Task Programme

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Monday 2 Jan 2012Walling and Scrub ClearanceHolywell Cemetery, Oxford
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It's an unusual bank holiday Monday task for us today to start the year. Come and get some fresh air and fun in this historic cemetery and urban nature reserve in central Oxford. Instead of having the grass nicely trimmed like you'd traditionally expect, it is allowed to grow wild for a period of time and then the scrub is trimmed back in one area at a time, so it remains accessible to visitors. The new scrub growth is great for birds and small mammals, which feed on the berries and seeds. Today we'll be repairing a wall, attacking the scrub in one section of the cemetery and having a good bonfire to burn the waste and keep ourselves warm. There'll be some lighter work peeling the ivy off gravestones and some harder work hand-mixing some cement for minor repairs to the walls.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 8 Jan 2012Otter Holt Construction and Scrub ClearanceKennington Pools, Oxford
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It's a new site for us this week, but a very promising little nature reserve in South Oxford. We'll be cutting back scrub which is shading a pond, possibly coppicing some hazel and building an Otter Holt. Otters are still scarce after decades of pollution to rivers and destruction of their habitat, but their population is thought to be recovering along the Thames. They naturally live under tree roots near water, but to give them a helping hand we're building them a holt to a careful design, made from the natural materials we harvest today. Come along and help provide an otter with a home!
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: John Worth

Sunday 15 Jan 2012Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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This week we'll be helping the wardens from Natural England who manage this National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns. We'll be helping with whatever tasks they have planned for us. At this time of year it could be scrub clearance to maintain the stunning chalk grassland, coppicing operations in the woodland on site, or even caring for one of the flocks of sheep that themselves carry out essential scrub munching work on the grassland. As usual our weekly email will have all the details including the type of work planned and the part of the reserve on which we're working.
Leader: Tom BlackDriver: Paul Clarke

Saturday 21 Jan 2012Reserve MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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This nature reserve in North Oxford has an interesting history, and is quite small but still encompasses pond, wetland, wood and meadow. The meadow exists thanks to the efforts of OCV and the local Friends of the Trap Grounds group. Today we'll be working with the locals to clear bramble, maintain paths, reduce excessive scrub shading the ponds and generally help to maintain the site. As usual everyone's welcome, there'll be loads to do, and it's walking distance from Oxford City Centre if you miss the minibus pick-up.
Leader: Ray HitchinsDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 22 Jan 2012Heathland RestorationShotover Country Park, Oxford
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We'll be working on Mary Sadler's field at Shotover Country Park to the East of Oxford today. We'll be taking part in a new heathland restoration project organised by the city council. Heathland is very rare in Oxfordshire, so this is valuable work. More details will be forthcoming nearer the time, but it's likely to be mainly scrub clearance tasks. We're good at that! As usual, no experience is necessary, full instructions will be given and it should be a good day.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Friday 27 Jan 2012Pub SocialThe Kings Arms, Broad Street
We'll be having a few drinks in the KA tonight, starting at 7pm. It sells food and opens till midnight I think, so you can either stay all night or drop in at any time that suits. You don't have to be a regular volunteer to come; sometimes people like to see what we're like before they commit themselves to a whole task! So feel free to come along and say hello. Further details will be sent via email, so get yourself on our mailing list if you're not already.
Contact: Chris

Sunday 29 Jan 2012Timber Extraction Clean-upWarburg Nature Reserve, Bix, Oxfordshire
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We're off to Warburg, near Bix today, and we'll be working for the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire wildlife trust who own this splendid site. It's BBOWT's showcase nature reserve and whenever we go here we always admire the well-maintained hedges, grassland and habitat piles on this site. Today's project is clearing up and burning the left-overs from felling of some of the conifers on this site. We'll be helping to extend the chalk grassland, which is a rare and valuable habitat in this part of the world. Get yourself on our email list to find out more about it.
Leader: Jo HaydukDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 5 Feb 2012CoppicingPissen Wood, Oxfordshire
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We're going to a new site today, but doing work that's not new to us at all. This part of Pissen Wood is a privately-owned part of a larger National Trust woodland and is being managed as wildlife habitat. We'll be harvesting some of the timber for our hedging stakes and binders, clearing coupes to let in sunlight and improve biodiversity and leaving habitat piles for invertebrates. There will certainly be a good bonfire to keep warm and cook any potatoes or parsnips you want to bring for your lunch. As usual, full details will be sent out in the weekly email. THIS TASK WAS CANCELLED DUE TO THE SNOW.
Leader: Steve LilleyDriver: John Worth

Sunday 12 Feb 2012Scrub ClearanceArdley Quarry, Fritwell, Oxfordshire
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This week it's a welcome return to this former quarry and splendid nature reserve just one junction north on the M40. It's the place where they found amazing fossilised dinosaur footprints. Sometimes we've done paths and steps here in the Summer, but today we'll be clearing scrub to maintain biodiversity. We'll most likely be working with one of BBOWT's wardens, who will be able to tell us all about the site.
Leader: Aga RzadDriver: Ray Hitchins

