About Keep Wales Tidy's Tidy Towns' work in Cardiff

Hi, my name is Chris Partridge and I am Keep Wales Tidy's Tidy Towns Project Officer for Cardiff. Activities we undertake are often in partnership with Cardiff Council's Parks Department (both waste services and Community Park Rangers) and Street Cleansing. We have organised events for several businesses across Cardiff and is happy to accommodate future requests. For more information you can contact Chris on 07717 412 270 or by Email: chris.partridge@keepwalestidy.org You can also follow me on Twitter for upcoming events @CardiffKWT

Thursday, 26 May 2011

26.05.11 Fairwater Dormouse Boxes part 2. Wild Weekend For Wales.

After a full day regional Keep Wales Tidy Community Project Officers Meeting, I was rewarded with a return to Waterhall Youth Centre in Fairwater to make more dormouse boxes. This is one of the Wild Weekend for Wales Events supported by B&Q. This particular event's materials were kindly paid for by John Lewis.

Louise Bassett from Communities First rallied together star carpenter from last time Ben (grey top) and a new recruit Lucas (blue top).

With a bit of practice already behind him, Ben turned his attention to the job with great gusto and helped his friend and cousin to put together 3 complete boxes, while still having the time to impart useful information like "a ruler is someone who governs a country, a rule is used to measure lengths Chris". - Cheeky!!

We ploughed on with the boxes and we all agreed that the hardest part was nailing the 1mm thick panel pins into the plywood without bending them.

All of the boxes that we made are going to go up in Fairwater under the expert supervision of Community Park Ranger Gareth Stamp next Wednesday (1st June) at 12, meeting outside Fairwater Leisure Centre. He will be monitoring these boxes over the coming years to see if these rare and protected mice are found in Fairwater.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Cardiff friday Morning Environmental Project: Friday 27th May Himalayan Balsam Pulling in Bute Park

Seven volunteers visited Bute Park today to help remove patches of the invasive plant himalayan balsam. Himalayan balsam plagues so much of our river banks and due to such a massive invasion and spread, it now threatens our woodlands and meadows.

Luckily, these invasive plants have such shallow roots we can pull them up very easily. This is handy as we need as many volunteers as possible to eradicate the plant completely. Each polinated flower has up to 100 viable seeds and each plant may have up to 70 flowers. This means for each plant we miss there are potentially thousands of new plants next year. The longer we fail to tackle this issue the worse the situation will get. There are plenty of opportunities to help pull some up, so give us a call if you fancy helping out.

The following photo was taken before and after a volunteer spent about 15 minutes pulling balsam and this section is now balsam free (for now):

Slideshow from today:

Map of area:

View 27.05.11 Blackweir Cardiff Friday Morning Project in a larger map

Here is a Himalayan balsam montage, which I made a couple of years ago where it domanates the banks of the River Wye, has invaded ancient semi-natural woodland and pond margins:

Friday, 20 May 2011

Cardiff Rivers Group tidy up Brynfedw Woods Sunday 22nd May

Cardiff Rivers Group branched out this blustery Sunday into a blocked and stagnant woodland stream and littered Brynfedw Woods in Llanedeyrn. The eight volunteers, including 2 new recruits, continued on from recent Friday Morning Project efforts and cleared large sections of this woodland of litter and flytipping.

The group met at 10 am in blustery conditions and were cautioned about falling branches and nesting birds before heading off into the woods. As per instructions most turned up in wellies and headed into the blocked stream.

Map of site:

View Cardiff Rivers Group 22.05.11 10am-12.30 in a larger map

There were a very large number of unusual items including a sofa, bits of beds, advertising boards, a trike with only 2-wheels (a wobbly bike?), bits of cars, motorbikes, scooters, a shopping trolley frame, loads of blue post office delivery bags, loads of carpets, reg plates and a pram...

Altogether, the group in a couple of hours collected 27 rubbish bags, 3 recycling bags and about 1/2 tonne of other rubbish.

19.05.11 Wild Weekend for Wales: Dormouse Boxes in Fairwater

I started assisting with one of the first Wild Weekend for Wales events in Cardiff yesterday and it was great fun. Firstly, I should raise a quick point on the wildflower seed mixes that are available from B&Q. The native seed varieties are as follows:

a. Suttons Wildlife Garden, Wildflower Collection Mix. Cat number 5 011567 300484. Contains Corn Marigold, Ox Eye Daisy, Wild Pansy, Field Scabious & Field Poppy.

b. B&Q's Wildflower Collection. Cat number 0311 1239. These contain foxglove which is very poisonous, so bear this in mind. Contains Field Cornflower, Field Poppy, Foxglove, Cowslip & Ox Eye Daisy.

c. Suttons Wildlife Garden, Shaded Areas Mix. Cat number 5 011567 300620. These also contain foxglove. Contains Foxglove, Oxlip, Columbine & Wood Sage.

