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Chris Park is a bard and storyteller with a bag of tales from the world over.
He tells stories.... long and short, tall and small... at schools, fayres and festivals, indoors and outdoors, at museums, upon nature reserves, in cities and theatres, with people and place and the living landscape, on story walks, pilgrimages, beneath the stars, around fires, with cosy private audiences,
He guides storytelling and folkloric tours around the ancient landscapes of the White Horse of Uffington and Weyland's Smithy, The Ridgeway and The Avebury Complex, Stonehenge... discovering archaeology, heritage, nature and a deeper sense of place...
The bardic arts of storytelling and the enactment of ancient myth root back into the most distant parts of human history... stories come alive through the words of the teller and the minds of the listener... the landscape comes alive, museum artifacts are given a voice.
Bookings for storytelling,
music and nature awareness games at daytime and evening events, weddings,
parties, fairs and festivals, museums and schools... places of art, places
of education and places of worship are all possible. Chris can bring along a 12' yurt for the occasion.
"Relax with your favourite beverage and put your feet up in front of the teller of tales..."
The story of the coracle journey for peace
Ecological artist Chris Park undertook a unique Pilgrimage for Peace. He single-handedly navigated a primitive coracle boat from an Oxfordshire spring to the sea, through 190 miles of Britain’s water ways, carrying a magic Egg.
“This journey seeks to integrate and unite many divided faiths and cultures,” says Chris. “It celebrates water as a unifying bond between all races, creatures and creeds, nourishing all and rejecting none. The waterways pass through all kinds of communities and I hope many will be inspired to come and greet the magic Egg.”
The Egg carried the prayers, wishes and thoughts of all those who meet it at the water’s edge during the voyage. At each stop, Chris will teld stories, played music and invited blessings and wishes for peace from anyone who felt drawn to share them.
Coracles are prehistoric craft, made traditionally from animal skins stretched over a wooden frame. Chris has built several coracles using only primitive technologies; he made the craft for this pilgrimage from willow and horsehide, cured in salt.
“Willow represents the plant kingdom and the horsehide heralds the animal kingdom,” explains Chris. “The salt is from the mineral kingdom and the journey will unite the human kingdom along the way. May the harmony of our lands be complete.”
Day 1, Wed 17th August, Westmill Farm to Inglesham Church.
"...Arrived at the farm in the nick of time to meet TV and radio for interviews in the river Cole underneath the first advanced composites bridge in Europe ( that's a plastic bridge to you and I )... the old bridge lay in the water creating the first of many hazards on the sleepy river Cole. Friends gathered and we blessed the coracle and the egg, the day was finishing and the moon soon to rise. The first minor conflict on the journey for peace occurred when the landowners of the river bank were angered at our presence.... we moved up stream to the Penny Hooks Brook on the farm, where we had initially planned to start, but the TV truck couldn't make it there. Initial insight on peace... keep in good communication with your neighbours and be sensitive of territory, of causing fear and of rushing to meet deadlines with the media. So we left a peace offering and a note of apology and thanks. We gathered and sang to the craft, launched her, and off I went.... down the crooked brook waving to Kirsten, Tracey, Lizzie, Kevin, Boann and Bramble, the cows and home."
"Onto the mill stream and into the unknown.... the moon rose.... the River Cole winded.... I paddled and navigated many fallen trees... shallow stretches where I needed to walk and pull the coracle with a rope... a crooked and difficult journey, feeling a pressure of time, the ever present destroyer of peace.. deadlines! I drifted and contemplated journeying another time with no set time scale.... stopping whenever the urge to light a fire and warm my toes arose. Yet the sense of purpose drove me, the stars, the focus of weaving the boat through many lives along the way... balancing a natural flow with a program of intent and integration of culture.... and now I sit in Inglesham Church, with Kirsten and Tracey and the laptop, updating and documenting so that you can read the story so far..."
"Morning prayer and song then time to float on."
Day 2, Thursday 18th August.
"At Inglesham we launched from a beautiful garden, after practicing the art of good communication and respecting boundaries... the landowners were delighted to help. So we add the skill of respecting boundaries/territory to the ingredients of good communication and not rushing around for the media folk deadlines as a recipe for peace... Tracy read a peace prayer as I departed."
"Now, concerning the egg... and not putting all your eggs in one basket! I knew that the coracle was going to carry peace along the waterways, but I wasn't sure in what form... a creative strategy was utilised by a small group of people to discover the cargo. We used an alchemical clay to mould shapes with, kind of like a 3D meditation... and the predominant form was an Egg... a serpent's egg, or an egg and a serpent. This was affirmed when a child came forward and picked out the egg shapes. Aha! I thought and ran to fetch an Ostrich egg that I had carved a snake around many moons ago. The cargo had been realised! However, whilst working at a school last Tuesday, I was storytelling and using the egg as a prop, for a story about a stolen egg, and lets face it, if its not in the nest of the creature that laid it, then it is stolen. Now, a blind child at the school wanted to touch the egg, and accidentally pushed it to the floor and it smashed into pieces! Oh dear... the magic egg that meant so much now cracked... had this serpent's egg hatched?"
"Luckily, I had another ostrich egg in another basket at home, so this became the egg that would carry peace, yet somehow not so magical as the first due to a lack of history and carved snake upon it... and yes... outside Inglesham Church, the next egg was dropped inside a padded bag, with a picture of Ganesh the Indian Elephant Headed God on the front... and.... it cracked...how fragile eggs are... maybe one cannot make peace without breaking an egg. . No-one told me the egg had been put int he bag... So this cracked egg is going to stay the distance and I had let go of expecting it to complete the journey flawless. It seemed that Ostrich eggs or any real egg would be inappropriate because, the very first act of nicking it from the bird who laid it is not at all peaceful. There was certainly a mischievous and comical influence at large... possibly due to the top hat with the foxes tail and ears? So, an otherworldly moment arose and peace was made with my the spirit of the Ostrich and with my own conscience.. the journey, integrating the four realms of mineral, plant, animal and human is seeking out all incongruities it seems... this second egg has been lovingly repaired and now journeys on to carry the wishes and prayers of peace from all who come to greet it. Peace is indeed precious and fragile."
"This stretch of the wide Thames past the round house and Lechlade is luxurious... I was over taken by swans in the slow, meditative coracle, and soon arrived at the Riverside Pub. There I met friends and newspapers and film crews. The egg was well received and blessed by many people. Especially Colin with digger the dog and Jackie with her healing hands. Far too long was spent at Lechlade, in the light of reaching further events, but the time spent there meant that many meetings and greetings took place, music making and storytelling... again the balance between gently floating to London in a very peaceful fashion and meeting events and deadlines with people and places downstream... Father Thames/Mother Isis and Old Father Time/The Fates."
"Onwards through locks and the snaking Thames, carrying an egg along the slow flowing serpent... the river really does bond all who know it, every person waving or speaking with benevolent tongue, smiles and good wishes (thank you Joyce and Roger Smith)... this does often happen with those you meet on the same street. The river and the water, that nourishes much life, cleans, grows and heals is a magic ice breaker... like dog walkers who always acknowledge each other because of common links with beasts... water especially is common to all faiths and traditions, through baptism or washing, healing or naming ceremony, holy wells or sacred rivers and places... surely the Thames was revered as a sacred force by the early inhabitants of this Island, it has the power to nurture life and to take it... perhaps offerings were made to the waters, akin to the way we pay the water boards today?"
"Finally made it to the Swan Inn at Radcot... in heavy rain fall around 10p.m.... A warm welcome and meal thanks to owner of the pub, Alan.... there I met a friend Richard... who talked of old life jackets made of cork... I am exhausted... and soon...deep slumber... zzzz"
Day 3, Fri 19th, August
"I am late! Time schedules! The never ending tester of Peace in my being... strength and sustenance I pursue... my muscles now into the swing of things"
"I propel the craft onwards for countless twists and turns... enjoying good muscles and a fresh newness... a hot bath last night courtesy of Carole... After three hours I have gone three miles of water... The goal of reaching oxford in the evening is a great obstacle...Time."
"Then as I glide through a flock of swallows that are dancing between air and swift gulps of water I see a shining couple moored on a canal boat... I drift closer and realise I had briefly met the owner the previous day... I am offered a drink and I choose to rest and relate my predicament. Rohan and Sreena, aboard the good ship "Ganesh" (the Hindu deity once more!?) offer me a lift to Wolvercote as they are heading that way with commitments to meet that evening also... I most graciously accept and pull "Epona", the coracle, onto the back of the great Elephant... the remover of obstacles... this one being time limits."
"We saunter downstream and enjoy conversation about elephants, nature, mitochondria, DNA, faith and religion, peace and places... a joyous company and a truly charmed vessel."
"Sreena leaves and Phil joins us... We arrange the coracle at the prow so I can sit in it and make the time saving, deadline meeting cheating look good... It would've taken me days to cover that distance... I had greatly miscalculated the times and places and distances... learning about the river and it's ways is a deep joy."
"We make Godstow by 7:30... a welcoming party.. chai tea in the belly of the Elephant... Om Sri Ganesha and then into the ruined Nunnery for meditation and song... a beautiful sunset and a rainbow appear as the moon rises behind clouds... deep peace."
"Whilst arriving at Mike Buck's round house for full moon storytelling in Wolvercote we first encountered a black cat in the path, a gentle and silent moment with this familiar gatekeeper... and it accepted affection, then we were invited in to hear stories, and I related the story of the coracle, conflict and learning, the broken eggs and hatched serpents, animal welfare, Ganesha and the dissolution of deadlines to create a more realistic and peaceful journey... soon to sleep in the cob round house with egg shaped windows, thatched roof and most nurturing genius locii"
Day 4, Saturday 20th, August
"A bright and clear sky at day break, dreams of coracles, memories of a hedgehog coming into the round house in the wee hours of the morning... then breakfast on Ganesh... Rohan named Kirsten the dream personal assistant... she is the most supportive, dynamic, and dedicated colleague that has relentlessly organised media dates, multi-faith meets, food, massages, healing potions, photos and fun... ...I waved them goodbye at Godstow Lock... Port Meadow on the left where round houses once stood, and perhaps coracles once graced the riverside... Spires in sight... a steady skulling to the city... I found a swans egg floating... and instinctively fetched it into "Epona" the coracle."
"At Osney Lock it cracked and leaked pungent unguents into the craft... an olfactory challenge indeed."
"swiftly through the city... and many walking the riverside hailed the egg they had seen on the television!"
Finlay and Lula
"Then, I gently glided into the Regatta! It was a case of the tortoise and the hare... The air was thick with competition, opposition, good cheer and fine specimens... health, fitness and painful races in long thin boats... I slowly propelled the small round craft with figure of eight movements... the symbol of eternity... the paddle swinging from side to side like a pendulum... I reached the finish line... I felt like the anti-thesis of Jeremy Clarkson on water... hedonistically happy with the size of my goddess given portion.... most simple craft... slowest boat in history... but apparently also the coolest...
...off the river at Donnington Bridge... and a grueling carry of the craft to the Elder Stubbs Festival organised by Restore for a relaxing day of Stories, Egg Blessings and Prayers... "
A blessing and prayer from Jonathan, vicar of the East Oxford Christian Community
Day 5, Sunday 21st August
"Carrying the coracle through the town was fun, and I met Dave Holmes from Riverside Centre at Donnington Bridge... he built the first fibre glass coracle there many years ago, a good soul with much warmth and blessings... I headed off to the Iffley Lock, a hot sun above... there a small number of bright eyed humans gathered for prayer and talking... understanding peace... within and without... a multi-faith flavoured moment and more stories of the egg's journey. Jonathan of the St.Mary and St.John's was with us... we talked about water and its spiritual uses that are common to most religions and spiritual traditions... we made prayers and wishes... we spoke about how sometimes the smallest of actions can create large effects... and maybe these small prayers, this small pilgrimage, the egg of peace's 'drop in the ocean'... maybe these simple acts and thoughts are doing just that?"
