WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #7

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust

In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

Oxford to Abingdon 11 miles

A swollen, turbid, fast flowing river; blackthorn blossom; osiers, rushes and willows half-drowned; many trees down with the recent storms. Flooded mediaeval water meadows; rain at twilight.

I had companions today, including a food bank volunteer for Stroud. Here are some observations from a weekly commitment:

‘Stroud Foodbank has two outlets in Stroud town and a few others in the District. I help run the Nailsworth one. We don’t have much demand, so we don’t have weekly drop-in sessions in a centre. But, of course, there are some individuals in our little town who can benefit from what the Foodbank offers. They can contact the Foodbank office and obtain a voucher through the usual channels, and we arrange a Foodbank delivery to their home.’

‘I volunteer at Stroud Foodbank on Fridays, usually this is the busiest session of the week. We never know who might turn up on the day. We have a wide range of customers. A few we see every now and then who have longer term issues, others are just one-offs, caught out by temporary problems – job losses, benefit delays, health issues, work with unreliable hours etc.’

‘Although we are there mainly to help them with food parcels, we try to engage with our clients on other matters. Our experience is that the local agencies work well together, but we check that our clients haven’t slipped through the net regarding other help that could be out there for them.’

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust

In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

Oxford to Abingdon 11 miles

A swollen, turbid, fast flowing river; blackthorn blossom; osiers, rushes and willows half-drowned; many trees down with the recent storms. Flooded mediaeval water meadows; rain at twilight.

I had companions today, including a food bank volunteer for Stroud. Here are some observations from a weekly commitment:

'Stroud Foodbank has two outlets in Stroud town and a few others in the District. I help run the Nailsworth one. We don't have much demand, so we don't have weekly drop-in sessions in a centre. But, of course, there are some individuals in our little town who can benefit from what the Foodbank offers. They can contact the Foodbank office and obtain a voucher through the usual channels, and we arrange a Foodbank delivery to their home.'

'I volunteer at Stroud Foodbank on Fridays, usually this is the busiest session of the week. We never know who might turn up on the day. We have a wide range of customers. A few we see every now and then who have longer term issues, others are just one-offs, caught out by temporary problems - job losses, benefit delays, health issues, work with unreliable hours etc.'

'Although we are there mainly to help them with food parcels, we try to engage with our clients on other matters. Our experience is that the local agencies work well together, but we check that our clients haven't slipped through the net regarding other help that could be out there for them.'
read more

WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #6

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert
Newbridge to Oxford 14 miles
The Windrush joins the Thames at Newbridge,
Flowing beneath the elegant Taynton stone bridge,
Once a port of call for honeyed Burford quarried stone
On its way to Oxford and London,
As well as a defeat for the Parliamentarians …
Yet today,
So many swans gliding on the waters,
So close to King Charles’ Oxford,
With their mute depiction of feudal hierarchy:
These birds are for monarchs old and new, not
‘Yoemen and husbandmen and other persons of little reputation’;
A heron interrupted the flow of my thoughts downstream
To Hart’s Weir footbridge – more English quaintness:
The weir has gone, but a right of way remains to Erewhon;
Then Northmoor Lock, before reaching literary Bablock Hythe:
Matthew Arnold’s scholar-gypsy,
‘Oft was met crossing the stripling Thames at Bab-lock-hythe,
Trailing in the cool stream thy fingers wet,
As the punt’s rope chops round’;
None of that now at the Ferryman Inn and its chalet purlieus,
Instead a meander inland before returning to the waters
At Pinkhill Weir, before another short roadside detour,
And a boatyard and chandlers and a stride to Swinford Bridge
(Swine-ford),
Where feudalism and modernity meet:
A toll bridge, built at the behest of the Earl of Abingdon in 1777,
Where a company still charges drivers today
(But not pedestrians!),
Then on to the now invisible Anglo-Saxon cultural importance
Of Eynsham, and Eynsham Lock,
Evenlode Stream and King’s Lock
(King denoting kine),
Underneath the Ox-ford by-pass
(You’ve heard its constant roar for over an hour),
To Godstow: ‘Get thee to a nunnery!’;
‘The use of detectors is strictly forbidden’;

