Author Archives: GM

Waving the Green Flag again

The Pleasaunce has once again won a Green Flag award  following an inspection last year. The scheme exists to ‘recognise and reward the best green spaces in the country’.

Back in June inspectors were given a tour of the park by members of the Friends committee and parks officers – including the cafe with its green building, the Bridge, the orchard and the navy graves.

In their report the inspectors praised the hands-on involvement of the Friends Group in the park and described the cafe building as excellent, commenting that, ‘Cafe seems to be part of the park with a sense of membership rather than just catering provision’.

They found the park clean and well kept, despite a little graffiti and  said that it was ‘clearly cared for by the local community and well managed by a dedicated and competent team at the Council’.

They saw some room for improvement, suggesting that there could be more interpretation in the park of its long history, which could give the FEGP some ideas for future projects.

If you have any ideas on how to keep our park well-cared for, or perhaps how to make more improvements, remember our AGM is coming up on 28th January – all are welcome.

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That’s a lot o’ grotto at the Christmas Party

The Pleasaunce Christmas Party was another success last month – with more than 250 children seeing Father Christmas during a two and half hour period! There was no charge, so families could come along and be entertained to a free afternoon of Christmas Cheer.

Meanwhile, their parents took a look around the Christmas Market and enjoyed refreshments at the Friends of the Pleasaunce bar. Mulled wine, mince pies or hot chocolate all on offer.

There were other things to amuse the children such a making decorations or finding a present among the nearly new toys.

Santa also kept up his tradition of surprising us by leaving the sleigh at home and arriving in alternative forms of transport – this year in a police van with a mounted police escort. The children loved the horses who waited patiently while photographs were taken and stayed all afternoon.

As always it was a great combined effort by the Friends of the Pleasaunce and The Bridge volunteers. This year  we were  able to make use of the Bridge for Santa’s Grotto for the first time, so Father Christmas didn’t need his long johns and the children kept warm and cosy.

Halstow  Community Choir lead the Carol Singing and a local Jazz band entertained us.

Police horses & Santa santa


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Harvest marvels

Our food-growing club at the Bridge has been harvesting – and we had lots of young helpers. We’ve pulled up delicious radishes, as well as courgettes (some of which have started a new life as delicious courgette chutney) from our new raised beds, which were built back in the sweltering summer with the goodwill and serious physical effort of volunteers.

Bridge Courgette RadishesMore radishes

In other exciting grub news, our partners at Avant Gardening have won a grant to find fun ways to get kids even more engaged with food and growing – including vegetable ice cream! Watch this space for more details.

If you can help with planning, planting and other green-fingered activities, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at

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Ho ho ho! Here comes the Pleasaunce Christmas Party

Put the date in your diary: We’ll be holding our Christmas bash in the Pleasaunce on 8th December. Expect  carols from the Halstow Community Choir, festive stalls, nearly-new toys for sale, hot refreshments including mulled wine, and a grotto, with the man himself making his now traditional unconventional entrance. What will he be riding this year?

FREE entry from Halstow or Chevening Roads. Father Christmas from 2-4pm, carols 3pm and barrow sale Christmas Bazaar from 1 till 3 pm.
Any help on the day would be very much appreciated – email FEGP chair, Sue Gay:

If you would like to have a table / stall, please email for more information

FEGP Christmas poster

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An extra thanks to Bridge allotment volunteers

We have to add an extra thank you to the earlier post – to Clinton and Jeremy, heroic spaders, shovellers, barrowers and hammerers, who worked until after sunset last night shifting a huge pile of topsoil from one end of the site to the other, and into the new beds. We’re almost ready to plant, as soon as we lay our hands on some additional compost to dig in. Thanks, all!

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We’ve raised the beds – next we raise the veg!

Volunteers from the Bridge and Pip! endured sweltering sun this week while constructing wooden raised beds to get our food-growing club running.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the dowel-bashing, malleting, gluing, hefting, carrying, perspiring and general collective problem-solving and instruction-interpreting. And thanks to Stephen Brain, for collecting the evidence of the hard work on camera. Thanks also to those who turned up on the first scheduled day when the delivery of the blocks meant we had to postpone. And huge thanks also for Sue Gay’s time and effort bringing gravel, horticultural fabric and compost today – a huge task.

