Friday, December 30, 2011

Past, Present and Future

As tomorrow is New Years' Eve, and this is traditionally the time of year when people reflect on the events of the fading year, I thought it might be apropos to make a little timeline, a potted history if you will, of Transition Town Tenterden. So here goes:

12th May 2011: T3 is founded as a concept by myself, Jeff Hickmott. Facebook page, blog, and profile on created. I invited various Facebook friends to join and spread the word on Tenterden Town forum. Logo designed from a photograph I took of the High Street featuring the familiar spires of St. Mildred's Church.

By the time of the third blog post on 17th May we were already up to nine members - a promising start.

19th May: Dan Bloom interviewed me for the Kentish Express.

8th June: First meeting, with eleven people in attendance. Date set for CleanUp Tenterden Day - Sept. 24th.

26 June 2011: Several of our number volunteered to help out at Highbury Hall with a major weed-clearing day. This event spawned the idea of turning the hall's overgrown and under-used plant beds into a 'Community Garden'.

June 29: 2nd Meeting

July 1st and 2nd: Myself, Emma Isworth, and Andrew Bennett wore our T3 T-shirts and mingled with the crowds and handed out info cards and flyers to the crowds at Tentertainment. Made a few new contacts and also had our banner up on the railings!

July 6th: First of our weekly after-work meetings at the White Lion, originally named Bike to Work Wednesday, now running under the monicker Hike & Bike Wednesday. I think we've only missed one Wednesday since then (this week!).

 July 12th: We got our own page on the Tenterden Town Website.

We submitted a proposal to Highbury Hall's committee for our Community garden project around this time and it was accepted on July 15th.

July 27th: Third meeting, this time at Number 75 restaurant, during which restaurant co-owner Lizzie Power unveiled the restaurant's "Crop Swap" scheme which we tried hard to help publicise. We also announced that our T3Tea fair would take place on October 1st.

In August we submitted an application to NatWest CommunityForce to be eligible for an award of £6k. We didn't win it, but it did spur us into creating a bank account for the group so that any donations, awards or grants had a separate place to go.

August 11th: Justin, Carolyn and myself made a presentation to the Rotary Club of Tenterden.

August 23rd: It was suggested to me that I start a Freegle group for Tenterden and I duly filled out the online application and waited to hear back. Last month (November) the group became a reality!

September 11th: We had a tent at St. Michaels Fun Day! Great fun and lots of people interested.

September 24th: Tenterden Cleanup Day was a big success, with over 40 participants and 32 bags of rubbish cleared, about half of which was recycled.

October 1st was T3Tea day, a great event which we are going to repeat in a slightly expanded form in March.

On October 20th our meeting featured a talk from my Uncle Steve Hickmott who lives in Loch, Victoria, in Oz. Loch is a Transition Town and Steve gave us a PowerPoint presentation showing us their efforts.

Nov 20th: Weeding and Winterizing the Highbury Hall Community Garden. Installed some bug hotels, pulled out the weeds and covered the flower beds with wood chips to block the weeds.

December saw Lights Out Tenterden on the night of the 9th, and our walking quiz Treasures of Tenterden on Boxing Day.  Waitrose Tenterden also put us in as a group for their 'Community Causes' box. Tomorrow's the last day folks, so pop in and add a green coin while you have the chance!!

So there you have it. I think all things considered it is amazing what you can do in seven months. And what of our plans for 2012? These include, but are not limited to:

  • A Zero Carbon Concert
  • A Spring Fair
  • A project involving Tenterden's senior citizens
  • Installing bug hotels and wildlife stacks in various locations: churchyards, schools, etc.
  • Acquiring a bike generator, and using it to power P.A. equipment and a smoothie maker etc.
  • Film screenings
  • Book swaps, plant swaps and tool swaps (I also like the idea of a tool lending library)
Anyway folks, here's to a great New Year, full of hope and endless possibility. Peace, love, harmony and recycling.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No Hike & Bike Wednesday tonight

Hi folks, just a quick note to let everybody know that there will be NO Hike & Bike Wednesday tonight, Wednesday December 28th. Back to normal next week. Happy New Year to all!


