We are looking for contacts, local community groups, interested individuals, routes into funding, places to exhibit, support, volunteers, publicity and people to network with in order to develop our projects.
Please contact us by emailing milesanddacombe@virginmedia.com.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Wellbeing Walk 5 - Still Heading East - Hope to All

Carole and Jo have had quite a few adventures trying to find a walk East from the station. They tried three times or more, scoured the map, asked a variety of locals, hunted high and low for the remains of a Roman Road, looked at other options, all of which meant spending some time walking beside main roads. There were tantalising open spaces with cleared ground, which looked very much like private property. Finally a compromise was made, a route decided and our new group of young walkers met at Corby Station.

It was strange starting again with new walkers who had a different energy and no experience of a derive, would Carole and Jo be able to convince them that a walk under threatening skies, through an urban landscape, could hold any interest?

Carole and Jo encouraged the group to look around, look in detail, see what might catch their eye, flowers and a vehicle carrying cars were the first things to capture the group's attention.

Grasses, weeds and billboards, old signs, a weather vein on a church spire, shifting cloud and racing traffic punctuated our route. We made slow progress, walkers making an elongated, easily distracted line.

The red garage doors reminded us of beach huts

"A patch of blue big enough to darn a sailor's trousers"
old family saying

The rain finally got the better of us and we took shelter by some flats, in the group's minibus, which had come to find us. Whilst the rain pelted down, sandwiches were consumed and Jo began to tell the group about the French Situationists that had triggered the exploration we were making that day, about being a "flaneur", exploring and wandering and how we were now part of an international movement of people who drift in urban spaces. We looked at some of the pictures the group had been taking and as soon as the rain stopped Andreia and William ventured out to photograph a vivid red rose bush.

Wild Cherries

Festive garden

Carole and Jo were keen to explore an enticement, a path between the backs of some houses leading to a gated field. It was quite dark, overhung with trees, the ground soft with decaying leaves, somehow magical. We found ourselves peering over walls and through knot holes in fences, spying free range chickens scratching contentedly, noticing patterns and shapes created by walls and fences. No one was bothered by the time or the weather and the group began to gel together, sharing ideas, becoming excited by possibilities.

Photo by William

Photo by William

Photo by Andreia

We finished up at a public football pitch and green open space, where we prepared to make another balloon launch. There were no seeds this time, but we wrote thoughts and wishes on labels and attached them to the balloons. Some escaped before the launch, others burst whilst being filled with helium.

The group strode out into the middle of the field with their strings of unruly balloons.

Ready, steady, lift off

Captured and carried east by the wind

After the balloon launch we headed back to Corby Community Arts in the Old Village to discuss what we'd seen and to make small drawings and notes on a map of our route.

We hadn't travelled far east, probably no more than a mile, but in that short stretch we had managed to spend two hours exploring, looking closely and noticing things previously unnoticed, discovering surprising things even though this stretch of Corby we all thought we knew well. The amount we managed to record on our map shows how many interesting things can be found on a single stretch of road by just looking in a different way!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Wellbeing Walk 4 - the elusive East!

It was a really hot day.   We just couldn't walk that far!  All that was on our minds was finding a cool, shady spot to sit down.

Meeting at Corby Station as usual, it was great to see yet more new faces joining us for our final walk with this group.  As it was our last walk with them and really stiflingly hot, we decided to make this more of a celebratory day.

Besides, the East had proved elusive!  Carole and Jo had been trying for a few weeks to work out the best route East from the station, wherever they went they got cut off before getting very far.  The large new developments to the East of Corby were well underway and there were fences across land that were not marked on Jo's Ordinance Survey map!

So today we focused on the achievements of our walks together.  The photographs of the beautiful little collections of small items that we had all put together on our last walk were printed onto paper which had flower seeds embedded into it.

We wrote messages on the back of our little pictures and tied the messages to the end of balloons filled with helium.

We filled envelopes full of more seeds and scattered them around the park.

And off they went!

We gave Carolyn, who had done so much hard to work to organise the group and bring wonderful picnics each time for everybody to enjoy, a thank you in the form of tomato plants - to continue the theme of growing and healthy eating!