Bridge 2

The ‘Wood Blocx’ system under construction

Exhausted, but job done. Clinton, Gavin, Adam and Liz take a deserved rest. Thanks also to Jacqui, who had to leave before the mugshots

Exhausted, but job done. Clinton, Gavin, Adam and Liz take a deserved rest. Thanks also to Jacqui, who had to leave before the mugshots

The materials for the beds were donated by Mace, the contractors building the new Greenwich Square development – and we were really pleased with how attractive they turned out to be. They’ve already made a big difference to what was a derelict-looking patch of hardstanding – and once the beds are sprouting and blooming it’s sure to be really beautiful.

We aim to use the beds to help the children (and grown-ups) who come to the Bridge’s play-and-stay sessions to learn about food-growing and healthy eating and to excite them about trying vegetables and fruit that they might otherwise turn their noses up at. Growing your own food can have a great effect on children’s willingness to try new flavours.

If you weren’t able to be there, there are still ways you can help – there is a list of materials that would really help to launch our kids’ growing club – scroll to the bottom of this earlier post to see if there’s anything that you might be able to donate, including food-growing knowledge.

We were also really pleased to be approached by Paul and Nala from Avant Gardening this week, who are looking for partners for their plans to get people in Greenwich excited about food – ideas include flavouring ice cream with wacky vegetable flavours and riding a cycle-powered ice cream maker around the area, among other brilliant ideas. Next they’ll be applying for funding to make their plans a reality, and we hope to be involved. Watch this space.

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Free zumba this Friday

There will be a free zumba class in the Pleasaunce this Friday at 5pm – along with all of the other last-day-of-term excitement, including the cafe’s swishing event in aid of Oxfam. Click for more details of the zumba.

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Our new children’s food growing club needs your help

vegThe Bridge community centre and Pip! (Planting in the Pleasaunce) are getting together to create a children’s and parents’ vegetable and fruit garden in the Pleasaunce – but we need help from local people.

We want to use our raised beds ‘allotment’ to teach children at our under-5s sessions – and the grown-ups – about healthy eating and where food comes from.

We’ve got some of what we need to get started but with a very limited budget available to us, we’re appealing for help from the community to find the other important things we need to get our growing club off the ground.

We need:

  • Volunteers on Monday 15 July
  • Equipment, materials and seeds

If you have anything from the list below that you’re able to donate (or if you’re willing and able to donate funds towards them), please do get in touch with us, ideally well before 15 July – and thank you! You can reach us via

We’re also having a volunteer day to build our beds – which will be made of wooden blocks that fit together. If you can help, come along on Monday 15 July at 12 noon to the Bridge, which is in the corner of the Pleasaunce, near the cafe. Email to say you can make it – or just turn up if you become free at the last minute. Thank you!

So here are some things we could really do with…

Equipment / materials

·         Compost (preferably peat-free and organic) – urgent!

·         Permeable horticultural plastic – urgent!

·         Gravel / small stones – urgent!

·         Gloves – children’s and adults’

·         Trowels / hand forks / hand hoes

·         Watering cans – children’s and adults’

·         Markers/labels for plants

·         Netting & net supports

·         Bamboo poles or equivalent

·         Pallets

·         Builders’ bags / hessian sacks

Seeds or plants – any of these will be great for us to plant at this time of year:

·         Peas

·         French beans

·         Oriental leaves (eg pak choi, tat soi)

·         Kohl rabi

·         Radish

·         Turnip

·         Beetroot

·         Carrots

·         Florence fennel

·         Spinach

·         Rainbow chard

·         Coriander

·         Chervil

·         Parsley

·         Rocket

·         Lettuce

·         Lamb’s lettuce

·         Land cress

·         Salad onions – winter varieties

·         Winter purslane

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Help us quench our orchard’s thirst

Pip! volunteers water the fruit trees in our young orchard every week in the warmer months. On 4 August at around 10.30am we’ll get together to set the rota for the following month or so.