"Kate brought a children's story book called 'Egg Drop'... the plasters on the egg reminded her of it... an amusing tale of an egg that tried to fly before its time... we talked of how water is a unifying element spiritually, yet it can be a force of conflict territorially, ownership of wells and springs, watering holes and reservoirs"
"During our peace gathering, an orange and yellow caterpillar climbed my shirt... I put it on the ground and it reappeared again on my arm..."
"I reluctantly left Oxford... I had a great urge to take the egg and coracle to the Carfax crossroads... the great and powerful crossing of ways in the centre of the City... this place is symbolically and psychologically the centre of my life.... it feels like I was born at a crossroads, and like I live at a crossroads, and maybe I'll die at the crossroads... Carfax tower I remember from early childhood... and the four great roads that stretch North, East, South and West... I felt a sadness that I hadn't taken the egg and coracle there... there was not time... the next pilgrimage I make I hope to be free of event deadlines... sorry, my constant moan."
"Downstream to Sandford Lock, past naked baskers and graffiti.... many fishing, but so far, no fisherman or woman that I have asked has ever eaten what they have caught."
"The Lock at Sandford is very deep, I was offered a tow out of it by the good folk aboard 'Courtney Brook'... and they took me quite a way.. cheating?"
"I learnt a lot on that journey about the local history and of atom splitting power generation as we passed Culham".
"Passing Nuneham Courtney I played the whistle to the global retreat centre and the peace prayers of 'Om Shanti' that are spoken there... then, in the grounds the Carfax Conduit was visible, a tall tower and churchlike monument... it wasn't until the fun and flirtatious crew of the Dizzy caught up with me that I learnt of its history... It had once been pride of place in the middle of the Carfax crossroads in Oxford... the powerful place that has long enchanted me with its cardinal eloquence... much magic there... I learned of how the water accessed by the conduit became a point of conflict between scholars and locals in Oxford... each thinking that they were more deserving of it... and so the story goes... it was closed because it was causing so much trouble."
"The conduit has been moved... the well closed.. just as other wells have been closed in Oxford... Walton Well in Jericho and the Well at the St. Clements round about beneath the clock tower... another auspicious and energetic place of rising power that radiates along the three radial roads of St. Clements, Cowley Road and Iffley road... yet the waters there are not allowed to flow at present... how would the people of this wonderful city, that is a cauldron of ingredients and education from the world over, through education and research, multi-culture and art, how would the psyche and soul of these people and this place change if the old wells were reopened and allowed to flow freely once more, if water was allowed to be drawn freely... if the Carfax Conduit was replaced in the centre of the crossways? Oxford, when I look at it with my psychic eyes, is a place of great deepness and great heights, deep water below and tall spires above... with many souls dancing betwixt the two.... between the waters of the heart and the towers and spires of the mind and intellect... between the feminine principle of wells and streams and the masculine principle and phallic spires... yet it may seem that the waters below are blocked and closed in some important and significant places... hmm..."
"The caterpillar reappeared in the boat! It had joined me for the journey."
"I had been asking many anglers along the way if they ever ate the fish that they catch... today an Abingdon angler said yes!"
"Abingdon was fun with many boat people resting their crafts for the evening... the egg was blessed and prayed with many times.. I met my folks and enjoyed a hot dinner."
Day 6, Monday 22nd August
"Rain... a thank you to Abingdon Boat Centre who had let the coracle rest safely in their work shop over night."
"A steady day of wetness, kingfishers, blackberries and much urination on my part.. difficult standing in a small round boat... my urine was very clear and frequent today.. I must admit to practicing the ancient art of orobouric survival thirst quenching... and it tasted very good...... mid stream of course, and in the middle of a stream!"
"I eventually arrived at a closed door at Clifton Hampden Church of St.Michael and All Angels... this halt brought to my attention the two stone heads carved on either side of the door's arch... I sat on the step to meditate with the egg... the heads were the same size as the ostrich egg.. . the man on the right, woman on the left as I faced out of the porch.. an hour I sat there contemplating breath and boats, waters and people, masculine and feminine... the egg poetically placed now betwixt right and left... and the crooked waterway that meanders between the two paths..."
"Tracy, Kyle, Daisy and Leah arrived and we ate... the man in the post office opened the door of the church for us... we added some prayers and I was eager to get away... a bit unsettled because I had waited a long time for Kirsten to arrive... who had been running around Oxford with cameras and computers...I note that strong females in my life really help me network onto culture and the social networks of media and all. She has been working very hard and the awareness of this peace prayer pilgrimage owes a lot to her determination and dedication."
"So I got back in the boat and the egg, in a bag, had rolled under the seat... and again it cracked... again it cracked after leaving a church with Tracey... a pattern emerging..."
"I made it to Days Lock in good time with the wind behind me... I moored at a sanitation station, where one is supposed to stop for only half an hour... I thought that meant large boats that take up lots of space, not little me... I skipped a fence like a fox to meet the others at the Wittenham Church of Saint Peter... a star of David above the door... as above, so below... then inside an amazing font is topped with a hanging spire... but, like Oxford, the font was dry... on the western wall there is a man carved above a woman.. no value judgments of above and below here... both equal."
"I went to the eastern altar to pray... I am not a Christian, but I love temples and sacred places... then I heard the door sound... but actually I had been locked in! Now here was my chance to ring the church bell and sound the alarm... or play the organ to herald help.. but I more sensitively and less courageously sent a text message... I was released and stumbled into an apologetic conversation with the lock keeper involving fences, dogs, rules and regulations, and me putting the coracle in the wrong place again."
"The caterpillar was enjoying my hat now!"
"The news Kirsten brought was bad... she had rushed away from Clifton Hampden leaving a flask of tea, a packet of crisps and my camera on the side of the road! She went back for them and only the crisps remained...stop thief!! You know who you are and it may only bring you grief and bring you no good."
"We were given permission to stay in the Iron Age round house behind the church by Audrey and Martin... The Northmoor Trust built it... blissfull... The walls inside need a bit of restoration.. I will offer my services. I sit here now with laptop and wattle and daub... just back from walking a figure of eight around the Sinodun hills, the clumps, great breasts upon the Oxfordshire plains... the heart at the centre.. a meeting place of the St. Michael and St. Mary energy lines that had been dowsed by Hamish Miller...The figure of eight on its side is a symbol of eternity... this movement I have been making in the water in front of the coracle with the paddle since the journey began... sculling this figure propels the boat forwards.. an ageless meditation..."
"This whole area with the Wittenham clumps in the plains and the confluence of the river Isis and Thame, that can be seen to flow together in a sacred marriage... the Thame and the Isis becoming the Thamesis.. or Thames...this whole landscape has evoked a massive religious response since the stone age.... a monumental complex of a cursus and a three ringed henge was built here during the neolithic period... alas it was mostly dug up for gravel in the Seventies. There was extensive Bronze age, Iron age and Roman activity here... also an early Christian stronghold... and many poets have penned a line or two about this landscape.... William Camden wrote a great work about the marriage of the Thame and the Isis... it seems however that the name Isis for the Thames sprung from romantic Oxford scholars and not from ancinet history.... So this wonderful waterway is given a masculine quality of Father Thames... and a feminine quality of the Isis... "
Day 7, Tuesday 23rd August
"Woke up in the Iron age house... then into the Northmoor Trust shower! Thank you kindly... then a phone call from Three Counties Radio... I was questioned about the magic egg and asked if this pilgrimage will make a difference, asked what peace is and if there is enough of it already... quite a provocative approach to the interview and cheap cynical tactics I thought... but the guy said he thought it was a lovely idea... and it made me realise that the journey is already making a difference... many prayers and wishes for peace have been uttered... through the egg as a conduit for whatever you believe too be spirit, god, the subconscious self, the collective consciousness, goddess, great spirit, the higher self, any way you look at it, thoughts and prayers move mountains..."
"The caterpillar is still in the rim of the top hat! Undergoing a transformation! Soon to be a chrysalis.... I am flattered at the persistent company of such a magical and alchemic creature."
"To eddy around in the confluence of the Thame and the Isis with song and prayer was a moment I had long ago envisioned... Awen"
"Singing in a small boat made of sticks and skin... paddling and breathing deep with a headache in my right eye today.. the journey southwards, into the sun and the shining water...the figure of eight sculling in front of the craft... stirring gold into green.. stirring the white and golden reflected sunlight into the winding green Thames.. tickling the back of this ancient serpentine waterway with eternal strokes... before the English Channel grew, and before the north sea expanded, the Proto-Thames flowed into the Proto-Rhine in the middle of what is now the north sea..."
"I passed a man in green taking the temperature of a tree with probes.. he was calculating how much water it takes up from the river... "
"The coracle, the egg and myself reached Wallingford in good time, and there on the beach by the bridge were bathers and picnicers... story time! We sat with story and music.. wishes and prayers and coracle demonstrations.. then fruit and a good earned rest."
"Some of the children in the water knew my Mum! Dear mother, born in Carmarthen, a place of coracles old... Wales is my motherland... and my father's people are from Scotland... "
"Some representatives of the Ba'hai faith turned up today with flowers and a bar of soap.. much appreciated.. the water was warm today..."
" Whilst stopping for a nature call today with my hand on the branch of an Alder tree I saw a black fury tail inches away from my fingers... I strained to look and there it was again on a lower branch... then gone... mink maybe?... Or someone with a black furry tail on the end of a stick?"
"Onwards to Cholsey for a riverside fire and food... zzzzz"
Day 8, Wednesday 24th August
"A good sleep in the tent... then a long journey into the wind and the rain... very wet, very difficult, very beautiful."
"I sang a lot which made things easier... I meditated on the figure of eight infinity signal in the water... The day was saved by Mick & Christine from Shadow Cruisers, a hotel boat and trailer boat... 'Me and My' and 'Shadow'... cups of tea and a tow... very generous folk... I made it to Goring and met the local magazine people and a taxi driver... he touched the egg... felt overwhelmed and gave me a twenty pound note!"
"This penniless peace pilgrimage is not about collecting money, but giving the opportunity for all good folk to spend a few breaths promoting peace, within and without themselves... but I have a policy of not turning down any support I get.. thankyou.."
"The goring gap is where the Thames cuts through the chalk... high steep sides... I pondered the history of the river, how it might have flowed before the locks were put in place."
"The chrysalis safe in the brim of the top hat still... the egg safe on board... the rain and wind."
"Beale Park is full of birds from all over the world in large cages... an enchanting array of bird songs and plumages... a stunning assortment of stone statues and deers that will lick your hands... I felt very bizarre skulking around in the pouring rain wearing a top hat with a fox tale, carrying an ostrich egg around a deserted park full of egg laying creatures... the group of eagle owls was an awesome sight... they hold such a presence and powerful stance... Like totem pole tops or ancient ancestral guardians... watching and surveying our evolution... the park was nearly void of people... I politely visited the managers office and left."
"Concerning my hat... with the fox tail on the back...
the sides adorned with feathers and foxes ears... a snake pendant and a ganesha
picture from Rohan... the hat has caused some to wonder whether I am pro or
anti hunt... I can assuredly say that I am very pleased the fox is no longer
legally persecuted upon this sacred island... the brush I wear as a foxy and
cunning earth wise charm... I have a fox buried beneath a the doorway of a roundhouse
at home as a guardian."
