Separate pages contain reports of our
Family Activities Day - May 2022
Despite most of North London having disappeared for the bank holiday and the inclement weather, a few families enthusiastically got stuck into the activities on offer. The children delighted in handling a variety of leaves and sticking them onto a card band to create their very own crowns. They also found the nature hunt absorbing, gathering treasures in their collecting bags and then having them identified – any live critters were speedily released! The Xplore course, a mini orienteering activity testing observation and map-reading skills, had children (and their parents) rushing round the Grove. All in all, a very good four hours spent meeting park visitors and helping to open children’s eyes to the natural world of the park.
Picture shows a group off on an xplorer trail wearing theire crowns.
Stall at the Farmers' Market - December 2021
This day can be summed up by poor weather and great calendar sales thanks to all the many helpers.
Nature walk, Dec 2020
This nature walk went mostly along the Lower Path finding about 20 flowering wild flowers. , together with various fungi and a "Big Bud Hazel Gall" (pictured). Link to what was seen - the exception being the birds who did not perform as requested.
Tree Planting - 8 new trees
The scheduled tree planting by TCV was postponed due to the new COVID restrictions and TCV have suspended volunteer work at present. Park contractors, John O'Conner will have now done the planting.
8 large-ish trees provided via the Mayor's Greener City Fund. What are they, I hear you ask.... 2 Small-leaved Limes (Tl), a Japanese Red Cedar (Cj), an English Oak (Qr), an Atlas Cedar (Ca), a Persian Ironwood (Pp), a Liquidambar (Ls) and a Tulip Tree (Lt). This map shows precisely the locations. The abbreviations are the latin names for the trees....
Picture is the new Persian Ironwood being planted (the Japanese Red Cedar is on the trailer). More pictures here.
Talk: Neither New or a River
A fully booked, packed room greeted John Polley of the New River Action Group. He had come up from deepest darkest Devon to give us a fact and anecdote filled talk on the New River.
At over 400 years old, John explained the New River's beginnings with the (largely) forgotten Captain Colthurst, then Sir Hugh Myddleton and Robert Myle through to its final completion with a circuitous route roughly following the 100 foot contour from Hertfordshire to Sadlers Wells.
Later short cuts were made cutting out loops in the river at Whitewebbs, Tottenham, Hornsey (used to run by the Three Compasses), Enfield and others.
The functioning of the New River as well as a tour along the New River all featured in this interesting and packed presentation.
There was, but a little time for questions at the end ...
Butterfly and Moth Talk
The audience left the talk, by Andrew Wood from Hertfordshire Butterfly Conservation, much wiser on the habits and appearance of butterflies and moths: from what they eat (nectar and some rather less pleasant substances), to how they mimic other insects (including wasps and hummingbirds). Andrew posed and answered a dozen questions that revealed the amazing variety amongst lepidopterans. He also talked about how to improve habitats for butterflies and moths and the effects of climate change.
Big Garden Birdwatch
A report on the RSPB NW London Group's presence by the Boating Lake for the Big Garden Birdwatch can be found here.The total number of different bird species seen was 24 with the highlights definitely being Peregrines by the BBC Tower and, for some of our regulars who often see those birds, the appearance of a female wigeon on the Boating Lake (picture left). Also of noted was that some of the black headed gulls were getting their "black" heads ready for the breeding season.
Stall at the Farmers' Market
We had our annual stall at the Ally Pally Farmers's Market. The weather was quite kind to us with only a splash of rain. We recruited several new members and sold over 30 of our 2020 calendars.
The sellers were fortified by some left over mulled wine and mince pies. We enjoyed our day at the market, a great asset to the park.
Some more pictures here.
Talk - National Park City
We were very lucky to welcome Steve Pocock of the National Park City Foundation to enlighten us on the recent declaration of London as a National Park City and what that means for us.
Steve explained that London is covered by 49.5% Green and Blue and the aim is for the Green alone percentage to increase to 50%.
Surprisingly there is more biodiversity within the urban area than out in the wider countryside.
So what are aims of the National Park City?
1) Enjoy London's great outdoors more.
2) Make London greener, healthier and wilder.
3) Promote London's identity as a National Park City.
