Oct 17th – Day #28 – Our final event in London at the Dutch embassy

We’re finished walking and we celebrated this moment with about sixty people. We’ve shared some of our experiences, insights, and encouragements that we have for the Thames River family. We encourage the river family to continue to work as one watershed and to individually, as an organisation, and collectively adopt the vision of a drinkable Thames. We felt deeply touched by the people who had come from the whole river: people who had walked with us, hosted us and organisations who are active on and for the river!

Prior to arriving at the embassy, we visited the National Gallery to look at John Constable’s original 1826 painting, The Cornfield, where the shepherd lays on his belly to drink straight from the stream. We discovered another of his paintings of 1821 The Hay Wain with a woman snooping water out with her water jug next to her.

This morning, we were with our host and artist Fiona Spirals, and she showed us the community orchard that they tend to maintain wild. Please watch the difference with the neighbouring landscape management and qualities.

At night, we walked to Tower Bridge to thank the Thames and stay with our host, Deborah, with whom we shared a late delicious dinner. THANKFUL for all the amazing hospitality we have received by all these 23 families who have hosted us this month.

For now (before collapsing asleep, which Maarten already has fallen into half an hour ago). I express my gratitude to Le Haven in Allhallows where we could sleep last night, for tonight we hadn’t found a place in Grain so we’re extra grateful to be back in Lower Higham with artist Fiona Spirals where Jeanne and Frans-Willem have now brought us, rather than needing to walk back two days 😉 or do a bus, train, walk juggle. ….. dozing off with a mugwort tea dreaming of river marrying sea ????

Oct 16th – Day #27 – from Allhallows to Isle of Grain via Hoo Peninsula

We’ve reached the Northsea at the coast of Grain after 27 days of walking from Isis/Thames’ source near Cirencester. Together with artist Kirsty Badenoch and biologist and regenerative practitioner Joel Hooper from Northsea Thriving, we celebrated our last day. Beautiful conversations about softening boundaries, materialising spirit and spiritualising materials, the story of the three little pigs versus living nomadically; and how the closure of the river walk and the focus and concentration that gave now gives way to the opening of and to the wild sea.

We thrived on the bountiful of the sea munching on sea asters, red and golden sephire , sea porcelain, and seabeet. Joel had learned these foraging skills from Miles Irving (the forager’s handbook). A little further we enjoyed more
blackberries (still!), ripe rosebottles, and fennel. What a plentiful of treats!

The walk along the Thames is finished, the journey towards a drinkable Thames continues: tomorrow will be our final live event at the Dutch embassy, back in London. Online we will share (and record) our reflections for anyone who is interested on Monday 23 Oct 4-5PM BST.

For now (before collapsing asleep, which Maarten already has fallen into half an hour ago). I express my gratitude to Le Haven in Allhallows where we could sleep last night, for tonight we hadn’t found a place in Grain so we’re extra grateful to be back in Lower Higham with artist Fiona Spirals where Jeanne and Frans-Willem have now brought us, rather than needing to walk back two days 😉 or do a bus, train, walk juggle. ….. dozing off with a mugwort tea dreaming of river marrying sea ????

Oct 16th – Day #27

We have reached the Northsea !

Oct 15th – Day #26 – Lower Higham to Allhallows via Cliffe pools

We finished today with the golden hour in the cool wind coming from the north and were warmly welcomed by a group of Friends of the Medway river with three sorts of vegan cakes with some tea. Trail magic ☆

We started in the 1000 year old church of St Mary in Lower Higham. Our host, Fiona, who is also the self-appointed artist in residence of the church, invited us to look at the many faces that are part of the church including the one of the turtle.

Beautiful blue sky, sunlight, and the whole day view of the last stretch of the river. We started today with a width of about 1,4km (at Kew Bridge we estimated the river to be 120metres) and by the end of today the river/estuary is wider than 2,5km. With the cold wind burning my face and the wide view of the river it really starts to feel like the sea.

Birder and volunteer with RSPB Frank Cackett pointed us to a clouded yellow butterfly, also a first for him to see this year. We saw another SEAL swimming and curiously popping its head out of the water and we saw spoonbills meandering for food. We were surrounded by more wildlife than people! The few people we saw today: Fiona, Jeanne and Frans-Willem, Frank, Zofia, Elouise, Ben & Lucas. And we did see horses, cows and sheep.

We’re offered a bed on the caravan bungalow park, very kind..! But we miss the home feeling, warmth and stories of staying with our hosts (and a nice cup of tea and shower with a towel).

