The Green Team (Edinburgh & Lothians)

The Green Team Blog - the year 2010

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Welcome to the Green Team Blog, the place to get the low down on what the Green Team has been up to - if you've been involved in the Green Team, send us your story ...

On this page:
31 January 2010 Woodhall, Pencaitland
7 Februray 2010 Vogrie Park
7 March 2010 Pentland Hills
28 March 2010 Bridgend Allotments
4 April 2010 Fidra
18 April 2010 Burdiehouse Burn
30 May 2010 Gullane
6 June 2010 Roslin Glen
20 June 2010 Hermitage of Braid
22 August 2010 Craigleith Island
28 August 2010 Bonaly
12 September 2010 Corstorphine Hill
18 September 2010 Wiston Lodge
30 October 2010 Vogrie Country Park
7 November 2010 Almondell Coutry Park
20 November 2010 Culdees
28 November 2010 Bird Box Making

Been on a Green Team project in the past? Read about the Green Team in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

31 January 2010 - sent in by Kim
Woodhall, Pencaitland

It was one of those winter mornings where it feels like a real struggle to get out of bed in the dark and cold on a Sunday… but when you do, and get out into the fresh, crisp January dawn, you are glad you made the effort.

Woodhall, Pencaitland, was the venue for the first Green Team project of the year. On arrival at the woodland parking area the warm up activity was replaced with attempts to break the thick ice that filled pot holes and puddles, and restricted us from any type of running around! With extra layers on and armed with fencing pliers and hammers, the small but enthusiastic team of volunteers headed to the task site where local expert; Richard the ranger, gave a briefing on fence removal. For many of the young people this was a task they had never attempted before. They were faced with new challenges, learned new skills and used tools they had not worked with before.

Within the space of a couple of hours an incredible amount of fencing was removed. Looking at the huge pile of rolled wire, old staples, stacked fence posts and the beautifully clear area of woodland, which had not long before been scarred with an old, broken and dangerous fence, it was obvious that the teams’ efforts had produced excellent results.

The afternoon also involved learning new skills. The group explored the woodland through a tracks and trails session where they sharpened their observation skills and learned about life systems and habitats (and poo) of woodland creatures before relaxing around the warmth of a much appreciated fire. Everyone had the opportunity to practice carving with knives in preparation for toasting some marshmallows over the embers. A great way to refuel for a last blast on task; carrying all the removed fencing out of the woodland and getting kit packed for the journey back into the city.

A productive, enjoyable, hard working day at Woodhall; a great way to make the most of the bright winter days and to do something to make a positive difference to the natural environment. Well done team!

7 Februray 2010 - sent in by Evan
Vogrie Park

We met down at New Parliament House as per usual. We started off with a trade mark Green Team name-learning game that are the hallmark of those early mornings when your mind is just hazy enough to drop a beanbag. The task for the day was snedding (cutting of low branches) at Vogrie Park, a common Green Team task that showed promise of a bonfire later in the day. We arrived at our destination (in the lovely Green Team van) and proceeded to play some games that, unfortunately, involved running when a series of conditions were met, people with blue eyes, two people whose birthdays were closest together, etc. The results of several tired teenagers trying to provide the necessary brain power to play this game was highly amusing as we worked up a mental sweat as well as a physical one.

After this we went down to our work area for the day. We would be clearing the area of some rhododendron and removing the lower branches of the surrounding trees. This would provide room for wildlife and plants. As we'd hoped there was also a bonfire which we were allowed to burn pretty much anything on. From rhododendron branches to unwanted BLT's. We worked hard for several hours, stopping only for tea breaks, lunch, games and play sword fighting with several branches... It was hard work.