No Hike & Bike Tonight

Just a quick note to let everyone know that there will be NO Hike & Bike Wednesday tonight, Wednesday 28th December. Back to normal next week!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Treasures of Tenterden - Winners!

Well, folks, after receiving all the entry forms from yesterday's treasure hunt/quiz, we have our winners!

There were over 40 entries, nine of which were completely correct, including the tie-breaker question. So we employed a random person, Mr Nick Percival (and a more random person you would be hard pushed to
find), to pick two of the correct entries from a hat. And the winners are... (drum roll please)...

First Prize (a night in a four poster suite at The White Lion):

C. Farrant and R. Culver, Wittersham!

Second Prize (meal for two at The Vine):

Alan and Lindy Bates, Tenterden!

Congrats all!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Treasures of Tenterden

Today was the day of our walking quiz around Tenterden, Treasures of Tenterden. We set up our position at a reserved table just inside the front door of The Vine Inn at around 11am just as the annual Boxing Day hunt was getting into gear. A large throng had gathered outside to watch the hunt leave. Now, we at T3 are not into hunts per se, but large crowds mean potential customers! And this is what we wanted, and we weren't disappointed.

Carolyn starts to sell quiz sheets.

Carolyn and Christine (far right in edge of shot) surrounded by punters.

Folks paid the princely sum of one (1) pound for a quiz sheet made up of 30 questions. The quiz took them around the town and questions tested either local knowledge or observational skill.

As folks set off we let them know that 5pm was the cutoff time for entries. We also told them that the answers would be published here on the blog. I will do that in just a sec, but first I want to thank a few people.
First and foremost, a big thank you to Steve, Fraser and the rest of the staff of The Vine Inn, for agreeing to host us, for taking part, and for donating a great prize of a meal for two!
Paul and the staff of The White Lion Hotel for donating the prize of a night in the four-poster suite at The White Lion, and for taking part in the quiz also.
Debbie Fleet and the William Caxton staff for helping out, and putting up not one but four of our posters in the pub.
Carolyn, Laura, Justin, Christine and Christopher for their help with bringing the quiz to fruition, various errands and printing jobs, and spreading the word.

Carolyn, Justin and Christine in deep discussion.

Debbie Allen of The Village Directory for putting a piece in the December issue.
Emma Isworth for plugging us in the Kentish Express.
All of our advertisers and folks who put posters up for us.
And of course, the willing participants who took part! We all had great fun!

Laura looks over the questions.

Now... to the quiz itself! Here are the questions and answers, folks!

T3's Treasures of Tenterden

Start your walk at The Vine. Remember to have a drink before you start! The walk can be done in two hours or less, depending on your pace and length of rest stops(!)

Turn left out of the front door, and take the first left turn into Coombe Lane, cut through the coach park and into the old cemetery.
Q1.Who was Charles Finter's wife? A) Eliza
Exit the cemetery and back into Coombe Lane. Walk down to the KESR Station.
Q2.What time do they collect the mail from the George V 'lamp' letterbox on Saturday? A) 9 a.m.
Go back up to Church Path, and walk up towards Church Rd.
Q3.The Day Centre is on the right, but what was its previous purpose ? A) The National School.
When you get to the top of Church path, walk into the small car park on your left.
Q4. Which church can you see? A) St. Michael & All Angels
Turn around and walk along Church Road. On your left is St Mildred's Church. Go into the
Churchyard and enter the Church. Find the ship, and read the board about it.
Q5. What is the name of the ship? A) "The Grand Mistress" 
Go back to Church Road and walk back to the High Street.
Q6.Look right to see this lamp.