Oct 14th – Day #25 – Greenhithe to Lower Higham church via Gravesend

As we stepped out of the door, the cool air of autumn awakened our senses. Although it was grey and rained yesterday, the air was still warm with the end of summer. Walking through the marshes, a birder with a telelens camera notified us to the raven up in the electricity pylon and the call of the Cetti’s, or Dartford, warbler, an endemic bird.

Since the 80s, the industry in the next part of the marshes had stopped. Until then, ship building industry in and around Greenhithe and here brick making (with the squared sand granules) and three paper industries. Now, the marshes slowly return in forty years. Currently, a theme park (like Disney park) is being proposed nationally. In the marshes, the area to clean and filter, infiltrate, and store water: the kidneys of the Thames. What a bad idea…

Thank you: Steve & Lia for hosting us and joining us today and sharing more local stories; Edith for showing up a third time; Sibo for coming from Southampton to meet us and connecting us also with my father in Beijing with your presence; Ros & Danya; Jeanne & Frans-Willem for the morning waving off; Alex for making a Climate Heroes podcast; our host and artist Fiona Spirals for sharing her work on mud, the marshes and the wreck; and for the fox showing herself and getting to the water to drink. Nothing is impossible: let’s work towards a drinkable Thames.

Oct 13th – Day #24 – Erith to Greenhith via Dartford

Two highlights today. The first, witnessing two seals having a rest on the Thames river banks near the confluence with the Darent. The second, joining an evening with 50 sea scouts ranging between 10-14, and 6 Explorer scouts, and about six adults. Tonight we stay at the scouts leaders of the Dartford Cambria sea scouts group.

With the sea scouts, we shared our story and let them ask questions. We then did step one of our citizen science, namely to share anecdotes that we have with water and then to say thanks to the water. As a game, we had five jars with different water: recent rain, old rain, tab, bottled and Thames water that we had collected in the dark. The question that they had to guess based on colour and smell was: which one is the Thames water?

In my previous post, I shared about the reflections I had passing so much waste. So no need to go into this now. Although those experiences had a big influence on me today, I was amazed (surprisingly shocked) to see how waste heap could be interchanged with marsh. And that in the marsh we would immediately see a bumblebee, a dragonfly or dunlin bird. See fragile on the one hand, so resilient on the other.

Coming home after the sea scouts evening, we continued to reflect on the strenghthened and adventurous relationship grown with water, the importance of games and play and how to grow community.

Thank you: Edith for walking three hours in the rain with us; thank you Steve & Lia and Beth & Abby for hosting us and introducing us to your sea scouts community and meeting almost 65 of you..!

All along the path we have seen our traces of goods and packaging of goods we use in our lives. But today, between Erith and Greenhithe, broke all records of what we have been seeing. It has made me sad. And it takes a lot of my energy. Why do we think we need all this stuff and keep buying, making, and wasting all this stuff..? Why do we keep on marketing stuff and materials to persuade people into buying and consuming and wasting..? Why don’t we come with better incentives than Gross Domestic Product – all these products and services, wrapped, or not going around on our highways, on our waterways and through the air to get to us… and then circulating out of our households, out of the shiny city centres to these more hidden corners, behind the cities, to get sorted, shredded, burned, burried, molded, drifting away, stuck in brambles… never away, morphing…

Oct 12th – Day #23 – From Woolwich, Greenwich to Erith, Kent via Crossness

Drizzle, drizzle, drizzle. The river and sky were one today. Spider webs caught the river as her catch of the day. We witnessed the backside of the large flashy London with asphalt factories, huge pumping station and waste water treatment, trucks with stuff we most likely don’t really need, landfill hill. And a lot of waste along the river in the reedbeds, along the path, colourful trails with broken pieces of plastic. The backside belongs to us as well. It mirrors perhaps more clearly of how we live.

We had a short conversation with Conway, the UK 60 year old family owned company who makes asphalt with stone from Ireland and bitumen from Rotterdam. They can make permeable asphalt, why isn’t this the norm yet, I wonder?

Thank you for today: Nick, Anna, Alex for sharing your home-made kombucha, Edith, Theo Thomas from London waterkeeper and Eva for staying in your home in Erith.

Oct 11th – Day #22 – From Greenwich Cutty Sark to Woolwich Royal Arsenal heritage site via Thames Barrier

Today we walked from the famous tea clipper Cutty Sark towards the Arsenal Heritage Site. Passing industrial zones, new fancy apartment buildings and the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park.

Thanks to the FirstMilers for initiating a litter pick up, we have filled numerous (I lost count..maybe 7 or 8 huge full bags.. so many, unfortunately..)