For the climax of our day we were allowed to make chocolate bananas. This consisted of putting chocolate in a cut open banana, wrapping it in tinfoil and putting it in the embers of the fire. The results were interesting to say the least. They weren't winning any michelin stars but several members of the group bravely tried their... creations. To round off the day we managed to persuade the leaders to let us play in the play park on the way back to the van. This was slightly immature we granted but there were awesome swings so we forgave ourselves. After this we headed home tired but satisfied... and full of chocolate banana.

7 March 2010 - Group Poem & report
Pentland Hills

Sunny fantastic marshmallows constructive fun
It wasnt the sort of job for an old man
I had a good day, I enjoyed salmon midge wildcat
I hate walking but this is great
The scenery is beautiful
My clothes now smell of smoke
Marshmallows are very very sticky
Sunny, fun, productive, muddy
Good tree planting fun, sunny
Fantastic first project great team
We finally did some good
Sunny bright future

This was our first Green Team project, beforehand we were a wee bit nervous about what was in store! But everyone was lovely and really welcoming. We started with a "getting to know you" game which was ... interesting and we were told by Jamie that there was a lot more to come.

We had a bumpy journey in the Green Team minibus to Bonaly country park where we were greeted by another inventive game called midge, salmon and wild cat (don't ask) in the snow with a lot of clinging on to each other to prevent slipping. We then met Jo and Melissa two Bonaly country park rangers who took us up to the site where we were going to plant our juniper bushes. Rosslyn pulled the short straw and had to carry the very heavy water canister up the hill (rejecting everybody's help) to the planting site. When we got there we couldn't get started without our safety brief (warning us about a burn and the steep slope!) Then we got planting, we stopped for a lunch break half way through and played the most fun game of the day called bat and moth which caused much hilarity and humiliation for some of the group especially us! Then we got back to planting for another half an hour and then we walked down to the fire circle to build a bonfire. We had to only use one match and one sheet of newspaper and as you can imagine both groups failed even with Jamie and Lee's confidence but managed eventually to get them going enough to boil an kettle and toast marshmallows (yum!)

We then walked back to the van and packed up and had a smoother, quieter journey back to New Parliament House where we said goodbye to our new friends and went our separate ways. The end to a cold, muddy and FANTASTIC day! Thanks everyone! Rosslyn and Alice

28 March 2010 - sent in by Andrew
Bridgend Allotments

On the 28th of March, a group of us left the Green Team base in the minibus and headed towards Bridgend Allotments. After the short journey we arrived at the allotments. We began the day by playing a skipping game which ended with the whole group trying to run through the rope together.

Then we went to meet Simon who told us our task for the day. We were told that we were to move 4 raised beds from a shaded area, into a sunny spot ( though there wasn't much sun today ). We split into groups and each group set about doing different tasks, one group marked the raised beds and took them apart, another group marking out where the new beds would be, yet another group clearing up the wood chips from the paths and the final group - which I was in - made the stakes to hold up the walls. Everybody was working hard and getting along well. The new raised beds were popping up like wildfire! The stake making was doing well too. After a tough but rewarding morning of work, we stopped for lunch and played a few games which involved blindfolds, pencils and objects we had found around the allotment.

Then after lunch, the dark rain clouds had decided to settle over the allotments and despite the weather, everybody's spirits remained high and the laughter never stopped. When the work was nearing a close, some of us went down to the leaf dump and started sifting compost to put into the new beds we had made.

The day proved to be a successful day with everybody enjoying themselves and feeling good about the work they had done. We managed to move, construct and fill 3 beds and set out the fourth bed ready for future construction. This being only my second Green Team project proved to be completely different from my first project, but still just as enjoyable! I look forward to my next Green Team project.

