Ontario Bridge

DSCN3613Did you know that the bridge often called the Trumpers Way Bridge really is Ontario Bridge, although officially known as Grand Union Canal bridge 205a?

We knew about Ontario Bridge for a while but keep forgetting, so here it is once and for all. Repeat after me: Ontario Bridge. Ontario. Ontario.

We can’t work out why or when this bridge has been given this name, and with so few references, we aren’t entirely sure if this name is official in any way.

Please come forward if you can contribute to this discussion.

 

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Train In The Distance

steam-locoWho doesn’t like the sound of a train in the distance?

You will all have seen or heard the freight train travelling alongside the Hanwell Meadows, and many will have used the railway crossing behind lock 97 at the bottom end of Green Lane.

The railway and history buffs from disused-stations.org.uk put together a lovely article about the now disused Trumpers Crossing Halt, exactly where the foot crossing is located now. How exciting it must have been to walk down Green Lane, cross the canal and the meadow, then wait for the GWR service to Brentford Dock!

The line is used for a freight train service today, connecting a station in Brentford with the main line in Southall with an on-demand schedule within permitted time slots, a slow but sometimes rather impressively long train. Most carriages are said to carry crushed concrete for re-use in road and building works, but other recycled material and some landfill is also said to travel along that line.

Every now and then the discussion flares up whether the line could or should be reopened for public passenger use, for example linking Brentford to the Southall Crossrail halt. I doubt even the most enthusiastic proposals include the resurrection of the Trumpers Crossing Halt, however.

The Seed Detective Returns

sunflower-in-vaseAdam “Seed Detective” Alexander returns with a talk about saving seed from your own garden or allotment plants. Our friends from the Billet Hart Allotment Association have kindly extended their invitation to members of the Hanwell and Norwood Green Orchard Trail once again.

Some of us have seen Adam in action in his previous lecture and thoroughly enjoyed an informative and inspiring evening.

Friday 29th September 2017, 19:00 (doors), 19:30 (talk starts). The talk will take approximately one hour, followed by questions and answers.

A glass of wine or soft drink is included in the £10 fee.

See their flyer for detail and booking.

City Next Week

_mg_8669Have you always wanted to know how the Orchard trail started?

Are you interested in what we do week after week, month after month and year after year to maintain the orchards along the canal?

Do you want to know what other projects are featured in the museum of London exhibition?

Come to our lunchtime session in the London Museum! Full detail at http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london/event-detail?id=122408

… and maybe have a walk around the City Now City Future exhibition afterwards to  explore how others shape the city: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london/citynowcityfuture

 

Acrobats’ Advice

img_20160710_184605Early apple varieties are now beginning to ripen and the pears aren’t far behind, just looking for a little more time and sunshine.

While trees planted with our orchard trail do not yet bear a lot of fruit this year, more mature trees in the area carry a substantial amount of the delicious and versatile fruit. Good news for foragers on two or more legs!

It is however sad to see that some human foragers apply unnecessary force and rather shortsightedly use destructive methods when picking fruit. Some branches are torn and twisted, broken off and some trees left damaged and vulnerable to infections. Apart from lasting damage to trees, we also witnessed an eager forager falling from a tree. The young man got away without apparent lasting damage, but we were sure this was a close call.

The rule for picking fruit is quite simple: if it doesn’t want to come off very easily with a small twist or light pull, then it does not yet want to come off and is not yet ready for picking. There should never be a need for force, but you might want to bring a pole, a walking stick or a telescopic fruit picker to extend your arm’s reach without dangerous acrobatics.

Please use care and consideration for private land, nature, the law, other foragers and the very tree you are harvesting when foraging so that everyone can enjoy these resources in years to come. Oh, and take good care of yourself 🙂

Vandalism News

summersun-vandalisedThe vandals have been busy doing their mindless destruction once again. This time we mourn the loss of a Summersun Cherry, tree #55 on Elthorne Terrace, and the nearby Orleanne’s Reinette Apple, tree #60.

