Tags: Growing Communities, harvest festival, Haystack, High Tea, Lammas Day, scything, Walthamstow Marshes
Have you ever wanted to learn how to scythe and how to make a haystack? It’s just the sort of thing you can imagine the Five helping out with on the farm, before going into the farmhouse for a grand High Tea of ham and lettuce sandwiches, scones and cherry cake, all washed down with homemade lemonade.
If you fancy it, and you’re anywhere near east London next weekend, here’s your chance. From 1-3 August you can take part in a Community Haystacks event on Walthamstow Marshes. The Marshes were traditionally considered common land and are now managed by Lea Valley Regional Park. Hay used to be cut on Lammas Day (1 August), which is the festival of the wheat harvest and the first harvest festival of the year. For the second year in a row the traditional is being reinstated on Walthamstow Marshes by the Lee Valley Park Rangers and artists Kathrin Bohm and Louis Buckley.
On 1 and 2 August you can learn how to scythe with expert Colin Leeke. A two hour workshop costs £5 and includes tools and (much needed) refreshments. There will also be free talks on the Marshes from speakers including artist and architect Céline Condorelli, food grower and conservationist Fiona McAllister from Growing Communities, and artist Alana Jelinek. Sunday 3 August is haystack-making day! Bring a picnic and join in to help make the largest haystack the Marshes have seen for many a year. Apparently this will be Essex-style – I don’t know what this means but will look forward to finding out.
More information and details of booking for workshops can be found here.
Tags: Cycling, Hackney Marshes, Lee Valley, National Cycle Network, Route 1, Sustrans, Victoria Park, Walthamstow Marshes
Sustrans sent me a really useful ‘Free Your Bike’ pack with a map of my nearest National Cycle Network route (you can sign up for a free one on their website), so today I set off on a short reconnaissance jaunt along part of route 1, from Victoria Park, East London to Walthamstow Marshes. The route goes alongside the Hertford Union Canal and the Lee River Navigation (the canalified part of the River Lee). Some parts, especially near Hackney Wick feel slightly lonely and potentially dodgy (I wished I had a fierce and protective Timmy with me from time to time) but on the whole it is an interesting and eerily beautiful journey, with large stretches of open space and plants surrounded by overhead power cables with industrial buildings and lots of cranes in the distance.
There’s also lots of FF style potential. I’m sure the Five would be interested in seeing the new Olympic stadium being built but there are also loads of brambles for autumn blackberrying, the Lee Valley Riding School (shades of Captain Johnson’s riding school in Five go to Mystery Moor) and the marshes themselves which are a nature reserve and home to over 300 types of plants as well as numerous birds and butterflies (Billycock Hill stylee). You also go past the impressively large Hackney Marshes where, as the ‘about Hackney Marshes’ notice board says, up to 100 games of Sunday League football can be seen in one day.
Next time I will have to go a bit further (you can continue past Tottenham Marshes and thenceforth out of London) and take a nature guide and some binoculars (sorry, field glasses) and see what wildlife I can identify. Oh, and some tomato sandwiches and a ginger beer of course!