Landscape

British Pilgrimage: The Ritual that Disappeared…

All across the globe, pilgrimage is booming. Kumbh Mela in India is the largest gathering of humans on earth, with one hundred million pilgrims in 2013.  The Hajj in Mecca hosts three million pilgrims per year, and Santiago de Compostela in Spain welcomes two hundred and fifty thousand walking pilgrims.

Yet Canterbury cathedral, the heart of British pilgrimage, has this year hosted only fifty pilgrims.

Why is Britain so far behind the curve? Where have all the pilgrims gone?

there’s one…

Read on to find out…

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10 Good Questions

Two years ago, an EFL Textbook called OUP Headway used our stories and songs to help teach English.

Since then, schools in Argentina, Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia etc. have sent us their classroom questions.

This list of enquiries arrived from Katerina in the Czech Republic, teacher at the Kurzy Klement language school in Pisek (twinned with Caerphilly).

In Katerina’s classroom are mugs emblazoned with the Union Jack, and on her wall is pinned a large map of Britain. We can’t help thinking, it’s often people far from the UK who hold the dream of Albion most strongly.

We seek to encourage this dream, wherever it’s found. For is this not the hedged and wild-flowered land, of green hills and forests, ancient chapels and castles, twinkling rivers and mountain lakes?

Ed Skirrid Fawr

Here are the questions given by: Jirka, Jindriska, Vasek, Ilona, Jana, Andrea, Petr, Zdenka – and their teacher Katerina. And here are answers:

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The Flowing Britain Trust

A charity dedicated to the Heritage Drinking Waters of Britain.

Flowing Britain

Ed and Will and friends are forming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, devoted to monitoring, enhancing and championing British drinkable (and bathable) ancient and natural waters i.e. springs and wells.

We believe everyone deserves access to safe natural drinking water, within walking distance of their home.

 

The Aims

– To provide water choices in a tap on/tap off world

– To offer improved health through detailed analysis of natural waters

– To make forgotten and lost springs fashionable

– To promote British water tourism, nationally and internationally

– To combat nature disconnection syndrome

– To increase local distinctiveness and pride

– To provide community amenity and cultural venue space

– To enhance Britain, for the good of all

 

Come take the waters!

Britain has been periodically famous for her mineral-rich and health-giving waters, free flowing from the ground. The Romans, the Georgians and the Victorians, all have renovated our ancient natural water network, for health and tourism benefits.

Towns like Bath in Avon, Wells in Somerset, Tunbridge Wells in Kent, Llandrindod Wells in Powys, have been literally built around their spring waters. Most small villages “sprung up” in proximity to a reliable safe water-source.

This heritage can be revived. The waters never stopped flowing. What other so fundamental an element can be re-discovered in so significant a way?

 

Murky Waters

Today, public tap-water is chlorinated, and sometimes fluoridated. And with industrial and agricultural chemicals leeching into ground-waters, general mistrust of natural water sources has become prevalent.

But the waters need not be unclear. Many ancient springs flow from miles underground, where chemicals cannot reach. Such deep-waters remain fresh, wholesome and delicious, and carry diverse mineral-contents, which may help aid a number of our surface-dwellers’ ailments.

 

The Vision

A website, based around Google maps, showing the location of scientifically tested springs and wells. Also an iOS and Android app (i.e. find my nearest spring/well)

Website to include history and lore, photo and video, with a members upload portal

Waters tested with full spectrum mineral/bacteriological analysis, and regularly scheduled re-testing. Partnerships for best value to be found. Legible and relevant information available for lay-men.

Spring/well artwork restored, and new fountainheads commisioned in stone and metal by young artists.

Increased local tourism based on the health-giving effects of waters.

Unification with long-distance footpaths – a new symbol on the OS map?

Enhancing of springs/well spaces, where suitable, to create community spaces – herb gardens, seating etc.

A brass cup on a chain at every spring tested. Commissioned and cast by British artist.

Possible commerical partnerships with water filtration companies, water butt manufacturers, and bicycle-trolley makers.

Long-term custodianship roles in local communities, for regular re-testing and cleaning.

Encouragament of other groups – villages, parish councils, churches and private land-owners, to open up and include their water-sources on the public-access map.

A prudent legal disclaimer/caveat to prevent confusion and accidents.

 

First phase

Preparation of website/organisational structure /staffing.

Establishing testing partnerships and routines.

Research, collating existing tested wells and springs information

Launch of first “re-discovered” springs/wells collection, focussing on highly accessible existing beautiful water-sources.

Trial of first commissioned artwork

Trial of first herb garden community space (links to national nursery possible)

Encourage local community groups to utilise the space, for worship, music, thatreetc.

Publicise tested local sptrings in catchment area, via pamphlet/radio/concerts

 

Please contact us, and help Flowing Britain achieve these great goals.

Ed and Will and friends, 2014

Felix Ford’s “A4074” BBC Oxford Radio Show

On boxing day, Felicity ‘Felix’ Ford had her thrilling radio show played on BBC Radio Oxford.

A4074-show-image

as heard on BBC Oxford, boxing-day 2010

It is a study in soundscape, social history, and the multi-layered reality of space. It looks at the many-parted understandings of the road, and land surrounding it, through the eyes and experiences of walkers, singers, motorcyclists, steam-waggoners, and many more.

You can listen to the whole thing on Felix’ website, the Domestic Soundscape.

And here is a clip of our contributions to the show:

Please enjoy. And our thanks to Felix, who is, we should say, one of the best sock-knitters we’ve ever met.

How to make a Hazel Hurdle

This is a long post, with a video at the bottom.

Please press MORE, and read it up.

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The Aquaduct of Dreams

more of the aquasong

Under the the Elan Aquaduct

Running from the Elan Valley to Birmingham, there is a waterway wrapped in stone.


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Window Tax – an illuminated socio-archaeology

“A year after Waterloo, income tax was repealed ‘with a thundering peal of applause’ and Parliament decided that all documents connected with it should be collected, cut into pieces and pulped.”

Politicians never did like people prying into their ‘private’ incomes. That seems as true today as ever.

So the window tax was concieved as an alternative.

small-window-tax-winchester

Winchester cathedral precincts - a wink at the tax laws...

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The Bitter Little Honey-Bee

I’ve one in my bonnet.

Bees are in trouble, with massive declines in their populations. We are losing hives, mainly in agriculature, but also wild hives too.

If you don’t want a rant, don’t read on:

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Cows and Horns

Did you know that milking cows naturally grow horns?

So where did all the horns go? Who decided that this natural expression of cow-ishness was wrong, and needed to be remedied?

Why do we only find milk cows with horns at farms like Plaw Hatch, near Forest Row?
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The Plaint of Fruit Farmers in Pluckley

While sitting in the haunted village of Pluckley, taking a pot of ale for strength and courage, we listen to a seated gang of local fruit farmers, who are discussing the dire state of the local and national fruit industry.

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