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.

Friday 27 May 2011

Blowing Away the Cobwebs - Wellbeing Walk 2 - North

Turning North. Armed with our seed bombs, seeking a neglected placewhere we could throw our seeds and hope for the best! We were encouraged as one of the bombs had already developed tiny shoots...

We met at the station as usual, great to have two new people join us!

Cutting around The White Hart, we crossed the stream over the footbridge and walked across an open green space with many benches and sheltered seating, all looking rather unused.  A predictable shopping trolley in the stream.

Along up Rockingham Road, but then turning off the main road and down some steps which could so easily be missed, leading from the main road down beside the railway track.  Here our adventure really began...

Walking with the rail track to our left and an industrial estate to our right, but then there is a gap in the fence... we followed the desire-line worn by the feet of others.

The path took us into a wild space, grasses growing all around us, a burnt tree, wild flowers.  Ferns unfurling.

Following this path it began to get more and more overgrown until we were enclosed in a wooded area.  Everywhere new trees beginning to grow, tiny oak trees below our knees, willows that had self seeded.  We talked about how nature moves in and makes its own any spaces that humans leave.
Further on it became apparent that this path had been created with walkers in mind, there was a distinct line surfaced with gravel, now overgrown. Here and there we came across picnic benches in the undergrowth. There was evidence of human use here, somebody had made a fire and drink cans were strewn about. Further on a picnic bench actually had a tree growing through the middle of it!

Deeper and deeper in we went.  It was a windy day, and the silver birch trees swayed above us, their leaves sparkling silver as the wind flipped them over.  Somebody said the sound of the trees swaying were like the sound of the seashore, gently shooshing.

Across the rail tracks someone’s makeshift kite had crash landed.

Up a hill, we suddenly burst back out into an open ground, high up with an amazing view taking in a wide area of the north end of Corby - the Weetabix factory, a footbridge that led to the lakes where we had picnicked for our last walk, and the cream coloured towers of the Flour Mills gleaming in the sunlight like a castle on the horizon.
Below us, down the steep bank, and beyond high wire fences, was the neglected area we sought!  Broken up hard core, bricks, and cracked concrete lay about across a huge wide area, but creating its own pattern across the cracks were wild flowers and grasses.  We spotted aquilegia and budleia growing.  Somebody said "they seek out the cracks and there they grow."  A motto for life.

Carole had a short video on her phone of our friend Maureen, who knew this place from her childhood.  She talked about how it was once where the rail carriages were left and that there is a tunnel somewhere.
We decided this was a good place to launch our seed bombs.  The round ones made high arcs and exploded on the concrete below.  The flat ones flew like frisbies, one of us even managed to curve a bend in the trajectory of his throw!
We picnicked here, admiring our gardening work and shouting to each other to be heard above the wind, before walking back to base.
Continuing our theme of the wind, we made windmills and put words and drawings in them inspired by the day.
"Let The Wind Blow"
 "The wind in my face helps me breathe"
"blow wind blow and we shall have snow"
"Blowing away the cobwebs"
...and drawings of the sun, flowers, the weather:

We will seek a place to plant our windmills, like flags claiming our land, in our next walk, which will take place in mid June.

On my way home, it began to rain... a perfect end to the day, I imagined our little scattered seeds seeking out the cracks, lapping up the rain and beginning to release their energy into new life....

Growing from a gutter - the persistence of nature

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Up-cycle, Recycle, Life Cycle

I’m a bit of a Magpie with too many collections and a serious addiction to domestic china – I love cups and saucers, plates and bowls and constantly kid myself they are coming home with me because they are functional. I love the look of a cake stand heaped high with tasty treats and am equally tempted by the many and various shapes, patterns and eras of the wares they are served on, oh yes, and I can never resist investigating a back-stamp!

There are also items picked up along the way that have great shape but disastrous decoration and even they have been smuggled over the threshold to be squirreled away for some unknown purpose. So when I heard about Esther Coombs and up-cycling, I was intrigued. I just missed her workshop at the V&A but then I heard she would be running a course in a tea shop I was on that train / bus for High Tea at Highgate.

Esther Coombs

First there was excellently brewed tea and a fascinating talk about low-fired ceramics and the long history of recycling in the ceramics industry.

Then the 10 tea drinkers started drawing on their cups and plates and a dreamy hush fell over the room.

The air was heavy with the smell of baking cakes, which tasted as good as they smelt.