4th April - sent in by Caitlin

On Easter Sunday a group of us travelled to Fidra Island to clear some tree mallow. The journey to the island and back was really fun and very fast in the boat. When we arrived on the island we played the name game so as we knew who everyone was and then we were told what we’d be doing for the day. The weather was really nice that morning and there were birds and tree mallow everywhere. The work was relaxed and we had regular breaks and games. On one of the breaks we took a walk up to the lighthouse which was really nice and you could see all the puffins which were very small and cute. Since it was Easter Sunday we had an Easter egg hunt which was great fun and we managed to find all but one of the eggs. We were told that the boat was running late so we went for a walk to the other part of the island but the weather wasn’t as nice as it had been that morning. We managed to cover a large area clearing the mallow and it was great to see the difference we had made from just one day of doing it. This has been my favourite project so far and I’m looking forwards to my next one.

18th April - sent in by Gordon
Burdiehouse Burn

Water. That is the only way to describe the day. The usual ice breakers were carried out in the cold and wet rain but the cheery Green Team spirit was not dampened. Once we had all learnt each others names, off we went to a river, not the driest place in the world, to help clean up what the local residents had thrown away. The river had been thoroughly cleaned in some areas by the ranger and local volunteers but some areas were still in an absolute state. So we split up into teams and tackled the raging stream.

The obscurity of objects coming out was astounding, the weirdest being an old rusty shopping trolley, a toy gun, a spice girl doll, an un-cracked egg and even a stuffed penguin! However these random objects would not have been excavated from the muddy banks or deepest depths of the angry beast if the hard work of the valiant volunteers and trustworthy leaders had not put the high level of effort in. The second part of the day involved the Ranger teaching us how to clean and maintain tools for future projects. It was interesting, different and made us feel like old rural clansmen sharpening our weapons for the big hunt. However in the end we had to leave and go back to parliament building to carry on with life.

30 May - sent in by Duncan

Arriving at the Green Team HQ I was slightly concerned. The weather forecast had looked pretty grim and the clouds were dark. But soon the day brightened up after meeting everybody, including (surprisingly) people who I knew from school. After the usual Green Team name game (the string one), we began the long drive to Gullane in the minibus despite stalling twice, luckily not on the motorway.

When we arrived and met the East Lothian ranger at Gullane, we walked along through the dunes to start our first activity, picking out a small green plant called Australian Stonecrop. By the time we arrived it was raining lightly and the wind was blowing a gale. But despite the rough start we carried on and soon the weather cleared up. We had our break and then went up the hill for a game of 'Stag and Doe', a hunters vs hunted style game and one of the Green Team's finest.

We had our lunch in the now glowing sunshine, and then started on the day's second activity, clearing a large bush/tree called Sea Buckthorn. This was hard work but very rewarding when you watch a huge bush topple over. Then, we headed down on to the beach where we made some artwork out of things we found on the beach. Ours was a giant monster face, and the other group's was a Viking Penguin, as random as it sounds. We then headed back up for one last batch of Sea Buckthorn clearing, and headed back to Edinburgh in the minibus.

6 June
Roslin Glen

Today’s task was to define some steps and to clear away a very old and knackered fence at Roslin Glen. The day started with the usual naming game at New Parliament house. Today we did the string game. When we got to Roslin Glen we first played a game of peg tig which was actually pretty good fun. Then we got to the task and started clearing away the fence and improving the steps. We finished this faster than we thought. After this we had our lunch, hot chocolate and caramel biscuits which were really nice. After a lunch the ranger led us up to the chapel and on the way pointed out different species of tree. We then finished the task and played eagle eye and used the Kelly kettles. Our team attempted at making a fire but the wood was too wet but the other team managed it.

Today’s task was very successful and when we did the review at the end most people enjoyed lunch, using the Kelly kettle and playing eagle eye the best.

20 June - sent in by Eilidh, leader
Hermitage of Braid

Another bright morning greeted a group of eager Green-Teamers at New Parliament House, and after a quick name game (at which some people excelled, and others (like myself) did less well!) we made the short trip across Edinburgh to Hermitage of Braid, to meet up with our lovely ranger for the day, and her canine side-kick (who quickly became the star attraction!).