"Through Pangbourne... the part-time lock keeper an ex
soldier... wished for peace in Iraq... we chatted for a while about boats and
"The sun appeared behind me at the end of the day, the
wind retired, the evening light beautiful and bonny... 'Lets go down to the
river and pray'... Kyaks raced passed me and I reached some beautifully painted
boats... completely solar powered... 'bringing peace to the inland waterways'
it said on the side of one... no diesel fumes or raucous noises... the the inhabitants
emerged from the woods like friendly natives...they had just been teaching wild
ways in the woods at Hardwich estate... survival, primitive crafts and nature
awareness... we were kindred spirits!"
"I was invited for food and we talked into the night about
woad dying, music, history and archaeology.. we were in the same line of work
and we will collaborate in the future... and... they had recently met a caterpillar...
the very same species as the one I described that is now cocooned in my hat...
it is a sycamore moth... and... at some point, maybe soon, maybe next year,
it will fly from the brim of the black felt top!"
"Romilly utters an old name for the river ... 'Lud'...
she lives with her three girls on two boats with one major passion... nature."'
"She had studied as a botanist and was familiar with Mungo Park, who, before his adventures was a doctor and a botanical illustrator... you know.... it seems this journey I am on is kind of healing some ancestral karma... Mungo's last voyage attracted a lot of conflict in North West Africa... I have always wanted to follow his foot steps one day and some how make an effort to unite cultures in music and art et al...
...but tragically, the last guy that set off to follow Mungo Park's voyage, Chris Velten from Sussex, went missing in Mali... detectives from the UK have tried to trace him with no avail.. visit http://www.technicola.com/chris/ to see his picture."
"This voyage, promoting peace, with the ostrich egg from
Africa... some how this multi-layered project is working a deep magic upon my
soul and upon these places."
"The coracle was sodden and I was worried about it... so we hauled it above the chimney of the raeburn and it was smoked through the night... and salted some more... I was treated to dry blankets and dreams were sweet."
Day 9, Thursday 25th August
"A bright morn... porridge and a wave to Flora, Romilly
and the three wood wise girls as they ventured up the hill to work with fire
lighting skills... a baby toad... a curving stretch of stream and the day ahead."
"This day my mate Neil, also known as 'Eight', joined me in a Kayak.. my mind floods with etymological boat links... coracle, curragh, kayak, canoe... we met at a river blessing I had organised many years back... it was good to have a companion for a day or so."
"We reached the Reading Festival site with many young and beautiful people carrying beer and blessing the egg... well received we were as the weather shined then thundered then shined again... 107f.m. phoned for an interview... I was asked if I had a message for the people of Reading... all I could think to say at the time was something like 'enjoy the river' ...all along the banks we met many pilgrims of the rock festival... many laden with cheap beer and multi coloured wellies... a celebrated sight."
"One guy loved my hat and wanted to swap his shoes for it... I had left my shoes behind and was barefooted.. I told him that he must find his own hat in this world.. and that if he wears someone else's then he may take a wrong turn... may we all find our hats and wear them verdantly... celebrating each other's along the way!"
"Two police women called us over to take a photo... very enchanting they were with uniform, bicycles and smiles... very different to the defensive policemen we encountered later on... I guess they have to keep a closed guard and heart amongst a crowded riverside full of potential drunken disorder... bless their nylon socks... but it is true that they are keepers of the peace.. and may peace be with them for the festival."
"Some piping and skirling and sculling..."
"On to beautiful and shining Sonning... to meet a smiley lock keeper and then Uri Geller..."
"Neil, who had turned up whizzing around in his craft, his mind just as actively dancing around taking photos and asking many questions, tried to tow me with the kayak, that he was just getting the hang of... he worked hard pulling the coracle and me and we were rushed to meet the famous psychic... but we were still slow and I decided to jog to Sonning with the egg... I met Kirsten there and Mr Geller graciously came to the riverside to meet and pray with the magic egg... quite a while later, the boat arrived and he came to see it... he is planning a peace voyage across Egypt and does much work promoting peace... he is a tall and focused man with a dynamic stillness... 'God be with you' he said as we parted... a true holy man of the riverside."
"As in Dorchester upon Thames... Sonning saw a lot of human activity in the Neolithic age with a cursus.... a Cursus is an elongated enclosure, always found near a river or a stream... sometimes a few kilometres long... usually containing burials and often associated with henges... it is thought that these places were linked to rites of passage with the deceased... maybe processional... maybe echoing the symbolic waterways... I recommend a look into current neolithic archaeological research... fascinating... the waterways seem to have been very much revered... sacred places definitely by the Bronze and Iron ages... many offerings made into the waters of the Thames or Lud... swords, cauldrons, jewelry."
Day 10, Friday 26th August
"A wonderfully meditative day on the water... I finally settled into a good meditation of sculling the figure of eight, stirring the Thames, breathing well with all senses opened to the environment, a still mind and a glorious feeling shining from my being... deep peace indeed after a morning of the egg going missing... Kirsten had taken it away to put a prayer in it... anxious I was..."
"Today, gleaming a sensual knowledge of this river, the Lud, the Thames, the Isis.. harvesting an inner peacefulness with the sun's help upon my brow."
"Neil arrives agian to join me on the water... full of
questions again of media and internet... taking my mind to other places and
times.. but soon we regain a meditative state of pilgrimage, being present with
the water and its ways... the wildlife becoming evermore apparent... water-birds,
fish, swimming mink-like mammals. or so I think... tales of an otter close by...
then the river Loddon joins us with her flowery meads..."
"Today... ha! I just wrote 'toady' but quickly corrected
my spelling before thinking of writing this unnecessary, but amusing explanation...
and the wind is constantly in the willows here.."
"...Today I received much food! Firstly from Andrew in the morning who came to meet me before I set off in Sonning... he had worked in an experimental tannery in his youth, just before the plastic boom began... 'twas fascinating to hear his leathery tales.... and thanks for the tea and sandwiches... later on Neil conjured up some olives from somewhere deep in his kayak.. then Viv and Sandy from Oxford caught up with us in a canal boat and bestowed hot bean soup and sandwiches upon us... towing us as we ate... mmmm.... Neil then took off ahead as I weaved from bank to bank, meeting friendly folk and telling the story of the pilgrimage... I was given shortbread, a peach and a can of Pimms... after the lock I met some Island dwellers... a peaceful Island... I soon encountered many stunning females of delicious shades and nationalities... they were making a multicultural Bollywood style movie called 'Samba Salsa'... I joined the team and they offered me more food... this time Indian food... I settled in with the costume department, an actor and some of the production team as we sang summer anthems and... of course... added more prayers and wishes to the egg... "
"The former caterpillar in my hat had once spent most
of its waking hours munching as much as it could... getting ready for a deep
alchemical sleep... solve coagula"
"I visited the river and rowing museum ready for the next
days events there... then visited Townland Hospital in Henley, the place of
my birth... I had never been back and I hear it is very auspicious to return
to the place of your birth... I had felt a bit like a salmon returning to its
spawning ground, but they go upstream...."
"A short journey tonight to see my father and visit his
magic bath... I feel strange to be away from the river.. and not to be bathing
in its waters.... but a technological need brings us here... I try to check
emails, and very strangely my acorneducation mail server has not been able to
receive anything sent since 13 August... hmm... I feel paranoid and respectful
of strange forces... yet hope that the force and the farce will be with the
wily wizards on my side to mend the tear in the web..."
"Life is absurdly beautiful... I surrender... I miss the river... I want to eat organic meat... urine is treasure."
Day11, Saturday 27th August
"The River and Rowing museum by the Thames in Henley is a polished and perfected place of curatorship, architecture and education... it is raised up out of the flood plain and the mud and the wet... into a tranquil place of the mind... the conceptual river displayed before you... much inspiration... much to look at... a view of the river.. my mind here filled with images of archaeology, water craft, willow stripping, hydrogeology and sport... here there is not much to smell or touch and sink ones hands or wet toes into... away from the tactile and visceral world of the river itself and its sounds and smells and sensations... here in this high place of human thought and contemplation and image, information and knowledge... a soothing piano music glides you tranquilly through the galleries... like being in a dream of the rivers and the rowers, the ancient practices and offerings... the story book places... the maps and texts... a place of culture, celebrating nature... a paradox of air conditioned warmth and freshness... art and education... as most museums are not the experience of the subject, but a thought provoking catalogue of it... an excellent place for delving into the river's history and allowing the mind to gather insight and creative thought... I feel a bit raw here... I feel like a wet and smelly otter in an operating theatre of poetic celebration and all things river related... wish I'd cleaned my fingernails properly during this lifetime... "
"The coracle is displayed outside the door... still damp... hoping to dry out so I can oil the skin... the storytelling sessions over... I entertain outside with the boat... drying and salted in the sun... I leave the award winning architecture and sit with Stuart and Rae... they have helped alot with press releases and support... good intention and will..."
"Into the Thames again and towards the bridge... on one side a sculpture of the head of Isis as a river... on the other a sculpture of father Thames' head, complete with fish in his beard... I meet people in the pub beer garden overlooking the river... "
"There is a goddess sculpture displayed high in a columned temple on temple island... the starting point of the regatta races... Venus I presume.. smiling and covering her breasts with a robe... her attractive behind bare and bonny... I admit to a quick trespass onto her island... with her blessings of course... "
Prayer to Venus
'Cause every savage works of war to sleep and be still
over every sea and land.
For thou alone canst delight mortals with quiet peace,
since Mars mighty in battle rules
the savage works of war,
who often casts himself upon thy lap
wholly vanquished by the everliving wound of love,
and thus looking upward with shapely neck thrown back
feeds his eager eyes with love,
Gaping upon thee, goddess, and as he lies back
his breath hangs upon thy lips,
There as he reclines, goddess,
upon thy sacred body,
do thou, pending around him from above,
pour from thy lips the sweet coaxings,
and for thy Romans, illustrious one,
crave quiet peace'
"Sculling, skulling, skulking and surveying.. onwards through southern chiltern landscapes... the hambledon wick joins us... the first of many chalk streams that flow to the Thames from the hills... these streams are rare in a worldwide context... providing special habitat... with winterbourne sources... fed by the massive aquifer beneath the chalk."
"I eventually pass the Medmenham Abbey... and 'do as I wish'... this place was excavated a couple of years ago revealing more than just monk's graves... a place of ritualistic revelry when the 'Knights of St. Francis' were creatively freeing themselves from the shackles of religion and social restraint through art, education and Bacchanalian beverages... echoing Rabelais, the oracle of the bottle... folly building free thinkers... who eventually returned to a source of their own, and built some elaborately ritualised caves into West Wycombe Hilll near the source of the chalk stream 'Wye' in the Chilterns... Lord Dashwood also developed the river and park."
"One can stand well in a coracle..."
"Many noisy speeding boats as I approach Hurley... this reminds of a man on a very large boat at the previous lock called 'Pagan Lady' saying 'That's not an easy way to travel'... I sparred back with 'This cost nearly nothing to build, your boat must have cost an arm and a leg, now that wasn't easy was it!'. He laughed and I skipped around the gates thinking about contemporary paganism and environmentalism."
"Some people come running to see me... to put wishes in the egg... then some other kids came out from hiding in a bush making a splash... then I am beckoned over to the luxurious wedding party on the opposite bank... who had come from a ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral that morning... given wine and fluid conversation in an RAF kind of boating club... all fascinated and praising the coracle... the paradox of the peace pilgrim and the military bombers bonded us through the early evening.... 'tis wise to find one's truth in life and then to act upon it... and then to accept the truths of others.. with peaceful pastime... as confucius says 'first there must be order and harmony in your own mind. Then this will spread to your family, then to the community, and finally to your entire kingdom. Only then can you have peace and harmony.' ....we shared good conversation, peace and mutual acceptance... none of us agreed with the Gulf situation..."
