Thursday, 22 January 2009

December 2008 Newsletter

December: the darkest month of the year. Thank goodness for the Christmas lights!

They say if you want a job doing ask a busy person – they can always find the time. And so it has been these last three weekends. With mince pies to bake and cakes to ice, not to mention presents to buy and the tree to decorate, Friends have nonetheless found a few spare hours to plant 150kg of daffodil bulbs (that’s about 1800!) and to begin the much-needed clear-up of Jug Hill open space (opposite Lunar Close).

Writer’s block has been a problem this month, couldn’t decide what to say or how to say it (how SAD is that?). Fortunately there are so many pictures that I thought perhaps they might do the talking for me! (Don’t all cheer!) So here goes...

22 November: a fine sunny day in the Rec.

Brian and Charlie dig holes for daffodil bulbs.

The turf is so full of dandelions it is quite difficult to put back tidily on top of the bulbs but Lesley does a good job – on her knees!

I’m not saying it’s a sexist thing but should all the men be upright while Pat and Sheila join Lesley scrabbling around in the mud?!

We are all really pleased that Nick B from the Council is able to join us.

Lunchtime arrives and the work party poses for a final photo. The Rec is almost as pristine as when we arrived, thanks to Luke and Toby’s rigorous raking. 900 daffodil bulbs planted – 900 to go!

29 November: the Rec again but what a change in the weather!

Dave and his willing helpers emerge from the mist bearing sacks of bulbs for planting. Archie guards the convoy... or is he just curious?

Derek, Dave and Brian prepare the holes.

Then other Friends fill them, four or five bulbs to a hole and a covering of turf. You can hardly see where the Friends have been now they have finished, but just wait till the daffodils all come up in the spring. Should be a fine sight! Last year we planted 500 of the same type by the rose beds – white flowered “Ice Follies”. They looked lovely. This time we were delighted to be joined in our work by Penny, our Parks Officer.

6th December: Jug Hill

Could this be a band of ne’er do wells in their high vis jackets?
No! I do believe it’s those Friends again!
This time they are set on clearing as much rubbish as they can, in two hours or so before lunch on a sunny Saturday, from the area immediately behind the Black Horse bus stop. Bottles in abundance, of course, and cans, but also a great variety of other junk to be found.

Brian proudly displays the bollard he discovered lurking in the brambles. Well done for getting that out with your litter-picker, Brian”

Brenda and Sheila set off down the track in search of other hidden gems – odd shoes, plant pots, sportswear, balls and so on.

Lunchtime. 26 bags filled and a collection of artefacts to fascinate an amateur archaeologist.
Can you see the terracotta pipe so delightfully modelled by Derek, on his head?
Home time for us and a collection job for Eddie. Our thanks to him for such a prompt response.

Swimming pool car park news

The canopy of the big black poplar has been lifted and dead material removed so that the tree does not suffer damage when large building equipment is brought into the Rec to be parked (in the corner).

One of the intrepid tree surgeons in action...

Watch out below!!

The library entrance will be closed from 5th January 2009 so Clinic users will need to approach from the Cemetery entrance i.e. King George VI Avenue. The tree in the roadway by the gate has been wrapped in red and white warning tape to protect it from vehicular damage. It’s a tight turn – should be interesting!

Pavilion news ... none yet. Perhaps there may be problems with access for English Landscapes while the Library entrance is closed.

And finally some December-meeting pictures for those of you who could not make it!

Have you heard the one about.........?

Andy attempts the famous balloon on forehead trick with help from his glamorous assistant.
The mulled wine was delicious (hic) and so was the food! Our thanks must go to all the members who brought supplies of both and of course to our membership secretary, Sheila, who donned one of her other hats to become event organiser for the day. A great job! A good time was had by all – I look forward to reading the minutes!

