At 8pm, we gathered tools and trash and made our way back through the dark park, excited for our next visit.
A big shout-out to everyone for a productive and fun night with the FoTHCP team.
Monday 12th February
Written by Laura Williams
A small, committed group of GoodGymers headed to the Cranbrook Community Centre this evening.
One by one we met at Bethnal Green’s lovely Town Hall Hotel. Pleasantly surprised four of our six sign-ups were joining for tonight’s run, it was a thoroughly enjoyable, easy run down Sewardstone Road, adjacent to Victoria Park.
Our early arrival on the Cranbrook Estate meant we could squeeze in a couple of additional moves on the planters (yep, the obligatory Bulgarian split squats and seated leg lowers).
Joined shortly by our sixth and final member for tonight, task owner Janet proceeded to walk us around to the back of the Centre to show us our first couple of tasks for the night.
What happened to the Wendy house?
First up, was returning toy cars and the Wendy house to the back of the Centre, following a flurry of parties.
Having assessed the damage to the Wendy house roof (it doubles up as a trampoline apparently), we proceeded to lay the roof back gently down onto the house, and park police bikes, sports cars and tractors, before heading over to the first leaf-and-litter stash at the back of the garden.
Pausing only to pose for the first few pics (I say pause, it was more like an additional task, waiting for my camera to flash), the team proceeded to plough their way through the small list of tasks in their usual speedy fashion.
Moving around to the front of the garden to join Eileen, it was bin bags at the ready for another great leaf-pick. Grabbing leaves and litter, we filled another few bags, excited to find a whole new leaf stash piled up just as we were ready to call it a night.
As the last of the bags were squeezed into the bins, and we packed away gloves and rakes, we concluded that although we were a small group and the task simple, we’d made a difference, and enjoyed another night together, and another fun night with Janet and Eileen.
Shout-outs to the whole team tonight, for a cracking night at Cranbrook.
…And to Emma for tonight’s pun, and to Lobo for his pun!
(FYI: Tonight’s Pun Shortlist
Emma: It’s bin way too long
Lobo: Toying in the cold, a saucy kipper tale (we enjoyed an extensive discussion about the fantastic local fish bar, The Saucy Kipper, at tonight’s task).
Laura: Have you got what it rakes?)
Yep, a thoroughly fun February night.
Next week, we need a big team, as it’s our February visit to the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.
Read more and sign-up here.
Saturday 10th February
Written by Sander Heinsalu
The Felix Project is a large and efficient organisation for distributing pallets of food to charities. I worked at their warehouse in Poplar - they have others. After signing in on a tablet and getting my high-visibility jacket and steel-toe boots, I was shown the lunch room, the warehouse and chilled rooms. David and Julia led by example and showed me how to find the boxes of various foods on the packing list, put these on trolleys, wheel these to the pallet, stack and shrink wrap the pallet, and check off the items on the packing list. We put a piece of cardboard with the name of the charity under the shrink wrap so each pallet could be identified. The walking and lifting was a low-intensity two-hour workout. Small efficiency improvements are possible: - Some traffic and parking rules for the pallet trucks and trolleys. - Printing the names of charities on paper and adding these to the pallets may be easier to read than marker on cardboard. - Eliminating decimals on the packing list, unless the number of boxes is sometimes fractional, not integer.
Monday 5th February
Written by Laura Williams
This blustery Monday evening saw us heading to a brand new task in Limehouse.
Starting with a short fitness session outside the café, GoodGymers joined one-by-one enjoying the use of the outdoor furniture for seated leg lowers, tricep dips and a most effective hamstring stretch.
The Royal Foundation of St Katherine is a retreat centre and ‘urban oasis’ in Limehouse, established by Queen Matilda in 1147.
Task owner Larry, previously of St Leonard’s Priory Park, is heading up the project to transform a disused space around the popular Yurt Café into ‘a monastic-inspired garden of reflection with herbs, sensory plants and new seating.’
Our task tonight was to dismantle the planters, pot up trees and shrubs - and fill the skip!
GoodGymers wasted no time in putting the PPE to good use. Armed with sturdy gloves, protective eyewear, hammers and screwdrivers, several teams headed to the planters to start the dismantling.
A task requiring a bit of strength, plenty of strategic thinking and a fair amount of patience, the GoodGymers made good progress. Removing the sides of the planters, examining the wood, sorting debris, no sooner had they finished one planter, they headed over to the second.
Meanwhile a second team were tasked with digging up a larger planter towards the end of the row; salvaging some trees and shrubs, re-potting them and moving them carefully to one side.
It was a hive of activity: sifting through dozens of objects from surplus plant pots, coconut shells to well-established snails, the team worked continuously until after 8.
Finishing with a final few frenzied trips to the skip and a discussion on the optimum spot for our last pic, we concluded it had been an excellent night.
We return to the task next month, with a two-part task to help Larry blitz the clearing project in time for the redevelopment!
...Meanwhile, next week sees us heading to the Cranbrook Community Centre, for some more leaf-clearing and other gardening tasks.
Saturday 3rd February
Written by Audrey (she/her)
I had a fantastic time at The Felix Project. I learnt the ropes from Denis, a super friendly and supportive staff member. He helped me assemble my first food order before I moved on to helping others with theirs. The collaborative and friendly atmosphere, from staff to fellow volunteers, made this task both productive and enjoyable. And to add to how good I felt about giving time again, I (unexpectedly?!) got to do some strength training too! What a way to get back to GoodGym!