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Great seed festival: 11-12 Oct

Posted: September 11th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: | No Comments »

Great seed festival


Autumn at Cranford Park

Posted: September 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Residents | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

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This is an exciting month in Cranford Park. 

We are celebrating the world’s biggest coffee morning in one of the smallest gardens (Sunday 14th September, 10am – 12 noon). The event is in the Secret Garden (near the information centre and stables) as part of Macmillan Cancer Support’s ‘World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’. We would be grateful if you could invite friends, make a cake or help on the day. There is an invitation attached.

On 20-21 September, the Berkeley stables, Secret Garden and St. Dunstan’s Church open their doors as part of London Open House weekend. There is an exhibition in the stables and members of the Friends will be in attendance to answer questions and collect memories. Sat. From 10.30am. On the Sunday (from 11.30am), classic motorcycles gather in the courtyard. Refreshments available, admission free.

Booking has opened for an open-air theatre production on 27 and 28 September (3pm).

Outline Theatre’s ‘Wheat to War’ is a celebration of local life and history, using song, dance and drama. Suitable for the whole family, the show features the coming of the Grand Union Canal, the building of the Great Western Railway and World War I, paying tribute to local heroes. Produced in partnership with the Imperial War Museum.

Tickets are £4 (four for £14, under fives free) via  www.outlinetheatre.co.uk, ortel. 01895 851936.

Cranford Park is served by bus E6, road access is beside M4 junction 3/A312 on The Parkway. Parking is free, satnav TW5 9RZ.

Coffee Morning invitation 2014


Bottled blackberries: Fri 22 Aug, 1-4pm

Posted: August 11th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Foraging | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Grow Heathrow

The highlight of our foraging year.

If Grow Heathrow hasn’t been evicted, we’re going to bottle loads of blackberries. Bring clean empty jars and you will earn respect, win honour and know true righteousness.  It’ll be the tail end but we should get lots of juicy buckets. You can taste some of last year’s (they’re great) and take some of this year’s jars home so you can fish for compliments from your family.

If we have been evicted, we’ll just go and eat blackberries. To be honest it might turn into just eating blackberries either way. See you there!


£10,000 No Third Runway film winner revealed

Posted: July 19th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Cool Projects, Events | Tags: , , | No Comments »

In October 2009 before he became Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead, no ifs, no buts,” Within 30 months of taking power he set up a Commission widely expected to recommend airport expansion after his manifesto pledge runs out next year.

On Wednesday 18th June, more than 800 people packed into the Richmond Theatre to watch and judge the best viral films reminding Mr Cameron of his promise, and pressing the case against Heathrow expansion.

Audience Vote at 'No Ifs No Buts' Competition Final

The No Ifs No Buts Film Competition staged by Zac Goldsmith MP in conjunction with the campaign group HACAN attracted well over 50 videos. Fifteen were shown at the event on 18th June.

The Judges at 'No ifs no Buts' Heathrow Short Film Competition

In First Place: the residents’ film

In Second Place: the film beyond words

In Third Place: the comedy film

The 12 runners up are well worth watching.


Pickled elderberries: Fri 18 Jul, 1 – 4

Posted: July 7th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Foraging | Tags: | No Comments »

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Living in broken rotting greenhouses has its perks.

What plant books flatteringly call ‘wasteland species’ may not have the looks but as we like to say here, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. And autumn is coming up, with our Garden of Eden maze of elderberries and blackberries. There’s even a volunteer from abroad staying at Grow Heathrow at the moment who despite getting to know all of us, the site and what we do there has privately admitted she’s now really there for the blackberries; after they finish she might be off to somewhere else.

On Friday 18th July, from 1pm to 4 we’ll be pickling green elderberries. We pickled loads of ripe and less ripe purple elderberries last year but they just weren’t amazing – they taste a lot of vinegar and a little bit of that rich, slightly unpleasant ‘elder smell’ that you get when you crush elder leaves. You can try them if you come round (no need to thank us). But the green ones we pickled got gobbled up with chips as comfort food in the dark winter – crunchier and less strong. So this year we know how to prepare to liven those winter moments when there’s ten men sat around the old wood burning stove and someone brings out a guitar with four strings and delights in another repeat singing ‘Wagon Wheel’. Green pickled elderberries for hot chips (and daal)! (You can also check out the Urban Harvest info on eating elderberries)

If you want to join the party, be there.


Elderflower cordial: Fri 13, 1-3pm

Posted: June 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Foraging | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Elderflowers and red clover

Yep, it’s that time of year again. The field by the old garden centre is full of red clover, and the rotting greenhouse frames are burping up sprays of elderflowers.

We’re gonna make some elderflower cordial. Be there. If you remember, grab a couple of clean empty jars or small glass bottles.