Dates for your diary

Next meetings:

Tuesday 27th January 2009
7pm at the Spitfire Youth Centre

Tuesday 24th February
7pm at the Spitfire Youth Centre

Next Work Party

Saturday 3rd January

Meet at 10am at the bottom of the Jug Hill steps in Sunningvale Avenue as that is the area we intend to litter pick – weather willing! If it is snowy or icy we will postpone the work party. Please check before you venture out!! Phone number below.

See you in 2009

Queries, complaints, comments or suggestions about this Newsletter to 01959 572500

Thursday, 27 November 2008

November 2008 Newsletter

“No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member,
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
Thomas Hood 1799-1845

Goodness! What a busy few weeks we have had... trees, copse, and litter-picking ... of course.

As we said in October, Friends have been out lifting the canopies of the little wooded areas in the Recreation Ground itself. This task, for those of you who may not know, was carried out in response to local concerns about high levels of teenage drinking taking place at weekends, along with other anti-social behaviour - the trees providing a useful hiding place for stashed liquor etc. Having, ourselves, been witness to the distressing sight of a very young girl staggering from the bushes, almost incoherent and paralytic from the effects of vodka and beer (as evidenced by the empty bottles near by), we felt the job needed doing as soon as possible.

We do, of course, hope English Landscape tree experts will come and check on what has been done and complete the work to their required standard when their scheduled date comes around.

Meantime Operation Tree Rescue has commenced. At the base of the young trees, we found the trunks were still encircled by plastic (weed suppressing?) collars, put there (presumably) when the saplings (or whips) were planted. As the years have passed the roots have grown under, through and over the plastic, which has, in some cases, become embedded in the bark itself, acting almost as a tourniquet. Indeed there is evidence of other planting, which has totally disappeared leaving just a sad black plastic reminder of where it was. Advised that the trees should be freed from their restriction a number of Friends set out on an ad hoc work party on 25th October to do just that!

This plastic frill could not be got out.

Bent on liberation!

That’s better. Now the tree can grow.

Copse news

The working party on 1st November was arranged for the removal of some piles of cut undergrowth left over from the spring clearance. There wasn’t all that much debris so we decided a bonfire was the best option – and not just because we are pyromaniacs either! There was very little wind but it was decidedly cold, and damp. The fire was reluctant to get going until Someone had a brainwave - the risk assessment! This, in its plastic cover, made a most efficient fan. In no time at all flames were leaping into the air and the party (sorry) work began. Seems another good use for a risk assessment to me – lucky we had it with us, wasn’t it!

I think someone was enjoying the warmth!

As a matter of interest, did you know that our little Copse is a remnant of Charles Darwin’s “Big Woods” and that the Darwin Trail starts in the Spitfire car park? What illustrious footsteps we are treading in to be sure! I expect Darwin would have been able to name the twenty-odd fungi that we have recorded so far. We, sadly, cannot – despite having attended a most interesting and enjoyable training day at High Elms. There’s a lot more to it than you might think! Do keep an eye open for fungi even so. If you have any photos we would love to see them and maybe add them to our collection.

You may have noticed some scalpings spread along the muddy path by the allotment gates. No, they are not fly-tipping, though they did look pretty awful to start with. These were provided by local expert Judith John, Countryside and Parks officer, High Elms. Judith is concerned (for the sake of the local, native flora) that the woodland floor be neither enriched nor contaminated by outside seeds or organisms brought in on bark chippings (our other suggested option for the path). In fact this is yet another reason for discouraging fly-tipping – even if it is “only garden waste and will rot down over time!”

Which reminds me – if you are kind enough to take the time to bag up other people’s discarded rubbish – please make sure that the bags are not too full and can be easily lifted by just one man on his own. Thanks! And please make sure to wear gloves. Funny the things some folk leave lying about!!

Car park news... none yet... keep watching this space.

Pavilion news... ditto

By the way, have you noticed the holes in the children’s swing park? Their appearance one morning was a mystery until our local expert told us that they were “badger related”! Quite why a badger would want to excavate by the swings only a badger would know but as it is not a sett the holes can, and have, been filled in (several times!). At present they await filling yet again!

