26th-31st Aug 2017
We spent a week staying in a large holiday let on a farm near Stow-on-the-Wold
with a group of around a dozen friends, and went out on a number of lengthy
walks and visit by car. Pictures taken on visits to properties such
as Kelmscott are not for commercial use and are shared for purely private
enjoyment - and perhaps they will encourage you to visit the sites.
There are rather a lot of pictures of and in churches.
Kelmscott, Great Coxwell Barn and Lechlade
We'd walked past Kelmscott when we walked the Thames
Path in 2013, but the house was closed, and although I've long been
interested in William Morris I've never before managed to visit, so this
was an opportunity not to be missed, though it involved a fairly long drive.
After our tour of the house we ate a picnic by the Thames and then set off
to drive to the National Trust owned Great Coxwell Barn, a large
and ancient tithe barn on the outskirts of Faringdon . On the way back to
Stow, we stopped for some shopping in Lechlade and I had a quick walk around
the church and churchyard.
Upper Swell & Stow-on-the-Wold
The market cross, Stow-on-the-Wold
In the morning we walked from the farm to Upper Swell and looked at the
church, and in the afternoon walked to Stow-on-the-Wold, were the others
found a tea shop and I went to what claims to be the oldest pub in England,
The Porch House, previously known as The Eagle and Child. It's a dubious
claim, though a hospice was apparently built on the site in AD 947, but
there are certainly many better pubs. Even in Stow.
Country walk, Upper Slaughter, Lower Slaughter & Lower Swell
Dovecote near Lower Swell
It was a good day for a walk, and our first few miles was mainly along
a long stretch of Roman road, now unsuitable for vehicles, though we did
meet a few off-road motorcyclists, and then on to the 'pretty' villages
of Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter - where the village fair was taking
place. and we stopped for tea and cake in the village hall. We made our
way back though Lower Swell and I detoured for a short rest at the pub to
sample the local beer before pressing on to Upper Swell and back to the
Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, the Slaughters,
Crossing the WIndrush in the middle of Bourton-on-the-Water
We caught the bus from Stow to Bourton-on-the-Water, which was rather crowded
and walked around the town and the one-ninth scale model of it before finding
a quiet place on the edge of the River Windrush to eat a picnic lunch and
then walking on to the Slaughters again, this time taking tea in the mill
in Lower Slaughter. By now a fine day had changed to light drizzle, which
accompanied us on our walk back to Upper Slaughter and a different route
from there to the Roman Road and back to the farm cottage. Despite the wet
which eventually soaked through my boots and socks it was a pleasant enough
Naunton, Guiting Power, the Rollright Stones & Adlestrop
Rollwright Stones - The Kings Men stone circle
The day started a little damp, and we were happy to go with a group by
car to visit a couple of village, starting at Naunton, where one of the
party had once attended a family wedding in the parish church and wanted
to pay a visit. It also has a rather fine former Baptist chapel, and an
ancient dovecote. We drove on to Guiting Power, a village which still possesses
a pub and a shop as well as a parish church which we visited. In the afternoon
I suggested a visit to the Rollright Stones, just over the border in Oxfordshire,
which I'd read about but never seen, and it was worth the visit. On the
way back we made a short visit to Adlestrop, where Edward Thomas's train
stopped in 1914 (railway minutiae suggests he was on a slow train scheduled
to call there and not the express as the poem alleges.) British Rail closed
and demolished the station in 1966 but the Cotswold line still runs past.
Jane Austen would probably still recognise much of the village and area,
supposedly that of her Mansfield Park.
Donnington, Broadwell & Stow-on-the-Wold
The site of the Battle of Stow at Donnington
Another walk took us through the site of the Battle of Stow, the loss of
which in the early morning of 21st March 1646 effectively ended the English
Civil War. Although some historians now doubt that the battle actually took
place here where there is a monument to it, and the Royalist commander Sir
Jacob Astley surrendered at the Market Cross in Stow-on-the-Wold after fighting
a running retreat. We followed a not dissimilar route but with less haste,
walking into Donnington and then on to Broadwell, picnicking in the churchyard
before going down past the wells into the market square, where some had
afternoon tea and I went around to take a few pictures and sample the local
beers before we walked on via Netherswell Manor to Lower Swell and then
back to the cottage.