Poisonous carrot cousins and wild hogweed ‘asparagus’: Fri 16 May, 1-4pm

Posted: May 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Foraging | Tags: , | No Comments »

Foraging at Grow Heathrow

April was a loads of fun; 30 of us came down and learnt how to identify the mustard family (brassicaceae), which has no poisonous plants, as well as the springtime linden (tilia spp.) leaves that are offering massive free salads all over London. We also spent some time considering the risks of foraging, codes of conduct and the law. A big thank you to everyone who came, all inspiringly enthusiastic, and also to our favourite photographer Jonathan Goldberg for these kickass snaps.

Now it’s May, the first few hogweed (heracleum sphondylium) flowers are just beginning to bud. Our site is covered in hogweed, having been derelict and neglected for so long, which means we’re able to steam pots full of dozens of hogweed flower buds every day in summer. Like an abundant wild asparagus, it’s gobbled up. And even if we didn’t live in a sea of it, it’s handy that each plant will live an extra year if all of its flowers are harvested.

But hogweed is part of the carrot family (apiaceae), which contains deadly poisonous species. Many people have heard of one cousin of the carrot, toxic giant hogweed (heracleum mantegazzianum),  for the extreme sunburn rashes it causes when touched. The rashes can become scars that last years, and there’s plenty of giant hogweed growing along Cranford Lane as well as the Grand Union canal west of West Drayton.

We’ll start the workshop off with some very civilised nibbles – hogweed stems with hummus: they’re like a refreshing, slightly citrussy celery. We’ll learn how to tell the difference between toxic giant hogweed and edible common hogweed, as well as how to look for warning signs that wild plants may be in the dangerous carrot family. There’ll be some fun activities in pairs and groups to recap the day as well as handouts to take home. All that brain strain will be rewarded with a hike round the site harvesting, and then steaming the goods.

You’ll need to book in advance to be able to take part as this Month the workshop will have a cap of 12 foragers to be able to move quickly and fit all of our activities in. The suggested donation for the workshop is £8 for people on high or average wages and £3 for low waged and unwaged people. All donations go 100% to Grow Heathrow, paying for bike workshop tools, rice and bog roll. If money’s not ideal, you can donate your time washing up :D

 Book by leaving a comment here with your first name, which should take 10 seconds.  If you don’t have internet access then just let a resident know your name face to face or on the phone. You can also check out our travel info and videos about the site.

I’ve been enjoying a couple of foragers’ web pages a lot recently, Chester-based Eden Wild Food and London-based Ipso-phyto. They’ve got fantastic seasonal photos of local wild food, so check them out if you like the sound of that. They also both offer guided walks and workshops.


Spring at Cranford Park

Posted: April 9th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Gardening Club, Growing Group | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

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If you have thought of volunteering in the park, now is the time! Just turn up at one of Cranford Park Friends’ monthly sessions, meeting at the Secret Garden beside the Stables, on the second Sunday of each month… the next session is this coming Sunday April 13 at 10am (see below). No experience or tools are required.

Some other event highlights for the coming months are listed below. Other news in brief:

Repairs to the Stable Block roof, weatherproofing and ivy removal have been completed by the London Borough of Hillingdon’s contractor. So the building is weatherproof at last. Unfortunately there was a break-in in the early hours of March 9, the doors were damaged and some of our tools stolen. If you have spare garden tools you could donate to fill the gap, please contact the Secretary.

Towards a Lottery bid. LB Hillingdon has shown great faith in our group’s achievements by ring-fencing £25k to fund a Feasibility Study, the first step towards a Heritage Lottery Fund grant application. It has been declared a Hillingdon Improvement Project, for the buildings and park. Winning a Lottery grant will be a long and complicated job but success could mean wonderful enhancements, of benefit to the whole community. A Steering Group has been set up and the Friends are well represented on it. We hope you will be able to help us – more details in due course.

CRANFORD PARK EVENTS 2014 All events except *are free. Address: The Parkway (A312), Hounslow, TW5 9RZ.

Sunday 13 April, 10am – 12 noon. Secret Garden Opening & Volunteering. Help us prepare the garden for summer. Refreshments will be served to volunteers. The garden will open at the same time on the second Sunday of each month (11 May, 8 June etc.). The entrance is adjacent to the stable courtyard.

Saturday 26 April, 11am. Bluebell Walk. Join Countryside & Conservation Officer Alison Shipley for a guided walk through the bluebell woods. Meet at information centre.

Sunday May 11, 10am -12 noon. *Secret Garden Opening & Volunteering. *See above.

Saturday May 17, 11am. ‘Knights, Earls & Ghosts’ History Tour. A 90-minute guided history walk around Cranford Park. Meet at information centre.

Thursday May 22, 7.30pm. Cranford Park Friends’ Quarterly Meeting. Crane Community Centre, Fuller Way, Harlington (off Cranford Drive, bus E6). All welcome.

