Chinbrook Meadows Apple Day
Saturday 22nd October 2022
Apple Day is an annual family event held in the small orchard of Chinbrook Meadows and organised by ChART (Chinbrook Action Residents Team), the Friends of Chinbrook Meadows and and Chinbrook Community Orchard (@cc_orchard), with apple tasting, apple pressing, activities for children, live music, etcetera. This year, the environmental charity Thames21 (who are working to improve the small river that runs through the Meadows) and the Quekett were invited, and we shared a gazebo.
The event got off to an excellent start with a free buffet lunch for the participants, including cakes provided by the Café in the Park.
Participants enjoying the buffet
Thames21 and Quekett Microscopical Club stand [by Philippa Nicholls]
Alan Wood brought along his Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope, a small stereomicroscope (the STX Stereo Microscope sold on Amazon by GT Vision), two of the (sadly discontinued) Natural History Museum Pocket Microscopes, and free leaflets on using microscopes and observing pond life (available as PDFs from our Downloads page). ChART kindly provided some large magnifying glasses. Before the samples from the river were ready, Alan showed an oak leaf with lots of common spangle galls and an oak twig covered in lichen (both collected from the Meadows), and a feather of a ring-necked parakeet.
Microscopes and magnifiers
Oak leaf with common spangle galls
Common spangle gall (3.5 mm diameter)
Oak twig with lichen
Lichen on oak twig (cups 1–2 mm diameter)
Feather of ring-necked parakeet
Philippa Nicholls from Thames21 explained to the adult visitors that the water quality in the River Quaggy is being affected by a polluted ditch that drains into it. They are planning to improve the quality of the water in the river by diverting the ditch through a new wetland area with shallow pools with reeds that will clean the water and create a habitat for marginal plants and wildlife. They expect to complete the project by October 2023. Several people asked to be put on the mailing list to be kept informed, and a few volunteered to help with the project.
One way to monitor water quality is to sample the invertebrates and see if they are associated with clean or polluted environments. Philippa recruited some young volunteers to help with kick sampling, gave them and their parents a short talk on health and safety procedures, and equipped them with disposable gloves and Wellington boots provided by ChART. She then took them to the River Quaggy, which runs close to the orchard.
Kick sampling the River Quaggy
Children with the hand net [by Philippa Nicholls]
They not only enjoyed splashing about in the river, they brought back two trays with lots of specimens that we could examine under the stereomicroscopes.
Most of the specimens were too big to pick up with a pipette, so we used spoons to transfer them to small Petri dishes.
Selecting a specimen
There were lots of enthusiastic young visitors, most of whom had never used a microscope before. A couple of them had children’s microscopes which they found useless, and one complained that her school had several microscopes but only one of them worked. Some of them may well be getting microscopes for Christmas.
The specimens included freshwater shrimps (Gammarus), freshwater lice (Asellus), bloodworms (larvae of non-biting midges, Chironomidae), leeches, flatworms and a water mite. There was also one empty snail shell. Philippa was kept busy explaining that the types of invertebrates that we found indicated that the water quality is not good. The specimens were returned to the river.
Philippa Nicholls with young visitors
The event was organised by ChART, who had a stand with information about the surprising range of events that they organise, and activities for children.
ChART (Chinbrook Action Residents Team)
There were heritage varieties of dessert apples for tasting and juicing from Chinbrook Community Orchard and Brogdale Farm, with culinary apples available to take away with bags containing apple recipes to try at home. For the first time we also had apples from the Chinbrook Park orchard to juice!
Tasting apples from the orchard
A couple of people were busy cutting up apples so that they could be pressed to produce really fresh apple juice for tasting. Pressing apples is hard work, so volunteers were welcome to assist!
Pressing apples to produce juice
To keep the children occupied, Clay at The Ringway had a stand where they could make hedgehogs out of clay.
There was another stand where children could use lots of coloured pens to colour outline drawings.
And to keep us all entertained, there was live folk music.
We are looking forward to the next event at Chinbrook Meadows.
Report and most photographs by Alan Wood