Saturday 18 Feb 2012FencingRaleigh Park, Oxford
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A bonus Saturday task and more work on our ongoing replacement of the fencing around Raleigh Park. We're making incredibly good progress putting brand-new post and wire round this much-valued park and nature reserve in West Oxford. Our post-and-wire fencing has all be done to a very high standard and should last for many years to come. When complete, it will be something that we can be proud of, because not all volunteer groups would have the skills to do this type of work, to the same consistently high standard. Not that we like to boast! Come along and help, there'll be plenty for everyone to do and it's fine to come along for part of the day.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 19 Feb 2012Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our regular monthly visit to this splendid nature reserve and SSSI in the Chilterns. If you've not been before you've probably noticed the place where the M40 cuts through the chalk and Red Kites circle overhead. We'll be working with the highly-knowledgeable wardens from Natural England; the government's main nature conservation agency. They'll probably give us some scrub to clear, some woodland to coppice, or some sheep to foot-trim. As usual, we'll find out the exact work plan in the week beforehand so get on the mailing list, get the email and get involved!
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: John Worth

Sunday 26 Feb 2012CoppicingShotover Country Park, Oxford
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Shotover covers the old coach road from London to Oxford. As Oxford comes into sight, there would be just one stretch of more woodland to get through before travellers would be safe from highwaymen. The woodland we're managing today is coppice woodland, which may have looked very similar even hundreds of years ago. Coppicing is a way of managing woodland to provide a regular supply of timber for building, hurdle-making, fence posts or firewood. In fact, no part of the tree would have been wasted. Nowadays, we might be taking a few hedgelaying stakes but our main purpose is to maintain the woodland in the way that the local wildlife are used to. This means fresh coppiced coupes providing light for rare woodland flora and regeneration of the trees.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Saturday 3 Mar 2012Rubbish Removal and Scrub ClearanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Today is Oxclean day and OCV's contribution will be some rubbish clearance at the Trap Grounds in North Oxford. It used to be an unofficial rubbish dump, so we're not moving everything, but we'll fill a skip with the sharpest, most dangerous and unsightly things. This type of work has made a huge difference in the past, and makes the site safer for children and dogs. But since that sort of thing is not really nature conservation work, we're also likely to do some bramble bashing, create and maintain some paths and cut back any trees shading out the ponds too much.
Leader: Tom BlackDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 4 Mar 2012Fencing, Wildflower Planting and Scrub ClearanceDeddington Parish, North Oxfordshire
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It's a mixed bag of tasks today. We'll be working around the Cemetery and Windmill Centre in Deddington and the work will involve modifying some post and rail fencing and moving stiles and gates. We'll also plant some wildflowers in suitable locations and cut back scrub in other locations. OCV work on this site has made a real difference over the last few years, creating footpaths, laying hedges and coppicing woodland. So come along today and help us keep up the good work.
Leader: Tim HowardDriver: John Worth

Tuesday 6 Mar 2012Town Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly. If you'd like to come along and see how we run things, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in Far from the Madding Crowd (a pub in Friar's entry, near where Borders used to be) from about 9pm.
Contact: Jo

Saturday 10 Mar 2012CoppicingPissen Wood, Oxfordshire
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We're going to a new site today, but doing work that's not new to us at all. This part of Pissen Wood is a privately-owned part of a larger National Trust woodland and is being managed as wildlife habitat. We'll be harvesting some of the timber for our hedging stakes and binders, clearing coupes to let in sunlight and improve biodiversity and leaving habitat piles for invertebrates. There will certainly be a good bonfire to keep warm and cook any potatoes or parsnips you want to bring for your lunch. As usual, full details will be sent out in the weekly email. (This task was rescheduled to today as a result of snow in February.)
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 11 Mar 2012CoppicingBoarstall Duck Decoy, Buckinghamshire
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Our last coppicing task of the Winter. We'll be clearing another coppice coupe to let in the daylight and promote regeneration, whilst also harvesting a good crop of timber for hedgelaying stakes and binders. We'll also be able to look at other areas we coppiced last Winter and the year before and see how they are regenerating and providing a range of different ages of trees for maximum biodiversity. After this there'll probably be no more coppicing until Autumn!
Leader: Ray HitchinsDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 18 Mar 2012Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our regular monthly visit to this splendid National Nature Reserve. We'll be working with Natural England's wardens to help maintain the reserve. They will give us some work that's appropriate to the type of year, whether it's a bit of scrub bashing, fencing or even caring for one of the flocks of sheep by trimming their feet. As usual we'll explain exactly what sort of task is planned in the weekly email that's sent out before the task.
Leader: Aga RzadDriver: John Worth

Thursday 22 Mar 2012Pub Social (possibly some games)Bookbinders pub, Jericho
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For the March social, we're keeping things simple with a trip to the Bookbinders Pub in Jericho from 7.30pm. If you'd like to play some boardgames or card games, feel free to bring some with you, but no obligation if you'd just like a quiet drink and chat! You don't have to be a regular volunteer to come along - we're a friendly bunch, drop by and say hello!
Contact: Michelle

Sunday 25 Mar 2012FencingRaleigh Park, Oxford
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It's now nearly a year since we started replacing the fencing around this splendid park in West Oxford, managed by Oxford City Council with help from us and other local groups. We've been working in stretches of 50m to 100m each time, with the amount we've got done depending on the number of fiddly bits, such as straining posts, gates and stiles. When it's finished it will be a great achievement and will last for many years to come. In the course of doing it, we'll have improved and consolidated the fencing skills we have in the group ready for future tasks. Come along and get involved.
Leader: Paul ClarkeDriver: David Max

