The train was almost empty on the way to Adisham. But despite, or perhaps because of this, the announcements never stopped. ‘This is a Southeastern service to London Victoria. We will be calling at Kearnsey, Shepherdswell…Snowdown, Aylesham, Adisham’….and on and on. ‘The next station will be Shepherdswell. We have now arrived at Shepherdswell’. ‘For your comfort and security, CCTV recording is operating on this train’. ‘Please keep your belongings with you at all times and if you see anything suspicious contact a member of staff or the British Transport Police’. I don’t think there were more than three or four minutes on that journey when there was not an announcement or three.
The world wide web contains dozens and dozens of weather forecasts for the small area I want to walk around today. But there really is a phenomena of ‘too-much-information’. Weather forecasting is still an inexact ‘science’ and with climate change (as global warming has now been re-branded), it is likely to become less exact. Sometimes the best thing to do is to stick one’s head out of the front door, check the sky, feel the air and decide from there. I reckon it’s going to be mild and warm with a bit of wind. Other factors have also come into play. I want to travel light so will take a chance if there is a light rain shower and I want to feel the wind and the coolness of the breeze on the downs.
Sometimes it doesn’t really matter where you start. And it doesn’t need to be a long hike. There can be as much to enjoy and savour by going slow, taking your time on a warm Sunday afternoon. The first snowdrops and daffodils can be seen and the sky has that sense of the spring coming. Continue reading
Sandling is a proper railway station. When you alight and the train departs, you are often the only person left on the platform. There is a sense of distance from anywhere else, of the magical silence which can be created if only the bullying authorities who insist on ‘see it say it sorted’ would shut up and let us daydream when we travel. If they are so concerned with bombs and explosions then perhaps more time should be spent telling British arms manufacturers to desist from selling high explosives to Saudi Arabia which are then used to blow up innocent people in Yemen. How many dead are there? See it, say it, sorted it indeed, as long as it doesn’t reference faraway people in faraway lands. What could any of that have to do with England apart from the profits of bombs and weapons making companies?
I returned to Sandling, having read more about the Junction, the plans for the Channel Tunnel of years ago, the building and the closure of the railway. It is a good starting point for a walk. Leave the station with all its tedious traits of the twenty first century, ticket machines and endless announcements, corporate branding and expensive fares. There are deep undercurrents of class conflicts all across the railways, between the workers and the managers, between the passengers and the companies, between those who build the rolling stock and maintain the track and those who make decisions about rates of pay and working conditions. But none of this must surface, none of this murmuring can be allowed to be heard.
The gap between the buildings has never been seen before. It seemed so much of another age, and something grim and dark was suggested in this narrow space. It was not just the lack of light, but the claustrophobia of the space, just wide enough to enter, but it would be crushing to the body and the soul. It was only through later research that it was discovered that this was once the site of the George Inn, and it was there that so many of the enclosures in the area of the Brecklands were decided in the nineteenth century.
There are some fine medieval churches in the Brecklands and two were visited today, St George at Saham Toney and All Saints at Threxton. It’s a pleasant walk between the two and the bells of St George can be heard all the way. The traveling library does not include the relevant Pevsner so the detail of the churches will have to wait for further research.
That is a lovely south facing porch, but I do not like the finger wagging discipline of that clock. The earlier rhythms of life replaced by the industrialisation of life (see EP Thompson).