Ghouta 4th Anniversary
Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 19 Aug 2017
Syrians protest against 'Chemical Assad and the chemical
attacks on Ghouta
Campaigners from the Syria Solidarity Campaign marked the 4th anniversary
of the Assad regimes mass chemical attacks in Ghouta with a protest in Trafalgar
The attacks on August 21, 2013 by rockets carrying 1,000kg of deadly nerve
gas Sarin killed 1477 people, almost entirely civilians and injured over
10,000 in the towns of Zamalka and Ein Tarma in East Ghouta and Moadamiya
in West Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus.
A man came to argue with the protesters, telling them they shouldn't be
protesting here because they were not British. He also said that Trafalgar
Square was a place for entertainment rather than protest, something completely
at odds with the very long history of protests in the square. The protesters
called him a racist and told him forcefully to go away. Eventually a Police
Community Support Officer led him away and the protest continued.
ASH at the ICA
ICA, London. Sat 19 Aug 2017
Simon Elmer and Geraldine Dening with their map of
social cleansing of council estates, mainly by Labour
I was sorry I could not be at the opening of the show by Architects
for Social Housing (ASH) in the ICA Upper Gallery, but was pleased to be
able to visit earlier this afternoon and take some photographs as they put
finishing touches to the display..
The alternative estate designs prepared by ASH are impressive, and really
point out both the lack of imagination of commercial developers and their
concern for profit rather than developments for the community.
A giant map on one wall with coloured pins showing social housing estates
under threat or already lost to private development makes clear the shameful
extent of what is happening across London and largely by Labour dominated
councils who are decimating social housing, designating council estates
as brownfield sites for clearance and collaborating with major developers
to produce a city which is unaffordable for its current residents, with
many large developments now largely or entirely owned by overseas investors.
Photographs and a superb set of films show some of the resistance to this
by groups on estates such as Cressingham and Central Hill by residents with
the help of Simon Elmer and Geraldine Dening of ASH and by groups such as
The Grenfell Tower fire has lifted the carpet a little on the shady and
disreputable actions of one London council but many of the practices and
the failures of Kensington & Chelsea are shared by other boroughs across
the city and further afield. Grenfell could have happened in Southwark or
Lambeth or Newham or Hackney or Camden etc.
Given the terms of the public inquiry it seems unlikely that a great deal
of light will be shed by it on the systemic failures that have led to the
current crisis in social housing. We need a total change in outlook, so
that councils again become proud of providing good quality affordable homes
for their communities rather than looking at council estates as assets to
be realised and caring nothing about what actually happens to the people
as opposed to their empty promises.
And it's shows like this - and the work that ASH and others put in which
has largely been neglected by the media and entirely disregarded by councils
- which give us the only hope for the future of our city. Time for politicians
to start taking notice and stop thinking about the free lunches, trips and
overpaid jobs they are currently bribed with by the industry, and long past
time for Labour to come up with an about-turn in its housing policy.
Stand Up to Trump
US Embassy, London. Sat 19 Aug 2017
A large banner at the protest 'Dump Trump - No Sexism
Stand Up to Trump, a group supported by around 20 organisations including
the CWU, NUT, Unite, UCU, CND, Stop the War, Campaign Against Climate Change,
Muslim Association of Britain and others, hold a protest outside the US
They say Trump's bigoted rhetoric is sowing hate and division, encouraging
extreme right-wing groups which is responsible for events such as those
in Charlottesville and condemn his warmongering in threatening nuclear war
against North Korea and the invasion of Venezuela and his support of climate-wrecking
Travellers evicted in Staines
Staines, Middx. Thu 17 Aug 2017
The unused field had been kept in good condition by
the travellers who were carefully clearing up
Travellers who have occupied a field next to Spelthorne Council offices
in Staines were this morning being moved off by bailiffs employed by the
The travellers who are evangelical Christians many of whom run legitimate
businesses had kept the site in spotless condition and as I walked around
there was little or no rubbish visible and they have cleaned up fly-tipping
on the site, the grass was in good condition and people were eager to tell
me their side of the story as they packed, preparing to leave peacefully.