At the little gem, the Ecology Park, one of the Conservation Volunteers, Tony Day, took us around and shared his wisdom and passion for the living world. Always to look with children’s eye and to pay attention. He showed us a wasp spider’s silk web nest, traces on reeds made by midges, Black willow aphids and in rose shrubs the saw fly eggs larvae. Fascinating..!

Finally, we passed Thames Barrier, the engineering masterpiece that protects London since 1984 from flooding in a big storm.

What a diverse day..! Thank you group of today: Julian, Esther, Edith, Hugh & Cristina, Janice, Firstmilers James, Annabel, Elijah, Georgina, Ilona, Fanny, Trevor. And thank you Nick our host of tonight.

Thank you: Hugo and Lottie, Will, Samantha, Bruno, Rachel, Robert, Luiza & Andrew, Mali, Clive, Marcus, Debbie, Feodor, Becca & Julie, Laura and Green Party friend, Alex, Niki, Nina, Lauren, Mara and about 50 more guests and UAL students and teachers.

Oct 9th – Day #21 – Events in London

Today was full with meetings and events and started with the school measurement being cancelled with several teachers and children with covid. We visited Tideway, Super Sewer where we were welcomed by Samantha and Bruno to hear about the civil engineering multi-billion project to cope with future rainbombs that Thames Water’s current system cannot handle. We were shown how gradually all the rivers and streams in London have been asphalted over. We needed space to build buildings. And currently the sewage system cannot cope the 9 million Londoners.

We’ve met Rabobank international CEO Will Jennings. We talked about “drinkable rivers as a sign of a healthy economy” and the influence that could come from the finance world. We debated whether ‘credit’ could continue to exist. And how not only sustainable production, but also sustainable consumption- what we eat- is important to radically change.

Finally we had our evening event with UAL London College of Communications in collaboration with Rachel Clark and Robert who had invited some other speakers: Nina (Policy Lab), Lauren (Arup), Mara (ranger at London Wildlife Trust. I had invited Will from Rabobank, but he had an emergency situation and couldn’t come.

Thank you: Hugo and Lottie, Will, Samantha, Bruno, Rachel, Robert, Luiza & Andrew, Mali, Clive, Marcus, Debbie, Feodor, Becca & Julie, Laura and Green Party friend, Alex, Niki, Nina, Lauren, Mara and about 50 more guests and UAL students and teachers.

Oct 8th – Day #20 – Chelsea Bridge to Greenwich via Tower Bridge

We walked along the world famous and crowded meander. We passed the super busy Eye in silence. Our little group was engulfed by the masses including a wave of blue T-shirts memory walk for Alzheimer. We managed to keep the group together all the way to the end at Greenwich Cutty Sark (here we will reconvene Wednesday 11 Oct!). Impressive views, also to realise that one generation ago many of these buildings didn’t exist yet.

By bus we then travelled to our hosts. We listened to the song: Sweet Thames flow softly.

Thank you: Anna Asbury, Andrew, Arick, Amelia, Margie & Debbie, Feodor and father, George, Ginny, Laura, Rachel, Hugo and Lottie.

Oct 7th – Day #19 – Kew Bridge to Chelsea Bridge via Battersea

First day in shorts, warmest day until now with 24°C. A small group joined us the whole day. We did our citizen science measurements, pulled two Tier e-bikes out of the mud and were interviewed by a young journalist and by Clive also alumnus from Schumacher College who makes a movie about Rewilding and where we explored the anologies between the health of our rivers and of our bodies. The whole day was on pavement or asphalt, this is much harder on the body than we had experienced upstream. Also every 3 mins a plain flew above us heading to Heathrow. We notice we are in the city of London now with all the traffic, many people, planes, different smells and sounds.

Last picture was at Active 360 with a community of people living there on houseboats. “Being tidal, …”.

Thank you: Harrison, Luiza & Stephen, Lars & Carsten, Feodor, Clive, Debbie and family & friends.

Oct 6th – Day #18 – Hampton Court Bridge to Kew Bridge via Kingston and Richmond

Twenty people joined us on the walk with another eleven who joined us in the evening at 360 Active.

Rebecca Kendrick of Thames Landscape Strategy told us about the 100 year plan to protect and improve the Thames between Weybridge and Kew, with Rewilding Arcadia. Inspiring long term initiative in a short term democratic system.

Four men of our group saved the river by freeing it from a motorbike. We did our last pretidal Thames measurement just upstream of Teddington Lock. Thanking the river we sang together with Sam Lee for Thames. From the lock, we crossed into the tidal Thames, where the tides of the North Sea influences the water level (difference of 7 meters!).