The aims for 2020 being to create National Park City Rangers, enabling Festivals and Gatherings and reach more people and get them to explore the great outdoors.
Stall at the Great Fete
The Friends had a stall at The Great Fete with 4 different activities for visitors. How we could do this was down to the fact that over 20 of us volunteered to help out on the day. A great effort.
Our main activity was making crowns for kids including this example (left) modelled beautifully by our treasurer, Nick. Last year we had 50 masks for kids to make running out on time at the end. This year there were 80 crowns made running out 10 minutes before the end.
We also had our popular tree leaf ID challenge, but this was a little complicated this year with windy conditions....
We set up an Xplorer course around the area of the stall, with kids encouraged to find various cards in the trees in return for stickers. Lots of takers.
Stall at the Palace Gates Fete
The Friends had their regular stall at the Palace Gates Fete in June. This year we set up a little Xplorer trail around the triangle which gave kids a trail to follow around the stalls. It went very well. There was a lot for them to do around the Fete with mask making, shove halfpenny, a water game plus plus.
We also signed up some new members to keep over membership over 300.
Some of the adult visitors tested their skill with a little tree identification quiz as well.
A successful afternoon... more pictures from the fete here.
Family Activities Day: Late May
We welcomed three people from the Queckett Miscroscope Group who set up a large number of microscopes with screens and laptops to view the microbes seen. One was set up to look at diatoms - small plants that move. Another looked at the detail of everyday objects such as coins and watches and the third was looking at all the bugs brought by children and other members of the public. At the same time, we had a scavenger hunt set up outside with horse chestnut leaves and daisies etc. sought out. Finally there was an Xplorer trail set up in The Grove with a challenge to find all the cards set up around the Park.
Quite a lot of enthusiastic children could be seen running around the park and peering into microscopes.
The Quekett Microscope website has information on microscopes for children here.
The group meets up at the Natural History Museum and elsewhere. For information on their events, please clicke here.
Report with pictures by Queckett here.
AGM and Talk: 12 Years of Managing Alexandra Park
Mark Evison, the Park Manager of 12 years standing, give us insight into the challenges that he faced on arriving at the Park and the differences that he has seen around the Park.
The landscape of the Park has evolved rather than changed radically over this period. Safety and Management structures have been put into place/are being put in place and in the future the Strategic Vision will guide the overall management of the park going forward.
Mark went into a couple of case studies on decisions required with trees not in their prime. If they are old and "valuable", can they be kept, protected or must they go?
He also mentioned the events that have been seen in the Park over his "rein" with pictures of the Rapha Supercross and Red Bull BMX - and the challenges they gave to the park.
Good news! Ticket purchasers for events in the palace pay a "Restoration Levy" and now part of this money will come directly to the Park to help with future proofing and improvements.
The Chair, Gordon, gave a summary of the work of Friends over the past year with over 40 events taking place, with improved "targeting" of events for children on Bank Holidays and at the Great Fete.
Concern over the required spraying against oak processionary moth was mentioned and the increased, and future predicted further increase, of footfall into the Park.
The Chair's report can be read here.
Our financial position remains healthy with a similar income to last year and money ready for the future publication of a book on the history of the park.
The AGM itself confirmed the present Committee as Gordon Hutchinson (Chair), Jane Hutchinson (honorary secretary), Nick Bryant (honorary treasurer), Caroline Beattie-Merriman, Frances Minnion, Robyn Thomas and Stephen Middleton.
Family Activities Day Early May
Lots on offer for kids with leaf identification, a scavenger hunt - to find things like bugs and daisies - and a chance to make a herb pot or a sunflower seed pot. Not enough? There was also two Xplorer Trails in The Grove for younger and older kids.
The weather wasn't so sparkling, but at least there was no rain and we welcome over a hundred people over the four hour period.
It was great to see the smiles on kids faces as they went away with their home-made plant pots or came back from a successful Scavenger or Xplorer hunt.
Also a special thanks to all our volunteers who made this such a successful afternoon.
Talk - Haringey's Biodiversity: future plans, projects and opportunities
Ed Santry, Haringey's Nature Conservation officer, gave us a talk on his plans for the future. He outlined the present structure within the Council with some significant upsides with 6 new local Parks Project Officers each taking a section of the Haringey with Ed, himself, retaining responsibility for the Ancient Woodlands and Nature Reserves in the Borough. One downside was the fact that there are two empty Tree Officer posts to be filled.