The first Wild Weekend for Wales Event involved making dormouse boxes to go up in Fairwater to assist the surveying work of Gareth, one of the Community Park Rangers. Previously, the Goodies in Hoodies, a group supported by Fairwater Communities First, had assisted in clearing an area of Fairwater of rubbish which appears to have perfect habitat conditions for dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius). To find out if they are present, surveyors either look for hazel nuts in which the discarded shells have been gnawed in a particular way, or boxes can be constructed and erected and these can be periodically checked (these are used all year round by the dormice). Dormice are a rare, but locally abundant, European Protected Species, so harming them in any way is a serious wildlife criminal offence, but we would like to know if they are here in Fairwater.

The first port of call was to B&Q to purchase some of the tools and materials for this project. Luckily the store at Culverhouse Cross has a massive saw which they can cut up non-tanalised wood for you. Alex, who works in the wood section was brilliant and he cut the 9mm thick x 2440mm width x 1220mm length WBP external plyboard (cat number 5 022652 835965) into strips that could fit into my car and that were the right widths for the various panels on the dormouse boxes (12, 14.2 & 15 mm). I then went over the Waterhall Youth Centre in Fairwater to help them, again with assistance from Louise Bassett from Communities First, construct the boxes. At least 10 of the children helped to measure up and cut sections out of the plywood for the various panels needed to make the box. This took longer than we expected due to the preciseness of the work. However, by 9 pm we had finished our very first prototype box, which we will improve upon on further examples next week.

More pictures to follow, but here are a couple of the pics from the day.

Monday, 16 May 2011

16.05.11 Learning from the pro's in Merthyr; moving rubbish up steep banks with winches

Occassionally, we have to spend a day or two elsewhere topping up skills or in this case learning new ones. Several weeks ago I helped Cardiff Rivers Group to move large volumes of accumulated rubbish from the bank downstream of Radyr Cricket club across the river to Forest Farm. It was a brilliant occassion in the sun, but it was really hard work. There must be a better way.

A few weeks passed and my new colleague KWT Tidy Town's funded officer for RCT, Richard Barrett, showed me a video of winching material that he recorded while out training for his new post with our Merthyr Officer, Paul Kent. I sought permission for a day out of Cardiff as this could be very handy for us here.

Here we are, Quakers Yard, under the magnificent viaduct. The water rushes downstream here and forms eddys when it hits the massive pillars of the viaduct. This swirls, collects and dumps fly tipped items just here. Problem here is that the banks are very steep, the rocks are slipppers and the trolleys are generally razor sharp, yet dirty. Initially Rob and Paul set up a hand winch to pull items from the water,

but we quickly swapped over the heavy duty Tirfor winch which can lift 1.5 tonne and pull 2.4 t. The trolleys were grapple-hooked out and dragged up to a collecting platform away from the water's edge. The biggest item was an old metal container which was full of silt and debris. All we could do was winch it to the waters edge and we slowly winched it over until the silt was emptied; This was really hard work.

We enjoyed a brief water break, followed by the removal of our waders and Buoyancy Aids. The next part of the job was to construct an A-frame which would raise up a rope high for the pulley system. To do this we used 2x 8 foot long pieces of elm which had a Y and the end. These poles were lashed together while the rope to the bottom of the slope was tied to a tree at the bottom and a concrete pot at the top. A pulley was then added to this rope with 2 carabiners and a piece of rope which was wrapped around the rubbish and attached to the carabiner. We then had a rope attached to the pulley carabiner which enabled us to pull the items up the bank with more ease and safety compared to dragging it up the slope; genius.

For the large metal conainer, we attached the tirfor to the A-frame and the concrete pillar and the end of the wire rope was attached to rope which was attached to the container via a knot and grapple hook.

Altogether we collected 17 trolleys, 5 bikes, 2 bags of miscellaneous rubbish and the massive metal container.

Slideshow of pictures:

Cardiff Friday Morning Project Brynfedw Woods Friday 13th Part 2...

We returned again to Brynfedw Woods in Llanedeyrn on this cloudy friday 13th. Our plan was to continue from last Friday's work but moving a little deeper into these woods (see map).

View Friday 6th May Brynfedw Woods in a larger map

We pulled out more carpets, cables, bits of motorbikes, cars, oil cans, drinks cans, bikes, kitchens, wooden school desk, Xbox chair, wheels and tyres, 1 Volleyball net pole (plus concrete base), blinds and rails and an old tent. Interestingly, we saw more evidence of the rare, but locally abundant Cider Drinking Woodcreeper (Homo sapiens ssp. whitestormii) in the same hideaway spot as last week. It is just like finding the tell tale signs of dormouse knawed hazel nuts; exciting, but not conclusive. Only by trap photography will we find conclusive proof of this reclusive and frugal woodland species.

