Waking up to the river, a great expanse of wet grey and small boats. Tonight as the dark gathers round the pool of lights on the timber ship up the river I am reflecting on this day in the distance a line of orange street lights. Southend.
Today we crossed the river for the first time. A walking day but not extreme either in distance or weather. Summer grey clouds and a wind that drove the spattering of rain dried us off just as quick. Two flags fluttering in the wind driven by the motion of the boat: we returned with three. This was Burnham’s day the Mayor turned out to greet us and children from the local primary school came to launch their paper boats and hand to us a box of memories for safe keeping across the river.
A good gathering of potential walkers greeted us at the quay the result of some good networking with U3A and slowly the school children and parents gathered out side the yacht club. Why Corinthian…?the tweeted question was never answered…maybe Burnham is twinned with Greece..could be an empathetic link. The Burnham community flag was unfurled and local artist Alan invited us to get into position to see the paper boat launch.
The school did not have a twin across the river, only some land, Wallasea. About to become the largest bird reserve in Europe, so the mayor told us but perhaps this lack of a structured connection with people across the river was a mistake.
Excited school children all tagged and risk assessed walked onto the pontoon and in the distance we saw their creations open up to flat paper and flow away on the fast falling tide out to see. Proud parents looked on. I was given a decorated shoe box of casts of interesting and strange things found on the northern river shore, the memory box, to care for and carry across the river. Great concept but I am not sure the children understood it, the idea of a biodegradable time capsule was perhaps a bit too conceptual. I loved it but did not feel that I was carrying something precious to them or to Burnham. The full story did not seem to have been told but the flags photos and Facebook begin to fill the gaps.
Across the river with the memory box and two flags on the Burnham Ferry, we walked the sea walls.
First to the west through old shipyards and over looking timber yards, a ship unloading and the air rich with the smell of creosote. We walked and talked and the dynamic resumed. A returning walker and child from yesterday carrying the banners and the U3A walkers hoping to do a bit of bird spotting but game for discovering ghost crossings and the Great Festival Walk!
The box will be buried and GPS tagged so that in a virtual world it will always exist even if the box and its contents return to the soil. One wonders if anything will be left in this world, in the actual memories of the children of the workshop and the specific object they found and cast.
Walking back we saw the last flight of a Vulcan bomber and I remembered a bored school day brought to life when one such flying triangle roared hedge height my long distance stare out of the classroom window. A Hurricane flew over sounding like a flying bentley, it barrel rolled over my head . I shouted and clapped. Walking and talking again, diving stories, home made wet suits, Portland Harbour, Clarks shoes and sandwiches for parliament. Visiting the Taj Mahal. Love.
The walk brings it out and connects. Bitterness and missed opportunities fall into place, fall into perspective. We move on.