It was such a beautiful stretch today with beautiful large trees, where we could even climb within their trunks and reedbeds where we saw an egret, a wild stretch between the river and a golf course.

We shared a community conversation at 360Active’s location at Kew Bridge organised by the wonderful Paul and his lovely partner Dana. They walked us to our host Fiona around 10PM. After a long day, I was happy to realise that I had no WiFi connection and couldn’t check my mail or make this update. We fell asleep, knackered, thankful and happy ????

Thank you: Martine & family, Laura, Bob, Marie & Jean, Robin, Felicity, Taïs, Claire, Becca, Tristram, James, Rebecca, Emma, Susan, Tina, Ian, Magnus, Mike, Sam, Robby, Paul, Dank, Cressida, Rachel & Stephen, Fiona and others.

Oct 5th – Day #17 – Laleham to Hampton Court via Weybridge

What a great diversity of wonderful people again, who have joined us today! Ranging from community leaders to wild swimmers, to kayakkers, teachers, and councillors. From people of Surrey council we learned about the ‘undefensed’ part of the Thames, where no measures in times of flooding have been taken. The last year of flooding was 2014, currently the River Thames Scheme will be proposed to the community in 2026, with two canals engineering the river. What nature-based solution, might work here as well? My mind wonders. We looked at older floodplains as we walked with a sustainability official and biodiversiteit specialist of Spelthorne Borough council.

We measured the water quality with Ben McCallum and his community from Zero Carbon Guildford at the confluence with the Wey at Weybridge. Their community of Water Rangers have been measuring all along the Wey tributary. Now, right downstream of the confluence we compared the two measurement kits. Water Rangers looked now at 5 parameters: phosphate, nitrate, Electric conductivity, temperature, pH. We look at 26 (excluding the dragon- and damselflies that we might also look at).

Upon arrival in Hampton Court we were picked up by Bob to Climate Emergency Center, Kingston Hive, where we met a diverse group of designers, community leaders and educators at the Kingston Hive and explored what the Drinkable River can mean for the Thames Watershed.

Now staying with a wonderful Dutch/Indian family in Kingston. Thank you for today: Emmelyn, Vidya, Shirley, Michelle from Laleham Park Hub, Michael, Suzi, Tony, Tim & Andy before we took the ferry. Hendrik-jan, Ben, Alan, John, June, June, Elly, Sue, Jackie, Sandra. Sara Shaw from Friends of the Earth international, Koen from the Dutch Embassy, Bob Bollen from Kingston Hive, Tisu, Alison, Hannah, Jo, Zoë, Lucy, Chad, Martine, Chloe, Tristan, Scott and I forget a few other names. And the last picture was yesterday in Laleham with a family who lives on one of the islands near the weir/lock: Beth, Elodie and Ethan.

Oct 4th – Day #16 – Windsor & Eton to Laleham via Staines

The air is starting to feel more like autumn, today we walked until 6:30PM and it’s getting dark earlier. We still enjoy beautiful flowers and colours with delicious scents.

We started with citizen science at Windsor and Eton Bridge with Becca, Julie, Mark & Carolyn, Amanda, Sean, David, and Keith & dog Meg.

Done some additional measurements just after the confluence with the Jubilee river.

Picked up by Paul of Active360 by canoe in Wraysbury who paddled us across the river to have tea on his land. Paul joined us all the way to Staines where we were welcomed by Vanessa and her team with vegan curry and cakes at the Climate Emergency Center Talking Tree. We also met ecologist prof David Morritt here from Holloway University.

Just before Laleham on the lock, we met Beth and her children who showed us the island where they live. They heard about our walk via Vanessa from Talking Tree. We’re now hosted by Emmelyn who is one of the Water Rangers.

Oct 3rd – Day #15 – Cookham to Windsor & Eton via Maidenhead

Nice interview with Patrick and Ian from the BBC to start this lovely day. Also with a spontaneous encounter with two canoe paddlers. Continued with former rowing champ Dave Hampton to Maidenhead. Joined after lunch by regeneration business coach Robert Parry at the lock where his grandfather used to work. Saw one newt and later two Kingfishers flying across the river within 20 minutes. Met with Pauline and six Etonians on the Windsor and Eton Bridge. They proudly showed us their rewilding efforts at Barnes Pool, a small stream in Eton. Ending the day with a talk and great discussion with 35-40 people at community pub The Swan. Special thanks to Becca and Will – our event partners and hosts for tonight.

Our evening event at Community Pub the Swan with 35 people hosted by Rebecca Calvert, our hosts of tonight and brewers of Windsor Eton brewery. Tonight we grew momentum: for the river; starting a citizen science hub and for connecting it to how we are living.