Altogether, we collected 17 bags of rubbish of which 4 were recycling. We will return here soon, to finish the job....

Slideshow of event

Do you have somewhere near you which could do with a hand to tidy it up. Contact Chris on 07717 412 270 or chris.partridge@keepwalestidy.org

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

11.05.11 Ely Charity Football Tournament, KWT distinguishes itself well

We were contacted by Ely Garden Villagers to see if KWT wanted to get involved in a fete like event to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy Duchenne. Instead of a stand, we opted to try and put together a 5-a-side team. This proved difficult and after several late injuries including leaf fall induced tendonitis and torn crustacean ligaments(?) we settled on Jake, James and myself from Keep Wales Tidy with Cameron, a local ringer who was half some of our ages, Gareth one of the Community Park Rangers and we were all managed, coached, supported and photographed by KWT's Alaw from the touchline.

The first game was against Gafod, a big physically imposing team. None of us had played any football for years and our passing, control, movement, timing, panache, hair and flair wasn't brilliant and we thought we would do much better than our 2-0 defeat. We did show some good touches and hoped to improve later on, a bit like Germany in World Cups.

Alaw commented in the break that "Sir Alex didn't create his new team overnight after the splintering of his golden generation and we aren't that different".

This motivational talk spurned us on in the second game against Ely Hibs 2nds. These guys were young skillfull and fast and were much better than our first opponents. Bravely, we held on to a 0-0 draw against this team mostly due to poor finishing, brilliant saves from our goalkeeper James and some last ditch tackles. For the last two minutes we were just happy to kick the ball up the other end and tried to contain them. There was much relief at the final whistle.

Our heckles were up and collectively we thought we weren't so bad, but our legs were tired, ankles knackered and swollen like Nora Batty's and my achilles ached like I had been shot with an arrow in each tendon. However, we faced a team of old timers in QPR strips, who like us had keener minds than bodies (apart from one of them). Beyond all belief we scored in the first half when a corner was crossed in over the heads of most of the players and I side-footed in a volley under the goalkeeper. We had several more chances in the game to finish them off, but failed to take them. The second half saw a ju-jitsu tackle on Gareth which left him winded and temporarily paralysed, but he quickly recovered from that with liberal daubing of the magic sponge-cake. We never got that breathing space second goal despite several good chances and we paid for it late on starting with a poor pass from defence from myself and after a couple of passes they scored off a near brilliant save from James. There was no time to get another and it finished 1-1. Encouragingly, we all left the field with our heads high and quite pleased with what we achieved. Importantly we donated a little money towards the charity and helped a tiny bit towards this fantastic event. Off for a bath now as everything from my brain downwards aches.

Litter Champions in Cardiff, the story so far

Our litter Champion scheme started last year enabling local enthusiastic people to tackle litter outside their house, where they walk their dog or anywhere else. The scheme gives volunteers a Helping Hand Litter-Picking Kit (including a litter picker, gloves, a hi-viz vest, a Litter Champion Handbook, a Tidy Towns T-shirt, a Tidy Towns Bag, Tidy Towns Waterproof Poncho, Health and Safety guidance, support of a local Tidy Towns Project Officer and free insurance cover.

Good news is that in Cardiff we are up to 27 29 litter champions, but are keen to hear from any interested individuals to bolster these numbers. There is no maximum or minimum trips or amounts to be litterpicked, we just like to think that we can make small but significant improvements to our areas.

View Litter Champions in Cardiff in a larger map

for more information on litter champions call Chris Partridge on 07717 412 270 or chris.partridge@keepwalestidy.org

Monday, 9 May 2011

08.05.11 AWRA Spring Clean; carp(e) diem

Today, 12 volunteers and 2 PCSOs joined in with Atlantic Wharf Residents Association’s annual Spring Clean across the Atlantic Wharf area.

View 08.05.11 AWRA Spring Clean in a larger map

The area was briefly scouted for litter hotspots before giving volunteers a quick health and safety talk followed by distribution of litterpicking equipment. The volunteers then split up to cover different areas including Lloyd George Avenue and Silurian Place. Considerable litter was present in the canal leading up to the Wharf Pub and much effort was directed here to tackle this local beauty spot which was tarnished with detritus. The cans and fast food containers were easy game for the extra-long litterpickers and the extendable nets, but we struggled to remove 3-extremely large carp which had died here some time beforehand. The problem here was the overwhelming stench of rotting fish; any visiting Swedish tourists could easily have mistaken it for an open air surstromming festival. The volunteers gathered up their stomach contents, held their breath and landed these massive fish into bags which were sealed as soon as possible.