The Reinette was a poor thing to begin with, but did show good spirits and a strong will to live. The cherry was doing wonderfully well and could have delighted many in years to come, but has now been torn and broken.

We all share a sense of sadness and frustration in the face of these mindless acts.

Blackberry Season

blackberry-jam-and-ginYou will have noticed what an excellent Blackberry year we have, with an abundance of lush, soft, sweet and surprisingly large fruit. Many of us have been busy making jam, juice and flavoured gin over the past weeks.

Here are some Blackberry Muffins, the perfect way to start a Sunday. This takes 10 minutes to prepare and 15 to bake, so it is easy to make in time for breakfast:

100 g white wheat flour, 80 g soft butter, 75 g sugar, 80 ml whole milk at room temperature. One free range egg yolk, seeds from half a vanilla pod or half a teaspoon of vanilla essence, and one generous teaspoon of baking powder.

Put butter and sugar into a bowl, using the hand mixer on low gear to mix thoroughly. Add egg, vanilla, milk and baking soda, then gradually add the flour into the mix. Mix until smooth. You’ll find the mix will be fairly runny, maybe like a thick yogurt. Perfect!

Gently fold in one or two handful of Blackberries or Raspberries. Fill muffin cups to approximately two thirds. We prefer non-sticking silicone or paper cups, but you can of course get the old muffin tray out for the occasion.

Bake at 180 C (350 F) for 10..15 minutes. Use a wooden stick or visual judgement to determine when they are ready.

You’ll find that the Blackberries are very easy pickings along the canal towpath or in the Hanwell Meadows. The plants do a good job at defending themselves and growing back, but please be mindful and avoid damage to plants and surroundings when foraging.

Statistically Speaking

DSC_0611Statistically speaking, the average orchardist is a poor keeper of statistics. We plan on improving our habits, but I am sure someone can tell me how long this resolve typically lasts, statistically speaking.

In the absence of hard numbers, I estimated the time spent working in and around the orchard trail to be approximately 300 volunteer hours in 2017 so far. And we are only half way into the year!

My estimation is based on past dates in the diary, recollection and website articles about some events, group photos taken at the larger events. It does not include the social hours at a certain inn, our popular meadow picnics, training classes, ward forum meetings or committee meetings.

We’ll be turning three in October, and I reckon we might be looking back at something between 1500 and 2000 person hours spend clearing, cleaning, watering, pruning and rubbish collecting over that time. A big, big, thank you!

Here are some pictures of people at work in the orchards to bring back memories and inspire new volunteers.

 

The City is Ours

IMG-20170719-WA0003There’s more to life than weed bashing and tree watering, you know? To proof the point, we sent a delegation to party at the Museum of London, celebrating their City Now City Future season and their The City is Ours exhibition.

We are pleased to be part of the season, exhibition and the party. A digital display showcasing 25 initiatives to “fix the city” includes our project, and our very own Mirjam van Bentum will present the orchard trail on 31-August-2017, 13:00-14:00, at the Museum.

Visitors will be able to pick up copies of our self-guided orchard trail walk brochures at the museum. You’re of course welcome to find out who we are for yourself, right in the heart of Hanwell’s area of outstanding beauty. Come join us and help fix the city!

 

 

Volunteers ‘R’ Us

DSC_0404Volunteering at the Hanwell and Norwood Green Orchard Trail just became so much easier!

Check out the new Volunteer page from the menu on top of this page. You can view planned work and status of all sites, and you can join the active volunteers with our dedicated volunteer email list.

We hope this will help to keep volunteers better informed, and keep more volunteers informed. We also hope that it helps keeping us better informed: as you spot a problem or another noteworthy status update, or as you finished some guerrilla weeding perhaps, let us know through the volunteer email list so that we can update our records.

With all that technology in place, don’t you think it time to leave it all behind (after having checked the volunteer schedule page for last-minute changes) and come join us over by the canal?

We sincerely hope to see you soon.