"Sleeping nearby at Stu and Rae's in yet another round building... their yurt in the garden... from roundish boat, to stories of a circular cathedral's crypt, to a round mongolian tent."
"The sycamore moth in my hat dreams of new beginnings."
"The coracle is simply hide and willow and salt... nothing else... the paddle is made of split ash wood by skillful Ian from Sussex Archaeology in Lewes and is sculling well in my hands... no exhaust here with noise and fumes... no oil left on the water's surface... how simply one can wend the way down stream... I hear tell of a swimmer who covered fifteen miles a day from source to sea recently... a slow pace enables one to notice much more... slowing down... no erratic rushing to and fro... no erratic confusions of the mind and the tongue."
"Now this may confuse yet inspire you.... An amphidromic point is an oceanographic term... they have always fascinated me since I first learnt of them.... a wave has a node.../\/\/\/\/\/\... \/\/\/\/\/\/...half way up the slope... the middle bit that doesn't move... a collection of nodes is an amphidrome.... a collection of these nodes of sea waves happens at precise points on this planet... the places are called amphidromic points... the water there doesn't move up or down... it stays flat and circulates... usually clockwise in the northern hemisphere, and ant-clockwise in the southern... there are some exceptions to the rule.... now... there are three of these points in the north sea... I would very much like to deposit the egg into one of them... of course, hitching a lift with a sea going boat..."
"Degenerate amphidromic points are those that have been theoretically extrapolated onto land... imagining that the earth is covered in water... The wave motion on our blue planet is governed by the Sun and Moon and other celestial forces... if I rightly remember from the pub conversation from maybe ten years ago with a guy working in water research... a lot of these degenerate amphidromic points correspond with stone circles and sacred sites in Northern Europe! Did the ancients possibly feel the quality of these places... as the forces that create wave patterns must also have an effect on moisture in the air, within us, plants, the earth and probably all matter in those fixed points on this planet.... "
Day 12, Sunday 28th August
"Bonny, serene and bright is the day."
"Busy busy stream of traffic and weirs and kayaks and picnickers... I enjoyed an exceedingly nourishing and spirit lifting interview on radio berkshire that morning... and because of this, people came to meet me and touch the egg..."
"I was joined by a man in a kayak who owned a coracle himself...made by a Mr Thomas, one of the last of the welsh makers in Cenarth..."
"I had my bagpipes on board and skirling and sculling and sculling and skirling... spinning and eddying... waving and laughing...through the templeless temple... of Templar history... past Bisham... I know this area well... 'twas near here that I caught my first fish...an angler told me today that there was a massive perch in the water evading his patience and bait... he was keen to hook it... maybe it is the same Perch I caught as a boy... older and wiser... more cunning than before... not seeking to communicate with human kind on the end of a line and into a net... a strange communication indeed that anglers have with our gilled cousins... fetching them out and throwing them back... appeasing an atavistic survival urge and calming the nerves through therapeutic riverside relaxation... yet scarring the mouths of many."
"Close by is a healing spring... 'twas here... a long time ago... that a hermit dwelt beneath the canopy of a great oak tree.... he cultivated clever communication with a bird in that tree.... and whenever a pilgrim or traveler sought the well to draw some curative bounty, they first had to place a coin in the bird's nest... Queen Elizabeth 1 once visited to clear up an ailment... and her name stayed... ever since this place has been known as St. Elizabeth's Well."
"At Marlow I meditated... then played music and the coracle, the pipes and the egg drew much interest... many blessings.. many cultures and creeds... flavours and kin..."
"You know... in some parts of the world those who sit down and eat together are considered as kin."
Day 13, Monday 29th August
"A skirl on the pipes atop the roof of the white house by the river side at Higginson Park.... the peace flag flying... this flag belongs to Rowan, daughter of Adam Twine who owns Westmill Farm where the journey began... a rainbow flag with PACE written on it in white.. Italien for 'peace'..."
"The owner of the white house kindly let the coracle rest in his garden overnite... he had been in the RAF and was once a tentative piper himself.... he had touched atomic bombs in his lifetime... and now... he has photos of a peace pilgrim... flying a peace flag.... playing pipes of peace on his roof!"
"The pipes are made by Jon Swayne from Somerset.... they get called Border Pipes, Lowland Pipes or English Half-longs... a sweet but stridently toned bag pipe.... not too loud... expertly made from apple wood, cherry wood and cow hide, horn and plastic reeds... not at all like the Highland Great Pipes... war pipes... peace pipes."
"Around the bend to Bourne End... the place where the river Wye meets the Thames... the chalk stream that flows from the Chiltern Hills... a stream I know very well... rising at its perennial source near West Wycombe... I have studied sacred waters and sacred places and pieced together a small book some years ago about the way we value water, streams, rivers and the environment... this book looks at universal issues... and views them through the locality of the chiltern river Wye.... its history, archaeology, hydrogeology and contemporary human interactions... 'The Sacred Wye' is the title..... you won't find it anywhere except in two cardboard boxes I have stored.... feel free to ask me for one."
"This river Thames is sacred... this pilgrimage is magic... water has a healing quality that unifies all people... all faiths... all creeds... all ways... all traditions."
"Past Winter Hill and Cock Marsh.... the to Cookham... the Ferry Inn by the bridge.... there was a greeting party of friends and press... Paul Gotch and Jean, Ted with the camera... Kirsten with photographers and interviewers... beer.... berries... bright eyes... Paul and Ted are making a film about the river Wye."
Day 14, Tuesday 30th August
"Set off from The Ferry in Cookham in the morning... then past the Cliveden estate... A steep sided pass... I felt like an explorer... the only one on the water... a heron flying and calling its alarm... sounding like I imagine a teradactyl to.... then... a boat passes and I am called 'Tarzan'... the next boatman asks me what tribe I am from...."
"I glide into Maidenhead... there I stop to meet a photographer and also meet Thalia and two of her children... Thalia is another descendant of Mungo Park! We discuss family and coracles... eat ice cream and the sit in the shade..."
"The Maidenhead press photographer arrived and organised some youngsters on a boat to pray with the egg... then I met a Canadian who blessed the egg, then I met some Sikhs who also blessed the egg... and they were also visiting from Canada... "
"In this town I encountered many who simply wouldn't make a wish for peace, make a prayer, or even touch the egg.... maybe this is because it has now been painted... and therefore signifies hippy flower power.... I am suddenly making more peace signs with my fingers and getting into the hippy archetype for the rest of the day... I have a feeling that the egg may be painted blue soon."
"I navigated up and down streams and backstreams trying to find Taplow Court, a centre for SGI Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonen... a Japanese monk... they were not able to come to the lock... something to do with not wanting media attention due to some bad media recently... there is a bronze age barrow in the grounds of the court... they chant 'Nam Myoho Renge Kyo'... there seems to be a lot of administrative fuss with trying to get to see them... I feel like life will be more peaceful for all if I float on.... "
"I move on from Maidenhead... I see a boat saying something like 'Discover Wildlife and Learn About the Secrets of the Riverbank'... then an unfamiliar call sounds and a parakeet flies across the water... then I pass 'Monkey Island' that used to be the home of many monkeys, many moons ago."
"Today my knees hurt... yet peace pervades every stroke and breath... a continuous spell and stirring of the Thames.. pure alchemy."
"I am on my 33rd journey around the sun (that means I am 32 years old)... 'Me and My Shadow' floating hotel passes again as I answer a call of nature in the woods... then I pass them again and moor... meeting Kirsten and Afric...mmm good food and song and wine... slept under the coracle propped up by the paddle and a bench... dreams of a baby dragon that I found under a bush... 'twas sick and transformed in my hands as I picked it up..."
"Afric played a song wot she wrote about dryads..."
Day 15, Wednesday 31st August
"I awoke to see the sun rising through trees and two naked women posed nymph-like by the water after their early morning swim..."
"Here is a humongous lake, olympic sized.... it is will be used in 2012"
"Coracled to Windsor, past the race course... my mind is very active today.... so is the river traffic... many big boats... I completely forget about the magnificent creature in the brim of my hat..."
"Much tourism here of course... and the closer I get to London, the more warnings I heed about the dangers of the tideway... after Teddington Lock, the Thames is tidal and becomes increasingly stronger... I can only ride with the outgoing tide then... many big boats and dangerous wash... strong currents..."
"I meet people along the water front.. Catholics, Muslims, Sikhs and many good souls of no particular religion... I then rest the boat on top of a hire boat and seek shade... meet Afric and we talk... discussing peace, inner and outer, pilgrims, the season, eggs and fertility, seeds falling from trees...."
"I piped under Windsor Bridge with my humble Orb and Sceptre... Egg and Paddle... then onwards with the magical journey."
"Two lads getting stoned under a tree..... 'peace man'...."
"I wended a wet green way around the castle and the crown property.... a young angler called me a tramp.... last week I was called a gentleman of the river."
"I made it to Runymede Park with the help of the boat 'BESS' steered by Peter and Beryl... more parakeets along the way... haven't seen a kingfisher for miles and miles.... have been seeing the odd cormorant for days now."
".... this prayer was written down for the egg by Peter and Beryl
'A peaceful world is a happy world
Let nothing stand in the way of Peace
-not personal ambition
Think of a peaceful world,
Strive for peace, and perhaps
We will have peace.
We owe it to ourselves and those around around us.'
"My phone was charged by nearby boat people, bestowing maps and guidance about the treacherous journey ahead."
Day 16, Thursday 1st August
"Sunrise, a squawking array of parrot palava... a bright morning."
"Breakfast with Afric beneath the coracle... then I leave for Staines... full of appreciation of friends that visit me along the way.... many inspired souls."
"I passed BESS and learnt of a hurricane in America... This morning I passed beneath the M25... the quality of the air and the water is changing... I passed an information sign saying 'Sacred Thames'... I contemplate ancient ritual offerings and contemporary spiritual connections to rivers... The ways of seeing this river, its power to nourish and clean and feed, to flood and drown and destroy... another mighty force of nature... Today seemingly conquered by lock and weir, outboard, bridge and barge."
"I search for the London Stone... this stone marks the limit of London's jurisdiction on the Thames... basically a boundary for taxes... a marker point for the beating of the bounds... the keeper of the stone says that it was baptised recently... I place the egg atop the monument and call for peace..."
"This stone is the second one.... the first is now in a museum...it was actually of Roman origin... possibly a libation stone."
"I pause for a few tunes on the bagpipes under neath the bridge at Staines... then as I pass the Swan Hotel... the solid souled manager, Jim, calls me over, greets me with an Ayrshire accent and gives me a pint... and then the cook from the Seychelles, a master with fish I am told, serves me a mighty lunch... many many thanks.. and its not the first time that I have piped for my supper... I skirl the pipe some more... the egg receives more prayers and wishes... onwards downstream."
"I float like a leaf..."
"Onwards and a friendly tow from more benevolent boat people... causing many smiles along route as the peace flag flies in the wind. Someone thinks I am campaigning for hunting and the country side alliance because of the fox brush, another thinks I am campaigning for gay rights because of the rainbow coloured peace flag... many think many things that I may never know."
"I pass beneath the M4 and then joined by the river Wey."
"I reach Sunbury Lock tired and spent... The lock keeper won't let me camp here... no sanctuary for pilgrims... I'm sure there must be a law somewhere that ensures hospitality for adventurers of the soul... Alas, I strive to peacefully accept the lock keeper's strict code of unspontaneousness, lack of kind sanctuary, ungenerousness, unspirited rejection and I paddle on as any bitterness I noticed falls off my being like water off a duck's back. I paddle on and the keeper hands me a leaflet... it took me some time to find peace in myself after all my expectations of staying there..."