Chris from Keep Wales Tidy commented “It was very nice to see the nesting coots especially after we had cleared up the canal and I’m especially glad we removed so many of the carrier bags which pose such a hazard to both the parents and the young ones”.

Altogether we collected 18 bags of rubbish, 5 bags of recyclables, several large metal pipe items, a mirror, pieces of wood, most of a crutch (perhaps to match the one collected in Llanedeyrn on Friday), shoes, a wallet and loads of carrier bags many of which were in trees, shrubs and partially submerged in the water.

Most of the litterpicking equipment was provided by Keep Wales Tidy. If you are interested in organising a similar event in your area or want more information, please call Chris Partridge on 07717 412 270 or chris.partridge@keepwalestidy.org

Saturday, 7 May 2011

06.05.11 Cardiff Friday Morning Environmental Project. Clean up in Brynfedw Woods, Llanedeyrn

The Cardiff Friday Morning Project dusted off the Easter cobwebs and headed down to Llanedeyrn to clean up part of Brynfedw Woods between Brynfedw and Pennsylvania.

Seven of us spent a couple of hours here altogether and pulled out 17 bags of rubbish and 7 bags of recycling. We also pulled out a couple of doors, a large part, in lots of pieces, of someone's kitchen, a foam mattress, a mass of car and motorbike parts, several non-motorised scooters, a crutch, road and gas safety barriers, bits of televisions, unidentified metal and wooden parts and a very retro looking rollerskate (see slideshow).

It was easy to note the plonk of choice in these woods is White Storm where Sue found 29 of these vintage cider receptacles in one al fresco location.

Dave King commented "We could see as we pulled the rubbish from the streams the flow rate of the then stagnant water was increasing nicely"

Chris from Keep Wales Tidy Added "It is nice feeling to come into these neglected and misused woodlands to make a difference and help to return them back to the majority of local residents to enjoy and of course for nature"

These woods were recommended to us to tackle by PCSOs Hilditch and Hellings.

Map of the work undertaken:

View Friday 6th May Brynfedw Woods in a larger map

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

03.05.11 Walkabout and litterpick in Llanrumney

I met up with Amy from Llanrumney Communities First just before Easter and she was keen to set up an environmental group in Llanrumney. We thought that it would be a good idea to have a walkabout and a litterpick in one. The day arrived and Amy and I were joined by two local residents, three from the Play Centre. We walked through Fish Pond Woods enjoying the bluebells within these fantastic woods. There are some magnificent sweet chestnut trees there of some girth. Sadly there was also evidence of illegal chainsaw operators cutting down random healthy trees. Clearly this wasn't part of the management plan for these woods and the Park Rangers have been informed.

We collected 7 bags of litter altogether on this short first meeting. Moreover we are looking forward to set up a regular event around Llanrumney. Here are some photos of the event including the river which looks like it is ready for a clean up.

Guardian Cardiff Local Blog Experiment Ending

First day back to work sees me chasing a long line of Emails and messages. One of these in particular is quite sad and that is news of the cessation of the Guardian Local Blogs. For me, the Cardiff Guardian Local Blog has been immensely useful. When I talk about their blog, clearly I mean Hannah. In almost everything I come across, it is always individuals that make the difference and one of my main drives is that I hope I make a difference. Looking in on Hannah's blog I believe it has truly made a difference in Cardiff.

As a newcomer to blogging and displaying some of my work via Flickr and Tweeting etc I greatly appreciate the support that Hannah has given towards my own justification for spending all those extra hours on top of my normal hours pursuing this "modern" line of work. The greatest example of Hannah's help was when I created a Google Map showing all of the 105 or so Tidy Wales Week Events across Cardiff last September. The effort for me to create this map was huge, where several people suggested it was a waste of precious time. Perhaps they were right, after all it was generating relatively few hits (low hundreds) as beautiful and positive as it was. Hannah was impressed with the map and supported it by putting the map on her front page and suddenly thousands were looking at it. This rose up to just over 29,000 hits all down to the success of the Guardian's "experiment". It demonstrated quite clearly to me and importantly my colleagues the worth of embracing social media.

The next success was attending one of Hannah's social media meet ups where I was partnered with a local blog star @gavomatic57. Here he saved me hours of work and helped me tweak what I was doing to improve both my efficiency and effectiveness.

Hannah's blog content has a tremendous volume of positivity which is a difficult thing to achieve where negativity is so easily a driver for attention and conversation. There are so many good things happening all over Cardiff and the Guardian Local Blog manages so beautifully to capture so very much of this. Finally I return to an earlier mantra that "individuals make the difference" and as a published scientist I'd say the Guardian Local experiment is a tremendous success and a real shame to bring it to an end.