Next Work Party

With spring just around the corner the time has come for the planting of bulbs... hooray! As a result the call is going out for Friends to get together next Saturday, 22nd November, to bend knee and back and grub around in the wet grass in order to beautify the Rec in 2009 with a veritable explosion of colour!
All volunteers are welcome! Please dress warmly and bring a trowel, gloves and kneeling pad – precious things knees! Come if you can any time from 9.30 to about 12 - even half an hour would help. And let’s hope the badger doesn’t get wind of our activities!

Next Meeting

Tuesday 25th November
7pm at the Spitfire Centre

Queries, complaints, comments or suggestions about this Newsletter to 01959 572500

Sunday, 26 October 2008

October 2008 Newsletter

October. The month when, on the 28th, we celebrate St Jude’s Day. For those of you who may not know, he is the patron saint of hopeless cases...............and I think we may need to call on him.

The month began well. The work party on the 4th had been scheduled, if you remember, as a day to tidy, or at least begin to tidy, the rose beds. To put it mildly they were a bit weedy and unkempt, and in need of some attention before winter weather sets in. How delighted we were, on that Saturday morning, to find one of the outer beds had been attended to and was looking good.

Some of the Friends spent the morning digging and weeding the other outer bed.

When we left only the centre one needed forking over, and the roses pruning of course. Volunteers only have limited time, as you know. So far, so good.

But this is where it gets strange. A few days after the work party certain rumours came to our ears, and these are they:-

1. The Friends of the Parks took over the care of the rose beds earlier in the year (so that’s why they haven’t been done!)
2. The Friends then found they could not manage them
3. They obviously omitted to tell anybody
4. Then they “killed” the roses by spraying them


5. English Landscapes’ gardeners were “pulled off the job” to leave the Friends something to do at their work party (hence the unfinished borders).

M’Lud may I put it to you that on all counts the Friends of the Parks plead Not Guilty! And if we had failed to manage the task (that we had not taken on) we would have said so! Nor have we sprayed the roses with anything at all, but I believe we must thank Andy Thorn from English Landscapes at Kelsey Park for treating them for mildew and blackspot.

Point 5 is surely fantasy! “We don’t believe it!”

But oh! Don’t we wish we could have been there to witness the master class in pruning that has since taken place. We’re not used to this in Biggin Hill. It’s absolutely marvellous.

Other Work Party News

On 4th October enough Friends turned up to enable a second team to begin lifting the canopy of some of the trees adjacent to the 5-a-side football cage. This little area may have been planted with wildlife in mind, but the only undergrowth consisted of one much overgrown wild rose with vicious thorns, and odd patches of long scruffy grass, frequently the resting place for empty beer bottles and cans (by the dozen).... and dog waste (well, you couldn’t get under there very easily to clear it up!) Also the branches were so low that it was very difficult to litter pick without danger to eyes and backs.

You could hide a bus in there!

Dave at work with his big loppers. Ouch!

Next time we must remember the thingummy for putting in bags to make them stand up and stay open! Whatever it’s called!!

Does this steering wheel belong with the rest of the car parts we found in the Copse?

Just a few more branches to go!

I think that is a result. Don’t you?

Further ad hoc work parties have taken place during the month. Young oak, field maple, hawthorn, beech and ash trees have been “liberated” in two different areas of the Rec. Unfortunately a few seem to have been quite badly damaged at some time in the past. It is suggested that pupils from Biggin Hill Junior School planted these trees, probably about 15 years ago. It would be lovely if we could find any of these, now grown-up, children. I wonder if they have kept an eye on their nature project?
Car park news...none this space!
Pavilion News

A meeting has taken place with all the user, and potential user, groups to discuss the best means of accommodating the various activities. At present, both adult and junior football clubs use the Pavilion on a regular basis. A snack bar is proposed once the fabric of the building is made secure and weatherproof. Initially this would only operate on football match days but opening times would likely be extended in the future. English Landscapes also want to store equipment in the garage so that it is convenient for their use in the local area. At present contractors work from Kelsey Park which is some distance away. I imagine they might be grateful for somewhere to make a cup of tea too! The Friends of the Parks are hoping for a space for their tools, as well.