Our main task of the day was hand pulling Himalayan Balsam, an invasive plant species that causes major problems in Scotland. It outcompetes native plants for pollinators like bees, as it has large volumes of nectar, meaning native plants don't get pollinated. It also spreads rapidly, particularly if the seeds get into water courses, and the seeds remain viable for up to 3 years, meaning any area cleared has to be carefully surveyed for new plants each season. The team got stuck into the task enthusiastically, despite the somewhat repetitive nature of weeding out the plants, and within only an hour had cleared a large area of slope.

We then had a game of scavenger hunt, with teams searching for amongst other things: something to use in fashion, something that makes a noise, something unnatural, and 2 types of leaf for a short tree id workshop after the game.

After some more Himalayan Balsam massacring and a quick lunch, we went through an Outdoor Access Code workshop, learning more about the dos and don'ts of the countryside. A large part of the afternoon was spent running around the orienteering course across Hermitage of Braid, including hoofing it right up to the top of Blackford Hill in the midday heat! A brilliant effort from all teams, despite our team having major difficulty finding the last marker...

Our final challenge was an Art Commission, with one team constructing a rather fantastic ship (and yes, it did float!) from wood and leaves, whilst the other made some incredible abstract versions of Van Gogh's sunflowers. Thank you to all the participants and leaders, who made this a really fantastic day out!!

22 August - sent in by Mia
Craigleith Island

It was August 22nd and we were going to Craigleith Island after meeting at New Parliament House. We were fortunate not to have to wear the wellies and waterproofs we were cautioned to bring as luckily, the weather was warm and sunny (which is quite an amazing feat for the Scottish summer). We took the minibus to North Berwick after a getting-to-know-you session, and had some tea and biscuits before taking the boat out to the island. The journey to the island, though short, was very interesting to say the least. The hilarity ensued as, in turn, we all got soaked by the splashes and spray the boat was causing.

As we arrived on the island, we had to climb up a steep, rocky slope to get to the area where we were meant to be, and a brilliant team effort was made to ensure everyone’s bags made it safely onto the island. When on flat ground and dry, we began our task – to cut down the tree mallow, an invasive species that prevents puffins from nesting. There was a large amount of mallow on the slope we were clearing and it was a fairly daunting task as our challenge was to clear it all.

We got to work, and it proved to be very satisfying cutting the thick stems of the plants (although the bending over did cause some minor back pain) and we had cut down a fair amount of the mallow by lunch time.In the end, we did manage to clear the entire area of mallow and we were all pleased with our efforts and we laughed and joked on the way home."

28 August - sent in by Gavin

After the usual gathering of young volunteers at New Parliament House, we began with a classic ice-breaker game, “My name is… And I dance like…”. This ensued much embarrassment but was nevertheless effective. Soon after, the various tools and bags were loaded in the minibus and our team were off to the Pentland Hills.

Arriving at Bonaly Country Park we were greeted by the local ranger who introduced us to the area. We were to trim the heavy gorse bushes which were encroaching on a small footpath. After a short tool check we proceeded with the task in hand. In no time at all a substantial difference could be seen in the path and a large pile of discarded materials had been created. Satisfied, we headed for a well earned break for lunch.

After a short warm-up game we set out enthusiastically to improve the various drainage canals running up the side of the main path up the hill (referred to as Puke Hill by local mountain bikers). Despite the strenuous work, we left the path in a much better state than it was when we arrived. Before departure however we had a short tea break and witnessed a traditional parade of drunk horsemen (and women) down our just completed path. We rounded off the day by heading back down the road to the campsite.

Tempted out by the smell of bacon, we continued on to Boghall Farm to help improve a path on the site. We started off in the morning split into groups, one half clearing the way onto the path, the other rebuilding some steps. Both groups worked hard until it was time for lunch and it was so, arms aching, that we proceeded to lunch. A happy half hour was spent observing the intricacies of sheep culture. We also played perennial Green Team favourite octopus, which is played pretty much as it sounds. So it was back to work after tackling a different part of the pathway, and even working so hard that we managed to worry some french walkers as to what the massive banging noise was coming from the middle of the forest. We managed to fix all the steps and spruce up the path nicely. Fairly tired by the end of the day, we headed home to store all the equipment, and the excitement ended with one of our number being grilled sufficiently to receive their John Muir Award.