Ed summarised the list of Green Spaces within the Borough and their difference statuses (SINC, SSSI, Metropolitan Open Land, etc.) as well emphasising the fact that he wished to encourage joined up thinking with green corridors within and extending across Council boundaries.
One of the future jobs is to look at new Biodiversity Action Plans (B.A.P.s) which will not only focus on Parks, Woods, Bats, Allotments, but also the green areas in and around housing developments.
He put up a slide of some of the invasive species that he has to monitor and counteract.
He asked us also to participate by citing our priorities within Alexandra Park and wider Borough. Also to cite courses and training that we thought might be useful. (He collected up the Post-its at the end to study them later....)
Finally, one of Ed's take-away thoughts/ideas was to say was that in his job it is important to interact with Friends' group and also for them to help each other.
Setting up the stall at the Farmers' Market, we regarded the weather anxiously as spits of rain appeared. Needless worry as it transpired.... ....the day proved sunnier and sunnier - a marked contrast to last year's snow.
With a healthy band of volunteers supported by the last of the mulled wine and mince pies, we set out our stall for selling our calendars and promoting the Friends.
We sold 5 calendars in the first half hour and continued at this rate selling out our remaining stock of calendars and more (49) by the end of the day. This is a first for us and we congratulated ourselves on a job well done. We were also very glad to welcome 2 new members and 2 others renewed membership.
One small point of dispute among the calendar sellers. Some were upset that being near the Giggly Pig stall made them hungry and others were vegetarian and.....
Usual spectacular display of Fireworks with an impressive heart (pictured left) on the first weekend of the November with a Beer Festival and Ice Skating in the Palace. Also circus performers and a bonfire (not in the Palace!).
More firework pictures here.
The Great Fete
The Friends had a stall at The Great Fete (the new name for the Summer Festival). We offered the opportunity for kids to make Butterfly Crowns (top pic). This was impressively popular and we actually ran out of raw materials half an hour before the close, but not before 65 kids had gone off very happy with their creations.
To test the kids and the adults, we had a Tree Leaf Quiz (middle pic) with leaves from Lime, Weeping Willow, Holly, Sycamore, Silver Maple and Cherry. This gained in popularity with trees close to stall being labelled to help the learning process. Some children were impressively knowledgeable.
Our final activity was a photo quiz (bottom pic). There were twelve pictures of the Palace and a map with 12 locations. It was "just" a question of matching them up.... Lots of puzzling, but eventually two people out of over fifty participants got all the questions correct and the tiebreaker had to come into operation.
What else was going on? Lots! The whole event was concentrated, this year, on the South Slope and in spite of some worry about having stalls on a slope, it worked really well. There was lots for kids to do and most of it free (as were our activities). Music in various places of all types Brass Bands and original work from locals as well as more "commercial" stuff. The Streat Life food and drink festival was up on the Terrace.
An example of the other stalls included the Friends of Alexandra Palace Station, Thrillseekers, Friends of Ally Pally Theatre, Viva City, Wild about our Woods, Tryhard Clowns. Next to our stall was Haringey Council promoting healthier lifestyle and allowing people to mix their own drinks via pedalling a cycle.
Later on there was a film on the South Slope "The Dream Girls".
MHDHS Summer Show stall
The Friends took the opportunity to have a stall at the Muswell Hill and District Horticultural Show. We had plenty of sunshine, but it was not as busy as usual due to a certain football match going on at the same time. Three helpers manned the stall for a couple of hours and we manage to generate quite a lot of interest including 3 new members.
Plenty of tea and cakes on offer to break our fast and slate our thirsts.
Our display board was also quite popular. Next door was a stall selling honey and we all took advantage of the opportunity to buy some local produce.
Perfect weather brought lots of youngsters and their parents to the Park Information Centre for scavenger hunts and outside for Xplorer challenges.
They all seemed to enjoy learning about nature in this way and definitely enjoyed their prize of homemade elderflower cordial.
The two Xplorer challenges also attracted the families with groups haring off around trying to find the cards tied to trees and posts with the help of maps. Their rewards were certificates and stickers....