"Some lads across the water fish an eel out of the river... then a motorised scooter."
"I relax, peace truly comes when I just let go, surrender to blissful relaxation, the natural rhythm of my breathing, allowing all the knots inside to fall undone.` mellifluous.. warm... well."
"Then my mind runs with the thought of the Buddha... completely relaxed and at peace, yet with every part of his immune system at war with all that comes into contact with his body... nature strives to win.. yet with a conscious mind... the royal human being... evolved and enlightened... not at all at war.... I hear the words of the peace activist and poet, Steven Hancock... 'Its all friendly fire'...."
"A small fire after sculling in the twilight... a well earned rest."
Day 17, Friday 2nd September
"A bright morning with a chance to dry the boat out.. a good exercise to Hampton this day...a place of many boat builders... all interested in the small and ancient looking coracle... some wondering if it is antique."
"I zig and zag, crossing from bank to bank, talking to passers by and those passed by..."
"A temple ahead! 'Twas built by a rich man for an old bard.... by Garrick for Shakespeare.... Eight sides and eight pillars holding up the porch... east facing... a kind little canine greets me there... then gets a wiff of fox and his little voice box rattles relentlessly... a keen spirit and a keener nose... an amusing bit of communication for me... alas, not for the dog's companions executing a photo shoot inside the sacred little building."
"Passing many eyots (anglo saxon word for a small island.... pronounced 'ate')... sometimes called an ait."
"Then around the corner to a beautiful 1920's boat... I stop to talk to another boat builder.. I discover that this exotic boat is actually a recording studio for none other than 'Pink Flloyd'... we talk about boats of course.... he tells me of a guy downstream who may be able to make me a canvas cover for the coracle to avoid wash swamping in... then he tells me of an account in the doomsday book describing coracle like vessels used on the Thames at Hampton... good to know, and I reckon this kind of craft has been floating on these waters since the stone age."
"Pollution becomes more apparent to the senses... yet I still spot a kingfisher... a flash of blue and orange."
"I pass more boat home people... good to talk to and tell them of the pilgrimage... I keep spelling pilgrimmage with two m's.... mmmmm marveloussssss."
"To Molesy lock... the keeper... with a feather in his hat....opened up the massive piece of hydro engineering just for me... I made the most of it and floated around playing the penny whistle... acoustics and water... blessings and bright noise."
"Another tune under Hampton Court bridge... a view of many chimneys from the water.... then called in by some archaeologists to the Albany Pub and Diner... I drink and talk history, archaeological trends... the Thames and the ways we respect it.. and the ways we don't... these people are pagan... not necessarily religious.. or practicing any particular form of worship.... but very in tune with the bigger picture of the landscape... time frames and tides... a greater sense of place within their surroundings than most... a wonderfully academic and scientific wisdom of the earth, the elements, ancestors and origins, nature and culture... I liked them alot... Steve and Julie... they could also drink a river dry!"
"I left the coracle at The Albany to venture off from the pilgrimage for the weekend.... I had work at Swindon Forest Fair... A musical set with Justine.. we are a folk duet called 'The Clear Blue Water'.... if you ever hear her sing you will understand.... after our gig I was storytelling, music making and fortune telling as 'The Coracle Oracle' for the rest of the day amongst the trees on the hill at the fair... it felt okay to have a break from the river, especially as I am approaching the tidal stretch.. this needs careful planning... "
Day 18, Sunday 4th September
" ...just found a dead ant inside my ear... must have got lost in the labyrinth of my mind..."
"Back on the water at the Albany near Hampton Court... sculling against the wind.. piping... greeting... meeting... navigating wash... enjoying..."
"Life is a beach next to a pub restaurant."
"Kingston was supremely enjoyable! Many fine folk enjoying the sun and the alluring river on a Sunday afternoon.... many people gifted me beer... requested music from the pipes... Michelle, Jessie, Leah and Kirsten were handing out flyers and perpetuating the story of the magic egg... peace, deep peace and deeper peace."
"Successfully through the swinging yaughts."
"Many riverside rovers had wondered why I had little publicity in London... well... Kirsten had been running around non stop so far on the journey, contacting newspapers and television and radio, bestowing me with fine foods after long stretches, taking photos and doing websites and completely giving her magic touch, her positive outlook and her all to the project of peace and pilgrimage... I have a policy of never refusing any help along the way... and she would turn up at the water's edge smiling and say 'what do you need?' ever since I asked her if she would like to help out from the beginning. May all pilgrims receive such loving attention and blessings upon the way in whatever form it arrives in!"
"Alas, she had to go and attend to other commitments...she has realised many new skills and truths upon this adventure. This ritual of peace would have been much less publicised if it wasn't for this dynamic woman... and this first half would have seen a different pace and quality altogether... I have been journeying on with smiles and deep appreciation, and now, on the conveyor belt thames, with the building magic, the pilgrimage seems more unpredictable and intriguing."
"...soon under the bridge and heading for Trolock Island to meet Michelle and her inflatable yellow canoe.... Michelle has been helping me through much of this London reach... blessed again... friendship... peace... this infectious adventure and act of love that we are all responding to and guided by is magic... to step out and surrender to the overwhelming spirit of a journey like this is unexplainable... may we all have the opportunity to dive in and serve something beyond our own imagining..."..
"The Tamesis rowing club are having a regatta!"
"There I am greeted by John Graham... who holds the world record for traveling from Lechlade to Southend in around 80hrs... non-stop with three others in a skiff..."
"Now the windswept straight to Teddington Lock... past youngsters and families.. boaters and floaters... to the 'tide end town'... here I talked alot with the keeper of the water gates... he gave me more knowledge concerning the best way to travel through London on the river... which is certainly not with a coracle... he said he did it in a rubber dingy once... the scariest moment of his life... so... I now take a few days out to plan the next leg... where and how to stop... life jacket... tide time tables... media and a new press release... I reckon that I will travel on the very early morning outgoing tides... then spend the day with the egg on the riverside... each day with a morning of early sculling to a safe place to come abank... and it seems that there aren't many... alot of sheer walls and not many ladders or stairwells....hmm... maybe I will also hitch lifts... the next bit from Teddington to Richmond seems ok... then I hope to have company from a support boat... the large boats and the places to stop seem to be the biggest obstacles..."
"I spoke with my brother.. he tells me of a television programme about coracle building and a newspaper article about a new book... on Mungo Park...a travel writer has recently followed his footsteps through northwest Africa and published a book... there is a much bigger picture here... concerning cultural communication... multi-cultural relations... ancient technology... peace and prayers... I am told of many coconuts floating down stream today.. deposited there by people from an African Islamic tradition for good luck... because they eventually float to the sea.... this is truly a sacred river... and nature is and will always be a giver and taker of life... much respect and reverence.. I will offer a coconut into the waters before the next journey onwards from Teddington."
Day 19, Monday 5th September
"Today I went looking at the tidal river... up to Richmond and then to Westminster... it looks steady to Kew... then it gets rough after Westminster... there are many stair wells on the South Bank to come up... and I reckon if I stay real close to the side I can navigate safely... the freeboard of the boat is very small... but only when waves have a white crest on top does water come into the coracle...the craft simply rides over the rolling waves whatever the size... but to navigate on the strong tide will be tricky with the paddle... no matter how fun and chaotic the eddys and currents may take me... I have to make sure I am not a danger to any other craft.... and make sure I don't get taken off on the outgoing ebb too fast into a pier or some other object..."
Day 20, Tuesday 6th September
"Today I spoke with the Port of London Authorities... they will let me go as far as Eel Pie Island on my own... but past there I must have some kind of powered support boat accompanying me in case I get stuck in a current or sink... ....they will let me go as far as Westminster... but after that I will have to hitch a lift... on the prow of a boat through to the sea... perhaps I will walk some of the Thames path with the coracle and the egg too... turtle style..."
"Now... when I speak to the Thames Young Mariners and others who navigate as far as Tower Bridge in unpowered craft they tell me that the journey is not so difficult... I am sure the Port of London authorities are working on a worst case scenario.... and apparently they don't have any authority in regards to telling you what to do... and I think that as most people I meet consider coracles to be uncontrollable spinning saucers that you can't even sneeze in, then they underestimate its stability.... however... I strive to give them peace of mind and heart."
"Sometimes I feel like a leather back turtle... they are a very rare sight in the waters around these sacred Isles... When the coracle is turned over on land it is reminiscent of a leatherback's carapace... I feel like a leather back turtle that has taken its shell off, turned it upside down to float on the surface... maybe the first skin boats were just that?. Turtles are ancient.... they have seen the dinosaurs come and go..."
"I spoke with Steve that I met at Abingdon.... he has a friend who works at a ferry near Twickenham.... we'll see what happens... also I will see if the RNLI can help..."
"A few days out of the water now... but never far from the Thames... the cloud and rain has gently arrived since the new moon... the new phase and lunation is having its effect... 'twas dark moon on saturday... the waxing crescent now growing."
"Must get a coconut today... or perhaps a lovely bunch.... I haven't found a support boat yet..."
"Well now... if you think about it... a magic egg... with a snake on it... traveling down a water way.... you could be seeing a fertilised egg moving down from the source... this Island is about to give birth... to a powerful spirit of peace on world peace day... pax..pixus..absalom.."
"...the watery spring being the ovary, releasing the egg... I feel like the archetypal ferryman over the Styx.. but in reverse, from the otherworld to this world, and along the course... carrying a fertilised egg to the womb, and the sea... the Thames waterway being the Fallopian tube... the difficult tidal stretch and estuary now akin to the difficulties of labour... out of hundreds of millions of people ejaculated into this world, I happen to be the man in the boat..."
"As Teddington lock will open the gates, so the cervix will dilate... ebb and flow and ebb and flood... born into the clinical light of this new world."
"Last night I dreamt of swimming... avoiding geese with large beeks, snapping sideways in the water... then I swam up stream, back towards the source."
Day 21, Wednesday 7th September
"This ritual of pilgrimage continues... into the new phase of ebb and flood..."
"Early start to catch the tide from Teddington... no coconuts... but then I spy a green walnut upon the ground... this is deposited into the water with reverence and tannic force..."
"I am surprised as the river is as still as a lake... because the outgoing tide is controlled from the Richmond Lock Bridge further down.... more of a cervix than Teddington... perhaps the thames barrier being the best cervical candidate...."
"Not another moving craft in sight.... a few floating coconuts.... a brightening day... hardly a breeze... then to find a ferry man on Eel Pie Island... a tip from Steve... he says that there is a man working there who knows the river like the back of his hand."
"I see a small island.... I see a man on a boat and a Fire Rescue Boat being repaired... I ask if this is Eel Pie Island... and discover that it is called swan Island.... Ben greets me with a ground coffee morning smile.... I explain the strange sight and the mission... he says that he is tempted to help me as a support boat this day!"
"... onwards to Eel Pie... this morning I received a text from Andrew saying 'may there be plenty of onions in your gravy'... as I contemplated this and its benevolent allium artistry, a piece of an onion succinctly floats past in the soupy Thames... now containing much more than a menagerie of new ingredients..."
"Onion inspired smiles... sense of awe... sense of right place, right time, wry tide... I await Ben on t'other side of Eel Pie... where I have agreed with the PLA to continue only with a support... I strive not to wind them up and peacefully surrender to any fearful and well founded beurocracy."
"We journey down... past the ferry man.... past michelle.... past the Port of London boat... who have come to say hello... I coracle to them and make allies, swap numbers, feel impeccable..."
"Then to a floating home of ingenious, shanty shacklike, post apocalyptic, eccentric raft of water gypsy spirit... Ian and Leslie greet me well... a retired university lecturer I hear... once the council tried to move him on... `the tale goes... many locals came out of the thames woodwork to support him... so there he stays... bright eyed... candle offering... juice bestowing... robinson crusoelike... man making use of simple resource... living lightly alighted upon an anchored home."