Saturday 31 Mar 2012Fencing'Cultivate', Little Wittenham, South Oxfordshire
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It's a slightly unusual one for us today. We'll be helping out Cultivate, a new co-operative social enterprise which aims to bring fresh, local, organic food directly to the Oxford area. They have a site where they are planning to start growing food at Little Wittenham, close to where OCV have worked in the past with the Northmoor Trust. Together with Cultivate volunteers, we'll be helping out with an ambitious fencing project around one of their fields. This type of organic food production can leave many great opportunities for wildlife like birds and pollinating insects to flourish in the hedges and field margins. Come along for a good day's fencing and a chance to find out about the plans for sustainable food production.
Leader: Emma BurnettDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 1 Apr 2012Bonfires, fencing, footbridge and signsJubilee Fields and Long Meadow, Wootton, West Oxfordshire
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It's April Fool's Day and you'd be a fool to miss a chance to visit this fantastic nature reserve near Woodstock. Some willows have been pollarded recently by a chainsaw team so we'll be having some bonfires to dispose of the cuttings. This is vital work to stop them sprouting into the damp ground of the water meadow. Even a small twig cut from a willow can produce a huge tree in no time at all. The water meadow is an incredibly rich habitat but without regular maintenance it would become boring old scrub. It's also likely we'll be asked construct a sleeper footbridge, repair fences and replace or clean the signage on site. This is a stunning nature reserve, so it's a task not to miss.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Tuesday 3 Apr 2012Committee MeetingTown Hall
The meeting will be held at 8pm in the Jury Room. Come along if you would like to learn more about how we run or would like to get more involved. Or join us for a pint at Far from the Madding Crowd from around 9pm.
Contact: Lydia

Friday 6 Apr 2012 -
Monday 9 Apr 2012
Brecon Beacons Residential 2012Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales
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This weekend we're off to the Brecon Beacons to work with the National Trust wardens who help maintain some of the most heavily-used trails in this National Park. We'll be leaving on Good Friday evening and arriving back on Easter Monday evening. We'll be working with the National Trust on Saturday and Sunday and we'll have Monday off to explore the area. We've been to this area several times in the past and it's always a really good trip. The National Trust base camp accommodation is comfortable and well-equipped and we provide transport and meals. After the work is done there's usually plenty of time for eating, drinking and general merriment. Total cost should be less than 40 pounds. More details will be sent to the OCV mailing list and to members. You must be an OCV member to come on residentials, but it only costs 5 pounds and you can join at the same time as booking. For more information contact tasks@ocv.org.uk or book via the button below. SORRY - THIS IS NOW FULL.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 15 Apr 2012Reserve MaintenanceStansfeld Park, Oxford
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We'll be working very close to home today. This is the outdoor education centre where we keep our tools and minibus. Today's task will be general maintenance on the site. In the past this has included building dipping platforms, creating steps and putting up fences, clearing and surfacing paths, and controlling ivy where it threatens large trees. Today's work could be any of those or something completely different, join the mailing list to get details nearer the time.
Leader: Tom BlackDriver: Tim Howard

Saturday 21 Apr 2012First Aid TrainingBritish Red Cross, Abingdon
We're doing a one day first aid course today with the British Red Cross in Abingdon. It is a standard first-aid course and if you pass the assessment at the end you will get a certificate that is valid for 3 years. This is really important for OCV because it makes it more likely we have qualified first aiders present on most of our tasks. It will be free to OCV members, and the standard of the training is very high and you are guaranteed to learn something, even if you have been on a similar course before. There are a limited number of places, but OCV has paid so we'd really like to use them all. So please book if you're able to come and also say if you already have a first aid certificate. We will give priority to leaders, drivers, members and then regular volunteers, particularly those who haven't had training before or whose certificates are expiring soon. Please fill out the booking form if you'd like to come. We'll also need a leader and a driver to get us there. (NB. No deposit cheque is required, whatever the booking form says!) **SORRY - THIS IS NOW FULLY BOOKED**
Leader: Paul ClarkeDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 22 Apr 2012Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our regular monthly visit to a National Nature Reserve. We'll be working with the wardens from Natural England to look after this splendid chalk grassland and woodland site in the Chilterns. At this time of year the work is likely to be maintenance of fences, stiles and gates or steps and paths. Or it could involve work with one of the flocks of sheep on site. Full details will be given on the OCV mailing list as usual.
Leader: Aga RzadDriver: John Worth

Sunday 29 Apr 2012FencingRaleigh Park, Oxford
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We've been working our way round the edge of Raleigh Park in West Oxford for the last year, replacing the fencing a stretch at a time. We're making good progress and the eventual aim is to leave it stock proof to give the option of grazing the site to keep scrub down. We pull out the rotten posts and carefully roll up the rusty old barbed wire, then we put in new posts and wire and hopefully we do it well enough to last for 15-20 years. It's possible this task will be changed to another Oxford City Council site if a more urgent job needs doing. The best thing to do is join our mailing list so you get all the up-to-date information.
Leader: Paul ClarkeDriver: Phil Hunter