12 September - sent in by Ian
Corstorphine Hill

We left Parliament house full of enthusiasm, I think this was due to a fun but mentally challenging ice breaker, and as the sun soared in the background we were to be blessed with a beautiful day. We met our wonderful ranger for the day David, at the hill. As a warm up we played Doe and Bucks which was a brilliant starter game due to the woods hiding places and quirky hidey holes. We split into teams and 2 groups cleared gullies and drainage pipes which was a filthy mucky task but the group rose to the challenge well, plungers and spades at the ready. The other group cleared the slippery mud off the public pathways to make them safe for walkers; it was a hard physical slog and a great effort. The last group pulled himalayan balsam from a hilly area, a calm and therapeutic job done to a high standard. We had a quick lunch at the van, and a warm up livener with running skipping on the spot.

Stretches and breathing exercises complimented this well to get the muscles into action again. In the first part of the afternoon we cut back snowberry bushes as a whole group. It was a huge effort from everyone, and our ranger was delighted with the group's effort and stamina for the day. We then had a fascinating insightful talk by David at the badger sett, discovering lots of amazing facts about the badgers on the hill. To finish the day we climbed Corstorphine Tower and took in its breath taking Edinburgh views. A great way to finish, on such a beautiful autumn day.

18 September - sent in by Jack
Wiston Lodge

After meeting the unusually small group of fellow green-teamers, playing the usual ice-breaker games, and the long drive down to Biggar, we arrived at Wiston Lodge, where we got unpacked and set up our tents for the weekend. After meeting our ranger and getting a brief tour of the surrounding area, we began what would be our main task of the day; building a small bridge to run over a large ditch. This proved to be a demanding task, with not only a lot of hard graft necessary, but precision in lining up the wooden beams also. However, a real sense of achievement was felt following the final nail being hammered in.

Our next task for the day was to be clearing a small section of the forest from layers and layers of dead branches and pine needles. During this task, we uncovered a strange metallic object, and we were urged to leave it be for fear of it being an old unexploded bomb, but we were relieved when it later turned out to be a kettle. After the hard work of the day, we settled down to a fairly leisurely evening, with a barbeque and fun and games around the blazing campfire a good way to end an enjoyable day.

Following an early start, and a slow paced rise and breakfast, we got stuck in to our main task of the day; clearing and digging out an area to be used as a pond. This proved to be exceptionally hard work, but once we had cleared away the topsoil and roots with our spades and mattocks, all that was left to do was dig away at earth, which we completed in a fairly leisurely manner. Following this, we finished with a very enjoyable and entertaining game involving natural camouflage. After learning about the correct applications of camouflage, we daubed ourselves with things such as clay, charcoal and ash, and then played a game based on sneaking and hiding without being seen. It proved to be an excellent way to wrap up what had been my most enjoyable Green Team project to date. We all got a lot out of it, in one way or another.

30 October - sent in by Alex
Vogrie Country Park

The conservation weekend at Vogrie Park was very enjoyable and eye-opening. On the first day we arrived at Vogrie bright and early, and were introduced to the park rangers. We were made familiar with the park and what tasks we would be carrying out over the course of the two days.

First; we were taken to the pond where we were shown what was needing done, leaves were needing raked out of the pond, and some of the miniature jetties were needing replaced and filled with grit and small stones. We were all separated into groups, and set off to work. From then after, everyone was introduced to one another and the tasks began. By the time it was lunchtime, the team of three, plus a ranger, had demolished and reconstructed one of the log pile jetties. The pond had also been mostly cleared of leaves, and the place was looking a bit cheerier. After lunch, we all had a wee play in the play park before setting back to work, (big kids!).