There is a desperate shortage of sites for travellers in North East Surrey,
with Spelthorne having only one public site with only 10 pitches. Sites
are said to have a 40 year waiting list. The travellers at Spelthorne were
given 10 days to leave land they own at Adas Farm in Hardwick Lane, Chertsey
where they were attempting to set up a permanent site on a rather scrappy
piece of Green Belt on 10th June. They had applied for but not received
planning permission, but had begun work on the site, and their barrister
had argued that permission was likely to be granted.
They moved on to occupy other sites in Runnymede Borough, who then obtained
an injunction barring them from publicly owned land across the borough,
and they then moved across the river into Spelthorne Borough and arrived
at the unused field beside the council offices in Knowle Green on Friday
THe council's legal bid to get them moved on was defeated in court yesterday
but this morning bailiffs and police arrived at the site, ordering them
to leave. The travellers say their eviction is illegal as the law in use
only applies to private land, and that Spelthorne council have not taken
the required steps, including considering the welfare of the children concerned,
before the eviction.
Neither GRC bailiffs who escorted me from the site nor the Surrey Law Enforcement
team were willing to answer any questions about the eviction or its legal
basis and Spelthorne Council were making no comment, but it would appear
to have been made under Common Law.
GRC Bailiffs on their web site offer a service "removing unauthorised
occupiers/travellers from land owned by their clients, without the expense
and delay of having to go through the court system" using Common
Law eviction, which gives landowners and their agents "the right
to remove trespassers from their land using reasonable force if required."
They say the main advantage is the speed with which evictions can be carried
out and say they "act using totally lawful methods as acknowledged
by the Department for Communities and Local Government in the official “Guidance
on Managing Unauthorised Encampments”."
Later in the day all the travellers had gone, but a few of the bailiffs
remained, with a digger making trenches across the entrances to the field.
The travellers had been on the site for a couple of weeks and had not in
any way been a nuisance to local residents - of whom I am one. The field
between the council office car park and the leisure centre is seldom used
and is just across the road from one of the largest parks in the area. Although
probably not suitable as a permanent site there seemed to be no particular
reason to move the caravans on before some better solution could be found.
I can't help thinking that the right thing to do would be to for councils
to cooperate with groups like these and find a place where they could set
up a permanent site. There is no shortage of suitable land in either Runnymede
or Spelthorne, with many hectares of former gravel pits dotted around the
area and not fully reclaimed. Surely we should be treating travellers as
fellow human beings rather than regarding them as a nuisance to be dealt
Justice for Marikana vigil
South Africa House, London. Wed 16 Aug 2017
Protesters hold posters and flowers in front of South
Protesters hold a protest vigil outside the South African High Commission
in Trafalgar Square on the 5th anniversary of the massacre when 34 striking
miners were shot dead by South African police at Lonmin's Marikana platinum
The event was organised by the the Pan-Afrikan Society Community Forum
(PACSF) and Marikana Miners Solidarity Campaign and was one of several events
over 3 days. After around half an hour they were joined by Primrose Nokulunga
Sonti and Thumeka Magwangqana who are visiting London from the Marikana
women's organisation Sikhala Sonke (We Cry Together).
Flowers were handed out and the two women gave a resounding presentation
about the effects of the massacre. The event was continuing when I had to
End dependent visa system abuse
Croydon, London. Wed 16 Aug 2017
Indian Ladies UK pose in front of Lunar House
Indian women came to Lunar House in Croydon to protest at the the Home
Office's failure to protect the human rights of migrant wives brought to
the UK under the spousal visa system.
Wives have to be sponsored by their husbands to receive a visa, and hundreds
of husbands have abused the position of power this gives them, in some cases
keeping wives in conditions that amount to modern slavery and in hundreds
of cases callously disposing of their wives by writing to the Home Office
claiming they are separated.
Currently the Home Office then cancels the spousal visas in 7 days without
any investigation, giving the women no right to stay in the UK, often without
them having any knowledge of the request and having absolutely no chance
to appeal against the cancellation.
Some husbands have taken their wives and families back to India purportedly
on holiday while reporting a separation, and have then returned to the UK
with their children leaving the wives without any support in India.
'Indian Ladies UK' who organised the protest demand that the Home Office
demand documentation of a legal separation under which wives would be granted
their legal rights before the cancellation of their visa.
