As we are now clear of Epiphany, the time of the Magi returning home following their visit to the stable in Bethlehem where Christ was born, it is time for me to make my quarterly report on the Green.
We enjoyed a warm, sunny October with verdant growth encouraged by a damp August and September. This brought on what country folk call “Lammas” growth, a false spring if you like, where there is a short spurt of growth in plants which quickly stops again as the hours of daylight rapidly decrease. Also, you may have heard on the news and in the press that sea temperatures have increased globally by 1.5 degrees Celsius. This in turn increases the volume of moisture taken up and carried in the clouds. It also varies air pressure, which in turn generates stronger winds. Just think of your kettle boiling and the whistleblowing. That is the reason that there have been so many big storms in November and December with so much rain and gale-force winds.
Along with the rest of the UK, island residents have witnessed extensive flooding and storm damage. Walking through the Green, the stream on our west boundary has suffered erosion from the bank areas being undercut by the force of water, causing them to collapse. This erosion has resulted in a fallen oak tree. There are also signs of damage to the crown of a small willow, probably caused by a small twister gust of wind, but overall the woodland has so far avoided more extensive damage.
The newly restored footways have held up well, although some of the informal paths are suffering wear and tear due to the level of water logging and footfall.
As a matter of interest, I measured the girth of the four largest oaks on the Green, the first close to the edge of the pond is 3.7 metres, the Mother oak is 4.0 metres, the oak on the stream bend below the restored walkway is 3 metres and the oak on our east boundary is 4.4 metres. Without taking core samples, I would estimate that the three largest oaks were young oaks in the 16th century. I am now into my eighties and as I reflect on what has changed in my lifetime, just imagine what they could tell us if they could talk! Play Lane was more than likely an old drovers Road with cattle and sheep being driven down to Horse Slip (now the Hovertravel terminal) to be collected by barges and taken to Gosport for slaughter. A food source for our Navy a very long time ago.
May I wish you all a blessed New Year!
Guardian, Play Lane Millennium Green
8th January 2024