Luke Turner samples some of the delights on offer at Estuary Festival ’16:
From the cocoon of transport the landscape of the Thames Estuary appears in two dimensions. I recently flew down the twin narrowing shorelines on a flight from Germany. As it descended into Gatwick, mudflats and industrial sites sank into the late summer sun below. Southend Pier was a pin stuck out into the grey brown blue water, in which the wakes of ships had made small white tears. Driving along the A13 towards the Estuary Festival a couple of weeks later, everything still existed in two planes, the flatness of the earth punctuated by power station chimneys and pylons, floodgates, piledrivers, the giant cranes of the docks at Tilbury and new super port a little further east. What at first looked like a gently rising hill turned out to be a landfill site, crawled by trucks.
Yet this is not the way to look at the Thames Estuary, for it’s in the macro that it reveals itself as one of the most compelling landscapes in the south of England. It’s not a picturesque place, but it is easily fetishised, for the dereliction, the alien flight of giant ships, the incongruity of horses grazing on a narrow patch of grass by a road along which container trucks thunder from Tilbury docks, all night and every 30 seconds or so. The blackberries there were full and juicy, on bushes flying banners of plastic. I started shoving them into my gob before noticing the slightly sour tint of hydrocarbons. (more…)
When we chanced upon the lineup for this year’s Estuary Festival, we were impressed to say the least. In lieu of our own attendance – due to a preexisting engagement with The Good Life Experience – we sent some trusted CBTR delegates down to the Thames Estuary and eagerly awaited their feedback. Today’s writeup comes from Ben McCormick; expect further reportage from Luke Turner some time in the near future.
Brackish water carrying the silt of several centuries billows around the boat as we stand around gazing into its murky depths and contemplate our own deaths by drowning. We are barely afloat aboard the Avante, a tiny vessel of questionable seaworthiness, tethered to dry land by a flimsy yellow rope tied to an ancient, dilapidated iron structure that juts out into the river. As the current manoeuvres the little boat according to its whim, we stand almost motionless at the stern, headphones cancelling out most of the sound and instead playing us an extremely precise and well-researched description of what would happen to our bodies if we were to drown. It’s eerily fascinating and horrifying in equal measure. The softly spoken voice enthusiastically reads out the stages of watery decay in what sounds for all the world like a cross between a children’s television announcer and a Bond villain going into typically bloodthirsty detail about the spy’s forthcoming demise (from which he’ll obviously escape). (more…)
The return of The Memory Band.
London show, 25 November, now on sale.
Words & illustrations by Nick Hayes
Part of our continuing tribute to Roger Deakin
I never knew Roger. Instead I came to the farm as many do, as a pilgrim. I’d read The Wild Places and followed the lineage, as a fledgling folkhead might trace Bob Dylan to Woody Guthrie, Robert Plant to Robert Johnston, from Macfarlane to Deakin; there’s no shortage of Robs in my starry sky. A mutual friend was the link between myself and the current owners, and I drove with him to the farm, to gorge my eyes on this new chapel of mine. The house appeared first as a white circle through the tunnel of trees, and bucking on the potholes, I felt that rare sensation that comes with penetrating a myth. Roger’s words had outlined the place, and now their subject, actualised, began to colour it in. (more…)
Here are the results of our latest newsletter competition:
We had two copies of Modern Studies’ Swell to Great, newly released by Toad Records, to give away.
We asked: The viaduct which features in the Modern Studies video was built by which engineer?
And the answer is: Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The winners are (more…)