Which shop does it belong to? A) Payden's Chemists
Look at the hairdresser's (William Charles) on the corner of Church Road.
Q7.What was its former purpose? A) Toll House / Police Station (both are correct, but the present building was built as a Police Station on the site of the Tollhouse).
Walk along Church Passage, past the Woolpack, stop at the Town Hall.
Q8.Whose notice board is on the wall between the Town Hall and Fat Face? A) Tenterden Museum
Continue walking eastwards.
Q9.Where is this cat?
A) On the roof of Little Dane Court.
Keep walking until you get to the Unitarian Church, the Old Meeting House.
Q10. In which year did Benjamin Franklin come to worship here?  A) 1774
Q11. Carry on walking to the Catholic Church of which Saint? A)St. Andrew
Cross over the top of Turners Avenue.
Q12. Who is the pastor of the Trinity Baptist church? A) This was a trick question - there is currently no pastor. However, some people knew the name of the previous pastor, Rev. Mumtaz Ali, so we let them have that one.
Go back to the Catholic church and cross the road at the lights.
Go into Rothley Close and through the footpath to Danemore, passing the St John's Ambulance Hall. At the bottom of Danemore, find the postbox in the wall to your left.
Q13. What time is the Saturday collection? A) 10 a.m.
 Turn right and start to walk towards Oaks Road. At the junction is Plough Cottage, which used to be an alehouse called The Plough Inn. Walk along Oaks Road, pass the gates of Hales Place, past Wellington Place until you get to a row of white houses called Oaks Place.
Q14. What year was it built? A) 1836
You should now be at the Fairings. You can still see the original facade.
Q15.What was The Fairings originally? A) A cinema, built in 1912, named 'The Electric Palace'.
The garden here is called East Cross Gardens.
Q16. Where will you see the number 1948? A) On a memorial plaque commemorating the opening and dedication of East Cross Gardens.
Look at the Old Town Pump by the junction, then turn back and cross over Oaks Road towards the Recreation Ground. Walk down the lane at the left hand side,which is Sandy Lane, until you get to the kissing gate on your right. Go through this gate and walk across the grass towards the leisure centre. Walk through the path to the back of the Centre, where you will see the recycling bins.
Carry on round the back of the Leisure Centre to see the Wildflower meadow, then walk across to the edge of the car park where you can see the Infants school's garden.
Walk up Recreation Ground Road to the gates of the Junior School, then turn left into Judges Lane. As you walk along here you will see the Allotment area on the left.
Turn left at the end of the lane and walk down to the Scout hut. To its right is a small garage.
Q17 Whose garage is it? A) Weasel's Garage (no idea who Weasel might be, but there you go.)
The path continues to Six Fields path, which goes out to Smallhythe Road, but turn around at the Scout hut, and walk back up Bells Lane, taking in the views of St Mildred's church.
Bear left along Jacksons Lane, and find the soup kitchen.
Q18.When was that built? A) 1875
As you come out onto the High Street you should be able to tell us... far it is to Rye? A) 10 miles, on the old milestone.
Enter the Millennium Garden.
Q20.Which kind of birds have a house in the Millennium Garden? A) Doves. However the Millennium Garden, which should have been open, was closed, so that was another freebie.
By now you are probably quite tired, so have a rest (and a quick one!) at the White Lion.
Q21.Which group meets here on the 2nd Tuesday of the month? A) The Royal British Legion.
When you come out, carry on along the High Street until you get to the Zion Baptist Church. This was built in 1835, and rebuilt in 1887, but...
Q22...when was the Sunday School built? A) 1861
 Return to the High Street.
Turn left into Highbury Lane,and you will see the Highbury Hall. Have a look at the Community Garden we have started there. Volunteers are always welcome for this project !
Walk through the Council car park, bearing right, and going out into Malthouse Lane.
This takes you back to the High Street.
Q23.Which lady can you find on the War Memorial? A) Miss D. J. Collins.
Carry on walking westwards.
Q24.What number is Eden Villa? A) 153
When you get to the William Caxton, stop and have a drink.
Q25.What did this pub used to be called?(Hint - Ask at the bar) A) The Black Horse.
From outside the pub you can see the recently restored Heronden Gatehouse.
Q26.What does it say on the central cartouche? A) AD MMX
Return eastwards to the Methodist Church.
Q27. Who is the minister here? A) Rev. Peter Hills
Cross over at the crossing. Walk back along the High Street, past Quill House, which used to be The Gardeners Arms pub, and carry on past Manor Row until you see this clock.