Just a little reminder of times past!

Next Meeting

Tuesday 28th October (I hope that’s not an omen)
7pm at the Spitfire Centre

Following meeting -Tuesday 25th November- same time-same place.

Next Working Party

Saturday 1st November at 9.30am
Meet at the Rose Bed unless otherwise advised.

Queries, complaints, comments or suggestions about this newsletter to;

Sunday, 28 September 2008

September 2008 Newsletter

September: Apples shining redly on dewy grass. Michaelmas daisies opening wide in welcome of late –flying butterflies... and just a hint of autumn colour in the leaves.

Our great news this month must be the presentation of the Cup and Coolings garden vouchers as 1st prize in the Best Outdoor Community Project in Beautiful Bromley 2008, for our work in reclaiming the rose bed and the Copse. This little wood, once neglected and rubbish-filled we cleared of litter, dead brambles and overgrown shrubs and were then rewarded in the spring with a great carpet of bluebells.

To receive official recognition of the Friends’ hard work at a most enjoyable evening event is fantastic. We must sincerely thank all those who contributed to our success, including not only the Friends who turned out regularly and uncomplainingly throughout the year, but also those behind the scenes maintaining membership lists and money etc., and the Council support staff who demonstrate endless patience with our many, sometimes odd and persistent requests for assistance.

We also received a beautiful bright new flag, a first aid kit and a certificate in recognition of our achievement in People for Parks 2008.

So, what else has happened this month? Well, we started with a grand clear up of King George VI Avenue. Thirteen willing pairs of hands were at that work party on the 6th, and the heavens were kind with just a couple of downpours, from which we sheltered under the lime canopy. Of course the rain continued somewhat under the trees after the sun came out but were we downhearted? No! (Just a wee bit damp maybe!)

Five brand new volunteers joined us that day and I do hope they will come again as they were very welcome! Thanks to them, and thanks of course to all our steadfast regulars!! Also to one of our Council friends who was able to join us as well!

Perhaps one day the self-sown shrubs, mostly elderberry, will be removed completely and the Avenue returned to its original grand state, planted presumably in 1936 for the Coronation of the King?


The sign received a good wash and brush up. We even invested in a new bucket in the King’s honour!

Some Friends almost got lost in the undergrowth.

So much to do but coming along nicely.

Before the work... gloomy and overgrown.

After... much lighter and cleaner.

Copse News

Strolling through the Copse the other day we remarked on the good work our litter-picking dog walkers are doing as evidenced by the lack of rubbish along the track. Then (horror of horrors!) we came upon black rubbish-filled bags and heaps of garden waste in the nettle beds and along by some of the garden fences. How truly disheartening! Does anyone have any idea how to persuade these fly-tippers to use the facilities provided at Charles Darwin School on a Saturday and Sunday and leave our lovely Copse alone? Suggestions welcomed (non-lethal and legal preferably!)

On a happier note, have you noticed the fungi on the “chair” stump?

How pretty is that!

Though we have searched for the name of these “toadstools” we can’t find it.

And whatever is this nestling at the beech tree’s base?

Though we may be mycophiles we are certainly not mycologists and would be pleased if someone who is could name them for us.

New Dog Disease in Biggin Hill Area

If you are a dog owner you have probably received a letter from your Vet warning of the dangers of Lungworm, which is a potentially fatal disease of dogs. It is caused by worms that enter the dog’s intestine via the mouth, travel to the heart and lungs (where the damage to the animal is done), are coughed up and then swallowed again before passing out of the dog in its faeces to re-infect grass, slugs and snails. Any passing dog that eats anything contaminated by them will be affected. Treatment both curative and preventative is available at the Vet but this is yet another and urgent reason for clearing up after dogs. Bags, as you know, are freely available in the library.