Tuesday 1 May 2012Committee MeetingTown Hall
The meeting will be held at 8pm in the Jury Room. Come along if you would like to learn more about how we run or would like to get more involved. Or join us for a pint at Far from the Madding Crowd from around 9pm.
Contact: Lydia

Sunday 6 May 2012Stone wall repair and outdoor bird box workshopHolywell Cemetery, Oxford
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This week we'll be doing a slightly unusual task. Part of the day will be repairing a wall at this urban nature reserve in central Oxford. Since the wall is old we'll be using traditional lime mortar to match the original. Lime mortar has been used in building work for centuries and has very different properties to modern cement, and is still considered superior in some respects. We'll need help mixing the mortar, then skilfully placing the stones in the wall. The stones should all be there ready as we recovered them from the neighbouring land on a previous visit. If we have more volunteers than the walling requires, then there may be some other small tasks on the site. And if not, it would be great to set up some portable workbenches and make up loads of bird and bat boxes. We're likely to visit loads of sites where we can put them up throughout Oxfordshire in the coming months.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: David Max

Sunday 13 May 2012FencingRaleigh Park, Oxford
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Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 20 May 2012Steps, paths, benches and bridge buildingStandlake Ranch, Witney, West Oxfordshire
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This is the first of two tasks at a new site for us. It's a Christian retreat with facilities for outdoor education for children including a rope bridge and improvised water slide. We'll be improving the nature trail through a small patch of woodland. We'll replace several sets of steps, clear and re-route a path. There might also be possibility of making some wooden benches. Most interestingly of all, we will make a start on constructing a substantial wooden footbridge to a small island.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: John Worth

Sunday 27 May 2012Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our monthly visit to this Natural England-managed National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns. If you're regularly on the M40, you'll know it as the bit where you go through a chalk cutting and there are always a lot of birds hovering overhead (they are Red Kites). The site has quite a bit of woodland and some stunning unimproved chalk grassland with wild flowers everywhere. Since we're in the middle of the bird nesting season we're likely to be doing fencing, step or path maintenance or looking after one of the flocks of sheep that keep the grassland safe from scrub invasion. More details in the weekly email.
Leader: Tom BlackDriver: David Max

Sunday 3 Jun 2012Bridge building, path and step workStandlake Ranch, Witney, West Oxfordshire
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Our second day's work at this Christian retreat and outdoor educational centre. We're helping to improve the nature reserve aspect of the grounds by improving access with better steps and today we'll hopefully be finishing construction of a large wooden bridge. There might be time for a few side jobs, such as making benches, repairing steps, trimming vegetation on paths and maybe creating some different habitat. It's an unusual project for us that may hopefully take OCV's construction projects up a notch or two from boardwalks and dipping platforms. So come along and be a part of the fun!
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: David Max

Thursday 7 Jun 2012AGMTown Hall
This month's committee meeting is the AGM - a chance for members to exercise their voting powers! The meeting will be held from 8-9pm in the Jury Room of the Town Hall. If you would like to come along and learn more about the work of the committee then all members are welcome. Alternatively you can join us for a pint at Far From the Madding Crowd afterwards. PLEASE NOTE THIS MEETING IS ON THURSDAY, NOT THE USUAL TUESDAY.
Contact: Lydia

Sunday 10 Jun 2012FencingRaleigh Park, Oxford
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We're at this Oxford City Council-managed site in West Oxford again this week for a bit more fencing work. Fencing is one the main things that we do in Spring, when the birds are nesting and trees are growing vigorously, and we're pretty good at it. Maybe we're not as fast as people with a lot of agricultural machinery, but we take pride in a quality job and we can get posts put-in in some awkward to access places. This task might change to another Oxford City Council site if there's something that's more urgent for us to deal with on one of Oxford's other nature reserves. The weekly email will have all the details.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Paul Clarke

Sunday 17 Jun 2012Footbridge and step constructionStandlake Ranch, Witney, West Oxfordshire
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This will be our third visit to Standlake Ranch in recent months and this time we're hoping to finish the footbridge and also complete the path with a few more steps and handrails. The result should be a much more accessible nature trail through woods to an island. If there's time we might also make a dipping platform, but we'll probably have our work cut out with the jobs we've started already. Come along for some more exciting construction work with lots of sawing and bashing required.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 24 Jun 2012Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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We're back to Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve this week to help out looking after this particular part of the Chilterns AONB. We'll be working with the wardens from Natural England who will give us some appropriate tasks to do within their management plan for the reserve. It's less likely to be scrub destruction and bonfires at this time of year, and more likely to be fencing, path work or sheep husbandry. Whatever the plan is, our weekly email will have all the information you need to get involved.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 1 Jul 2012Scrub Clearance and Ragwort PullingFields at Hook Norton Cutting, North Oxfordshire
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We've worked in the amazing wild-flower meadows here for the last few years. The owners don't treat them with chemicals, so they are traditional meadows with a broad range of species. We helped to pull ragwort so that the hay wasn't contaminated with this potentially poisonous plant. Last year there were amazing butterflies everywhere. This time they're hoping a ragwort pull won't be required on their land so we're actually working on the neighbouring farm, near to an SSSI. We'll be cutting back scrub which is encroaching onto the grassland. This probably won't take us very long, so we will pull ragwort in their fields as well and there will be no shortage of that work. Come along to admire the views and the wild flowers and for some Summer grassland slashing, sawing and uprooting.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Ray Hitchins