Marikana Massacre Protest at Lonmin HQ
Mayfair, London. Wed 16 Aug 2017
Charlie X is shut out of the block where Lonmin have
On the 5th anniversary of the massacre when 34 striking miners were
shot dead by South African police at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine, the
Marikana Support Campaign and others protested outside Lonmin's Mayfair
Many of them held large photographs of the dead as they called for a public
apology by Lonmin and the ANC government, particularly Cyril Ramaphosa,
the payment of reparations to the dependent of those killed and those injured
and arrested, both on the 16th August and at the police killing and injuring
of women a month later.
They demand that the police responsible be prosecuted, that 16th August
be declared a South African National holiday, and there be full consultation
over a commemorative monument. They also want the government to act against
Lonmin to force it to meet is previous and current obligations to provide
over 6000 social housing units for mineworkers and the community - so far
only 3 show homes have been built - and if necessary to revoke its right
The protest was attended by Primrose Nokulunga Sonti and Thumeka Magwangqana
from the Marikana women's organisation Sikhala Sonke (We Cry Together) whose
request to meet with Lonmin representatives to demand justice was ignored.
Vedanta accused of global crimes
Lincoln's Inn Fields, London. Mon 14 Aug 2017
An activist pours polluted water over men representing
Vedanta's Anil Agarwal and CEO Tom Albanese
Grass roots campaign Foil Vedanta hold a noisy protest outside the
AGM of Vedanta who they accuse of illegal mining in Goa, increasing harassment,
torture and false accusations against tribal activists in Nyamgiri, Odisha
and eleven years of ruinous and continuing pollution by Konkola Copper Mines
(KCM) in Zambia.
Dongria Kond tribal campaigners in Nyamgiri have used Indian laws to stop
Vedanta destroying their sacred mountain for its bauxite, but the company
are trying and lying to get around these. Foil Vedanta's investigations
in Zambia have shown the company have fraudulently avoided taxes and failed
to publish mandatory accounts and they have publicised their many other
offences around the world.
Vedanta is a FTSE 250 British mining company controlled and 69.6% owned
by Anil Agarwal and his family through a series of tax havens and holding
companies,. It was launched on the Stock Exchange in 2003 with help from
the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) and Department
of Trade and Industry (DTI) who continue to support it. Foil Vedanta call
for the company to be delisted and shareholder activists went into the AGM
to question its activities.
Fire Risk Tower Blocks
Newham, London. Sat 12 Aug 2017
Smoke flares are now a common part of protests
Focus E15 Mothers led a march from Ferrier Point in Canning Town to
a rally at Tanner Point in Plaistow pointing out the danger of these two
blocks with the same cladding as Grenfell Tower, demanding safe homes, not
social cleansing in East London.
They then continued to the Carpenters Estate in Stratford, a once
popular estate with over 400 empty homes which Newham's Labour council largely
emptied of people over 10 years ago and intends to demolish, for a ‘hands
around the Carpenters Estate’ solidarity event against decanting,
demolition and social cleansing.
Duke's Lodge for Grenfell residents
Holland Park, London. Thu 10 Aug 2017
A former resident of Duke's Lodge tells us how they
lost their fight to stay
Campaigners the Peoples Republic Of North Kensington, an organisation
supporting the former residents of Grenfell Tower, held a protest outside
Duke's Lodge, a large block of flats in Holland Park calling on Kensington
& Chelsea Council to compulsory purchase the empty block and refurbish
its 27 flats as housing for families displaced by the Grenfell fire, around
a 15 minute walk away.
The protest was supported by some local residents from Grenfell and by
Class War. Ian Bone of Class War, who lived in Grenfell for three years
in the 1980s, spoke. The vacant block is owned by the Candy brothers, and
a former resident who was passing and stopped to talk told with protesters
she had spent £40,000 on interior decoration or her flat and that
she and the other residents were forced out very much against their wishes.
Plans to demolish the large block and replace it by 3 luxury villas were
turned down by the council and the owners have now put the site on the market
for £70 million, roughly twice the amount they paid for it.
The Grenfell residents want to remain in the local area and remain as a
community - despite which at least one family have already been rehoused
by the council in Peterborough - and this building, along with empty flats
on the Sutton Estate would be an ideal location.
