Wednesday 3 November 2010

Hunsdon Mead Entertainment

We can barely get a TV signal out here, so we haven’t watched TV for weeks. It’s a relief not to suffer CBeebies. Instead we watch DVDs of Shrek and Toy Story, in which we can enjoy some adult jokes. But the real live entertainment is The Mead. We watch white mist creeping in the distance, mysteriously lurking towards us across the field. Other programmes that we have on ‘sky’ are Stanstead planes landing, loud, looming and large; sunsets and sunbeams, cloudy formations in slow motion and geese gatherings and landing, loud, looming and ‘having it’ large. We also watch nature dramas, like The Spider and The Fly. The fly is still alive and manages to struggle free in less than two hours. Another drama involved a hovering dragonfly, waiting for her mate’s release from a cobweb prison. We watch crunchy snails cross the pathway after the rain, and rooks swoop low and land in the buttercups and dandelions. Late one night The Doctor even saw an episode of Starlight, featuring The Plough, two shooting stars and a satellite. The important thing, The Doctor observed, is that they’ve got a whole lot of sky out here. Actually, the wonder of the mead is not so much about the field, it’s all about the sky. Ironically, it is a post war yearning to see more sky that inspired the creation of new towns like Harlow.
“As a result of the great damage done to towns by the bombs, an unexpected popular interest arose as to the form their reconstruction after the war might take. Across the extensive areas of destruction and rubble, which it was the government’s policy to clear promptly and convert into melancholy vacant sites, city dwellers saw new vistas.
They were astonished at the amount of sky that existed – the unaccustomed brightness of the devastated scene. Their sense of the permanence and un-alterability of the built-up background dissolved; the “urban blinkers” were dislodged from many eyes. What would replace the former crowded buildings if and when we won the war? Might we not have much better homes and workplaces and retain this new sense of light and openness?”
(The New Towns: The Answer to Megalopolis, by Sir Frederic Osborn and Arnold Whittick, London, 1969, page 89, quoted in Harlow: The Story of a New Town. Frederick Gibberd, Ben Hyde Harvey, Len White.)

A British Waterways warden stopped by our boat on his bike today. He explained that he is just checking our location and licence. He was very friendly and said that everything is fine and went on his way.

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