By the way, have you been out blackberrying yet? The hedgerows have been heavy with fruit round our way this year but the time is fast approaching when picking must cease. At least, that is, if you believe the legend which is that on 29th September (Michaelmas Day) Lucifer was kicked out of heaven and fell into a blackberry bush where he was so badly scratched that in a fit of temper he spat on the berries and spoiled the fruit, and has been doing so ever since. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Car park news.....none this space

Next Working Party

Saturday 4th October
Meet at the rose bed at 9.30am

Our intention is to weed and tidy the rose bed in preparation for the winter. If time and numbers allow we may give the Rec and/or Copse a clean as well. There is always a problem with broken glass on both the hard surfaces and the grass so strong gloves and litter pickers are essential. Bags, jackets and litter pickers are available and although some gardening tools are provided do feel free to bring your own if you prefer.

Next Meeting

The meeting on 23rd September had to be cancelled because of lack of numbers so this month’s meeting took place on;

Tuesday 30th September
7pm at the Spitfire Centre

Queries, complaints, comments or suggestions about this newsletter to;

Finally, we are delighted to include this article written by one of our members for the Newsletter.
We are sure you will enjoy it as much as we did!

Nature Notes from the Copse

Although only a small copse with a mixture of trees, it is surprising the amount of wild life that can be found. Perhaps the first signs of early spring are the tiny dark green shoots of the bluebell leaves just showing through the leaf mould, followed by the cheerful shining faces of celandine – in some places making a veritable carpet of yellow. Following on and complementing them come the delicate wood anemones and then the bluebells, this year making a beautiful show all the better for the hard work of the Friends of the Park clearing brambles and pruning bushes.

We look forward to seeing if the white woodruff flowers again next year, planted by Jean in place of the Spanish bluebells. The wood is next misty with cow parsley. I think it could almost be like a wild gypsophila. Has anyone ever used it in a wedding bouquet? I expect the smell is too unattractive! Some pretty pink cranesbill seems to have popped up by the nettles. I suspect this is a garden throw-out, but very welcome.

The song thrush and chaffinch had started singing in late February and then our neighbourhood blackbirds and sometimes the loud voice of the wren could be heard, followed by a visiting migrant – the blackcap. The different voices of the collared dove and woodpigeon are always there. Woodpeckers seem to have a brief stay. The great spotted woodpecker has a couple of favourite trees for drumming, but always seem to stop when you go looking for him!

I heard a green woodpecker on two or three occasions – a very distinctive loud laugh. Long tailed tits are sometimes to be seen, usually in family parties.However, this year there seem to have been fewer tits in general.

This is also true of butterflies, apart from the usual cabbage whites around the edge of the wood (caterpillars feeding on the allotments I expect!) The speckled wood seems reduced in numbers. However I have seen a comma, holly blue and a lovely view of a red admiral sunning itself on the allotment fence.

I was once lucky enough to see a fox trotting down the path. I wonder if it was the one that passed by my house for a few weeks in the winter regularly between 6 and 7, morning and evening, giving sharp barks. Perhaps it was looking for a mate.

Coming out of a meeting at the Spitfire Club one evening just as it was getting dusk we saw a bat fly past. Could it be roosting in a hole in the dead tree in our copse?

Now autumn is upon us and we will see acorns, hawthorn and holly berries and ash keys, hazel nuts along the path by the cemetery pleasing the ever-present squirrels. There may even be blackberries now that the brambles have re-grown. But blackberries from woods seem to have more pips than fruit and not the same flavour as those from the hedgerows. Already the bright red spikes of berries of the wild arum are showing through the brambles. The weird flowers with their green spathe must have been hidden by the undergrowth. Later our copse will undoubtedly be a picture of different colours when the trees close down for the winter. And snow? I have never seen it under a snow blanket, but it may be interesting to look for animal tracks.