AGM and talk by the Park Manager and Contractor
We were very pleased to welcome to our 2018 AGM Mark Evison, manager of Alexandra Park, and also for a first time and a fresh perspective, Michael Conway, head of John O'Conner contractors in the Park.
Michael Conway (left) gave us an enlightening, illustrated talk showcasing some of the problems that he has encountered in the Park over the many years of his tenure. We could see a great contrast between today's well kept park and the dilapidated state of some of the infrastructure before we received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. There were a few pictures showing the day that WW2 grenades were exploded in the Boating Lake....
On a less positive note, Michael, mentioned that 15 tonnes of litter (less than half in the bins) was collected over the first May Bank holiday and that this cost many thousands of pounds to dispose of.
Mark Evison (left), our Park Manager, returned this year to update the members on the challenges over the past year and on how the Alexandra Park and Palace Trust is planning for the future. Mark is working on a draft Park Infrastructure Business Plan.
He made the point was made that commercial events in the park are now responsible for any damage/litter caused by them and that this does not come out of the Park Budget. Also any disturbance to the natural environment caused by an increase in commercial events within the park needs to be quantified. To this end, wild life surveys had been commissioned to establish a baseline situation. He also mentioned his responsibility with regards to the leaseholders (e.g. Boating Lake Cafe and pedalos, Pitch and Putt, Garden Centre) on site and that improvements will be made in negotiating their contracts as they come up for renewal.
Both speakers kindly thanked the Friends for their involvement with the Park.
The formal part of the evening was really not too long! We briefly highlighted the events put on by the Friends with a special mention for the successful joint event with the Alexandra Palace learning team for Haringey's weekend of play.
Gordon Hutchinson was re-elected chair, Nick Bryant re-elected treasurer and Jane Hutchinson re-elected secretary. Robyn Thomas, Frances Minnion and Stephen Middleton were also confirmed as committee members.
We said a sad goodbye to Harry Kornhauser, a long standing committee member and also to Laura Mazur, our pioneering newsletter editor, who is producing a short book on the Park which will come out later this year who has moved back over the pond.
We formally welcomed Caroline Beattie-Merriman onto the committee as our new newsletter editor (she had been co-opted onto the committee a few months back).
We do have a place free on the committee for somebody keen to join us!
Haringey Weekend of Play
The learning team of Alexandra Palace had activities in (making flowers) and by the Boating Lake boathouse on the Saturday. The Friends contributed some pictures for both the flower and bird trails around the Boating Lake as well as having one of two people on the stall during the afternoon. The event went well and was the best attended in Haringey!
OK this is not really an event, but....
Snow in the Park
It was pleasure to have a snowfall in the Park on Sunday (10th Dec) especially as the forecast was rain and sleet. As usual on these relatively rare occasions the locals came out to enjoy a white park. Lots of tobogganing. Lots of opportunities to enjoy the snow covering the trees and grass.
Plenty of snowmen were built (top picture) and many snowballs were made by rolling snow down the slopes.
The following day, Monday, was colder, but the sun came out to illuminate the snow that was left in the Park. With a blue sky it all looked very picturesque.
Tuesday saw the big thaw with all the snow vanishing with the exception of the largest snowballs which reduced greatly in size. Hope that we don't have to wait so long again for another snow extravaganza.
More snowy pictures here.
Members Social and Hedgehog Update
An impressive 40 members turned up for our annual social. Instead of our usual walk in the cold, we welcomed back Chris Carbone of ZSL to give us an update on his Hedgehog Survey in Alexandra Park and elsewhere in London.
The key finding of the survey was that the hogs were found aplenty in both The Grove and in the Ally Pally Allotments, but were completely absent from the rest of the Park. Their main active period was after midnight.
Foxes were also captured on camera and they were found throughout the Park. Not many hedgehogs were found in other sites surveyed in London with the exception of Regents Park which has a population of approximate 25 urchins (old name for hedgehogs).
Lively discussion followed and mulled wine and mince pies were consumed with alacrity.
November Talk: Lost Railways of north London, 2017
We were treated to a tour along the railway that used to run from Finsbury Park south of Crouch End to Highgate then below Muswell Hill and ending up at Alexandra Palace. Most of this line is now part of the Parkland Walk.