"To Richmond.... I notice a tiny puncture in epona's skin... small enough to stop the leak with finger... steve escorts epona, the egg and myself to Naomi's boat.... there we create as puncture repair kit!"
"With some 'isoflex' and bits of leather... "
"We talk ancestors... her Dad next door/boat has keen interest in African exploration... ...then Naomi, fund raises for an MS charity, tells of her ancestor... William Tindel... burned at the stake for translating the bible into english... a harsh punishment for the man who is credited for 'inventing the english language'... idioms and proverbs... the bible back then was still a very esoteric text, accessible by an educated minority."
"Naomi has a 'gohonzon'... a small buddhist shrine containing beautiful japanese writing and symbols... she invites me and the egg to chant with her... Nam Myoho Renge Kyo... a japanese chant, words of power and spirit... I wonder if they will ever be translated into other languages... this seems unnecessary for the SGI buddhist practitioners.. a very neat and precise little practice... chanting, holding prayer beeds, ringing a bell... tidy."
"Caught the outgoing tide at Richmond at around five... after ferrying to and fro from swan island with Ben, the egg and stories... contractions and expansions."
"...paddle of infinite chanting..."
"We make it to Kew... phew... the coracle rests at a boat club..."
"I absolutely am at home in the coracle... I experience an urge to become a wandering storyteller... a full time pilgrim.... a deeper practice of meditating with the water and the paddling... the discipline of repetition and rhythm... working its magic upon my muscles and though patterns... when I reach the sea I have an idea the circle the british Isles.. a perpetual pilgrim...... a continual sense of purpose... dream on... I have new commitments to honour and add delight to... love and learning... I enjoy experiencing these urges."
Day 22, Thursday 8th September
"Back to the University Of London Boat Club..... the tide well out... I ventured into the greeny brown water...."
"A guy in a boat gave me some support.... the ebb tide out was great... I was traveling slickly, swiftly... along mortlake reach... to Chiswick... now through very built up areas, yet not a soul in sight.... the tide still going out, beaches, banks and steep walls along the sides.... only a few rowers on the water.... no other craft in sight... a widening river now... yet shrinking in watery width as the tide way rushes to the sea."
"I meet Bruce on Chiswick Pier... Chairman or something of the Pier... he beckons me over and I discover that... at a push... I can move up stream against the tide if I need to... I join Bruce next to an RNLI boat.. he adds a prayer to the egg."
"Then on round to Hammersmith and Putney.. full of confidence given by Bruce's celebration and appreciation... he advised me to skate round on the outside of bends.. as that bit goes the fastest... he also explains why I am alone on the river... most people are watching the cricket... three things that unite all nations in celebration... sport, music and food... 2012..."
"Again, I coracle on through greater London.... under massive bridges, past building sites and tower blocks, offices and parks... yet not really in speaking distance, or even sight, of anyone... the river is only graced by rowers... and one or two trip boats."
"I meet a guy just before Putney Pier who says that he has always seen the river as a persons life.... from beginning to end... the markers along the way indicating different ages.. he adds a prayer and offers me somewhere to store the boat for the night.... but there is still more tide to ebb out.. I venture on."
"Round towards many new appartments and Offices.... Fulham Football Club... Rivers trickling out of culverts...Water spurting out of closed marina doors..."
"The tide turns...."
"It becomes increasingly hard to move down stream... I get out and walk.... the destination.... Battersea Peace Pagoda..."
"...some archaeology... bones from long ago beneath the boat... then a walk through the traffic and London lanes."
"Pagoda.... peace... rested... "
...said the Buddhist monk from Battersea Park as he put a prayer for peace in the egg... he lives there and looks after the Pagoda... storytelling and prayer is organised for saturday... I meet the park office... the park police... some gardeners.... all place prayers into the magic ovum."
"The resident buddhist monk asked me if I was going to Gravesend... I replied that I was planning to go to Southend.... then he told me that Pocahontas was buried at Gravesend... and not in America as Disney would have us believe... not the kind of information I expected from a bright eyed Japanese monk... he was most enthusiastic and gleeful."
"...everyone appreciates magic eggs here... deep peace arrived when I found somewhere to leave the boat... away to work in sussex tomorrow building a 'sweat lodge' for a Druidic gathering... back to this ritual on saturday 10th... then to the south bank for 9/11."
"As I passed through Brighton I noticed more water retention... as with Oxford there was another dry fountain here... with some graffiti.. 'Where is the water'?"
Day 23, Saturday 10th September
"This whole day spent in Battersea Park.... The previous night I had facilitated a contemporary ritual of purification using ancient techniques... commonly known as a 'sweat lodge' or 'steam lodge'...
I was working for a Druid Grove... the Anderrida Grove and friends from Sussex... They meet and celebrate the season with camps and gorsedds (that is pronounced 'gorseth' and it means a gathering of bards)... 'sweat lodges' are practiced much in Native American Traditions... and with indigenous nature based spiritual groups...there is evidence from Bronze Age and Iron Age finds in the Thames Valley at Cassington and near Birmingham of heated stones that have been used with water... I have some of the heated quartzite pebbles from the Yarnton dig... some interpretations are of a similar steam bath/sauna/sweating type ritual...
...the sweat in Sussex was emotional, purifying and bonding... then all the way back to the Peace Pagoda.... and who do I meet... none other than 'Walking Horse'."
"'Walking Horse' is mostly known as Watastai... a londoner of native american descent... he wrote down the name of his tribe but I left it in the life jacket....from what sounds like the 'Shyann' tribe of Utah... found it! ...it is of course the Cheyenne Indians... he initially came over to look at the coracle... telling me that he had coracled along the Thames twice... and also on the Amazon! We talked about rivers, London, America, history and nature, spirit and coracles... both his folks are pure blood native North American Indians and he was named after one of his fathers horses that will only walk... narrowly escaping being called lazy horse... he knows some river people close by and may sort out a boat... it would be great to travel with him for a day... Their tribe have a policy of keeping the first born children of pure blood, to keep their heritage and ancestry flowing into the future..."
"This day in the park many Buddhists passed through... some stayed for a chant and song..."
"There were many downpours and thundery showers... nothing windswept enough to ring the pagoda bells yet..."
"'Lets go see the golden man!' said two girls as they walked by... 'is he the golden man?' said one sister pointing to me... then she lifted her gaze to the statue above..."
"Buddha in his lotus petal boat... renounced of all wealth and princely pleasures... a penniless and perfected presence... meditation... more rain... music and some stories."
"I felt like moving on from the park, yet I had no support boat still today... I surrender to the pilgrimage and its rhythms and occurrences.. a balance between action and passive presence... my will as I scull the paddle in one had in equilibrium with my acceptance as I contemplate the egg in the other."
"Skaters... buddhists... children... tourists... photographers... dogs... skaters... coracle enquirers.... many more blessings and prayers with the egg..."
"Maya... a writer from Brixton... entranced by the horse hide boat... she likes how it looks and I urge her to smell it... she is writing a story set in the Iron Age... she returns later with no skates and a flask of tea, well appreciated food and we seek the Lake in the Park... if she is writing about a coracle then she must experience one..."
"We learn so much with our senses... our hands learn... our nose learns... our ears learn... our wise bodies learn much from doing and being with processes and practices... and now, within Maya's hands and nose and eyes and balance and muscles... she knows and has learnt about the coracle.... in the Iron Age nothing was written down... everything was learnt by rote... memory.. memory of all of one's senses... Imagine if we didn't watch TV, or have our sponge brains filled with adverts and trivia... we would absorb so much about nature, work, eachother, ourselves... more conducive to peace perhaps... nature, parks, horticultural therapy."
"Much more beautiful thunder and rain... curative and vital..."
"I set the coracle by the river.... planning my next water bourne bonny boating spree... the tide about to turn.. the sun setting.... many many people come to talk and look... adding prayers to the magic oeuf... avga... uovo... og....egg... ovo... huevo... ovum...bidha...ei... "
"I meet muslims and christians.... this morning I met a priest who considered Jesus as the only way to Peace... hmmm... I accept him and his views... yet somehow it seems counter productive to peace and I am conmcerned... considering one's way as the only way... have not most mystics of all revealed and doctrinal religions seen that spirit/god/allah/buddah is present in all holy and sacred paths? I recieve more blessings and prayers later that I find the way of Jesus.. I know Jesus the Christ and he's a great bloke... he loves me... and you... and that is very wonderful.... Allah loves me too, and Buddah, and the Thames, and Krishna... many blessings abound... I have learnt a lot about many religions on this watery pilgrimage... I accept all the prosletyising and enrolment... opening my heart ever wider to let the blessings roll along... the more I accept the more peaceful I get... moving through habitual reactions to zealotry and being subtley showed a new and improved path... being the only way... I smile wider.... celebrate it all... heart growing.... golden light... river flowing...sensing and knowing.. my idealistic inclusivist peace pervading at least myself."
"...'Christ is living water'... says a smiling woman."
"As Irish monks were reputed to have set off in coracles without paddles... to see where spirit takes them... so too were Welsh Druid initiates supposed to have been cast into Cardigan Bay to see test their faith and see where they ended up... the winking elders appparently knew the young druids would probably come ashore a couple of miles away..."
"Much praise... many well wishers... good luck givers... peaceful moments of hands on egg and heart communicating with head... a simple moment of touch and thought, prayer and wish, contemplation and magical creation works wonders on the sincerity of the soul."
"Hajj.... Pilgrim.... Thames."
"Now.... I have been wandering the South Bank for a few days now... studying the river, currents... the flow through bridges.... the piers and stairways... the eddys and washes... water traffic and weather... the swell and wave patterns.... Tonight, amidst the lightening and the ambient city lights.... the gentle rain and the hum of London town... I wished so much to be simply coracling through the night... silently skulking through the capital... allowing a pilgrim's peacefulness to subtley and invisibly permeate through the clay and pebbles to the popultaion... I have no fear... the river knows me now.... I am very confident... if I stick close to the right... the south bank... a slight turbulance after Westminster bridge there is, but nothing a floating balloon is even jostled off course by.... I know so deeply that the coracle, the egg and myself could seemlessly and swiftly saunter through the tideway... unnoticed and unoffensive to police or official ferour... yet I have opened up a line of communication with Ray from the PLA and it is simply bad practice to wind them up by discarding their concerns and wishes... part of me feels like a coward for not just getting on with it regardless... the adventurers spirit shackled by conscientiousness towards the over cautious authority.... who are, of course, thinking of my safety...I have a knowing that the river is looking after me... yet another part of me wants to act well... with emotionally mature engagement with every interaction along the way..."
"Tommorrow I call Ray and hope to arrange an escort from the Port Police... then hopefully they will realise the competence and maneuverability of the round boat.... designed for wide rivers and estuaries... the part of me that spontaneously senses and intuitively treads on a whole field bare foot without touching a single thistle.. the instinct within me for staying alive... for tree climbing... for avoiding pitfall and feeling good about safety seems strong and confident... if this were very very dangerous I know I would sense it, and I don't.... here I risk tempting providence... and perhaps with a police escort, then the boat will puncture and I'll have to climb aboard.... without an escort everything would be dandy... life is a fantastic and fascinating phenomenon eh!"
"A lot of words...."
"Text and fingertips upon these keys..."
"Much 'Bling' has found its way into the 80 foot of clay beneath the 20 foot of water... at the site of th contemporary Vauxhaul Bridge there was apparently the first bridge across the water... a great bling flinging place.... many offerings made into the waters there... now MI5... a truly inspiring building... fortress like with an organic aesthetic... temple like.... fountains ferment along the front... green and cream... dark windows.... cranes and all... I like it... I think it likes me... shining... an ancient order of appreciation."