I am only an amateur observer, walking through the wood occasionally, but perhaps a more expert nature lover will have seen more interesting things. Let us know!

Monday, 25 August 2008

August 2008 Newsletter

August and the footpath’s clear.
Would it were so all the year!
“So what has changed?” I hear you say.
“Have Wombles come on holiday
To help us tidy up our street
And make our pavements nice and neat?”
Well, if they have, I hope they’ll stay...
...September’s nearer every day!
(If you get my drift?)

Despite a month of appallingly windy and sometimes torrentially rainy weather Friends of the Parks have still been out litter picking, weeding and dead-heading roses, not to mention one Saturday morning excursion when some Friends set out to clear up some of the hedge clippings left lying by the Contractors after they had “cut” the boundary hedges of the Rec. It wasn’t the Contractors’ most successful job but perhaps the bushes were to blame, being severely overgrown – weather or neglect? Who knows?

Some hardy Friends even braved the weather on our last official Working Party Day. (It was so wet on that Saturday that most of us stayed home!) Well done them!!

Don’t you wish the Contractors cared as much? A phone call to the Council only resulted in a partial clear up of the hedge mess, and the grass is, again, only part mowed round the rose bed. OK, so the rain is partly responsible, and maybe we are rather particular, but it is disappointing after all the Friends hard work, isn’t it?

However the Friends’ devotion to their Rec has not gone unnoticed.

We actually managed to win an award in the People for Parks (Best Outdoor Community Project) competition.

Stephanie Waddington from High Elms and Andrew Barnet from the Council, as mentioned in our June newsletter, judged “Beautiful Bromley”, on 25th June. Cllr Ann Manning and Carrie from Give2Give judged the Best Outdoor Community Project on 26th July.

The Friends had three representives for the actual judging in the afternoon. Councillors Benington and Norrie joined some of us in the morning for a good clear up of the Copse and Rec, which resulted in two dustbin bags full of litter and one particularly unpleasant half-filled bag of dog droppings! Thanks Brenda for volunteering to pick those up! You’re a star!

When our judges arrived all was neat and tidy – except the Pavilion, of course, which sported a bright pink coat of graffiti. Cllr Manning and Carrie were generous enough not to remark unkindly on it, except to say that the Coney Hall building (of a very similar type) is planted around with firethorn as a vandal deterrent. Is this something we might consider? Do let us have your views.

The presentation of our Award (which includes an engraved cup) will be later this year.

While we are on the subject of your views – have you decided yet how you would like the swimming pool car park to be screened from the Rec?

If you have ideas please let us have them as soon as possible before someone else decides on something none of us like!

If you have had a chance to wander through the Copse recently you will have noticed that the bramble growth has largely returned, as was predicted back in February.

Not being experts on woodland management ourselves (obviously!) we decided to seek advice on how we should proceed to ensure a proper balance is maintained between all the four layers of the wood i.e. ground (moss etc), field (plants), shrub (bushes) and trees.

We were lucky enough to be introduced to Julian Fowgies from the Council who came along to the Copse and has given us some very valuable and helpful suggestions. More selective clearing will be needed this year, but no bonfires (shame!) Perhaps when the dates of our work parties are fixed you will be able to come along and help? Many hands make light work, as they say.

The only downside of Julian’s visit was his considered opinion of the health of the trees by the rose bed. Apparently, as a result of the damage caused to their lower bark by over enthusiastic strimming in the past they may not be long with us. Shame! If, or rather, when we get new ones we must take care to protect them – both from vandals and careless contractors.

Incidentally, as you pass (carefully) by the huge nettle bed that has covered the old fly-tipping site by the footpath, take a moment to look a little more closely at the nettle flowers. Did you know that nettle plants are either male or female, with differently arranged flowers on each plant?

