The Red Poll cattle left us before the circus arrived on the Common in early June. They returned days after the GRT reunion later in the month. But there was a stray amongst them. One of our members photographed a Red Poll steer taking a fancy to the colourful cow that had joined the herd. What did the Council have in mind when arranging this pairing?
For the second year in a row Midsummer Fair did not take place in 2021 because of coronavirus restrictions. But this didn't stop the GRT Community turning up on the Saturday for their annual reunion. The Council prepared for the worst and provided toilets, litter bins and a police presence. The crowds were large and the Common near the Fort St George paid a heavy price. Council workers were out early on the Sunday to clean up the mess.
In the first week of May a few FoMC members helped the Council team to plant a Dawn Redwood just below the Community Orchard on the main Common. This is the first of 3 redwoods promised for this part of the Common. The others should appear by November. Until then we must keep the present one alive by frequent watering.
These are interesting times for trees. The Government has called for more trees to be planted to combat global warming and climate change; Cambridge has its own Canopy Project to increase tree coverage. The 2019-24 Management Plan for the Common says that "ways must now be found to increase the number and variety of trees on the Common". So FoMC floated the idea that the felled Tree of Heaven be replaced by another of Chinese origin - a Dawn Redwood.
Coronavirus has had striking effects on Midsummer Common. Events were cancelled and this left a glaring hole - Midsummer Fair had been running for over 800 years. The Fort St George pub and Midsummer House restaurant closed their doors. Cyclists crossing the Common became a rare sight during the first lockdown with schools closed and people working from home. The Grass was mowed only once and the weeds appeared in profusion. But this didn't stop many families taking their daily exercise walking across the grassland and picnicing under the summer sun. FoMC volunteers continued to keep the Community Orchard a popular venue. And our Secretary produced a new Summer Newsletter followed by another one for the Autumn.
Midsummer Common has been a tranquil place to take exercise and watch the grazing cattle over the last few months. Walkers have complied with the coronavirus guidelines and kept their social distance. The Council stopped their programme of events on the Common so Midsummer Fair did not turn up last week. But that did not stop some of its followers turning up in great numbers yesterday. Social distancing was no more as crowds assembled near the Fort.
The police and Council had advance warning that the Gypsy Roma Travellers would turn up for their annual reunion. Council powers were limited: they moved the cattle into the Eastern pound, closed the pub and blocked vehicle entry to the Common. The police patrolled local streets and were ever present on the Common to keep order. A number of people were arrested for criminal matters, a number of people were dispersed from the area and a number of drivers were ticketed for inappropriate parking. Fortunately there was little violence and the travellers left at nightfall. The Council was quick to turn up the following morning to clear the rubbish on the Common and release the cattle.
The Common is proving a popular place for people to take their exercise. The dog walkers in the picture are following government orders and standing 2m apart whilst discussing when they will be allowed back to work. And in the background others are looking at the herd of 16 cows that have just arrived back on the Common.
Drama as hooligans dug a big hole on Butt Green. Were they looking for plague victims that were buried in the area in the early 17th century? Did they know that byelaws in 1851 imposed fines of forty shillings on every person who shall dig up any Common pastures? Pictures provide the evidence.
To make matters worse, one of the hooligans decided that if the Fort St George would not serve food and beer, it was time to eat whatever was available. Will anybody be asked to pay the bill?
To draw more attention to their presence, one decided to go swimming in the river and it took two fire engines, a dozen firemen, half a dozen canoes, two longboats and many other helpers to get the hooligan back onto dry land. Will anybody be asked to pay this bill?
Over the years, FoMC members have worked hard to improve the state of Midsummer Common and the adjacent Community Orchard. They established the Orchard - cleared the site, planted the trees and hedges, landscaped the entrance and installed two benches, a picnic table and a boules court. But these green spaces need constant maintenance and a group of FoMC volunteers plays a big part in this. They plan to meet in the Orchard on the first Sunday of each month. Please do drop in for some exercise and a social chat.