Some images show trees along the Thames that we spot and see how the tree can be our teacher.

Live at BBC south Sunday 8 Oct 10:30AM.

~ We are halfway walking along the Thames ~

We have 14 days behind us with our Source-to-Sea Drinkable Thames walk having started at the source in Kemble near Cirencester and having reached Cookham. We have walked 255km and 284 people have joined us with the walk or during one of our events that we organise together with local partners.

Thames or Isis is very generous: we owe much to him/her. Famous cities like Oxford, Reading, Henley and London all arose thanks to the river. We have spotted an Otter and twice a Kingfisher. Many people who we meet are concerned or even angry with the situation of the (dry) spilling of untreated raw sewage discharged into the river. On the short term we see this is productive
1) we are concerned because we care,
2) we realise more than ever we are part of water and connected through water with each other and all other life forms
3) our shared concern connects us and we realise that now is the moment to stand up for what we care.

On the long term, this anger can make us sick and depressed, so how to weave this with a positive perspective to act. That is what we hope to bring: that individuals and groups adopt the compass of a drinkable river.

Oct 1st – Day #14 – Henley-on-Thames to Cookham via Marlow and Bourne-End

We set off from the bridge in Henley with our host Paul, his dog Milo, Mike and Su, Laura, Tracey and Jo. Later on, Clive, a classmate of Li An from Schumacher College, joined us too.

Henley has a great rowing culture: famous for the Regatta (due to the straight stretch of Thames). Boats glide by and rowing coaches passed us on the footpath, while shouting instructions through megaphones.

In the mean time, Milo enjoyed drinking from the river on this warm, damp day. We passed a large herd of white deer, a rare sight.

We enjoyed coffee at Hurley Lock. Passed Marlow, Li An spotted a Kingfisher, once again..! Our arrival in Cookham marked the end of our second week. We take a day off walking Monday (more online catching up) and continue our walk on Tuesday!

Sep 30th – Day #13 – Henley-on-Thames

We relaxed in the morning at our host Liz’s home and learned about Silence Space, the charity she set up to create green places for silent reflection. After late breakfast we walked to the River and Rowing museum overlooking the Thames where we organised an event in collaboration with Thames 21. Agnes and Sarah shared the results of the water sampling that was done by their volunteers during 20 weeks bathing season. Maarten and I introduced Drinkable Rivers and our Thames walk. We screened the short version of our documentary, shared our experiences and started a conversation with the audience about how to improve the water quality of the Thames. In the evening, we stayed with Paul and Alison who invited friends over for drinks and a lovely barbecue!

Sep 29th – Day #12 – Reading to Henley-on-Thames via Sonning

We started with a tour around Reading with two hydrologist professors from the University of Reading Prof Hannah Cloke and Prof Andrew Wade. We learned about the old mills and the wetlands of View Island, we saw the fish passage and the community hydro plant with the climate stripes indicating average temperatures and the destabilised climate.

Then in front of their office we met an engagement officer of Thames Water Paul Hampton thanks to Annie Jenkins from Windrush Wasp who connected us. We talked about how Thames Water is organised treating waste water for 15 million of people and delivering drinking water to 10 million people; they engage with 27 catchment partnerships CAPA; and that there are 2,5 million school children that they try to engage with. Roughly the proportion ground water versus Thames surface water for tap drinking water is 70:30 here and 30:70 in London. We spoke until the confluence with the Kenneth river and I invited them for our other events.

At that confluence, the BBC radio Oxford journalists joined and interviewed us which was broadcasted at 2:30PM BST.

In Sonning we had our lunch with Hannah and the afternoon was beautiful: the temperature, the sun, the views, occassionally we would come across other walkers and we would speak with one another about the river. We even had a rare moment to relax our feet in the water for a moment. At the end of the afternoon a little downstream of Shiplake I saw a KINGFISHER flying across from the riverbank we walked on to the other side. What a gift: an OTTER Thursday and now today a kingfisher..!

We arrived at the Henley bridge, had a drink with Maarten’s father and brother just prior to their departure back home and then continued to our lovely host Liz who had invited three friends to share dinner. We watched the super harvest full moon together.

Sunday 1st of Oct, we will start at Henley bridge on the Thames trail at 9AM (so not at the museum!)

Sep 28th – Day #11 – Goring to Reading via Pangbourne and Hardwick Estate

With our group of 7 at that particular moment, we all saw an otter leisurely swimming passed us. What a gift! In the first picture you see the otter trail in the water, and you can catch a glimpse of the otter reaching the willow branches.