Q28.Which shop is it on? A) White's the Jewellers
Turn left at Rush Witt and Wilson, then go into the Car Park to see the museum.
Q29.What year was Charles Steel born? A) 1916 (on a bench dedicated to his memory).
Walk through the Car Park to Station Road.
Q30.What other Station used to be at the top of this road? A) Tenterden Fire Station

Return to the Vine and ask at the bar to find out, then hand in your completed sheets. Good luck!!

There was a tie-breaker question -  Which town was the first Transition Town? The answer of course is Totnes, Devon.

So there we are folks - those are the answers, and tomorrow after all the sheets have been marked, we shall contact the winners and announce their names here on the blog! Watch this space.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lights Out: A Result Of Sorts

Folks, we knew it wasn't gonna be easy to convince folks to turn off their lights at Christmastime. This is, after all, the time of year when lights are on all over the place, and more than is usual. However, I went into town on Friday evening around 6:15 pm, and took pictures of those who were turned off. Some of them had told us they would participate, and some have their lights off at that time anyway. Still, I was quite pleased with what I saw.  I was in a hurry to be somewhere so I couldn't go down any further than The Vine Inn, so I am not sure what the western end of the High Street looked like, but here's the eastern end...


Boots and Norman Holmes.

Holland & Barrett and Clinton Cards with their lights on, WHSmith in the middle in complete darkness.

Ashton Burkinshaw and the Oxfam shop with lights off. Arazzo on far left with window lights on.

Sketchley Cleaners, with Tenterden's Christmas lights reflected in the window.

The Lemon Tree

Avards Village Bakery

Mostyn Mackenzie

Ward & Partners


Vision Express

Even the Christmas star on the church tower was switched off.
Overall, I think, not a bad result. As I came home after midnight there were just a handful of shops with lights on, which means that most shops have their lighting on a timer. Whether these shops use low-energy bulbs, however, is a different matter. Of those that bothered to respond to our questionnaire, 36% did not even know what kind of bulbs they were using. We need to keep plugging away with this and try a couple of different approaches in the New Year, and educate the local population in order to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet. Watch this space.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Honouring Our Elders

One of the things that's been on my mind recently is the idea of "Honouring Our Elders", which is prescribed as one of the 10 things that is imperative for a Transition town to do.  Honouring Our Elders is a process of learning from those who were born before the era of cheap and plentiful oil, listening to their personal stories and anecdotes of what life was like for the average Joe. There are lots of lessons to learn from this, as I am sure one can imagine. This process is of course something that non-Western cultures do anyway, developing an oral history of their people by listening to the stories of their elders and bowing to their greater knowledge and wisdom. Here in the West we do exactly the opposite: ignore old people and regard them as dotty old bats and silly old chuffers, shut them away in nursing homes and disregard anything they have to say. We Westernised people are so full of our own importance and so convinced that we know what's best when we really don't have a clue about what life was like sixty, seventy, eighty years ago.

I recently re-read my maternal Grandad's war memoirs and found it utterly fascinating. More recently still, I read a sheaf of handwritten memories from my paternal Grandad regarding his experiences from working on farms for his entire life. This spurred in me a desire to set in motion a T3 Honour The Elders project, recording, writing or perhaps filming oral histories with local folks. We young'uns grew up in an era where, barring the '70s oil crisis, the availability of petrol has rarely been an issue. What did our elderly citizens do back in the day? What was their daily life like, with no TV, computer, or Xbox? How easy was it to cope with outdoor privies, ration books, and no hot running water? Lessons can be learned regarding making a pound stretch further, wasting less and using every scrap.

We clearly want to avoid any sense that we are advocating is ‘going back’ or ‘returning’ to some dim distant past, however there is much to be learnt from how things were done, what the invisible connections between the different elements of society were and how daily life was supported. Finding out all of this can be deeply illuminating, and can lead to our feeling much more connected to this place we are developing our Transition Town projects.

Watch this space.