At the end of the morning we had our firing instructions, carefully wrapped wares and a goody bag with a discount voucher to spend at Esther’s Etsy shop, an up-cycled Esther brooch and two sample packets of tea. It was an excellent morning of generosity and simple pleasures; we all left vibrating with the vintage vibe.

Distracted by reissued '50's classic fabric designs in the a shop close to High Tea at Highgate.

Then it was back on the bus to Liverpool Street Station and a wander through inviting alleyways and undiscovered streets with my dérive buddy for the day, Elaine.

Love tea but prefer coffee

We headed for the Tracey Emin show at the Hayward Gallery stumbling across some small gems along the way.

The Ward of Candlewick

Tracey Emin Room 1 of the show was the most satisfying, the great thing was to see the blankets and the pier structure together, to see the textures and fading colours of the blanket and assorted textiles – the ugly beautifulness of fabric, text, context and content. The final rooms left us feeling sloganed out, annoyed and aggravated. Two things did pull at me – the framed blanket with the words “Why be afraid when I will be the one to carry you to heaven” and a print with a half naked woman and the words “I wonder if you remember me?” , it’s hard not to connect with such vulnerability.

Outside the Festival Hall
there were beach huts, bunting

and an installation with arcs
of suspended paper planes.

Inside, on the lower floor, was The Museum of 1951, a celebration of The Festival of Britain and the seen everywhere at the moment 50’s revival.

Even in 1951 fifty women were piecing together history out of bits of blanket and old fabrics.

In the 1951 map above places were defined by local conversations.

People in Northamptonshire today rarely talk of boots and shoes ,
that industry has all but disappeared in the county.

In one of the cases were silk Festival of Britain ties, I had once come upon a set of these in a bundle of old clothes on Wellingborough flea market, whilst I dithered someone else spirited them away. I wondered if these were in fact those very ties!

Towards the afternoon’s end we wandered into the South Bank Shop only to find some of Esther’s work on display in the window, our journey had come full circle.

Almost time for tea.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Through The Gaps - Wellbeing Walk 1 - West

We wanted each of our Wellbeing Walks to start from Corby Station and search out different environments: urban, green, wild spaces and the forgotten.

When we were scoping out the walks we also realised that we had an instinct to make something happen in some of these spaces, to respond to them in an active way. We decided for each walk we should create an intervention.

Our first walk took us West and then North. We didn't know quite what to expect, the weather was unpredictable and we hadn't yet met our group, but we both knew that the simple act of walking could take us through an unexpected gap in a hedge to new ideas and new relationships.

"Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. ~Soren Kierkegaard"

For other lovely quotes about walking follow the the link to The Quote Garden

Waiting for our walkers to arrive

We turned off the main road, and through a gap in a hedge - immediately we were in another world, a wooded area, over a stream, birds singing, cool shade and a quieter atmosphere, the sound of the road masked by the trees.

Horse Chestnut blossom in West Glebe Park, we were amazed by the vivid colours and the tiny conkers forming. During the World Wars the conkers were a source of starch which was fermented to produce acetone. This was then used as a solvent which aided in the process of ballistite extrusion into cordite, which was used in military armaments.

A place of mystery and history

Rolling down the steep slopes of West Glebe Park

Future blackberries waiting to be foraged when the time is right. You can find lots of free information and Blackberry related activities at the Nature Detectives site

Striding out

We picnicked by the lakes, discovered hidden behind hedges

Creating a variety of ripples

Exploring the everyday

offers perplexing contrasts

We watched a pair of swans make
their graceful way across the water

only as they swam closer could we see
their one Cygnet sheltered in between.

Just beneath the surface,
the skeleton of a pram or trolly

A young tree in a newly renovated park stripped of it's bark -
surely there are less destructive games to play

We made seed bombs.
A spot of guerilla gardening will be
our intervention for the walk next week!

Our seed bomb wishes:-

"Sky, water, sunlight, grow, petal"
"Petal Power"
"A more colourful world"
"Darrel wants green hair again"
"A brighter future"
"Playing football for Ireland"
"Tino Greeno"
"Blooms to dispel gloom"

A snapshot of our route

The lovely people at Mytho Geography donated copies of the book 'A Sardine Street Box of Tricks' by Phil Smith to our project. Here's a link to their site and to Phil Smith. Many thanks, we're really enjoying the books! We also had some BEAR Granola to nibble on. A quote from 'Sardine Street':
"The street is our library. But the library is also full of walks."