Day 24, Sunday 11th September.... 9/11...
"The day is overcast... the tide is well out.. I climb down a ladder to place 'Epona' into the fast water.... then throw in my belongings and slide down to to settle in for the morning.... the PLA Harbour Master crew of the boat 'Westbourne' are coming closer... I scull to them and raise my hat... they escort me to Westminster! Many thanks to Ray and the Port Authorities."
"Past Battersea power station.... round the corner to Vauxhall Bridge... past the MI5 Jedi Temple.... past the Houses of Parliament... a few trip boats but not much wash to worry about."
"I swing into a stairwell below Westminster Bridge... slippery and green... then climb up to greet officer 7160.... I am officially stopped for floating around in a coracle opposite the Palace of Westminster with a 'Peace' flag, and spoken to incase I was planning any demonstration or stunts at parliament from the water... chortle, chortle... forms are filled in... then I see a fleet of kyaks pass... I cuss and wonder why they can travel the tideway free of authoritarian intervention... in unpowered craft... with just a paddle."
"7160 finishes the form and he places his hand on the egg to pray..."
"I get back in the water to find a better stairwell to ascend with the craft... then I am bombed with little cartons of milk by some kids with very bad aims... this reminds me of the apocalyptic dream from last night... I dreamt that I was back on the farm... and a missile came spiraling to the ground at the Royal Military College of Science over the road.... I shelter in the caravan and hear loads of banging... expecting to be swept away by nuclear wind... but strangely just felt very odd sensations and get very hot... anyhow... the milk bombs were easily avoided... but I was driven further down stream to the London Eye!"
"I make it to their Pier... the busiest on the Thames... a flurry of security come to meet me... a massive wash comes along... normally I would just roll over it , but because I was holding on to their ladder, I rise up about four feet... then the boat drops down four feet... quite a ride whilst holding onto the pier!"
"We pass the egg around... I meet officials.... then... they actually let me travel on underneath the Eye! Amazing view and journey through... many people going around the wheel.... I scull round to the Festival Pier where there is an easy route up some steps to an open gate... then a day of carrying the coracle up and down the South Bank, talking to many many people... many pray with the magic egg... enthuse about the coracle... many creeds and cultures, ages and abilities.... an enjoyable day... adventure and relaxation... good spirit and communication, education with teenagers, tourists, security and more police, passers and pausers..."
"Mike Wells came to take some photos... he is a Buddhist and a peace activist photojournalist... we go back to Westmnster to capture the landmarks there..."
"Onwards and eastwards... past the Tate Modern... as an artist I pause there... making pilgrimage an art form... making the pilgrimage social sculpture... as many more come to see the boat and place their hand on the egg and make a wish or a prayer.... further on the egg is deeply blessed by about eight hands all at once... a very present and eye contacting kind of group placing one hand on top of the other... we stay there for many minutes pouring prayer into the magic ovum... blissful and beautiful...as they remove their hands one by one the egg levitates for a second.... it comes to light that they are all working as healers... all young and brightly solid and supple... all with deep eyes and love in their voices... 'we relax people for a living' said one of them... with 'God' in the widest sense of the word... they disappear in a fluid wave of mischievous laughter..."
"After much looking and discovering of Golden Hinds... Klinks and sculptures... the coracle finds a place to rest for the night... I dropped the little camera down a basement tonight... sorry no pictures... maybe Mike and some other folk I met today will send some in...I met George toady who tells me of a peace vigil at Victoria Docks tommorrow at 18:30... there is to be an arms fair there on Tuesday.. I may venture that way..."
"I read a tale of St. Mary Overie.. her miserly drunkard dad was a Thames ferry man in the borough of Southark... a south bank seedy place full of thieves, artists and sex workers... somehow her dissapeared... so they thought of him dead... at his wake he walked in drunk... and the ghost fearing party screamed... he had his brains bashed out with a broken oar... I stand reading this information board with a broken oar in my hand... the T bar cracked.. so the story goes, Mary Overie's suiter tried to inherit the miser's fortune, and also wound up dead... hmm... so Mary turned to religion... and set up a priory... whose chapel nestles undeneath Southark Cathedral...andf I heard a taller tale that an old Roman temple site sits beneath them all..."
Day 25, Monday 12th September
"This morning I collected the craft from Alice's stairwell... then had second breakfast by the amazing london exhibition I had visited with Kirsten last night, just up river from Tower Bridge... a collection of big original prints of the 'earth from the air' series... inspiring... tragic... exquisite.. raw... wise and ethical words beneath them all... a fecund love of the earth in the air... environmental... rightfully human... nature celebrating... social comment and community... a large map of the world is spread out for everyone to walk upon... shoes must be removed....excellently presented and playful... an open air exhibition... in a smoothly calming space of sensitive architecture.."
"A print of an abandoned city 2 miles from Chernobyl is haunting after my nuclear dream the other day.... an arms fair is soon to take place at Victoria Docks this week... defense sales... arms... smithies... blacksmiths and bombers... tanks and terrifying tactical killing machines.... a dangerous toy shop... uncanny that I am passing by with such a precious cargo... I simply carry peace... to all places along the river... striving not to judge... monk, monarch or militia..."
"I rest as so many souls walk past to work.... only a few have time enough to stop and speak... smile and look..."
"I imagine a day here... Monday... quiet after the rush hour... I feel in the wrong place so... I contemplate finding a boat to help this day.... and.... low and behold... a phone call to Andrew of the Forest... a well connected water wise man of the Forest of Dean... generous... benevolent... a man of strength and heart... then... within an hour there is a rib coming to meet me on the beach beneath the Tower Bridge!"
"Paul is the man from Chas Marina... near Putney Pier.... he teaches people how to drive boats... and occasionally gets a bit of film work...his boat goes 35 nots... but today we have been very slow and relaxed.... The water is great... some magnificent wash from the City Cruises boats.... we rock and roll on the fast waves."
"Past Rotherite and Poplar... a woman living on a pier she bought, adorned with plants... wish I'd stopped for a chat.... but the tideway was a rolling on... past trip boats and old power stations... waving riverside dwellers... police boats.... sun shines and I owe this day to Andrew.... many thanks."
"The Docklands and Canary Wharf come into view... "
"The Cutty Sark masts come into view..."
"The Millenium Dome comes into view..."
"The Old Navy College...."
"The stairwells at the college..."
"The pebbles on the beach..."
"The best place to come ashore..."
"Fun tourists... peace givers and egg blessers..."
"Mungo Park's first voyage into the interior of Africa was a deep meeting of cultures and creed... he gave gifts whenever asked, and was eventually enslaved by Moors for a while... this day of multi-culture... living mostly in peace on this Island... a 'City of Peace'... Salaam... black, brown, pink, white, grey.... sacred, profane, faithful, follyful... there are many things which bind us as one... food of the earthly plane.... mucic in the air... the fire and enthusiasm of sport.... ...but none of these bind us together quite as purely and essentially as water... rivers... streams... springs... wells.... again the story from the Rabbi, living in the dry eastern lands... when asked...'We worship on Saturday... they on Sunday... when is it that we all worship together?'... he answered simply... 'When it rains'."
"There were many coracle caressers at the National Maritime Museum... Australian, Afghan, French... many people with prayer in them as they placed their hands upon the holy egg..."
"I meet Joe at the boating Lake.... he sculls and we eat... more folk come to see the boat in the park... inquisitive children... one child says that his dad works with the spirits of the ancestors, healing and shamanism... Italian mothers... delighted dog walkers..."
"Joe leaves.. he wasn't allowed to take his bike on the docklands light railway... he then missed his train... now on an adventure I imagine... Joe is giving power and peace of mind to young mental health patients with his work... advocacy."
"I leave the boat at the museum and make it to the Excel Exhibition Centre at Victoria Dock.... there I meet many police... patrolling the place... in the lookout for peace protesters and terrorists.... the arms fair starts soon... the police I have been talking to in London have been good people... these two today are from out of town... as keepers of the peace they place their hands on the egg.... magic..."
"Tonight I am back at Michelle and Jessie's... they tell me of a film about a Jamaican bob sleigh team called 'Cool Runnings' which is the name their sleigh, meaning 'Peace be the journey'.... and they also kiss a lucky egg..."
"Dream well and with clarity...."
Day 26, Tuesday 13th September
"Hello Mum... she has been on the phone wanting a mention... she is great... psychic but a little fearful... very competent and skillfull yet sometimes negatively wired... I wish her peaceful confidence and positive perspective... Hello generous and bonny mum... she keeps a very clean house and wants you to know that her ragged son was raised in a clinically clean abode... when I visit her I wash my feet... she is a podiatrist... and she does approve of my bare footed habits, as I be utilising the muscles of my feet well...."
"This morning I made it to Greenwich... past some docklands peace promoters... a sadness in me as I move past the area of arms marketing and browsing... The conveyance of the Thames takes me onwards... I meet Paul again and scree downstream... the Docklands landmarks dominate trhe first half of the day... and the dome on the south side... planes flying into city airport... I recall the mornings journey... sandwiched amongst the suited securers of the national systems and monetary movements... a crowd of businessmen with a sprinkling of business women... flooding to work like a clip from Baraka... keeping this fine country ticking over.... but why so many arms... can we find another lucrative line... is it best that this land leads this market?"
"...sadness continues.... this pilgrimage moves on knowing that any attempt to scull into the victoria docks would be fun but futile.... "
"The water quality is very calm... a low pressure... some big wavers from big tugs and boats... rolling, rolling, rolling..."
"A day of passing factories.... Sugar factories.... old sewage pumping stations.... Wind power assisted car factories... derelict shells of old industry... the tide flowing out strongly revealing beaches and mud... barriers.. power stations.... piers and promontaries."
"I scull... my muscles and bones moving habitually well... deep breath... light on water... now clearer and swan blessed.... salty and swift."
"Paul radios on to the Thames Barrier... we get clearance... just before we get there a met police boat arrives... bless them... no I mean it."
"We shoot through the barrier... the police boat back to their work... a tense and twitchy time for security as many military minded money bags make mighty towards more fire power."
"...The river now widening well... with wind and subtle wave... I ask Paul for a tow for a while... and rest my toes..."
"Greenhithe eventually... beneath dartford bridge... so so tired today... a pub.... a place for the coracle... and joined by friends.... Ivan, who had helped to make the coracle many moons ago.... who quickly informs me that we are very close to the swanscombe skull... the earliest human remains found in these lands... Ivan, Slovakian of origin, yet a true Oxonian, is a keen and very knowledgeable prehistory sage of skill and practice... he helps a lot with experimental archaeology projects back at the farm... then Michelle arrives... who has been effortlessly accommodating me whilst I journeyed through london.... then Andrew of the Forest... we take the boat out... and then entertain some local children and teens... They put prayers in the egg... and then add many more when I tell them that the best wishes are those made for others... and that whatever you wish upon somone else... will return to you threefold..."
"Cool runnings... peace be the journey... kiss the magic egg..."
"Afric texted a message this prayer this morning... something from the Christian Tradition....
'Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness light.
Where there is sadness, joy.'...."
Day 27, 14th September
"A new day... a tired body.... a coconut...."
"Liane from the Pier pub in Greenhithe blessed the coconut and threw it into the estuary..... I soon overtook it as 'Epona' picked up speed on the ebb tide..."