Tuesday 3 Jul 2012Committee MeetingTown Hall
The meeting will be held at 8pm in the Jury Room. Come along if you would like to learn more about how we run or would like to get more involved. Or join us for a pint at Far from the Madding Crowd from around 9pm.
Contact: Lydia

Sunday 8 Jul 2012Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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We're off for our monthly visit to our most regular work site this week. Working with the expert wardens from Natural England we'll be doing whatever reserve maintenance work they've got planned for us this week. At this time of year, it will most likely be fencing, path work or looking after one of the flocks of sheep which graze the chalk grassland and keep it in great condition. We'll give full details in our weekly email.
Leader: Aga RzadDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 15 Jul 2012Fen-rakingLye Valley, Oxford
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Despite its urban surroundings the Lye Valley is an exceptionally important natural habitat with several rare species only found in one or two other places in Oxfordshire. One of our annual tasks is raking the fen after it has been cut by Oxford City Council staff. Our task may be careful management of sensitive habitat, but it can still be very hard work. It can also be wet even in warm weather. It's a satisfying job though because you can clearly see the difference when it's done. We also sometimes pollard willows nearby to stop them shading out the fen. Come along and help us do this vital work.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: John Worth

Sunday 22 Jul 2012Stone wall repairHolywell Cemetery, Oxford
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We started a wall-repair project here in May. We did a lot, but there is still plenty left to repair. Today we'll be dismantling some partly-collapsed wall and repairing it with lime mortar, which was the traditional material used for buildings before the twentieth century. It's likely that a lot of mixing of mortar will be required, along with sorting out stones and finally placing them back on the wall. If we can, we'll also replace the capping on the wall, which will require some more mixing and artistic shaping. We might also do some small scrub clearance jobs and generally tidy up where we can. When repaired, the wall should be good for many years to come.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Friday 27 Jul 2012Dinner at the Jam Factory
We'll be meeting at the Jam Factory near the station for a good meal. The table will be booked for 8pm. Check out their website for the new summer menu and please email Tom by the night of Tuesday the 24th to book.
Contact: Tom

Sunday 29 Jul 2012FencingRaleigh Park, Oxford
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We'll be putting some finishing touches to our splendid fence around this park in West Oxford today, managed by Oxford City Council. Since finishing the fence won't take the whole day, we'll also be doing a few other fence and gate repair jobs, then getting our waders on and doing some pond work. So it should be a varied day's work here. Come along and join the fun!
Leader: Tom BlackDriver: David Max

Sunday 5 Aug 2012Scrub Clearance and Otter Holt ConstructionKennington Pools, Oxford
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We had a day on this small but important nature reserve in southern Oxford in the Winter. On that occasion we did some coppicing, cleared some tree branches which were overshadowing one side of the pool and built an otter holt. This time we've chosen a warmer time of year so we can get into the water in our wellies and waders to complete the work around the pond. That will give us a lot of spare scrub and so we will build another otter holt, near to the previous one. This will give the otters an extra choice of home, but more to the point the scrub cutting will greatly increase biodiversity around the southern end of the pond. We'll bring all our waders and wellies, so come along, get your rubber gear on and prepare to jump in!
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: John Worth

Tuesday 7 Aug 2012Committee Meeting 8-9pm Town Hall
Tonight is our monthly committee meeting - come along if you would like to get more involved in the running of the charity. Alternatively, you can meet us in Far From the Madding Crowd afterwards. Please note this month's meeting will be held in the PLOWMAN ROOM of the Town Hall. Sadly no ploughman's lunch will be provided.
Contact: Lydia

Saturday 11 Aug 2012Wild Swimming/ Punting dayTumbling Bay, Botley
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This will be a Saturday afternoon out and about! It will involve our own very cool Oxford rivers and it'll be loads of fun... other details to follow..
Contact: Tom

Sunday 12 Aug 2012Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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A Summer visit to this important site in the Chilterns. Aston Rowant is a National Nature Reserve, run by the government's conservation agency Natural England. We'll be helping the wardens with whatever they want doing at this time of year, whilst enjoying the views and hopefully the nice weather. For more information about exactly what we'll be doing, join our email list and you'll get full details.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: John Worth

Sunday 19 Aug 2012Fen cutting and rakingIffley Island, Oxford
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This small spit of land next to the river is not quite an island, but it does sometimes look like one. The last few years we've cut the sedgy grass and, importantly, raked if off the site so that it doesn't enrich the soil. The low-nutrient soil is vital for promoting wild flowers such as fritillaries. We've also pollarded some of the smaller willows to stop them overshadowing the fen. Come along and help with this vital but very hard work. You can do it at your own pace of course! It's usually really nice working alongside the river, particularly when the weather is kind to us. Come along and join in!
Leader: Aga RzadDriver: Jo Gay

Tuesday 21 Aug 2012Book Binders Pub Social
Just a good pub social. We had a great time when Michelle took us there at the beginning of the year. I also love the fact that crepes are the main item on the menu! I'll be there from 8pm.
Contact: Tom