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert
Newbridge to Oxford 14 miles
The Windrush joins the Thames at Newbridge,
Flowing beneath the elegant Taynton stone bridge,
Once a port of call for honeyed Burford quarried stone
On its way to Oxford and London,
As well as a defeat for the Parliamentarians …
Yet today,
So many swans gliding on the waters,
So close to King Charles’ Oxford,
With their mute depiction of feudal hierarchy:
These birds are for monarchs old and new, not
‘Yoemen and husbandmen and other persons of little reputation’;
A heron interrupted the flow of my thoughts downstream
To Hart’s Weir footbridge – more English quaintness:
The weir has gone, but a right of way remains to Erewhon;
Then Northmoor Lock, before reaching literary Bablock Hythe:
Matthew Arnold’s scholar-gypsy,
‘Oft was met crossing the stripling Thames at Bab-lock-hythe,
Trailing in the cool stream thy fingers wet,
As the punt’s rope chops round’;
None of that now at the Ferryman Inn and its chalet purlieus,
Instead a meander inland before returning to the waters
At Pinkhill Weir, before another short roadside detour,
And a boatyard and chandlers and a stride to Swinford Bridge
(Swine-ford),
Where feudalism and modernity meet:
A toll bridge, built at the behest of the Earl of Abingdon in 1777,
Where a company still charges drivers today
(But not pedestrians!),
Then on to the now invisible Anglo-Saxon cultural importance
Of Eynsham, and Eynsham Lock,
Evenlode Stream and King’s Lock
(King denoting kine),
Underneath the Ox-ford by-pass
(You’ve heard its constant roar for over an hour),
To Godstow: ‘Get thee to a nunnery!’;
‘The use of detectors is strictly forbidden’; read more

Some say Incompetent, Some say Criminal

Dominic Raab, knowing that a week is a long time in politics, has said that “Now is not the time to commit to an inquiry”.

He knows that the government’s actions and inaction have led to needless loss of life.

We believe that the government must answer for these deaths under the Corporate Manslaughter Act and are seeking to crowdfund a prosecution.

The link is here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/keith-
butler?utm_term=9wxY78P9Z

The link will reveal the serious, principled and sequential structure to the
campaign.

The BBC and The Guardian have both been contacted today about this.

Keith Butler is assiduously, sedulously and forensically compiling a compelling dossier of evidence.

Please support financially if you can and/or by sharing this as widely as you can.

Dominic Raab, knowing that a week is a long time in politics, has said that “Now is not the time to commit to an inquiry”.

He knows that the government’s actions and inaction have led to needless loss of life.

We believe that the government must answer for these deaths under the Corporate Manslaughter Act and are seeking to crowdfund a prosecution.

The link is here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/keith-
butler?utm_term=9wxY78P9Z

The link will reveal the serious, principled and sequential structure to the
campaign.

The BBC and The Guardian have both been contacted today about this.

Keith Butler is assiduously, sedulously and forensically compiling a compelling dossier of evidence.

Please support financially if you can and/or by sharing this as widely as you can.

read more

WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #4

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust

In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

Day Two: Cricklade to Lechlade 11 miles

William Cobbett visited Cricklade in 1826 on his Rural Rides: ‘the source of the river Isis … the first branch of the Thames. They call it the “Old Thames” and I rode through it here, it not being above four or five yards wide, and not deeper than the knees of my horse … I saw in one single farm-yard here more food than enough for four times the inhabitants of the parish … the poor creatures that raise the wheat and the barley and cheese and the mutton and the beef are living upon potatoes …’
Plus ca change …

A haiku exploration:
Ridge and furrow fields,
Once beyond the river’s reach,
Now puddled and drowned.

Peasants till the fields,
Barefoot ghosts and revenants
Follow in our steps.

Silhouetted trees,
Pewter sky and silver clouds,
The water’s canvas.

