Anyway, my first 2 weeks of July were spent on my summer holidays in a tent with wet gear where it rained like a proper summer should. Anyway, that’s why Gore-Tex is so expensive. I will not write an essay on my vacation, but I think it is important to say that it was spent half in the Yorkshire Dales and the other in the Lake District. Both magnificent, but I noticed signs in both which were very interesting. In the Dales, there were plenty of signs saying they actively encourage no bins and that people should take their rubbish home with them (http://flic.kr/p/cGtusW). The forestry commission are also doing this. However, this didn’t stop several DoE groups dropping crisp and tracker bar wrappers up Pen y Ghent in the dales and Helvellin in the Lakes. In the Lakes in Ambleside, another famous tourist spot, there were signs up about littering and dog fouling just like everywhere else, but other signs saying that local PCSO’s were pursuing a zero tolerance to littering and dog fouling in Ambleside. The clear link here, is that both depend heavily on tourism for its economy. Out of interest, there was an item in a really interesting hardware store museum in Cockermouth which they have no idea what it was for, any ideas anyone? See here: http://flic.kr/p/cGtsgW
Either side of my holidays I set up a massive series of events with loads of different schools across Cardiff aimed to get loads of kids interested in pulling up Himalayan balsam. I spend loads of time from June-august pulling this up with various groups and the key to success is numbers. There is no easier method than better hundreds of kids out there pulling it up. So I called it a Himalayan balsam pullathon and it involved 8 schools. Most of this was in Pentwyn and there is still loads of balsam there as in other areas, but there are a selection of pictures here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAfXaU7, http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAPf3RG & http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAfXhdm.
Pupils from St. Bernadettes pulling up balsam in the pouring rain
The important thing to remember with balsam is that you have to really stick to it. In LLanrumney for instance, there is simply too much of it present to seriously make an impact with the numbers that I have engaged with so far, but with CFMEP and Llanrumney Environment Group, Litter Champion Dave & Stella and Cardiff Rivers Group, we have cleared several small patches which will makes these area more manageable next year. We found several wildflower areas in one of the woods in Llanrumney and adjacent patches have no wildflowers whatsoever and this is what balsam does. Some pics here including some good ID photos: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjA3VQXG & http://flic.kr/s/aHsjA8T5d5.
The last part is part of a nice story where we have groups and individuals working along lost of parts of Roath Brook. The last of these is a local resident worried about flooding waters eroding banks and washing the soil around the roots of trees. There was plenty of evidence that this was happening, so we gave him a hand to unblock a section, pulling out some trolleys and sawing up some of the wood. Pics here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAPhU2Q.
Return of the Barrie and to Crystal Glen, Llanishen
We also found a few balsam plants which were not rooted in and showed them to the local resident. After the event, the local resident emailed saying he found a load of balsam upstream. We returned the next week, pulled out another 20 bags of rubbish and cleared the section of balsam. Pics here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAXxQb7. Worryingly, the site was racked with Japanese knotweed, which was certainly being washed downstream and in some places had re-established. As in many other places, knotweed in endemic and this flows into Roath Lake and down Roath Brook, where several groups perform loads of different activities.
Japanese Knotweed in the stream bank eroding away with stems and rhizomes downstream towards Roath Lake.