Playing in the street

The following was written by Mudchute Playworker, Penny Wilson.

Before lockdown started I heard from some friends who work on a wonderful Adventure Playground in Wales, The Land in Plas Madoc correctly anticipated what was to come. They have worked closely with their community for many years, so they know almost everyone in their area. They started to turn their collection of pallets into growing beds for the children and benches for elders to put outside their front doors so they could keep at a distance and still watch the world go by in safety.The growing beds were delivered to the homes of the children complete with bags of compost and seeds. The benches were also delivered to the doors of the elders or those people at particularly high risk and set in place.

When the lockdown arrived, this act of foresight was in my mind. It was not possible for me to make benches, but we made a family decision to institute Elevensies on our door step. We took out cushions and settled in the growing patch of sun, which, between eleven and twelve o’clock shone on both sides of our street. Our new routine of unstructured time made this not only possible, but desirable. It quickly became part of our new life rhythm.

The-story-of-our-street-1We took our cups of coffee and tea and our knitting or whittling or whatever small pieces of work we were doing at the time, and sat chatting in the sun, waving and saying hello to everyone who went past on the street.

I had done the same when I started working in a brand new Community Centre nearby. Day by day the neighbours would welcome the smile and the greeting and we got to know each other and soon we had a crowd of regular attendees for our wonderful new space.

For me this was inspired by the daily life of a village I know well in France. People may or may not get along and agree with each other, but they share a small space and need to cooperate to get along in fine weather and tough times. They share a sense of being together in the same place and the same time on the same planet.

Why shouldn’t our corner of London be the same? It always used to be that way.

So sitting on our doorstep started a little knot of a meeting place. Neighbours also brought their elevensies, and built it into their own new rhythms.

We had surprised ourselves by all rolling out on that first Thursday evening, and those that followed it, to clap and cheer and whoop in support of our NHS and carers. The birds roosting nearby rose in a huge cloud.startled by our noise. And our fearful spirits lifted a little as we discovered that we shared more than we had realised in all the years we had lived side by side.

We used the newly formed street WhatsApp group to make bulk orders of bread, swap needs and solutions, keep an eye out for each other as necessary and make each other smile.
Pretty soon our knot of chattering, all done at a newly acquired habit of social distance, came up with the idea of a Sunday morning music time. A speaker was brought out onto a step, we had chosen a song, the sun shone, the doors opened. We waved and sang and danced. Something very new had come about in our street.

This story rolled out in some wonderful ways.

I am sure it is not a unique one, but it has been documented, and you may enjoy seeing where it goes in future posts.


AGM 2018 POSTER

All are welcome to our 2018 AGM. Bring your enthusiasm, voting hands and helpful comments to our Annual General Meeting in the Barn on the evening of Wednesday, December 12th. Refreshments from 6:15pm with a meeting start of 6:30pm.

We look forward to meeting you!

Non-members are welcome. To join the Mudchute Association, click here.

**I’d also like to apologise for the lack of updates here recently! We’ve been sharing on other platforms, but remiss on the blog. Do visit mudchute.org and our Facebook page for more!.


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We are very excited to be welcoming two lovely black dexter cattle to our herd here at Mudchute. The beautiful Moomin Tamarisk and her daughter Twiglet join us from Kent. Mother and daughter are black, short-legged dexters. Both cows have been shown and mum Tamarisk is a champion! They seem to like it here at Mudchute already, making friends over the fence, grazing and enjoying each other’s company.

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Before joining us, the pair were part of a larger herd, whose work included conservation grazing. Moomin dexters have even taken part in conservation grazing projects on the White Cliffs of Dover. A dexter’s small hooves and light weight make them ideal for keeping fast-growing and vigorous grasses down without compacting downland soil the way larger cattle might. Dexters are the smallest native breed of cattle in the British Isles and you can find out more about them from The Dexter Cattle Society.

We are extremely grateful to Mrs. D. Smith for generously donating one of the pair to us here at Mudchute and to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust for the purchase of the other.

The exciting news doesn’t stop there either! Both mother and daughter are also pregnant, so we hope to hear the pitter patter of even tinier hooves in the autumn.

New neighbour?

New neighbour?

Meeting the neighbours.

Meeting the neighbours.

Mum and daughter relaxing after the journey.

Mum and daughter relaxing after the journey.

Settling in.

Settling in.

The newcomers approve of Mudchute grass!

The newcomers approve of Mudchute grass!