Swans glide the field-flood,
A limitless lake’s expanse,
Burnished willow boughs.

And at Inglesham,
A medieval village,
Lost to Time’s waters.

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust

In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

Day Two: Cricklade to Lechlade 11 miles

William Cobbett visited Cricklade in 1826 on his Rural Rides: ‘the source of the river Isis … the first branch of the Thames. They call it the “Old Thames” and I rode through it here, it not being above four or five yards wide, and not deeper than the knees of my horse … I saw in one single farm-yard here more food than enough for four times the inhabitants of the parish … the poor creatures that raise the wheat and the barley and cheese and the mutton and the beef are living upon potatoes …’
Plus ca change …

A haiku exploration:
Ridge and furrow fields,
Once beyond the river’s reach,
Now puddled and drowned.

Peasants till the fields,
Barefoot ghosts and revenants
Follow in our steps.

Silhouetted trees,
Pewter sky and silver clouds,
The water’s canvas.

Swans glide the field-flood,
A limitless lake’s expanse,
Burnished willow boughs.

And at Inglesham,
A medieval village,
Lost to Time’s waters.

read more

Rough Musick

ROUGH MUSICK
When we bang our pots and pans in the street,
When we clap our hands in harmony,
It’s not just an expression of sympathy,
Nor some sort of collective empathy,
It’s also the revival of ROUGH MUSICK.

ROUGH MUSICK:
A community PANDAEMONIUM
To indicate disapproval of rulers,
The wrong-doer often shown in effigy,
Sometimes riding the SKIMMINGTON,
As in The Mayor of Casterbridge,
Or the 1825 Stroud weavers’ riots,
As the world is turned upside down.

THE SKIMMINGTON
Perhaps we’ll see Dominic Cummings
In effigy, and Boris Johnson,
Placed backwards on a donkey in Chalford,
Or wheelbarrow or bike in Stroud,
As we all chant:
‘TEST
TEST
TEST
PPE
KEEP KEY WORKERS
VIRUS-FREE.’

ROUGH MUSICK
When we bang our pots and pans in the street,
When we clap our hands in harmony,
It’s not just an expression of sympathy,
Nor some sort of collective empathy,
It’s also the revival of ROUGH MUSICK.

ROUGH MUSICK:
A community PANDAEMONIUM
To indicate disapproval of rulers,
The wrong-doer often shown in effigy,
Sometimes riding the SKIMMINGTON,
As in The Mayor of Casterbridge,
Or the 1825 Stroud weavers’ riots,
As the world is turned upside down.

THE SKIMMINGTON
Perhaps we’ll see Dominic Cummings
In effigy, and Boris Johnson,
Placed backwards on a donkey in Chalford,
Or wheelbarrow or bike in Stroud,
As we all chant:
‘TEST
TEST
TEST
PPE
KEEP KEY WORKERS
VIRUS-FREE.’

read more

Walking The Thames To London #3

WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #3
Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

And on Thursday 6th February, I started the first day
On my Thames Path Food Bank Pilgrimage:
Day One Thursday 6th February 2020 Source to Cricklade

Frost, fog, mist, sunshine, sunrise 7.31; sunset 16.57; carbon count 413.90; remembering the remarkable Allen Davenport of Ewen, one mile on from the source of the river; swans, herons, twitcher all in camouflage secreted behind a tree, ridge and furrow, flooded water meadows, meandering broken banked Thames, wading waist-deep on one occasion; 13 miles. Cricklade 3pm.

Remembering Allen Davenport of Ewen:

One of ten children in a handloom weaver’s cottage: ‘I was born May 1st, 1775, in the small and obscure village of Ewen … somewhat more than a mile from the source of the Thames, on the banks of which stream stands the cottage in which I was born … I came into existence, while the revolutionary war of America was raging …’

He taught himself to read by learning songs; then saving up to buy printed versions. He taught himself to write: ‘I got hold of a written alphabet … I tried my hand at black and white … and to my inexpressible joy I soon discovered that my writing could be read and partially understood’.

WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #3
Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

And on Thursday 6th February, I started the first day
On my Thames Path Food Bank Pilgrimage:
Day One Thursday 6th February 2020 Source to Cricklade

Frost, fog, mist, sunshine, sunrise 7.31; sunset 16.57; carbon count 413.90; remembering the remarkable Allen Davenport of Ewen, one mile on from the source of the river; swans, herons, twitcher all in camouflage secreted behind a tree, ridge and furrow, flooded water meadows, meandering broken banked Thames, wading waist-deep on one occasion; 13 miles. Cricklade 3pm.

Remembering Allen Davenport of Ewen:

One of ten children in a handloom weaver’s cottage: ‘I was born May 1st, 1775, in the small and obscure village of Ewen … somewhat more than a mile from the source of the Thames, on the banks of which stream stands the cottage in which I was born … I came into existence, while the revolutionary war of America was raging …’

He taught himself to read by learning songs; then saving up to buy printed versions. He taught himself to write: ‘I got hold of a written alphabet … I tried my hand at black and white … and to my inexpressible joy I soon discovered that my writing could be read and partially understood’. read more

Virtual Walking

KEEP FIT WHEN SELF-ISOLATING by pretending to walk the Thames to London. Join me for a virtual walk and measure your steps inside your house. As many of you know, I have been walking the river piecemeal towards London to raise funds for the Trussell Trust and food banks. I’ve got as far as Wallingford in reality and have now walked to Tilehurst in a pretend way. Join me if you wish and I’ll let you know what you’ve seen along the river banks. The next stage is from Cholsey to Tilehurst which is about twelve miles.

It may be that you might want to send me a sentence or two about your ‘walk’ in exchange, as we build up a journal of this new plague year. The first two posts about walking from Stroud are up here – please see below.

I have reached the conclusion that individual, family and public health considerations mean that I will now walk the Thames in a virtual/pretend way.

How will I do this?

By laying out the route-map for the day and by measuring the required distance on my phone. I will walk within my home and within my immediate locality, but far from the madding crowd: 19 corvids rather COVID-19, as it were.

By using imagination and memory rather than observation. By following my usual practice of blending reflections on topographical, historical, and contemporary contexts, with the Trussell Trust and food banks always in focus.

By all virtual means, please join me.

KEEP FIT WHEN SELF-ISOLATING by pretending to walk the Thames to London. Join me for a virtual walk and measure your steps inside your house. As many of you know, I have been walking the river piecemeal towards London to raise funds for the Trussell Trust and food banks. I’ve got as far as Wallingford in reality and have now walked to Tilehurst in a pretend way. Join me if you wish and I’ll let you know what you’ve seen along the river banks. The next stage is from Cholsey to Tilehurst which is about twelve miles.

It may be that you might want to send me a sentence or two about your ‘walk’ in exchange, as we build up a journal of this new plague year. The first two posts about walking from Stroud are up here – please see below.

I have reached the conclusion that individual, family and public health considerations mean that I will now walk the Thames in a virtual/pretend way.

How will I do this?

By laying out the route-map for the day and by measuring the required distance on my phone. I will walk within my home and within my immediate locality, but far from the madding crowd: 19 corvids rather COVID-19, as it were.

By using imagination and memory rather than observation. By following my usual practice of blending reflections on topographical, historical, and contemporary contexts, with the Trussell Trust and food banks always in focus.

By all virtual means, please join me. read more

WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #2

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

So here I am walking from Walbridge in Stroud,
Along the Thames and Severn Canal,
To Trewsbury Mead and the source of the Thames,
The prologue to my pilgrimage
To the Celestial City.