Jim Blake came with a good collection of old photographs showing all the stations on the line and pointing out all the objects of interest along the route.
The whole line was scheduled to become a part of the Underground network in the 1940s, but WW2 put a hold on the (already well advanced) work before it was cancelled finally post war by a cash-strapped government.
Particularly of interest was to see pictures of tube trains on the line being pulled by a special battery powered loco.
Also it was intriguing to see a picture of our Railway Orchard in earlier years.
More information in his Northern Wastes: Scandal of the Uncompleted Northern Line book - we now have a copy in the Park Visitor Centre.
This talk was fully booked so we had to turn some people away so please take note when we advertise our next talk in January.
Family Activities Day, 2017
On a cool Sunday in October, we had a Family Activities Day. A what? I hear you ask.
Three main activities were proposed...
We had a Halloween-themed Xplorer trail in The Grove. Kids (and their parents) had to find coloured cards using a map and identify them (Ghosts, Witches, Bats etc.). Prizes were certificates and stickers
The second activity was an Apple Peeling competition - the idea being to produce the longest piece of apple peel from a selection of similarly sized apples using an ingenious machine supplied by the Orchard Project. The prize, this time, was a pair of tickets to the Ally Pally Fireworks (kindly provided by the Palace). The winner, Tim, studied the apples very carefully before picking out one and then produced a piece of apple peel 190cm (6'3") in length - a great effort.
Perhaps the main activity was inside the Park Information Centre. Children were hard at work producing "Cat Masks" - a hands on task involving glue, paper etc. and the results were beautiful to behold and the kids walked off proudly with their own creations.
Not enough to do? There were also Scavenger Hunts available and, of course, the Park Visitor Centre was open for the usual enquiries (Where's the nearest toilet? How do I get to "Little Dinosaurs"). Joking apart, there are always people interested in how to get to the Parkland Walk, looking at our historical photographs and seeing what events are coming up next.
... and the weather? After a dull and cold start, the sun came out although you could still tell that we are now firmly in Autumn.
Summer Festival 2017
The weather gods were capricious for this year's Summer Festival. The morning and early afternoon saw sunshine, but later rain held sway.
The Friends stall in The Grove had two main attractions; for the young children there was a chance to create a "Butterfly Crown" this proved very popular and extra chairs had to be brought to satisfy demand. Many great designs were seen going off on top of happy heads...
For the adults, there was something a bit less hands-on. The photo competition this year consisted of a Map of the Park with 12 locations marked with 24 photos (2 each) to be matched.
The calibre of the entries was impressive with over half a dozen of the 20 entries getting 21 or more correct. Only three people, however, were complete masters. Mark Evison, the Park Manager, and Michael Conway, the leader of the John O'Conner maintenance team, both got full marks. The prize of a pair of Segway Tickets (kindly donated by the Palace), however, went to Beatrice Murray (an amateur!)
Family Activities Day, 2017
It was hugely busy (47 adults, 35 children), and, judging by the comments,much appreciated and enjoyed by all, from the youngest collector of feathers
to the parents who said they were glad to find materials to stimulate their children's interest in the natural environment. They went away, too, with crosswords and colouring sheets, as well as the little prizes which went down well.
... and outside with the pair doing the Xplorer Challenge.
We sat outside in a light rain much of the time! However the important thing was it didn't dampen the spirits of the young people who were keen to rush off round the Grove with their map, on the hunt for the picture cards; some of them showing amazing persistence to find every last one.
AGM plus Archives of Alexandra Palace and Park Update, 2017
At the Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Alexandra Park. Kirsten Forrest and James White from the Palace team showed a selection of some of the fascinating images that emerged from the Park and Palace archives found during the restoration work in the Palace. These included pictures of the old Pavilion Tea Rooms in The Grove, the old Boat House and pictures from inside the Palace.
They also asked if any of the Friends of Park were interested in doing research into Gardening in the Park ...
In addition Mark Evison, the Park Manager, gave us an update on the park and illustrated some of his work (dealing with licencees, coping with the litter, tree vulnerabilities and management). New positive achievements included large numbers of awards for the Park (Green Flag, London in Bloom etc.) and the new surface to the Lower Road.
