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Adrian Lawson: teaching English to our refugees

Adrian Lawson

Reading based naturalist and bicycle kitchen pioneer Adrian Lawson makes an unlikely Professor Higgins, but for the last three years he has been helping refugees learn to speak English at the Reading Refugee Support Group. We met up for a relaxing carafe of loose leaf tea in the smart C.U.P. café at St. Mary’s Butts for a chat about his voluntary work.

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Goodbye to the Coley Park Black Poplar

The Coley Park black poplar after storm Ciara

The Coley Park black poplar after storm Ciara, February 2020. Photo: © Adrian Lawson.

The great Coley Park black poplar was, for me at least, one of the most iconic trees in Reading.

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Review of 2019 at the Whitley Pump

The MERL’s new yarn bomb

Thank you to all our readers and regular and occasional contributors for making it a wonderful year on Katesgrove Hill. We hope that you continue to enjoy reading or contributing to the Whitley Pump in 2020.

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A walk into the Wilds of Coley

Coley Meadows (Adrian Lawson)

Coley Meadows (c) Adrian Lawson

On Sunday 17 November there’ll be a walk from Waterloo Meadows Children’s centre into the marshes of the Coley water meadows. We’ll meet at 10am, and we’ll expect to return by 1pm.

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‘The Art of Trees’ at the Turbine House

The Turbine house at Blake’s Lock, part of Reading museum and next door to Bel and the Dragon, is worth a visit on its own; it’s a lovely spot and I could easily gaze out the windows at the waters of the Kennet flowing over the Borough weir.

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Winter flocks on Coley meadows

A murmuration of starlings at Gretna. Photo: Walter Baxter via Wikimedia Commons

Flocks of birds are a phenomenon that have always intrigued me. Watching how different birds go about it has fascinated me all my life. There are those obscure little flocks of twittering tits that flit about the hedgerows in winter, and there are those massive and spectacular starling murmurations that fill the dusk skies with choreographed magic.

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1962 air crash wreckage found at Kennet Meadows

Coley Meadows (c) Adrian Lawson

I met the owner of part of Coley meadows many years ago, and he told me a fascinating tale of two aeroplanes colliding there. He described the area where he thought they had crashed, and for many years I kept my eyes open for any sign. When the Fobney Island nature reserve was being dug I had hoped to find some evidence, but there was none. I looked it up and found a news report; the crash happened on 4 November 1962. There was no detail on the actual location, so I asked a few of the more senior residents, but strangely nobody knew much.

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World Book Day 2018

As a celebration of World Book Day 2018, the Whitley Pump looks back at the books we reviewed in the last year.

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The Shady Side of Town book review

On a fresh Mayday morning, I went along to the first part of an organised walk at that eleven acre wedge of melancholy calm and beauty known as Reading Old Cemetery.  An eager crowd of around a hundred souls had gathered to learn more of Reading’s trees and celebrate the publishing of a remarkable book on the subject.

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Dawn chorus at Coley Meadows

Naturalist Adrian Lawson and Wang Hua, an English teacher visiting from China.

We met local naturalist Adrian Lawson at 6 am on a mild cloudy morning at Southcote Junction. Adrian had kindly offered a show and tell of the birds and wildlife that we could see or hear at Coley meadows near the Kennet, as well as at the wonderful Fobney Island nature reserve.

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