Hiroshima Day 72 Years on
Tavistock Square, London. Tue 6 Aug 2017
Flowers at the memorial cherry tree - Jenny Headlam-Wells,
Camden Deputy Mayor & Carol Turner, CND
London CND held a ceremony in memory of the victims, past and present
on the 72nd anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima
and the second atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki three days later.
After a number of speeches and performances there was a minute's silence
during which the Deputy Mayor of Camden and others laid flowers around the
commemorative cherry tree.
Tottenham remembers Mark Duggan
Tottenham, London. Sun 4 Aug 2017
The family of Jermaine Baker, shot by police, want
A march from Broadwater Farm to a rally at Tottenham Police Station
remembered the death of Mark Duggan on the sixth anniversary of his killing
by police, and also the police killing of other members of the Tottenham
community - Cynthia Jarrett, Joy Gardner, Roger Sylvester, Mark Duggan and
Jermaine Baker and the recent murders of Rashan Charles, Darren Cumberbatch
and Edson Da Costa.
Led by Stafford Scott, when the march arrived at the Police Station there
was poetry, a minute of silence and speeches from family members as well
as local activists, Becky Shah from the Hillsborough campaign and a speaker
from the Justice for Grenfell campaign. A large crowd had gathered at the
police station, including many young black men who watched from across the
Broadwater Farm Estate
Tottenham, London. Sun 4 Aug 2017
Moselle goes underground as it approaches Broadwater Farm
Broadwater Farm Estate, known widely as simply 'The Farm', became notorious
in the 1970s and 80s when poor maintenance and crime in poorly lit 'deck
level' walkways made it into a sink estate after problems with damp, infestation
and electrical faults led to half of its original residents moving out.
High unemployment and insensitive policing led to considerable tension,
and after Cynthia Jarrett died while police were searching her flat there
were several minor incidents which blew up into a riot as more and more
police came into the estate with firefighters who put out a small fire.
Faced by increasing attacks from residents the police withdrew, but two
officers failed to escape. PC Richard Coombes was seriously injured and
PC Keith Blakelock was beaten and hacked to death.
An intensive regeneration programme following the riots greatly altered
the estate, removing the deck level almost completely and making both structural
and environmental changes as well as dealing with the problems of management
behind much of the resentment felt by residents, running the estate with
a local management team, and jobs were provided by converting some shops
into light industrial units. By the 2000s the estate had a long waiting
list and had one of the lowest crime rates in London, though it still retains
a powerful and blinkering presence in the Met's demonology.
The estate is built over the River Moselle which still flows above ground
in the adjacent Lordship Recreation Ground, a large public park of over
20 hectares in Tottenham in the London Borough of Haringey. The area remained
as open land because of the risk of flooding until the estate was built
in the late 1960s. Because of the flood risk there is no housing at ground
level, which has extensive car parking under the blocks.
I took a walk in the park having arrived at Broadwater Farm considerably
earlier than I expected (Sunday rail travel is particularly unpredictable
this year) and then walked back through the estate.
Stop Killing Londoners road block
Marylebone Road, London. Fri 2 Aug 2017
A white van driver tries to push his way through the
Rising Up environmental protesters in Stop Killing Londoners briefly
blocked the busy Marylebone Road at Baker St in 'Staying Alive' road-block
disco protest to raise awareness and call for urgent action over the high
pollution levels from traffic on London streets which cause 10,000 premature
deaths each year.
The protesters walked into the road with banners and umbrellas with the
message 'Stop Killing Londoners' and sat down while a statement was read
explaining why they were protesting and that it would only be a delay of
5-10 minutes, then danced in front of the blocked traffic before leaving
They then repeated the protest a short distance away on the opposite carriageway.
A few people argued with the protesters, several motorcyclists road dangerously
through the protest and one man driving a white van first attempted to drive
through the protesters and then threw water over them, but others voiced
support for the need to drastically cut pollution
Some from the developments at Waterloo and Nine Elms that I've been following
for a long time, but also quite a few from elsewhere across London - Marylebone
Rd, Kingsway, South Bank, Holland Park, Battersea, Plaistow, Croydon, Hyde
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