If you’d like to get involved in this way, we’d love to see you – we’ll be the ones with the watering cans on site from 10am. At 10.30am we’ll have a cup of coffee in the cafe, have a chat and get our diaries out. Please feel free to join us, we’re a friendly and informal bunch.

In the meantime, you can just turn up to meet us and help out if you feel like it, as we’ll be watering from 10am every Sunday morning in July. If you want to double-check what days we’re watering, go to our Facebook group and check the posts there. If you join our Facebook group, too, our posts should appear in your timeline and keep you up to date with events, news and volunteering opportunities.

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Sunshine and smiles at our 2013 summer picnic

by Stephen Brain

You said it.

You said it.

In stunning sunshine, Sunday  morning saw a small army (well, at least a  fair sized platoon) of helpers in the Pleasaunce organising the FEGP / Parksfest 2013 summer picnic, erecting gazebos, moving tables  and setting up  power supplies  for the all important tea urn  and the bands (thank you to both Chevening households that hosted the cables).

Professional riggers arrived and put up staging and the two large marquees.  Prizes for the tombola were mysteriously obtained and shed-loads of cakes for the cake stall were deposited (thank you Christine).  In the midst of the general melee the professional musicians and technicians for the four bands arrived. Everyone appeared to know what they were doing  and soon  the Pleasaunce resounded to that well known refrain of “Testing – testing – one – two – three”.

At 1200 hours people started to accumulate and continued to do so throughout the afternoon, despite stiff competition from televised sports and two minor musical events elsewhere in London and Somerset! The Bridge opened its doors for face painting and family story telling was led by Giles Abbott; hogs were roasted and chicken made jerky; African drums drummed, Arts workshops did arty things and the bar did a roaring trade as the afternoon got  hotter.

Crowds enjoyed music ranging from the swinging and summery to rockin and (whisper it) a bit risque

Crowds enjoyed music ranging from the swinging and summery to the rockin’ and (whisper it) a wee bit risque

Great music was provided by, two local(ish) bands, The Lost Chords and Ffog, Rachel and  Niall supplied laid-back jazz and the afternoon rounded off by Ronnie Scott’s Rejects. All with barely a technical hitch and little fuss as the bands shared equipment to make life easy for all concerned.

And at the end the miracle happened… lots of people helped to put everything away and no hernias or back strains have been reported! They say “many hands make light work” and that was really true this year. Many, many, thanks to all the volunteers and Friends Committee members, it really made a difference.

People  rounded-up their children and began to drift away but some lingered quite late into the gloaming…

A great day organised in a harmonious manner by local people that welcomed everyone .

For me the event was summed up perfectly by Gavin  McGregor: “What a great day. Everyone should be really proud – it seemed to go like a dream, and the atmosphere was terrific, smiles everywhere you looked and a great variety of activities and entertainments to choose from. It made me doubly proud to live here.

“We were also really pleased to see people signing up for more information about Pip! – our orchard, food and wildlife group – so we hope to see more willing hands joining our band of volunteers.”

Can't decide whether to be Superman or Spiderman? No problem for this partygoer

Can’t decide whether to be Superman or Spiderman? No problem for this partygoer

Sue Gay paid tribute to all of the unsung helpers who materialised on the day, saying: “The event wouldn’t have been possible without the help of ALL the Friends of the Park.

“People I’ve never met just turned up and said ‘What can I do?’ Maybe the sunshine made all the difference, but it wouldn’t have worked so well without people. We also had a record number of cakes just handed in. So many we even sent a trayful to Lizzie in the cafe at the end.

“And while we were all enjoying the music and the refreshment in the dog free zone, there were almost as many up at the Bridge and Café with the Naval College and storyteller.

“Glastonbury, the British Grand Prix or Andy Murray playing at Wimbledon didn’t seem to stop people coming to the Summer Picnic at the Pleasaunce.”

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