Prologue: Wednesday, 5th February 2020 Stroud to Source

It’s a great walk down to Capel’s Mill from my house,
Past old ridge and furrow and tenterhook hedgerows,
Teazles here and there to raise your nap,
Imagining the patchwork quilt of fields of two centuries ago:
You pass an old oak sentinel to reach the River Frome,
Railway viaduct and canal-bridge close at hand,
And there is the dell that once was Capel’s Mill:
Trees clambering down the steep riverbank to shroud the waters,
The remains of the mill sluice quickening the river’s pulse,
Rusting iron work still visible,
The steady drip down from the railway arches,

The echo of the 1839 Miles Report:

The weavers are much distressed; they are wretchedly off in bedding; has seen many cases where the man and his wife and as many as 7 children have slept on straw, laid on the floor with only a torn quilt to cover them … children crying for food, and the parents having no money in the house, or work to obtain any; he has frequently given them money out of his own pocket to provide them with a breakfast …These men have a great dread of going to the Poor Houses, and live in constant hope that every day will bring them some work; witness has frequently told them they would be better in the (work)house, and their answer has been, ‘I would sooner starve.’

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

So here I am walking from Walbridge in Stroud,
Along the Thames and Severn Canal,
To Trewsbury Mead and the source of the Thames,
The prologue to my pilgrimage
To the Celestial City.

Prologue: Wednesday, 5th February 2020 Stroud to Source

It’s a great walk down to Capel’s Mill from my house,
Past old ridge and furrow and tenterhook hedgerows,
Teazles here and there to raise your nap,
Imagining the patchwork quilt of fields of two centuries ago:
You pass an old oak sentinel to reach the River Frome,
Railway viaduct and canal-bridge close at hand,
And there is the dell that once was Capel’s Mill:
Trees clambering down the steep riverbank to shroud the waters,
The remains of the mill sluice quickening the river’s pulse,
Rusting iron work still visible,
The steady drip down from the railway arches,

The echo of the 1839 Miles Report:

The weavers are much distressed; they are wretchedly off in bedding; has seen many cases where the man and his wife and as many as 7 children have slept on straw, laid on the floor with only a torn quilt to cover them … children crying for food, and the parents having no money in the house, or work to obtain any; he has frequently given them money out of his own pocket to provide them with a breakfast …These men have a great dread of going to the Poor Houses, and live in constant hope that every day will bring them some work; witness has frequently told them they would be better in the (work)house, and their answer has been, ‘I would sooner starve.’

read more

Terminalia Beating the Bounds of Rodborough

It was a pleasure and a privilege to have the company of Alison Fure of the Walking Artists’ Network join us on Sunday. Here’s a link to her insightful wordsmith weaving:

https://alisonfure.blogspot.com/2020/02/beating-bounds-at-rodborough.html

Bio

Alison Fure has spent 22 years working as an ecologist informing land managers of the wildlife interest on their holdings; she enjoys taking the public on wonderful walks from wildlife, wassails and more recently, Soundwalks. Please join her on John Clare’s walk from Epping to Northborough in July 2020. She writes nature blogs and chap books including Kingston’s Apple Story. https://sampsonlow.co/2017/05/26/kingstons-apple-story-alison-fure/

It was a pleasure and a privilege to have the company of Alison Fure of the Walking Artists’ Network join us on Sunday. Here’s a link to her insightful wordsmith weaving:

https://alisonfure.blogspot.com/2020/02/beating-bounds-at-rodborough.html

Bio

Alison Fure has spent 22 years working as an ecologist informing land managers of the wildlife interest on their holdings; she enjoys taking the public on wonderful walks from wildlife, wassails and more recently, Soundwalks. Please join her on John Clare’s walk from Epping to Northborough in July 2020. She writes nature blogs and chap books including Kingston’s Apple Story. https://sampsonlow.co/2017/05/26/kingstons-apple-story-alison-fure/ read more

WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #1

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists group from The Prince Albert

I’m walking the Thames to London,
Not in linear sequence:
Flooding prevents that –
But in an act of near nominative determinism,
I present the famous words of Thomas Rainsborough,
From down by the river bank at the Church of St Mary the Virgin,
From the Civil War Putney Debates of 1647:
‘For really I think that the poorest … that is in England
Hath a life to live, as the greatest …’
What would Mr Rainsborough make of the need
For food banks, four hundred years later?