The Friends’ chairman, Gordon Hutchinson, gave a report (read it here) on the activities of the members and a plea for additional help to do yet more.
Concern was raised over the Wood Green Area Action Plan and how it could affect the Park.
The Committee was re-elected
A Wild Place: the ecology of London in place names Feb 2017
Thirty people packed into the Park Information Centre on a Wednesday evening to hear Mathew Frith of the London Wildlife Trust. He gave us a great exposé of how many of our well known London suburbs have names with nature connections.
He also revealed how some road names reflect local natural features while others are merely names to improve the sound of the area.
Take back one fact. Penge is the only London area with a Celtic name origin......
Talk on Hedgehogs and Camera Trapping Nov 2016
The evenings are becoming darker so time was ripe for our first talk (one of four) of the Winter season.
Chris Carbone was our expert who took us through some of the results of camera trapping on the Ally Pally Allotments as well as on the Parkland Walk. Some of the conclusions were that foxes (often seen in the traps) were about for most of the time with a small break in the middle of the day. Hedgehogs on the other hand were most noticeable after midnight and before dawn.
He explained that he had participated in a Royal Parks survey last year in Regents Park which holds the last healthy-sized population of hedgehogs near the centre of the capital.
Chris delighted our packed room with pictures from his camera trap projects in other parts of the world with close up views of tigers and other exotic beasts.
Chris further inspired his audience with his wish to start a hedgehog monitoring project in Alexandra Park and possibly linking it with local people's gardens to find out the health of our local population and to try and tie it in with other populations closer to the centre of London.
The Friends staged two Parks walk as part of the Haringey Walking Weekend.
On the Saturday, Laura guided us around the North of the Park visiting The Grove, The Palace with the views...., the Boating Lake and passing through the old Blandford Hall area.
Council Photographer, Dave Tothill, took some excellent shots on Saturday - check them out here.
Sunday's walk was a look at the South of the Park with some of the trees of the Western Arboretum, the traces of the Racecourse which closed in 1970, Redston Field, Newland Field, by the reservoir and Nature Area.
Over 30 people joined us for the walks and it was good to see almost entirely new faces appreciate the Park. People often say that they come to the Park, but that they have discovered another part to explore.
Brilliant sunshine for most of the time added pleasure to the experience....
Congratulations to the Palace for putting on such an extensive and enjoyable event. At the Friends of Alexandra Park stand in The Grove we welcomed visitors of all ages, many of whom took part in our tantalising (and challenging) picture quiz “It’s behind you!”, which asked people to match pictures of views of the Park with photos of buildings behind them. (The winner, Tessa Hough, pictured receiving two Hornsey Historical Society publications). Others from farther afield who were unfamiliar with the Park were keen to learn about its history. Our activities entertained children, despite the attractions of the nearby Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, and welcomed several new members.
The Alexandra Park and Palace Trust CEO, Louise Stewart, was the speaker for our AGM. She gave an insight on how the first months in charge have been and what the future will be for both the Palace and the Park. She said, for example, that she was surprised at how quickly designs changed on the Graffiti Wall by the Skate Park and how she became emotional when seeing pictures from the 1980 Palace fire.
She explained the thinking behind moving the deer out of the Park to Devon and talked about the management of events within the Park. - There were three major events in the Park in the last year; the Red Bull Soapbox Derby, the Summer Festival and the Fireworks display. It was agreed that there were lessons to be learned especially from the Fireworks event (damage to the Park from vehicles).
The Go-Ape facility is hoped to be at least partially ready for July's Summer Festival.
Good News! Louise Stewart also announced that the Trust would be looking into making a bit for Heritage Lottery Fund money specifically to improve the Park.
Mark Evison, the Park Manager and Louise then took questions. She was asked about the likelihood of events like the Wireless Festival and reassured the members that this was not on the cards...
Also the question was raised about the future of the Deer Enclosures and we were told that no decision has yet been made.
The protection of “nature areas” of the Park was also raised.
Some concerns were aired about the shutting off of the Park to people wishing to walk across it for commuting during events – no change in strategy is envisaged.