Saturday 25 Aug 2012Scrub and rubbish clearance and reed pullingTrap Grounds, Oxford
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This site in north Oxford is a former rubbish dump, which is now a popular community resource as well as an impressive nature reserve. We've done lots of work clearing scrub, creating paths and building a bird hide. Today we will be doing some scrub clearance around the meadow, and possibly removing excess reeds from the ponds, which will require waders and possibly a small boat! Come along and help with this important work.
Leader: Paul ClarkeDriver: John Worth

Sunday 26 Aug 2012Sleeper walkway repairChilswell Valley, Oxford
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Another visit to this stunning Oxford City Council nature reserve to the south-west of the city. There are great views and fantastic woodland, grassland and wetland habitats. Today we'll be repairing a walkway constructed from railway sleepers. This will help to maintain safe public access to the site. Come along and get involved.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Geoff Watson

Sunday 2 Sep 2012Step-building and coppicingSouth Newington Parish, North Oxfordshire
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South Newington is a village in North Oxfordshire towards Banbury. We'll be doing two different jobs in the parish this week. Firstly we'll be building a set of steps to improve access to a newly planted woodland up a steep slope. Secondly, we'll be in a different part of the village, coppicing trees alongside an ancient lane. This type of work will improve access, but also drastically increase biodiversity by letting the light reach the ground and kick-start growth of a lot of woodland plant species. It will be interesting to call back in the future and see what grows back where we've worked. Come along for some enjoyable step-building and first coppicing of the year.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Tuesday 4 Sep 2012Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
Tonight is our monthly committee meeting - come along if you'd like to get more involved in the running of the charity. Alternatively, we will be heading to Far from the Madding Crowd for a pint or join afterwards if you would like to come along. Please note: This month's meeting will be held in the BARRISTERS ROOM of the Town Hall.
Contact: Lydia

Sunday 9 Sep 2012Dipping platform construction and moreSt Peter's Primary School, Cassington
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This week we'll be doing a series of jobs at this village primary school to significantly improve the school nature area. We'll be clearing some scrub from around the pond, building a new dipping platform, cutting a meadow, pollarding a willow, surfacing a network of paths, and planting a hedge, possibly two of them. It's a lot of small jobs which altogether will hopefully make an amazing nature area with examples of 5 or 6 different types of habitat. We'll be working with locals, perhaps including parents, pupils and staff. There will be loads to do, so please come along and do your bit!
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: John Worth

Sunday 16 Sep 2012Scrub clearance and pond workWidnell Park, Piddington, North Oxfordshire
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We'll be scrub-clearing and helping to restore a pond at this site in Piddington parish, near Bicester. We'll be working for the parish council who are creating a new woodland for the jubilee-year. There'll be lots coppicing to do, as well as bramble to cut and possibly some earth to move. The trees will be planted later in the Winter. Come along for lots of top quality conservation work helping to create a woodland that will hopefully be enjoyed by generations to come.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Alison Hopkin

Saturday 22 Sep 2012Scrub ClearanceShotover Country Park, Oxford
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This week we'll be working at Shotover Country Park, which is managed by Oxford City Council. This is a last-minute change from the previously advertised task at Port Meadow. We'll be removing sycamore saplings from a relatively remote corner of the site. More information has already been sent out in the weekly email, so please email tasks@ocv.org.uk if you want a copy forwarding to you!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Geoff Watson

Sunday 23 Sep 2012Lime mortar wallingHolywell Cemetery, Oxford
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We're close to home again today with another day's walling at Holywell Cemetery - a space for urban wildlife in the centre of Oxford. We're working our way along the stone wall at the rear of the site, rebuilding those parts of it that have collapsed, using traditional lime mortar. There will be lots of mortar to mix and stone to sort out, and there will be also be chance to have a go at laying the new stones if you want. If we have a really good turnout then we can do some scrub clearance as well, as there will certainly be loads needed after the wet spring which has allowed some very vigorous growth. Given the convenient location, feel free to come along for part of the day if you prefer.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 30 Sep 2012CoppicingPissen Wood, Oxfordshire
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We last went to this beautiful privately owned woodland late last Winter. There's loads and loads of work to do coppicing it, because it hasn't been actively managed for some time. Today we'll get ourselves some hedgelaying stakes and binders and create some dense log piles for invertebrates and some messier scrub piles for other wildlife. But the main purpose is of course to open the canopy to let in light and promote regeneration. This means rare plants on the floor of the woodland and a source of food for birds and small mammals. In fact, since it's hazel coppice there may even be rare dormice, which are thought to benefit hugely from maintaining the traditional coppice cycle. So come along and join the fun.
Leader: Aga RzadDriver: John Worth

Tuesday 2 Oct 2012Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
Tonight we are holding our monthly committee meeting - come along if you fancy getting more involved in the running of the charity. Afterwards, we'll head to Far from the Madding Crowd for a pint or two if you fancy coming along. Tonight's meeting will be in the usual Jury Room.
Contact: Lydia