These walks have been great.  We've all discovered fascinating things right under our feet, felt better for the exercise and the fresh air, made friends and contributed to making the world a more beautiful place by sending out all those seeds and good wishes to ... who knows where?  There is something very uplifting and positive about sending seeds full of growing potential out into the world.

The wonderful thing is that Carole and Jo are going to meet up with this group again in August.  Inspired by our project, the group are now undertaking their own walks in other parts of Northamptonshire, and we will be meeting up for them to take us on a walk in Rushden.

And as for finding the way East, that story will be continued soon...

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Langwith Whaley Thorns

There was something very tranquil about Langwith Whaley Thorns station and we spent some time taking in the views from each platform and the bridge.

The livery was bright green and cream, and later we discovered that all the stations along this stretch use the same colours, railings and lamps. Although corporate, the colours seem clean and modern with a fresh feel. The railings and lamps were in keeping with the area, working with the flow of the landscape.

One of the things that struck us was the visual suggestion of rhythm in the line of lamps, the railings, the tracks, seeming to echo with the clickety clack of train wheels passing through the station.

We came to Langwith Whaley Thorns enticed by the name. It is named after a dense wood, recorded on the first Ordinance Survey Maps. "Whaley" is Celtic for water or spring and refers to the local springs and the near-by river Poulter and "Thorn" is an Anglo-Saxon word for wood. So the name may originally have meant either "Wood of the Springs", or "Wood above/between the water(s)". In the mid-nineteenth century, much of the wood was cut down, following the discovery of coal.

We felt it was important to make at least one train journey and hopped on for a brief trip to Whitwell and back. The route whisked us through fields interrupted by the now recognisable flash of the bright green railings at Cresswell station.

A small bridge at Whitwell takes you back over the tracks to the opposite platform. Strangely, the rail foot bridge is built separate to but right adjacent to a much older bridge over which passes the road, with views of houses and allotments.

View from the bridge at Whitwell.

Grazing lamp posts

After a brief look around Whitwell, we took the train back again. The conductor seemed quite amused by seeing us so soon between journeys and spent a few moments in conversation with us on our way back.

The driver flashed a beaming smile
before leaving us to make our way around the town of Langwith Whaley Thorns.

Whaley Thorns was a colliery town deeply affected by the pit closures in 1978, this has such powerful resonance with our starting point, Corby Station. By 1996 many properties in Whaley Thorns had become vacant and had fallen into disrepair, in 1998 the town was identified as a Renewal Area. 140 houses were demolished and replaced with owner occupied dwellings and housing rented through a Registered Social Landlord. Poulter View, a £4 million redevelopment of the former Bathurst Terrace site, is a mix of one, two, three and four bedroom houses. These include town houses, semi-detached and detached properties. The houses are close to a communal green space, play area and very near to Langwith Whaley Thorns Heritage Centre

Dreams and rust

and the salt of the earth

We picked up quite a lot of information from the helpful people at the Village Hall. Strange to think that the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright influenced the planners and builders during Whaley Thorns boom time. Now it is a very quiet place, there are plans to raise money for a skate ramp and the Village Hall has had a splendid make-over with great spaces for gathering, exercise or meetings.

But the heart of the community lay within the community shop which was opened after a successful programme of table top sales at the museum. Snappabargain is located on Main Street Whaley Thorns and is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9.00 am till 3.00 pm. Also at the shop is the Snapbox Cafe where light refreshments are available to eat in or take away. We stopped in for a cup of tea and were amazed at the amount of community initiatives that Ian at the shop is involved in!

In the cafe we found out about a fantastic new project to involve local people in horticulture at The Rhubarb Farm, about some of the photography exhibitions and new groups being set up, the local historian Tony Warrener and his book about the area, the Heritage Centre and events that aim to link villages in the area.

Thanks to the people in the cafe we came away with a wonderful buzz from the positive inspiration of people like Ian and the Community Association. Regeneration is not just about buildings and bricks, but about people who invest their energy and creativity into getting people together and bringing life to a community. Once again, we found a town brimming with potential.