Other concerns were raised about access to the car park(s) by the Ice Rink and the people manning the entrances. Louise took the comments on board and reassured the audience that steps were already underway to improve the communication of the the contractors controlling the entrance with the public.
Gordon Hutchinson thanked Louise Stewart for agreeing to come to our AGM and we hoped that we would continue to have an excellent relationship with the Trust management.
After the presentation from Louise and Q and A, the Chair, Gordon Hutchinson gave a brief summary of the year's many activities (over forty), and thanked the committee for their hard work and all the members who have helped with the Park Information Centre and activities over the year. Treasurer Nick Bryant reported that the Friends’ finances were healthy, with membership now over 270.
Committee member and website guru, Jenny Bryant, has left the Committee and was heartily thanked for her contribution over the years.
Other Committee Members remain and we are always on the look out for anyone who wishes to join us.
All thirsty work, so to celebrate our 10 years, we broke open the bubbly and toasted a bright future.
Geology Talk, April 2016
A packed Park Information Centre was the scene for Diana Clements' Geology Talk. She explained that the last great ice age effected the London basin profoundly with the path of Thames being radically altered (pushed South). She pointed out where various high points were around London and their geological significance.
Diana then led on to the geology of the area with specific reference to Alexandra Park and how it is now (with plenty of springs) and how it was in the past.
We learnt that the ice once just crept down South far enough to cover the area depositing various difference stones and even fossils to be discovered in the area.
Insect Talk by Dan Hackett, March 2016
A good number of people gathered for convivial drink and chat before this month's talk.
The illustrated presentation went through the insect kingdom giving examples of what has been found and what might be found in our Park.
He explained the differences between true bugs and beetles and told us that indeed stag beetles have set up home in an old decaying Ash Tree at one end of the Lower Road.
Dan also mentioned the mimics like the Wasp Beetle and the Bee Fly (pictured).
He discussed the butterflies that can be found within the Park and those that struggle. One quite common butterfly the Brimstone is not often seen in the Park as we know of only one of its food plants, the Alder Buckthorn by the reservoir.In contrast three different skipper butterflies (Large, Small and Essex) can be found in the park and are often to be seen in the Butterfly Meadow where the Friends have been doing a good job of habitat restoration.Dan explained about some of the nastier insect parasites that eat other insects slowly from the inside leaving all the vital organs until last to keep their meal fresh.
If you would like to see some pictures of some of the insects that Dan talked about please follow this link.
Wild Flower Talk, February 2016
We were privileged to have renowned botanist, David Bevan come and talk to the Friends on Wild Flowers of London.
He pointed out that London is a hot spot for wild flowers in more ways than one. The higher temperature allows plants that wouldn't otherwise survive to prosper.
David took us on a tour from central London out to the leafy fields of Harrow...
Our speaker explained that the blitz bomb sites post war, with their explosion of new plants, were the spark that enthused a whole generation of London Botanists. One good example that is still to be found in many places is buddleia.
We heard the story of the Oxford Ragwort coming to London by following the train lines. It loved the clinker which was similar to the volcanic stone of its native Mount Etna.
Our borough of Haringey 3 species of orchid have been known including the Common Spotted Orchid. Have you ever spotted one?
David mentioned that now is the time to look out for early flowering Colt's Foot (pictured by the cricket pitch).
Winter Pruning and Maintenance, February 2016
The Urban Orchard Project led a session in the orchards to prune the trees and prepare them for another year's growth. On site were the Park Contractors, John O'Conner, the Park Manager, Mark Evison, and members of the Friends of Alexandra Park.
Pruning was of several types including removing growth that touched other branches, cutting off twigs growing back towards the centre of the tree, encouraging more bushy growth and trimming any unwanted low branches and finally cleaning up any damage.
Holes were made at the bottom of the cages to allow access for removal of litter etc.. Also holes were made to allow branches to grow outwards.
Most of the cages were reduced in height and the sharp edges turned over.
Lots of shredded bark was added to the trees to a diameter of 1 metre (outside the edge of the guard) to help the trees grow.Lots of pictures of the day's work.
A successful AGM with 50% more attendees than last year. The Friends were told that they had organised over 30 events over the past 12 months.
Mark Evison, the Park Manager (pictured), gave us some more detail on the new "Park Vision" for the future of the park which created a lively discussion.
