Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Free-wheeling to Haddenhan

We woke to the high rafters of Piggott's farm barn, with the light seeping through, Dash the dog's nose in our faces and a reluctance to emerge from our make-shift beds. Our journey to Haddenham began at 10 after a breakfast of mashed potato and baked-beans to keep us going for the day. 

We also revealed Tamsin's 'dramatically bleeding' chin cut (aquired whilst attempted cat rescue from the rafters, it turned out she needed rescuing in the end); in fact, no more than a few scratches, well covered by a child's snail plaster. Aha! 

After a last tinkle on the piano (this farm, after all, has been the home of 'band camp' for almost 80 years), we packed up our carts with banners, blankets and flyers.

The horses were given a well earned rest as a friendly neighbour hitched our wagons to their land-rover and drove us down Piggott's hill and up another. I foraged mushrooms, apples and blackberries in the sunshine as the horses and rushers caught up, and chatted to curious locals about what our journey entailed. 

The sun burnt hot as we ventured, singing, along tree-lined roads; bicycles, horses and walkers (barefoot and booted both) rolled along at vaguely unsynchronised paces, intersecting with stories, climate conversation and the occasional stop for blister treatment. Traffic management takes a front seat when you are travelling with horses on 50mph roads; while most waiting drivers were receptive to a leaflet and a chat, others seemed more impatient. We plan to make a sign reading 'Slow Down: Climate Catastrophe Ahead'.

Stopping late for a long lunch in a field, we let the horses loose, aired our feet and washed in the stream, brewing a well-needed cuppa. We also managed to charm the farmer, Neil, who was well won over to the cause by the sweet smiles of suffragettes. Some much needed shade provided a respite from the heat wave (long may it continue!)

Wheeling through country roads for the last stretch to Haddenham, it was glorious in the low late sunshine, pushing forward to our resting point for a few nights. And when we arrived it was everything and more, a lush village green in front of the church has provided our campsite, the horses have a spot to stay and friendly locals, from young children ('are you really going to Totnes, in real life?') to an old friend of Deborah's in a mobility scooter. Telling people about climate change in a suffragette costume, accompanied by a horse and cart, is one of the nicest things to do.

And then it was Tamsin's turn, in the church next to the green, with a youth service on climate change. The exchange of ideas between the local worshippers and us climate rushers was an interesting point of intersection between two groups of people who believe the apocalypse is coming - our emphasis was certainly on taking inclusive action now on both a local and global scale to create transition. I guess theirs is too...

A quick planning meeting later, and we are snuggled up in our candle-lit tent, with a drop of whisky to keep us cosy and sweet dreams of days past and to come.


  1. Cant wait to meet up in Oxford on Sunday - you are winning hearts and minds fellow suffragettes, and we have got some guerilla handbaggers to join us giving out love and bags on Sunday at Cornmarket - see you all there Jacqueline X

  2. I'm not trying to rattle anyone's cage, and I've believed from a very early age that the poisonous emissions we as a race pump into the atmosphere should be curtailed... but shouldn't we be aiming the demonstrations at industry and countries like India and China who are on their own agendas for expansion? I feel victimised for being at the mercy of these conglomerates for decades and now i'm being attacked on microeconomic level by our government (who are to blame for this mess anyway) and organisations such as yourselves. I think people have got the message by now, and those that don't are not going to change because fundamentally we are a selfish bunch. Converting to a green lifestyle could and should be great for everyone, but as it stands "we are only as good as our options", and as long as there is a cheaper alternative to whatever, the majority will take it.