Sunday 7 Oct 2012HedgelayingBoarstall Duck Decoy, Buckinghamshire
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Our first hedgelaying task of the season and we're off to a site we've worked at many times in the past, doing coppicing, hedgelaying and repairing the banks of the lake. This time we'll be laying another section of a rather mature hedge we started last year, so there will be some coppicing involved as well. The aim will be to make the hedge denser, so it provides better habitat for birds and small mammals, and we'll also let in more light to help regenerate an area of recently coppiced woodland. No previous experience of hedgelaying required, so come along and get stuck in.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Alison Hopkin

Saturday 13 Oct 2012Fen-rakingLye Valley, Oxford
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Day one of a double-bill of fen-raking this weekend. There are two fens at the Lye Valley and we will most-likely do one each day. This is vital work to maintain the rich diversity of species on this SSSI in East Oxford. The reeds will have been cut by the city council, so our job will be to rake them off the fen so that the soil is not enriched by the decaying matter. To maintain the interesting plants it's important to keep the soil really low in nutrients. It's hard work but really important work.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Jonathan Eccles

Sunday 14 Oct 2012Fen-rakingLye Valley, Oxford
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Day two of a double-bill of fen-raking at this SSSI in East Oxford. The reeds will have been cut and will just need raking off to maintain variety of species on this fen. It can be hard work but is a vitally important bit of management to maintain the site. If we finish all the raking, there may be some other bits of scrub clearance to do at the edge of the fen. Come along and join in. Many hands make light work!
Leader: Jo HaydukDriver: John Worth

Saturday 20 Oct 2012Reserve MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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We're off to this nature reserve and town green in North Oxford today to do a bit of scrub clearance and possibly remove some dangerous and unsightly rubbish as well. It used to be a rubbish tip and the small piles of old bricks and rubble are home to lizards, with the ponds and wetland home to birds, amphibians and reptiles. It's possible that we'll build a bench for users of our bird hide screen. In the past we've also pulled up bramble and golden rod to create a meadow and cleared a lot of scrub to create a network of paths.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: David Max

Sunday 21 Oct 2012Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our first Autumn visit to this Natural England nature reserve in the Chilterns. At this time of year we could be doing fencing work, looking after the sheep, or perhaps starting on some Autumn scrub bashing on the grassland or some coppicing in the woods. We'll be working with one of the wardens from Natural England and they will tell us their priorities. It's an amazingly diverse nature reserve, so it could be almost anything. As usual our weekly e-mail will have all the details.
Leader: Aga RzadDriver: Jo Gay

Thursday 25 Oct 2012Social event: a curryMajliss Indian Restaurant
We'll be getting a curry on the Cowley Road. If you want to join us for a drink after, then we'll most probably be at the Star from about 9pm - but take my mobile number just in case: 07887 928115
Contact: Jo

Sunday 28 Oct 2012Sheep foot trimming and ear taggingAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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It's unusual for us to work at this National Nature Reserve two weeks running, but we will be back this week to help the wardens with whatever their priorities are. It could be scrub clearance on the grassland, coppicing ash and hazel, or any number of other tasks around the site. If we're on the hillside the views over Oxfordshire are splendid. Update: This week we'll be gathering up the lambs for foot trimming and ear tagging. There may also be a bit of roof construction and fence deconstruction.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: John Worth

Sunday 4 Nov 2012Hedgelaying TrainingLincombe Lane, Boars Hill, Oxford
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This week we're running a hedgelaying training session at this site in Boar's Hill in Oxford owned by the Oxford Preservation Trust. We'll be laying a length of hedge to create a dense natural barrier providing habitat for birds and small mammals. Without hedgelaying hedges would eventually become simply lines of trees or get very gappy if they were just trimmed by machinery. This week's project will be a chance to learn how to lay a hedge under the guidance of one of our experienced volunteers. No previous experience is needed and this is a great opportunity to learn a new skill.
Leader: Tim EvansDriver: Paul Clarke

Tuesday 6 Nov 2012Committee Meeting 8-9pm Jury RoomTown Hall
Tonight is our monthly committee meeting, held in the town Hall. Come along if you fancy learning more about how the charity is run, or if you think you might like to get more involved. We will follow the meeting with a few pints at Far From the Madding Crowd.
Contact: Lydia

Sunday 11 Nov 2012Pond Work and Scrub ClearanceKirtlington Parish, North Oxfordshire
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It's a new destination for us this week as we work with the parish council and alongside members of the Kirtlington Wildlife and Conservation Society (KWACS). We'll be helping to pull up thick reeds from their impressive village pond. If we need a break from standing in cold water in waders and wellies then we'll also be clearing a badly overgrown hedge in preparation for replanting, and clearing scrub from a churchyard managed for wildlife. So there's loads to do around this picturesque village just north of Oxford. Come along and get involved.
Leader: Steve LilleyDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Saturday 17 Nov 2012 -
Sunday 18 Nov 2012
Coppicing Training Winter Camping ResidentialWestonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire
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We'll be learning about coppicing and woodland management from an expert this weekend. We're off to Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire to catch up with ex-OCVer, TV personality, coppicer, hurdle-maker and green woodworker Brian Williamson. He'll be telling us about the coppice restoration work he's doing at Westonbirt and helping us improve our own knowledge and skills covering everything from tool use to woodland management. We're hoping this will be interesting to everyone, whether a newcomer or old-hand. On the Saturday evening we can guarantee a roaring campfire, good food and drink, and somewhere flat to pitch your tent. No hot showers though! Come along if you want to learn about coppicing and woodland skills. There will be a bit of hands-on work to do, with the main focus on training.
Leader: Tim EvansDriver: Alison Hopkin