Mind you, if you can tell the difference between the male flowers “on long pendant branches” and the females “in tight clusters” you’re a better man than I am Gunga Din! It’s worth a look even so, if only to witness the occasional puff of smoky pollen emitted by the male flowers.

As a matter of interest, during the Second World War, vast quantities of nettles were collected for dyeing camouflage nets, as they are abundant in chlorophyll. Brave in more ways than one then... folks back then!

Our nettles are, hopefully, being used as food plants for caterpillars of the beautiful butterflies that we hope to see, if it ever stops raining! Poor things – it’s not been a good year for them, has it?

Dates for your diary

High Elms Open Day

Sunday, 31st August 2008
12.00 –4.00pm

A free event to discover more about Bromley’s countryside………
Woodland crafts, Wildlife rescue charity, Hedge laying demonstration, Face painting, Orpington Beekeepers, Kent Wildlife trust, Hewitt’s Farm, RSPB Bromley, Bromley’s Green Team, West Kent Badger Group, Tree climbing demonstrations, Orpington Astronomical Society, High Elms history walks. Music by the Croydon Steel Orchestra

Next Working Party
Saturday 6th September
Meet 9.30am at the rose bed

The aim of this work party is the tidying up of King George VI Avenue (leading to the Cemetery from Kingsmead). Although not actually part of the Rec it is, nevertheless, one of its entrances and is in a dreadfully overgrown and messy state. Bushes need cutting, nettles need clearing and litter needs picking so that people visiting either the Rec or cemetery can do so along a pleasant stretch of road. Secateurs may be useful, gloves and high vis jackets are essential (we have spares for use on the day). Please try to come even if only for an hour.
See you there!

Next Meeting
23rd September
7pm at the Spitfire Centre

Queries, complaints, comments or suggestions to

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Bromley Friends Forum

Bromley’s Friends Forum, was established in 2005 to allow groups to share ideas and support one another.

The Parks Youth Advisory Panel was established last year to work alongside the Council’s Parks team to deliver better quality parks and open spaces.

Friends of parks groups exist for the Bromley's Park and Open Spaces Friends Forum, Bromley Town Parks and Gardens, Bromley Volunteer Ranger Service, Biggin Hill, Chislehurst Conservators, Croydon Road Recreation Ground, Harvington, Hayes Parks, Hayes Common, Hollydale Park, St Georges Churchyard, Jubilee Park, Kelsey Park, Poverest Park, Priory Gardens, Scadbury Park, Royston Field, Whitehall Recreation Ground and the Youth Advisory Panel.

At a series of recent 'roadshows' around the Borough, park custodians were on hand to raise awareness of local green spaces and recruit new volunteers. The events were part of a series designed to promote the benefits of being a ‘friend’ of a park and how residents can get involved in making their green space a better place. Residents can contact the Council to find out more and see how they can get involved in one of the 19 established groups.

“We are looking for enthusiastic individuals, young and old, with an interest in taking action to benefit their local community. The tasks on offer are diverse, there is something to suit everyone. From practical projects protecting wildlife, to organising events to raise a park’s profile, all are welcome.” said Howard Clark, Chairman of the boroughs Friends Forum.

The events encouraged passers-by to stop and find out more. Members of the Friends Forum, plus younger members of the Parks Youth Advisory Panel (aged 12 -16 years), were on hand to share their experiences of the type of activities volunteers can get involved with and to listen to views on how our parks could be improved.

Currently, over 2,000 dedicated volunteers belong to the Borough’s ‘Friends’ groups, taking postitive action to enhance their local park or open space. A total of four events took place in the Spring and early Summer - in Bromley Town Centre, Orpington, Penge and Biggin Hill (see July Newsletter above). The events were funded by an 'Awards for All' Lottery Grant of £5,000 awarded to the Friends Forum.