We were again walking with a beautiful diverse group: science hydrology, practice psychology, education, dentist, pilgrimages, podcast maker, and more..! We had a coffee and tea in Pangbourne. We rowed across the Thames by people from the Hardwick Estate: the Sadhama retreat centre and the Park Hill Nature school and people living on boat houses. Together we shared our anecdotes with water, our gratitude and the rest of the citizen science measurements. So special that we were rowed back across the Thames to the trail. Apparently a snake swam across the Thames towards where we had done our measurement.

A Zen Buddhist monk Sean or Forest Dragon, confluenced with us for a while. He walks 200 mile for the Planet along Thames: without tent, money, food, water. The day we met him he walked 50km and slept outside protected from the rain on some cardboard. Very admirable. I thought extra of him when I heard the rain in the middle of the night while we had the privilege to stay with Nathalie and Richard in Reading with their family, friends and neighbours.

Prof in hydrology Hannah Cloke from Uni from Reading, Richard Coates, Andrea Sharp, Jo Barrett, Guy Hayward, Goring hosts Mary & John, monk Sean, family KH, DJ and Joop, Sannah, Hardwick estate people: Dmitry, Mark, Romilly, Nick and more; our Reading hosts Nathalie, Richard, Zach and others, and my love Maarten: thank you all for this day along and on the river!

Sep 27th – Day #10 – Dorchester to Goring via Benson and Wallingford

OK bear with me, it’s 00:30 (passed midnight, like every night I post this update, Maarten has fallen asleep) and we did some detours today and Maarten and I ended up walking 28km… nonstop 7AM-00:30…

It was another magical day: rowing across with our host Andy, departing early today at 8:15AM to reach Days Lock in time, then climbing Wittenham Clumps with Earth Trust Jayne and Tristan. We had to do some (horrible) road walking and Pepijn collected within half an hour a full large garbage bag. At Benson the weir to walk across needed maintenance, so we had to take a ferry across.

Exactly on time we arrived at 1:30PM we arrived at Wallingford Bridge where we did our measurement with the St John’s Primary School’s eldest group of 11 year old. So lovely to do this with the children..! And great to get help from the Youth for Drinkable Rivers who walked with us: Dechen, Sannah and Pepijn, and others who walked with us like Mike, Phil and Heather.

It was still a long walk to Goring after that so a surprising tea break at Liz who spontaneously welcomed us for tea in her garden, was very welcome. Just before some rain and it would become dark, we arrived at our next hosts Mary and John with two wild swimmer friends who also enjoy monitoring the river.

Thanks: Jayne, Tristan, Andy, Wendy, Pepijn, Dechen, Sannah, Phil, Heather, Khee Hian, Joop, Dirk-Jan, Mike, Harrie, Liz, James for making all the connections, Mary, John, Julia, Margaret, and headteacher Nicky and everyone from the school including the 26 children.

Sep 26th – Day #9 – Abingdon to Dorchester via Sutton Courtenay and Clifton-Hamden

Beautiful group, light, landscapes and villages. In the morning we experienced some rain, the remaining was gorgeous with slippery, muddy sections at times. We made a detour to the grave of George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair).

We did our citizen science measurement at a part of the river with wild and thickly grown with shrubs and trees on the river banks and what appeared to be straight across the river from the house of Kate Bush. Matthew a volunteer of Earth Trust showed us landscape where water was rewilded into the landscape and we happen to immediately see an egret and a kingfisher there – almost a ‘thank you’ gesture of returning the circumstances in the landscape that they love. We were picked up by our host Andy by rowboat to get across to where we sleep tonight. With sun setting, cows coming to play and drink at the river side, we set on the opposite bank with wine and chips and this lovely family who host us and have fed us this multi course meal and with a soothing piano concert of Einaudi and Sandberg by 15-year old William.

Thank you: Anna our other translater who joined us for the day from Cambridge; Daniel from 1 Planet Abingdon, Ruth, Betty and James all locals from Abingdon, Matthew volunteer from Earth Trust, our family members Khee Hian, Joop and Dirk Jan and our hosts Andy, Natalie, Amelie and William for again an unforgettable day and growing our love and care for the Thames simultaneously.

Sep 24th – Day #8 – World Rivers Day, from Oxford Osney bridge to Abingdon

It’s World Rivers Day !Walking 23km for a #DrinkableThames from Oxford Osney bridge via Sandford to Abingdon. Special day to walk with some family members and so many walkers who joined and supported us. One of them is Laura Vroomen, who is one of the translators of our book!