That night, after our scrumptious dinner of baked potatoes, the leaders had set-up a scavenger hunt set over most of the Vogrie grounds. We had to find clues written on pieces of paper at miniature landmarks across the park. At the end, the team that solved the riddle first, after collecting all the clues and paper, won a prize! The prize was hidden in the adventure playground. Once we had all found our fair share of chocolate coins, we looked up to see the amazing sky filled with, what looked like, millions and millions of stars. It was so amazing that some of the group members listed it as the highlight of their weekend, saying that they had “never seen anything quite like it”. Later, we had a huge bonfire, where we had marshmallows and chocolate bananas. But after nearly scaring ourselves half to death with ghost stories, it was time for bed.

The next morning we set to work, finishing yesterday’s tasks and finding out about the pondlife in a brief session of ‘pond dipping’. Then after the day’s work was complete, it was time to start clearing up, and time to start heading home. All in all, everyone seemed to enjoy the weekend and came away having made new friends and having had a new experience.

7 November - sent in by Lewis
Almondell Country Park

In November I went with the Green Team to Almondell Country Park to do some volunteering work for my Duke of Edinburgh bronze award. The group's tasks for the day were to cut down and take away an old farm fence, make a small gathering area for the little children (so when they come they can see the nature in which they are surrounded) and make a path that splits off the concrete road through the forest so the visitors can enjoy the wildlife.

We were given a variety of tools and we had a day to complete our task. After the leaders told us how to use the tools in the correct manner, we set off to work. We were split into two groups and my group started on the old farm fence while the other group made the path.

During the day I met a lot of new people who had come from all over central Scotland and we all had a great laugh together. It was hard work but at the end of the day I thought it was well worth the effort.

20 November - sent in by Kim

I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend with the Green Team to Culdees Eco Village. It was really interesting to experience a different way of life, with little emphasis on material possessions or electrical appliances. The back to basics lifestyle means that the community have to be very resourceful with everything that they have, and try to make the most out of used objects to create something new and exciting, by recycling or re using.

We had a very interesting group of young people, from varying age groups and different back grounds, which also made it an enjoyable weekend. This allowed us to learn new things and hear about each others' lives. We really bonded over the weekend, through activities such as bird box making and making dinner together in the evening. Team work was very much central to all of the tasks that we carried out, such as plant bed making, where we had a little production line going, and everyone had their own role to carry out.

The location of the project was stunning, near to a lake and high on a hill, which gave amazing views, which also made work during the day more enjoyable. The accommodation in the evening was also very comfortable and remote, which gave us a great opportunity for star gazing.

Overall I had a fantastic weekend, and learnt many new things about nature, practical skills and interacting with a variety of people.

28 November – sent in by Phoebe
Bird Box Making

Well, today’s Green Team Adventure was almost cancelled, but due to 6 intrepid explorers and 4 brave leaders braving the blizzard to get to New Parliament House, the day went ahead. We were greeted by numerous hot drinks and the welcome news that we would not in fact have to brave the snow, but would engage ourselves instead in indoor activities. We did however have to do some discovering and exploring – in the tool shed to find the mysterious hand drill to help us in our task of making bird boxes.

After a delicious game involving M&Ms we were issued saws, hammers, nails and (thankfully) instructions and set to work. Oh, the satisfaction that comes from hammering that last nail into the reluctant wood! (Not to mention seeing the snow whirling around outside while we were warm and dry in our many layers inside the building!) Then we had a gentle lunch while seated in comfortable chairs, which was very un-Green-Team-like, but very enjoyable, and went our separate ways into the Arctic Wilderness outside, to allow for time to get home safely before darkness and the storm set in.

Despite obvious difficulties, a good day was had by all and everything ran smoothly. Thank you leaders!

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