Sunday 25 Nov 2012Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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It's our regular monthly trip to this National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns. Since we're working directly with the wardens from Natural England they will plan the task for this week, based on their priorities for managing this site. At this time of year it's likely to be coppicing in the woodland or scrub-bashing to maintain the splendid chalk grassland. Full details will be on the weekly email as usual.
Leader: John WorthDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Saturday 1 Dec 2012Reserve MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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We'll be working with the Friends of the Trap Grounds at this site in North Oxford this week. You would never guess this was formerly a rubbish tip, as there are splendid ponds, woods and even some meadow providing a range of habitat. It links up with nearby Burgess Field and Port Meadow via the trees and scrub along the railway, increasing the value to wildlife still further. There is a network of paths that OCV helped create along with a bridge and bird hide. Today we're most likely to be scrub clearing, removing any dangerous rubbish remaining or doing other general maintenance tasks to keep this site in perfect condition for wildlife and the local community.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: David Max

Sunday 2 Dec 2012HedgelayingLincombe Lane, Boars Hill, Oxford
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A second visit to Lincombe Lane in Boars Hill. The land is owned by the Oxford Preservation Trust and managed with advice from BBOWT. We'll be continuing the hedge we started laying last time on our training session. This will hopefully result in a rejuvenated hedge with potential to be much denser and provide habitat and food for birds and small mammals. If there are gaps left then we may replant them as well this time. Come along and get involved.
Leader: Ray HitchinsDriver: John Worth

Tuesday 4 Dec 2012Committee Meeting 8-9pm Jury RoomTown Hall
Tonight is our monthly committee meeting, held in the town Hall. Come along if you fancy learning more about how the charity is run, or if you think you might like to get more involved. We will follow the meeting with a few pints at Far From the Madding Crowd.
Contact: Lydia

Sunday 9 Dec 2012Scrub ClearanceSydlings Copse, North-East Oxford
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We're off to work at this SSSI just north of Oxford this week. We'll be working with one of the BBOWT wardens helping to clear scrub and look after this valuable grassland and heathland site. We've been promised a roaring bonfire to keep us warm in the depths of Winter, so feel free to bring potatoes or parsnips to bake in the embers. More details about this task will be included in our weekly email as usual so do join our mailing list if you're not on it already.
Leader: Aga RzadDriver: John Worth

Saturday 15 Dec 2012FencingChilswell Valley, Oxford
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The plan for this week is to do some fencing at this splendid City Council site on the south-west side of Oxford. We normally do fencing in the Summer months, but this job is a bit more urgent to allow grazing on the site, which can be an important part of management. After all, a cow, sheep or horse can eat a lot more scrub than even the most determined OCVer can clear in a day! So come along and keep your fencing skills up-to-date over the Winter months. More details will be included in the weekly email as usual.
Leader: Ray HitchinsDriver: Daniel Thomas

Sunday 16 Dec 2012Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our last task before Christmas and we're off to our most regular site, Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve about 15 miles south of Oxford. We'll be working with one of the friendly wardens from Natural England, who help keep this site the showcase nature reserve that it is. Tradition dictates that we have a bonfire for cooking potatoes on the last task before Christmas, but this will be confirmed in the weekly email before the task along with all the other details as usual.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Jo Gay

Friday 21 Dec 2012Christmas PartySt Clement's Street
Our Christmas Party is close to Christmas this year, on the shortest day of the year, and supposedly the day the world ends. So a good day for a party. Everyone associated with OCV is welcome to attend even if you've only been to the occasional task, or even if you haven't been to any yet. As usual, it will be a case of bring-your-own drinks and buffet food. It would be helpful if you let us know roughly what you're intending to bring so we can vaguely co-ordinate and not get too much of one thing or another, but that's not essential. There will be a conservation pub quiz, with questions devised by the task programmer. Festivities will get underway at 7pm and we will go on to late, possibly adjourning to a late-opening pub nearby. We've promised not to publicise the exact location, so please email tasks@ocv.org.uk if you would like to come so we can give you the full address. Hope you can make it.
Contact: Chris

Sunday 23 Dec 2012No task due to Christmas
It's only two days before Christmas and many people will be away from home and so we've decided not to have a task today. But save your energy for next week - we're having a task between Christmas and New Year instead. That will certainly help you work off some of that excess turkey! Happy Christmas from OCV.
 

Sunday 30 Dec 2012Sleeper Walkway RepairChilswell Valley, Oxford
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In August we started work on improving the sleeper boardwalk on this site on the south-west of Oxford. It was hard work lifting, flattening and replacing the sleepers to keep the public access completely up-to-scratch. Today we'll be continuing with that work, although there probably won't be so many people out for a walk! This job may be a bit weather dependant, so make sure you're on the email list in case of a last-minute alteration. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter, but email is the most reliable way to make sure you're up-to-date with us. Happy New Year from OCV.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Ray Hitchins