We’ve visited Proof social bakery with their delicious croissants! On the bridge of Sandford, where earlier this year The World Championship Poohstick was held, we all threw a stick in the water and on the other side of the bridge looked at whose stick had won, thanks Sylvia for introducing us to this fun fact! We had seen two community hydrodams, one micro one of Osney, the other just upstream of Sandford. Daniel from Abingdon organised that we did a measurement with a small, diverse group and together with Chantelle they had organised to show our movie with a community conversation in a care home called Riverly Club afterwards. After eight full-on days, we will take one day of rest tomorrow. We will be back on the trail on Tuesday 26 Sep!

Thanks every one for joining us for a part of our journey: Antony & Jane, Daniel, Paul sharing his apples from their alotment, Veronica Strang (author of Water Beings), Caspar Henderson, Richard & Aur, Winnie, Annie, Sylvia, Haldi, Francis, Giok, Will & Flynn who shared delicious croissants with us, Roo, Suzanne, Eliot, Chantelle, Laura, Khee Hian, Joop, Dirk Jan.

Sep 23rd – Day #7 – Event in Oxford

Waking up on Abbey Rd right on the Thames path and being able to step out onto the path from the garden at the back is a real treat. We backtracked a short part upstream to the Medley Sailing Club, a community club dating back to 1937 and attracting water lovers of all sorts: sailers of course, including ex commandors, wild swimmers, surfers, and anglers. Phil Spencer welcomed us with a Victorian spongecake. We exchanged water stories and did the citizen science measurement together. Young Arthur who you can see in the picture also spontaneously helped us with two measurements. After that we had lunch in vegan pub The Punter Oxford with family who specially have come over to join us for the coming week: Joop, Maarten’s father, his brother, Dirk-Jan, and my uncle Khee Hian. So special that they can witness this magical adventure. Our evening event in the Vaults and Garden Cafe organised by Will Pouget and Antony Melville in an ancient church right opposite of Radcliffe Camera was a big success. It felt like a living room with an interesting mix of our river family being present and weaving both practical solutions from Julian Jones of Water21 as well as an anthropology perspective on water beings, water deities by Veronica Strang, we were also with ceremonist Jackie Singer who sang a song for and with us. At the end we tasted source water that Antony had brought and we shared a vegan meal at Chickpea. What a special events..! With the love we feel, mayor steps in the direction of a drinkable Thames feel possible..!

Sep 22nd – Day #6 – Bablock Hythe via Eynsham and Wolvercote Orchard to Oxford, Osney bridge

Today the views and landscapes changed a lot. Bright sun with dramatic skies. Large open floodplains like Port Meadows with Whytham woods on the hilltop where we walked around for almost all of today. Small iconic and ancient bridges with the large A34 motorway passing underneath. And Thames grew a lot in size and width. Our host Annie walked the first km with us. In the afternoon, we were welcomed with a picknick lunch by Jo Malden at the Wolvercote Orchard. She had made a delicious quiche and applecake (with apples from the community orchard), together with her husband Nick, the president of the association, Jo Sandelson a Wolvercote councillor, and with Antony Melville we shared lunch. When entering Oxford, a new phenomenon passed us: joggers. We hadn’t seen these before, also we’ve spotted more anglers and a swimmer. Once arrived at our final destination, we were blessed by Jackie Singer with water from the Thames and goose feathers at a Sundial at Osney lock made by a friend of her. We had the luxury to walk to our current hosts and art historians Paul & Sue, right on the Thames path, with who we’ve just passed an evening full with interesting conversations.
Tomorrow no walking, but two events. Welcome at the Vaults and Garden Cafe between 5:30-7PM.

Sep 21st – Day #5 – Tadpole Bridge via Newbridge to Bablock Hythe

Perfect and magical day. Nice group size where we could talk with everyone, sun, a surprisingly ideal car boot cuppa tea break moment, a moment of rain when we did our citizen science measurement on a covered terrace of a pub just downstream of the confluence of the Thames with the Windrush, beautiful views of Thames, river banks, clouds and all kinds of berries. What a difference to yesterday. With lunch we hang our socks to dry that got wet from yesterday’s (and Sunday night) rains. Maarten’s blister plasters could also have a moment to dry and breath. Continuously sharing interesting conversations. It’s fascinating and perhaps sursprising how many different conversations we’re having despite the same starting point: our rivers. From soil, red kites, land ownership, arts, politics, sewage, social movements, hope,  migration and childhood. All that while three cute dogs were running and playing: Alfie, Dude and Lovage.
Annie, Debbie, Rosie, Alistair, Andrew, Annie, Robin, Tom, Richard, Sue, Christian, Vaughn, all thanks for joining the walk from the different places you live and organisations you work and making time and space in your lives..!
Extra thanks to Annie and Robin who host us tonight for a second night, so so kind. Tomorrow we will start between 9:30-10AM at Bablock Hythe (so a little later).