"The water was choppy and the tide was strong... it was very hard work keeping away from jettys and rocks, light houses and hazards... then... around the corner to a calmer and easier leg.... and soon... the Tilbury Docks... ...massive boats.... I was unsure of their movements.... so I crept around the south shore close to the sand.... then stopped before a gushing outlet to rest and empty my bladder... a gushing outlet of my own... emptied of last nights organic cider and honey beer.. thanks again to Andrew. Much conversation last night of brewing...sweet acorn growing... I have heard that steeping acorns in urine will turn them into olive like morsels.... inspiring conversations about ducks, goats, pigs and cows used as hedge trimmers, rotivators, pest eaters and prolific egg layers.... and not in that order."
"Alas, I realise that the cocoon in my hat is as dry as an east londoner's sense of humour.. and husky... it seems to be empty... maybe the little moth I saw sleepily sat on top of my hat a couple of days ago was it? It had one and a half antennae, fluttered to the ground in london town... enjoying the moon and street lights now I hope... fare well...."
"...the gushing outlet... may be has something to do with the creation of a new tunnel under the estuary."
"I walk a bit with the coracle on my back... then get a call from Steve aboard 'Benfleet'... a PLA boat... they ask my intention... I say Gravesend and Pochahontas' grave... they kindly offer to keep an eye on me and guide me past dangerous jetties... they say I am more than capable in this small and well maneuverable craft...I fill out with feelings of accomplishment and respect."
Steve Wright... on the good ship 'Benfleet'
"We speculated as to how far I would get on the ebb tide... definitely Gravesend... I contemplated the Japanese monk who told me of the Red Indian Princesses grave... I contemplate cultures meeting for the first time... I contemplate Mungo Park and Africa... I contemplate crossing the channel.... race and geneology comes to mind... memories of Ganesha and flash backs to the early thames reaches... geneticists... multicultural identities... territory... animal instinct... mating and procreating... ownership and urination... scenting territory... unconsciousness.. when cultures meet for the first time... I contemplate tolerance... family communities... the egg... the ovum and the sperm... the fundamental creative forces... love... alchemy... Britian... borders... immigration... emigration... sport... fertility... fecundity... peace amongst all of this... intelligent and heartfelt peace... a world view... increased communication and global citizenship... religious supremecy... feuled by racial instincts... oil refineries I see ahead of me as I am escorted now by the RNLI... I decided to head out as far as I can on the ebb... and I officially reach the sea!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Matt and the lifeboat crew look at me as if I would leap and shout and perform some arcane magical act... I simply wash my face with the salty water... knowing that the tide is soon to turn and I will be back at Gravesend later... but it was amazing to ebb out to where the sea officially begins... although, inside.. and outside.. I know that the sea... what I sense as the wide wide north sea has a different quality yet, different still to this wide estuary and narrow sea scape... I see the way ahead... intent of Southend on Sea.. then networking to find a lift to the Amphidromic point off Great Yarmouth... I wonder..."
"I get a lift back to Gravesend with the RNLI... many thanks... then I meet the Harbour Masters... then discover that this town is brilliantly multicultural and multifaith... perhaps because of Pocahontas' grave... a history of ethnic respect and celebration... I find her statue... at St.Georges chapel... the gleeful Japanese buddhist monk in my thoughts... a sense of cultures truly meeting... blending... co-habiting... respecting boundaries and ancestry... tradition and trade... crafts and creeds... ancestral karma and inheritance... healing... healing.... healing... creating bonds where our ancestors had created rifts and bloodwaryness... creating more conscious and celebrated connections... may the harmony of our lands be complete."
"Back to the end of the plague graves on Sunday... to try and reach Southend.. away to this weekend... Iron age bread ovens... storytelling and music making.... back to this increasingly part time pilgrimage to finish on the 21st... equinonx.... balance... autumnal... pace one day... world peace day."
"Mungo Park.... Pocahontas..."
"Eggs... feminism... respect... "
"Serpents... souls.... serendipity..."
"Creation... destruction.... "
"Liberty... friendship... love."
"Spring... brook... stream... river... estuary... sea."
"As it was,
As it is
As it shall be
O thou Triune
With the ebb
With the flow
O thou Triune
With the ebb
With the flow."
Day 28, Monday 19th September
"The Port of London Authority HQ... a good place, with good people... a welcome and well wishers ... I am lowered into the water with the tide in full flow.... A bright day... I scull out towards the middle of the tide..."
"The weekend gone I was whisked far away west for Abergavenny Food Festival....Storytelling and music making for Miche Fbre Lewin and a Deep Soup Ceremony.... ritual food in celebration of the earth... a place of power... of heartfolding history between English and Welsh.... of healing.. of unadulterated celebration of food.... the Kipperman tells me of Peter Faulkner... a cow hide coracle maker..."
"From east to west to east.... traversing a deep soup and a deep peace... long may Wales and England live in mutual celebration and Peace..."
"Around the corner towards the oil refineries... an RNLI boat speeds towards me... the slows to make contact...'can I rub your egg?' says the man in the helmet... 'certainly sir!' I reply... "
"I have much time to reflect this day.. stepping out of the race of society... then getting an overview... the archetypal artist... seer... pilgrim... seing it all clearly... from a water landscape... seeing the built up ways of women and men... wars and oil... refinery... finery... fishermen and monks.... global powers and cultures in conflict... ...then I begin to sink into my senses... being deeply with the magic.. the estuary... the tide pulling me towards the sea... the ageless cargo... the egg... the spell... the guidance... the unavoidable destiny.. crooked fate... a service... a service of silver and saline solitude... seeing... soothing... soul.. spirit... "
".... Southend-on Sea.... ?"
"...The crew of Benfleet arrive as I dawdle in the slow flowing mudflat water... an hour til sunset... so to save me sculling into the pier after dark, they hoist me aboard and I make the last mile and a quarter myself... which was mostly walking barefoot on mud and sharp shells..."
"I make the shore.. treated to beer by the manager of a pub... who agrees to house 'epona' for the night... to tickle the nose of his 'treehuggish' business partner..."
"That night I spent drinking in the Royal Navy Association club with a Charlie, a salty old sea dog, for company... who repeatedly told me how lucky I was with the tide and wind this day... yet still no sea shanty to be heard."
Day 29, Tuesday 20th September
"A whole day of wandering through Southend-on-Sea.... with coracle upon my back... tellling the tale of the egg and the journey to many... college goers... retired enthusers... young ruffians... families... pier and foreshore folk... buskers... shop assistants... tourists and traders... many more hands hold the orb... enplanting more wishes and wonder... hope and luck... benevolence and spirit."
"The Pier and Foreshore seek me out and inform me of their patrol boat... that will escort me out to sea tommorrow!"
"I meet 'Salavager'.... who shines with his local girlfriend and salvages... rawhide skills are passed on verbally."
"I meet some Mungo Park praising Nigerians from 'planet earth' they tell me... and then the Pier people allow me to store the coracle"
"There have been many who have come to talk today... some telling of conspiracy theories... an intelligent type of hippy dwells in this town... some clued up by Michael Moore... dare I say David Icke... apparently dubious moon landings... and holographic American Presidents... forced to dwell in suburban scapes... kept shackled... sensations drenched with media... colour.. sound .. sex... spices... soap operas... a deep thinking and 'pushing their souls through the system' type of hero lives here... an ancient place... now very few fishermen... very few monks.... all fed by fisher people from far away... following many paths and enjoying the richness of community... so... I notice an old soul here... in the new eyes of the teenagers and the strong eyes of the hedonist hangers on."
"I am finally treated to three spontanoeus, improvised, short but soulful sea shanties by three religiously stoned holy men as the night darkens... "
"This day... I saw deeper into the heart of this place... a rough and scarred exterior... yet almost everywhere, the pilgrim I have been experiences respect and awe.. from the most unexpected of characters and cynical of enquirers... this infectious voyage... the vibrant and ease-emanating egg... charming many... frightening some... the moon rises."
Day 30, Wednesday 21st September... Peace One Day... World Peace Day
"This morning I enjoyed the park... its water and sunkenness... still wondering about the coat of arms here... a fisherman and a monk...'per mare... per ecclesiam'.... No-one I have asked yet has been able to relate the old tale or anecdotal bit of folklore on the subject... not even the barmaid in 'The Monk and the Fisherman'..."
"The day starts misty..it lifts and I begin another wandering morning as a fishermonk... a wandering pilgrim... bearing my boat... smiling and peace promoting.. I think I have found my calling... storytelling, musicmaking, travelling, ancient technologising, pilgrim... I remember a man who used to lay out a blanket down our road when I was a child... we would all run over in an 'ice cream van's here' style to sit and listen to tales... of houses built on rock and sand... morals and sweets."
"The day graced by daniel... a true brother in arte.... and official photographer for the day"
....'The Lady of Southend'... who travels about the place... 'making sure everything is alright...'
"Onto the Pier.... folklore unfolds and tales of the Monastery... the Prittlewell... the fishing village..."
"Onto the boat... a sea shanty!"
"....the horse hide and willow and salt and sheep skin and ... the magic egg..."
"a peaceful tune..."
"...soon to place the egg into the salt sea... the nauseous feeling I have had all day... somehow settled by the boat journey...."
"".... down into 'Epona' and onto the wide blue... most calm sea.. immaculately calm waters... I am speechless now... wordless...after words of power... a spell is cast... The egg settled on the water... soothing... she floated... then she majestically disappeared downwrads... after the stone... carrying peace.. the voyage is completed... the egg now in the hands and hearts of the sea... moving prayers and wishes to all shores... benevolent hopeful thoughts of a most ancient wish ... Peace."
"... and so it was that the pilgrimage for peace calmly closed and folded into the past... and remember... the rocks and stones, gold and silver, and all the riches and treasures of the earth will one day crumble to dust... but spirit... spirit sought and sowed and shared... spirit and songs and stories... shall last forever...."
"Peace be with you all..."
photo Ian Loats
Many thanks to who kindly gave £300 pounds to help with expenses for the pilgrimage
Many thanks to 'The Order Of Bards Ovates and Druids'
who have added £200 to this journey, and much inspiration over many years.
Many thanks to Paul Gotch who donated £50 to the cause.
Many many thanks to all those who met the egg with grace and peace, reflection, tears and smiles, prayer, power and simplicity.
This pilgrimage, social sculpture, spirited spell, fluid experience and owes so much to many who have supported it... seen and unseen, sung and unsung... snug and unsnug... you know who you are and it has been my complete privilege to be aided and abetted by you all.
....read on for some emailed comments from good folk encountered along the river side....
"It was a wonderful, serene experience to watch you paddle down the river" Michael Davis, Marlow
"Let's hope you can bring some peace to this world." Phil Muir, Teddington
"It was certainly a magic moment for me... just seeing you floating by, catching the vibe of peace 'n' love! You really did make a difference to my day (& many others'). The light sparkling around you & the rainbow of colours fluttering above your head." Gill, Kingston
"We weren’t sure if you were a Cuban refugee a long way from home or a mini French invasion (was that a French flag you were flying?)." Dan & Bonny, Vauxhall.
" It’s great to know that there are other people out there who support peace one day on the 21st of September and have other areas of interest." a fairy, Southend
"It is truly amazing!! (I need to go back and read it all now). I felt a really nice vibe when I met you. What a lovely chap you are. I’m sure your dear Mum is VERY proud of you!" Melody, of Crimson Crumblies.
"just to congratulate you on a successful mission, closely followed & with great interest since Buscot lock. We wish you well,good luck for the future & PEACE for all" Roger & Joyce, Buscot
"It proves that we can each make our way down our chosen path if we have the support, friendship and nurture of our fellow human beings...you certainly met some wonderful people...welcoming.. interested.. encouraging. Now the egg and the massive number of thoughts and prayers live on in the sea and the mysterious, transcendent spirit running through the universe to which we are all trying to reach and know a little more of." Jonathan, Oxford, (the priest from St Mary and St John, Cowley Road.)