The committee remained unchanged with Gordon Hutchinson remaining as Chair, but the call is still out there for anyone who wishes to join us.
The evening finished with short quiz on the Park with everyone showing that they knew quite a lot about Alexandra Park.
Sample question: In which year did the last horse race take place in Alexandra Park?
Community Orchard Project in The Grove December 2014
A total of 26 fruit trees were planted in The Grove.
Who helped? Lots of manpower from John O'Conner, the Park Contractors who brought in Head Office staff as well.
We were also very happy to see three local schools involved. Heartlands High, Muswell Hill Primary School and Alexandra Park Schools. Ahmet Yener from the Lakeside Cafe did some serious digging and Ciro from The Grove Cafe brought some welcome cake...
The Park Manager, Mark Evison, took an active role together with many of the Friends of Alexandra Park and two other keen volunteers.
The project was led by The Urban Orchard Project, who had three people working hard all day.
We planted apples, medlars, damsons, pears, cherries on two sites in The Grove. For most of the time we were blessed with sun to encourage us in our efforts.
In future of the Orchard will rely on volunteer work for the planting and maintenance, as well as the help and work from John O'Conner - the Park Contractors, and will be under the overall responsibility of the Park Manager.
Orchard Project Maintenance, July 2015
Due to diligent watering by John O'Conner, the Park Contractors, the Springfield and Railway Field Orchard trees look in "good nick".
Mark Evison (Park Manager), John O'Conner's, the Park Volunteers and the Friends of Alexandra Park spent a morning on maintenance of our two orchards in The Grove.
The Park Contractors first removed the guards then we all set about weeding the area at the base of the fruit trees.
Picture above shows a Park Volunteer making these homes.
At same time Summer pruning of the stone fruit trees was performed by Mark Evison.
The guards were then nailed back shut with the trees ready for the Autumn.
Rapha Supercross in Alexandra Park, October 2014
The Rapha Supercross Event was held in Alexandra Park at the end of October for the 4th year. Mild weather and sunshine for this event with races for under 8s to Elite Racers. For the aficionados it was great to see Team Eurocar road racer Dan Craven (pictured) in the Elite and Fun Races. All pictures from the day here.
Family Mystery Trail, May 2014
What a brilliant day! Everything was happening, on a sunny July day, for the 150th anniversary celebrations in Alexandra Park.
There was music of all types in many places around the park – Jazz, Steel Bands, Brass Bands and more modern music.
Sport on the lower slopes, with everything from mini rugby to archery.
The funfair was in front of the Ice Rink and in The Grove they had a Carousel and a Helter Skelter. The showpiece was the tethered balloon on the slope below the Palace.
Is that all? No! There was Tree Climbing, Face Painting, golf lessons, dance, poetry, a long, long, long table on The Terrace for socialising and deck chairs on the lawn to sit and take in the view or just to snooze.
The Friends were based in The Grove, which was branded as the “Village Green”. Local and special interest stalls competed for attention. Our stall highlighted the history of the Park and all the activities that have taken place in it from parachuting to horse racing. We also had drawing and other activities for children. We led four guided walks over the day helping the visitors to appreciate the history and natural history of the Park.
We also had the game “Where’s Ally?” where people had to identify different areas of the park from pictures. Around fifty entrants with nine people getting all the answers correct (including, reassuringly, the Park Manager, Mark Evison!). The winner was Indijana who won the tie-breaker guessing the weight of Ally to within 5 grams.
Picture shows Gordon presenting Ally to Indijana and John.
Tree sculptures carved in Alexandra Park, July/August 2012
During the olympic games, tree sculptures were carved, by Shane Green, in the grounds of Alexandra Park. These reflected the olympic disciplines of discus, cycling, diving, shooting, hockey and triathlon.
Each tree sculpture was carved in a single day from existing dead timber.
Jubilee Tree Planting
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive for Alexandra Park and Palace Trust, is seen here planting the trees with the help of children from the 3-4-5 Playgroup, which is based in The Grove.
BioBlitz and Springwatch Wild Day Out
Following this very successful event in Alexandra Park in June 2010, Dr John Tweddle from the Natural History Museum, gave a presentation on the many discoveries.