If you are interested in becoming a ‘Friend’ or would like further information on the Borough’s green spaces, please call 020 8313 4471 or email

Sunday, 27 July 2008

July 2008 Newsletter

July! The month when parents, everywhere, hold their breath in anticipation of six weeks of mayhem while teachers take a well earned break.

But what of the Rec? Is it ready for picnics, informal games of football, toddlers on bikes and in buggies, teenagers on swings?

..................... Teenagers on swings?! ...................

Well, yes! Our older children are often to be seen in the swing park enjoying a swing or a go on the roundabout. Wish I was a bit younger (or braver) ‘cos it sure looks like fun! Anyway back to the point – is the Rec ready for summer?

I think it probably is!... Now!

It certainly wasn’t a week ago. The rose bed was an absolute disgrace: unweeded; undeadheaded; unloved; the ground-cover roses mildew-covered and leafless from black spot; the standards sporting long suckers and drooping overblown blooms; the ground trodden flat; the edges a mess. Not so much a pleasure garden more an eyesore. Not only had English Landscapes not been near but neither had we as the Festival and the Copse had claimed the two previous working party days and it doesn’t take long for gardens to get out of hand, as we all know!

Some Friends of the Park, distressed by the mess, instantly abandoned their own beds and borders and instituted an emergency work day. Unfortunately numbers were limited and the several hours they spent made little impact. The roses had performed extremely well and there were literally hundreds of dead heads, and the ground was baked hard. Despair!

So we phoned our 'man' at the Council who waved his magic wand, sprinkled some “oofle” dust and set in motion a train of events, the results of which have to be seen to be believed!

The grass has been box-mowed in stripes and is looking amazingly good and as a result of some wonderful work by Council Team members from Kelsey Park and Orpington, aided and abetted by a couple of the Friends, the rose bed is now positively blooming!

Thanks to the Council!
Thanks to all the gardeners!

While we are on such a positive note we must report a most successful Festival for the Friends of the Park on Saturday 5th July. The day dawned a little overcast with rain on the horizon but the gods smiled and the sun came out on a glorious though windy day. Our "Events Organiser” has acquired for us from ARGOS a very generous donation, a superb gazebo. This was duly erected with just a little help from some Friends, it being, as we said, rather gusty!

Two members are seen here in front of the Friends’ stand which featured a display on the hazards of dog waste and a photographic record of our work in the Rec this year.

Trays and pots of plants were available for purchase together with some beautiful pressed flower cards. Many local businesses supported us with donations of prizes for the raffle, and boxes of chocolates for the Great Litter Picking Challenge of 2008. There were 44 entrants for this fun competition including the Mayor herself!

The only downside, at the end of a most enjoyable day, was finding someone tipping a heap of still-smouldering charcoal from their barbecue on to the rose bed. Apparently as it was “organic” it didn’t matter!!

We also weren't told that we would need shovels to collect the pony droppings when we agreed to clean the Rec at the end of the Festival. Fortunately, the groundsman let us off the task and set to it himself. I expect his rhubarb was pleased!

Meanwhile, a number of Friends took off across the grass in pursuit of the now-flying litter, the wind speed having increased dramatically, pickers and black bin bags grasped firmly in our hands lest the gale tear them away.

One poor volunteer ended up doing the job twice after a particularly violent gust of wind turned his bag inside out, hurling crisp packets and sweet wrappers to the farthest corner of the Rec?. A nice turn of speed was demonstrated in recovering the situation! What you might call an occupational hazard in Biggin Hill I suppose.

By the way, we have some spare litter pickers (no! not the human variety!) in case you haven’t got yours yet. It can be a fun job and it is very rewarding to look back at what you have done.


Dates for your diary

Working Party dates:
Saturday August 1st 2008, 9am
Saturday September 6th 2008.
Meet at the Rec, pickers, gloves and capes to the ready!

Next Meeting

Tuesday 29th July
7pm at the Spitfire Centre, Church Road, Biggin Hill
See you there!

Biggin Hill Friends of the Park
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