I cross the River Trent over the suspension bridge that is now only open for pedestrians and cyclists and understand why when a couple of joggers run past and the whole structure trembles. Experiencing things on foot is a very good way of feeling the impact humans have on their environment; walking doesn’t make a suspension bridge shake, jogging does; I can only imagine what effect vehicles would have.
I get to the other side and love Victoria Embankment with its wide promenade unchanged since 1920s. I enjoy a large sign that explains exactly why it isn’t OK to feed the ducks; how bread is not their natural food and could be harmful to them, amongst a whole range of other reasons; it is in complete contrast to the signage I saw in Bradgate Park. It is Sunday morning so there is no traffic to speak of on the wide tree lined avenue. I pass the war memorial and take stock of the long lists of dead from the two world wars. I find Nottingham really pleasant until I get closer to the centre and see the shopping centres, the big nightclub buildings, and a whole host of soulless buildings that make my stomach clench in dread. I am endlessly marvelling at how we could have built such monstrosities; and I suppose in that huge war memorial we have our answer; in order to continue living after the horrors of that time people became so disconnected from their feelings that they lost the ability to be sense what was good for us, for our environment, what made our hearts sing.
I meet Iain Dimmock at the Old Trip to Jerusalem. This is the oldest pub in England, dating back to 1189 and originally the brewer’s house, and nestling into the immense sandstone rock that forms the centre of Nottingham. I am thrilled by this rock and its many caves and doorways into caves and wish I had time to explore Nottingham properly. I have discovered that “trip” was a word in the time of the Crusades to mean “resting place on a long journey” and am delighted by it. Iain tells me this is a great story telling venue; maybe I’ll come back one day.
Iain and I follow along the canal until it reaches the River Trent which will take us all the way into Long Eaton on the Nottinghamshire – Derbyshire border. It is a lovely easy 4 hour walk through the Attenborough Nature Reserve; an area that was vastly desecrated by gravel pits until very recently when they were flooded to create wetlands that are now home to many water fowl. It looks now as if it has always been this way. It is incredible to walk out of city centre Nottingham and within minutes be in this Pantanal (Brazilian wetlands) type environment and then arrive in urban Long Eaton a few short hours later!
It is a relief to leave the city because I have coughed my way through it since arriving at the centre; Iain says it will be because of the incinerator. Nottingham not only burns its own rubbish but imports rubbish from as far afield as China. I recall Karina telling me about the high incidence of asthma in Nottinghamshire and now understand why. What kind of short sighted disconnected thinking allows city planning to encourage an industry that causes its inhabitants to be sick? Breathing the air here feels like inhaling invisible particles of irritants.
I ask Iain for tales of TT Nottingham. This is somewhat painful for him as the Nottingham steering group do not appear to be having an easy time. I had gathered as much from Karina, and Transition West Bridgford keeping to its own counsel and not sending a representative to the hub anymore and I knew from transition trainer Mike Payne that things were not going so smoothly. Iain and Mike, as well as having done the trainer training for transition with Sophy Bank and Naresh Giangrande (http://www.transitionnetwork.org/about/training) would be in the heart and soul group of Nottingham, as well as many other things, were the steering group able to accept that inner transition is a part of transition. Unfortunately this does not appear to be the case. I can only hope that there are some of the group going along to the Transition Conference next month (http://www.transitionnetwork.org/conference-2010-uk-sessions) where there will be several sessions on the fundamental necessity of heart and soul to the transition process.
The high point of 2010 for Iain so far has been a collaborative event with land roots, Transition, and others held earlier this year where all sorts of fun community activities were brought together. You can see a description here http://www.landroots.org.uk/index.php?option=com_events&task=view_detail&agid=8&year=2010&month=2&day=27&Itemid=3&catids=2|3|31.
Other successful Nottingham transition type projects are the really, really free clothes stall held 3 or 4 times a week in the Arts Centre, and the forest garden in the allotments on Iain’s street.
Iain and I part company as the road meets the canal in Long Eaton. It has been lovely to have company for a whole day’s walk, an experience I haven’t had for several days. I give him the piece of hand crafted felt that was part of the story teller’s coat making project in Transition Cambridge and has been given to me to present to another Transition initiative to be the inspiration to a new patchwork project.
I rejoin the canal all the way to within 5 minutes of my friend Anne Lockwood’s street; thrilled by how these waterways are helping me on my journey so well. As I walk along Derby Road I pass an incredible sight; the first ever factory with soul…it is a beautiful red brick building with curving arches and a tall chimney – a cathedral of factories; it is clean, gleaming in its redness against the sun, proud to be standing and has no feel of the grimy disused miserable affairs I have seen all my life. It is possible then, to create a thing of beauty even if its function is not so obviously beautiful.
I make it to Anne’s house and have my very first catch up evening in over two months that is not specifically related to transition though as Anne’s background is psychotherapy we do inevitably discuss the inner transition process that all of us must go through, though there are those that have not yet realised that the outer is intrinsically linked to the inner, and that we cannot make the transition without paying attention to both.