TOP hosted a Project Groundwork workshop: wildlife, garden & art workshop on 17th September.

groundwork visitors

artistic vistors to site

Combining a visit and exploration of the site, with producing artwork in response, and using materials from the garden.

art in nature

Noriko showing how to turn artworks into a booklet

Busy day down at the patch today, we had our Annual General Meeting, and a workday, and we were open as part of Big Dig Bournemouth and Poole – well we had the bunting up, and one neighbour came in for a look.

Hedgehog hotel and feeding station

Hedgehog hotel and feeding station

Ken and Ruth brought down a feeding station and nesting site for hedgehogs. Great to attract these to the patch, since they should find the slugs much quicker than we do.

TOP AGM 2015

Gary reading out the minutes to get to the food quickly

Our traditional AGM, mostly the same faces volunteering to be on the committee, but Bob relieving Ken of the chore of being treasurer. Our chairman, Mark having left his long list of agenda items and chairman’s report, had to make it all up on the spot. Several changes were proposed and then deferred for another year. All agreed that the tomatoes in the greenhouse had not done well, but the need to feed them with Comfrey liquor was not well known, and the water system probably needs a good clean through.

feeding time in the greenhouse

At last we get to the food

Of course the real reason we all go to the Patch is to feast on the lovely food that everyone brings down. Everyone looks a bit intent in this picture, as having started the AGM in sunshine outside the greenhouse, we all got a bit cold !

pollinating the peach tree

Mark hand pollinating the Peach tree in the greenhouse

Last year we had one solitary peach on our new tree, so this year, and we might be a little late, we hand pollinated the flowers, Andy having popped home for a paintbrush.

working party

Fizz and Bob working whilst the world looks on

There was good work done, but there was also lots of sitting around talking, or in Mateo’s case, playing with worms.

A wet morning, and a shower just after lunch, when the weathermen told us it would be dry, did make for an interesting session building the bonfire this year. A good turnout as dark approached, and various bits of old furniture, mostly wood-wormed and well worn, appeared, heading for the heap. Some was squirrelled away into the compound, to become cornerposts for the next iteration of the compost heap.

Scoffing in the greenhouse

Scoffing in the greenhouse

Ken and Mark stoked the flames, and everyone else just gathered – moths to a flame, to enjoy the warmth and convivial chatter. I will get in trouble for forgetting some of the lovely food, but Mark brought along a great sausage casserole, Gary made spicy pumpkin soup, Kate brought dhal, Manuella made pasta salad, and Harriet brought bread.

50 year old stepladder

50 year old stepladder

Jan made a customary crumble, due to a lack of apples, it was mostly with blackberries, and delicious for that. Clare made a delicious pumpkin pie, using one of the Crown Prince squashes from the patch, and Sonya created a wicked chocolate and orange cake, with a whole chocolate orange in the middle and still warm from the oven.

After some years of sterling service, the picnic bench broke as two people sat together on it, so it was ceremonially dumped onto the fire.

Picnic bench hotseat

Picnic bench hotseat

Mateo especially enjoyed the cake, even more when Bernard had lowered it to the bench so that he could help himself !

Mateo finds the chocolate orange cake

Mateo finds the chocolate orange cake

The Tatnam patch crowd thick skinned and sturdy, so there we were yesterday, just as usual, enjoying the shortest day, third Saturday of the month, so a normal workday. But, in honour of the Solstice date, original winter feast, and the wet wild and windy weather, we mostly stayed in the greenhouse. Ben made repeated forays out to the storm kettle in search of making tea, and Marcos was busy digging up a small tree, whilst the rest of us mostly just ate and drank.


2013 TOPS Winter Solstace in the greenhouse

There was a butternut squash soup from Gary,  which went well with stuffing that Ken had made, and homebaked bread from Andy. A three-meat pasta dish that Mark brought along, mince pies from Marcos and Fizz and as tradition dictates, a crumble from the maestro herself, Jan. I’ve probably forgotten something, oh my homebrew beer and gary’s mulled wine, which included soaking toasted almonds and raisins in the making.

There was a discussion about how the new peach tree in the greenhouse would be corralled into shape, grown indoors to avoid peach leaf curl apparently.

Happy yule to all !

Friends gathered for the annual barbacue at TOP this Sunday. It’s a geat time of year to sit and enjoy the garden. Jan seemed to be the only one determined to do some work before eating, whilst the blokes mostly gathered around that most ancient of meeting places – the fire.

TOPS BBQ September 2013Barry is now a rare visitor from Kent, but the stove that he constructed came back out and did stirling service (once Gary had remembered to advise that the fire needed to be on top of the grill). Lance, new to the patch, was chief fire stoker.

When I arrived, Mark and Gary were in the greenhouse, discussing the potential location for a peach tree – dispacing some of the tomatoes in the long greenhouse bed, and doubtless another change to the watering system. Mark then created a Bacchenalian table dressing using a few of the many drifts of sweet grapes that our vine is again producing.

Marcos Mum, over from Barcelona, got deep into amongst other things, discussing preserving apples with Andy, and the principles of Permaculture with Gary, with only the occassional word passed to her son to translate.

Junior members of the party had a great time. Mateus played endlessly with throwing apples, for whoever would retreive them, and grabbing the very patient passing dog, owned by Emily and Paul, but visiting with Marcos and Fizz.

Lillian chose a big Bramley apple to eat raw, much to the adults suprise. When she eventually let daddy try it, Brendan didnt have to say anything, the scrunched up eyes told us that the cooking apple was as tart as we’d expected. A different variety was quickly substituted.

The squashes have done well this year, and we have a number of butternut squash looking great. The Apple trees are groaning, including a crab-apple covered in golden fruit.

Ken came along with his barrel barbaque, and Gary brought along a cob cooker, which retained the heat from 12 briquettes to cook for 3 hours solidly. A variety of tasty burgers, sausages and kebabs were cooked. Clare had marinaded chicken in an Eastern Mediterranian sauce, and Brendan and Tat went for a spicy mix.

Both Jan’s summer pudding and customary crumble were much appreciated, as was a fruit salad packed with soft fruit from Gary’s garden.


Members were busy down the patch despite the poor weatheron Saturday for

One visitor, Graham, documented his experience at


Lots of intererest in our open day as part of the Poole and Bournemouth Big Green Fortnight, around 50 people visited the site, lots of interesting questions.

Ruth and Ken kept the kettle on the brew. Mark and Andy led groups on tours around the site, Harriet welcomed people in, Manuella was ever ready with the camera, and Kate and Jamie did a bit of weeding to demonstrate we don’t just stand and talk.

Linda and Karen laid out a stall in aid of the WWF, which also benefitted from the plant sales. Harriet also had a stall for Transiton Town Poole, and several of the conversations ranged widely on some of the topics of Transition – food, energy, oil and climate change.

Open Day Chat

Open Day Discussion

It seemed the same 3 intrepid children had an endless supply of questions for Mark on mini-beasts.

Open Day Bug Inspection

Manuella caught on camera photographing Mark's bug collection

The weather held well for us until it came time to pack up.