The church bells rang us out of Canewdon as they had rung us in. Something glorious celebratory and solemn in the sound of those ancient bells a deep rich tonality and harmonic vibrating with the stones of the old tower. Just four walkers set off down the slope towards the battlefield where the slaughter stained land and river. Bells tolled behind us fading away, we turned to see bonfire smoke billowing around the tower on top of the hill.
Today has been a day of management and logistical mess ups. Leaving a growing list of questions to be answered by the project manager?
Why so few walkers, we had more on the recces… Is the bigger walk picture not being told? Why do so few people seem to know about it, fewer still the feast day events?
Why no school children at Fambridge, either North or South; why such inadequate liaison with senior school staff that travel arrangements and risk assessments were not thought through until the last minute and related to this, why on day 1 did a school fete not connect up with the walk and the event at St Peter’s chapel?
Why were the lead artists not integrated into the public events at Burnham?
Why are local artists being given such minimal support organising their public events?
Why was the Brandy Hole location availability not confirmed before making arrangements for this to be the end of the evening walk today?
Why was the walker parking locked on their return
We arrive at South Fambridge no sign of children on either side of the river, so we walked on to Ashingdon to a greeting with school bell and flags. The flags were however decontextualised ,in the school playground some of the children appeared disappointed by this others did not appear to have grasped that the project involved actually going to the riverside and trying to communicate with children on the other side.
Nevertheless much excitement and cheering, the head teacher enthusiastically promising that somehow they will make it on Thursday. Apologising that they and only got wind of the activity at the last minute. We now have 4 community flags flying
Short break at The Remedy Tea Rooms we discover that the end of afternoon walk activity is cancelled. The Brandy Hole bar/restaurant will be shut. Later two walkers joined us and the long-suffering Sophie did the greeting and paperwork. We set off with flags flying to Hullbridge already disappointed that Laura’s radio amateur group will not be able to demonstrate their magnificence and send poems to South Woodham Ferrers bounced off the International Space Centre. Hopefully tomorrow.
Good walking and talking, passing Ostriches and talking about the utopian community that once lived at Ashingdon. Tolstoyan anarchist. A struggle through the thicket and onto the marshes, finally arriving at a silent and locked up Brandy Hole, tide right out, the river a merest trickle. Walking onto Hullbridge we sat in the pub garden, winding down watching the swans and later children splashing in the river. The walkers who had joined us took the transport back to their cars and then began a settling of the final straws of the evening in a series of phone calls and texts.The car park the walkers had been directed to was locked, the project manager did not have contact details for the key holder.
As I write the cars are still locked up, an evening ruined and both men will need to come out here early to pick up their cars and get to work on time. Inconvenience and embarrassment all round.