Sunday June 8, 10am -12 noon. *Secret Garden Opening & Volunteering/Balsam Bash. *See above. On the river we join the River Crane-wide event removing Himalayan Balsam, a highly invasive plant along the river. Please wear long trousers and long sleeve shirts.

Sunday June 22, 11am – 4pm. Grand Union Canal Boat Trip on the Elsdale. *(Members of *Cranford Park Friends and families only; booking essential). Departs from and returns to Packet Boat Marina, Packet Boat Lane, Cowley UB8 2JJ. A leisurely cruise and social event for members and their families. Free (donation of £3 suggested). Please bring a packed lunch. Licensed bar also serving hot and soft drinks. On-board toilets. Includes short talk on canal history, and local wildlife. Places limited, please book with Dhush Selvarajah, tel. 077180 43105, email dhush.selvarajah@groundwork.org.uk.

Saturday June 28, 11am. Butterfly Walk. Join the Countryside & Conservation Officer for a guided walk looking at the many species of butterfly found in Cranford Park. Meet at information centre.

Saturday August 2. Cranford Park Remembers. A friendly day for all the family with a medieval encampment, a memory wall where you can leave your park memories, activities for kiddies and more. The 18th century Stables and St. Dunstan’s Church will be open; tea garden refreshments. Details to follow nearer the date. Volunteers will be needed well in advance.

Saturday/Sunday September 20 and 21.* Open House London 2014.* Cranford Stables & Secret Garden and St Dunstan’s Church open. Members of the Friends’ History & Conservation working party will be in attendance.

Saturday/Sunday September 27 and 28, 3pm. *W*heat to War 1780-1918.*Celebrate local life in this hour-long outdoor spectacular for the whole family. Outline Theatre performs popular songs, dance and drama. A moving tribute to our local Great War Heroes, marking the centenary of World War I. Tickets £4 or 4 for £14, Under 5′s free; book online at www.outlinetheatre.co.uk. Box Office, tel. 01895 851936.


Wild and free salads: Fri 18 April, 1-3pm

Posted: March 25th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Foraging | 4 Comments »

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Well hello foragers. 2014 is on us and we’re partying hard with an ID walk and salad making stroll from 1-3pm on Fri 18th April.

This year, if for some embarrassing reason you haven’t heard, weekly Foraging Fridays are mutating into bigger workshops around once a month from February till September. Maybe we’ll go for an appley extravganza in October too, if you’re good.

Salad plants we’ll find:

  • Hoary cress (lepidium draba)
  • Chickweed (stellaria media)
  • Smooth sow thistle (sonchus oleraceus)
  • Cow parsley (anthriscus sylvestris) – and its poisonous almost identical lookalike, hemlock (conium maculatum)
  • Cress, unfairly branded ‘hairy bittercress’ (cardamine hirsuta)
  • nipplewort (lapsana communis)
  • borage (borago officinalis)

blah blah blah. And possible ones nearby:

  • three cornered garlic (allium triquetrum)
  • horseradish (armoracia rusticana)

Bring your party clothes


50,000 mobilised against Nantes expansion

Posted: March 24th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Action | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Peasant mobilization was strong in Nantes, where the procession was attended by 530 tractors.

A huge protest took place in Nantes on 22nd February, against the planned new replacement airport to be built at Notre Dame des Landes, some miles to the north. The organisers estimated some 50,000 protesters, who came in from supportive groups from regions all across France. There are reported to have been 65 coach loads of protesters who travelled to Nantes to take part, and 520 tractors, brought by supportive farmers from surrounding areas. The protests were put down with considerable force by the police, using water canon, rubber bullets and tear gas.

The full report is at Airport Watch, including an article from Le Monde, video of police response, and a blog from John Stewart of HACAN about the origins of the resistance to the airport.

John Stewart’s blog from 24 February begins:

In a blog about the huge demonstration, part of which turned in to rioting, at Nantes against the proposed  new airport, John Stewart looks at how this protest came about – and its relevance to other large infrastructure projects in Europe. The Nantes protest organisers say as many as 50,000 people attended, from supportive protest committees from areas across France. The politics of this airport project have taken on national interest and significance, and also linked into opposition to “Les Grands Projets Inutiles Imposes” (useless, imposed mega-projects).  The people passionately fighting plans for a new airport in unspoiled French farming countryside are linked to those opposing HS2 and other schemes like a high-speed rail in Northern Italy and cyanide-mined gold extraction project in Romania. All these projects have managed to get support from very disparate sections of society. They all have real doubts about the economics or the necessity of the project; also they have land, homes, countryside or communities to defend; there is significant local opposition; and they also attract in outside opposition, from people with a variety of  perspective as well as environmental.