I’m not a great one for sponsorship,
Tbh,
My mantra is ‘Parity not Charity’:
I’m rather more of a supporter of tax,
Not regressive taxes such as VAT,
Where everyone pays the same,
Irrespective of income,
But progressive taxes such as income tax,
So as to redistribute wealth from the rich;
Oh, and another thing about charity:
I dislike the virtue-signalling,
And Americanisation
Of our society, with chuggers in the street,
And the incessant rattling of tins,
And that apparently self-validating cry:
‘Charidee!’

I do give, however, in a random way:
Domestic appeals, national appeals, international appeals,
Beggars in the streets,
Big Issue (not a charity),
Food banks …
Even though it’s a piecemeal patchwork,
Random and uncoordinated:
A personification of charity itself, I suppose …

So here I am in February 2020,
In the year of our Lord of Paupers’ Burials,
In the year of our Lord of Bet Fred,
In the year of our Lord of Universal Credit,
In the year of our Lord of Universal Cruelty,
In the year of our Lord of the Five Week Wait,
Pragmatically doing my bit
For the Trussell Trust,
Which, I think, also feels ambivalent
About its work – as its website says:
‘94% of people at food banks
Are in destitution.
This isn’t right.’

‘Destitution’, now there’s a throwback
To a Victorian lexicon:
‘Poverty so extreme that one lacks
the means to provide for oneself’.
Synonyms for destitution include:
Penury; privation; indigence;
Pauperdom; beggary; mendicancy –
Isn’t it interesting to notice,
How many of these synonyms
Seem like archaisms?
Our semantic field for poverty is reluctant
To acknowledge the impact of modernity:
Universal Credit, the gig economy,
Zero hours contracts and so on,
It likes to pretend that poverty is old hat,
Dickensian: Scrooge before redemption;

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists group from The Prince Albert

I'm walking the Thames to London,
Not in linear sequence:
Flooding prevents that -
But in an act of near nominative determinism,
I present the famous words of Thomas Rainsborough,
From down by the river bank at the Church of St Mary the Virgin,
From the Civil War Putney Debates of 1647:
‘For really I think that the poorest … that is in England
Hath a life to live, as the greatest …’
What would Mr Rainsborough make of the need
For food banks, four hundred years later?

I’m not a great one for sponsorship,
Tbh,
My mantra is ‘Parity not Charity’:
I’m rather more of a supporter of tax,
Not regressive taxes such as VAT,
Where everyone pays the same,
Irrespective of income,
But progressive taxes such as income tax,
So as to redistribute wealth from the rich;
Oh, and another thing about charity:
I dislike the virtue-signalling,
And Americanisation
Of our society, with chuggers in the street,
And the incessant rattling of tins,
And that apparently self-validating cry:
‘Charidee!’

I do give, however, in a random way:
Domestic appeals, national appeals, international appeals,
Beggars in the streets,
Big Issue (not a charity),
Food banks …
Even though it’s a piecemeal patchwork,
Random and uncoordinated:
A personification of charity itself, I suppose …

So here I am in February 2020,
In the year of our Lord of Paupers’ Burials,
In the year of our Lord of Bet Fred,
In the year of our Lord of Universal Credit,
In the year of our Lord of Universal Cruelty,
In the year of our Lord of the Five Week Wait,
Pragmatically doing my bit
For the Trussell Trust,
Which, I think, also feels ambivalent
About its work – as its website says:
‘94% of people at food banks
Are in destitution.
This isn’t right.’

‘Destitution’, now there’s a throwback
To a Victorian lexicon:
‘Poverty so extreme that one lacks
the means to provide for oneself’.
Synonyms for destitution include:
Penury; privation; indigence;
Pauperdom; beggary; mendicancy -
Isn’t it interesting to notice,
How many of these synonyms
Seem like archaisms?
Our semantic field for poverty is reluctant
To acknowledge the impact of modernity:
Universal Credit, the gig economy,
Zero hours contracts and so on,
It likes to pretend that poverty is old hat,
Dickensian: Scrooge before redemption;

read more