Sep 20th – Day #4 – Buscot lock via Radcot to Tadpole Bridge

The whole day it was raining cats and dogs, here under some trees we got some protection to enjoy an apple. It will probably have been the only day this month that no people walked with us, only a family of seven swans seemed to follow us for most of the day. The water is high now, the lock keeper of the Environment Agency estimated a flow of 7miles an hour. Today we’ve started at one lock and passed three other locks, there are a total of 106 locks to Thames Barrier in London and St John’s lock, the first is at 70 metres. We passed this immense poplar tree! Saw one egret, ancient bridges, pubs and classic narrow boats. There had not been any boats passing, the lock keeper said, this was the only boatless day this season since the start with Easter. Tomorrow is already the Equinox, the change in season was clearly felt today. The last few hundred metres Annie, our host, who is an ecologist working for the Cotswolds River Trust (her husband is a volunteer lock keeper) came to meet us on the trail. All our wet clothes hang in the entrance hall hopefully to dry for a long day tomorrow. Touched by the new poems Tony shared with us and Adam the farmer after a tour around the green burial grounds and the organic vegetable garden. In the meantime arranging events and walkers who will join us. We enjoyed this quiet day, knowing it was exceptional. We’re looking much forward to what is ahead of us..! And extremely grateful for these first four wonderful and interesting days.

Sep 19th – Day #3 – Castle Eaton, via Lechlade to Buscot Lock

Last night, we stayed with Jessica in Cricklade (via a singer Madeleine, we got in touch with our first host Gilly,  another singer, who then connected us with Jessica, another singer. So beautiful these connections). Tonight, we are staying at Adam & Liz and Ed’s farm where the Tuckmill brook and Cole river and their confluence shape the land. In the picture, you see behind us the source on the land they love and nurture. A specific snail, sensitive to a 1 degree change in temperature, lives in this source (or used to) as the temperature of this ancient source water is constant. We drank the water, gorgeous.

We met Tony, who was painting the farmhouse and who is a juggler with words writing poetry. He had his laptop open with my daily highlights and had started this beautiful poem about our trip so far. Hearing him, it was if he had walked and witnessed everything with us.
On the first navigable bridge, Half Penny Bridge in Lechlade, we were welcomed in the little three-story toll house from 1792. We passed the first boats on the Thames and the first two locks St John’s with ‘Father Thames’ and Buscot Lock where our walk along the Thames ended today. What you don’t hear in the pictures has been the constant wind in our backs! Now with happy full bellies of a delicious nutroast and vegetables from the organic farm Blackands Organic here and really interesting conversations of the land, food systems and watersheds with young farmer and agronomer Ed, we will fall asleep to the sound of the wind.

Sep 18th – Day #2 – Ashton-Keynes via Cricklade

Ashton-Keynes via Cricklade (lunch) and on a very watery trail to Castle Eaton. This morning, we woke up right next to and with view of Isis, how the infant Thames is still called. Last night it has rained quite heavily (heavenly) and that’s what we experienced today. Knee deep we waded through parts of the Thames downstream of Cricklade. Our shoes are soaked now, stuffed tonight with last weekend’s newspaper. Gilly our host of last night joined us this morning and taught us songs. Then in Cricklade where Thames confluences with river Churn, we met William Parsons who decided to do his 2-days pilgrimage coinciding it with ours. At the St Sampson church, we shared both source waters to help the river downstream to remember how healthy she/he was upstream. In the church we sang the four of us, one of the songs that Gilly taught us and one new song that Will taught us. On the wet flooded trails we trodded along and witnessed how for the royal Swans the Thames, is a Drinkable Thames as a given, not a choice. We can chose how drinkable Thames really is with all our life choices: how we wash, how/what we eat, how we move around, how we garden, etc… each of us is a source, all our sinks are sources. Step by step, continuously and together we can make Thames drinkable again.

Sep 17th – Day #1 – The Walk starts

The true source of the Thames, rain droplets, were present during the wonderfully and shared start of our walk. With a beautiful group of people and active organisations we shared an opening ceremony with poems and river songs, a diverse potluck picknick and River Action UK shared their charter that we will share with people who we will meet to show what we people can do. Then we walked towards Ashton-Keynes first through a magical dry riverbed and then there was water. Two (royal) swans, a woodpecker and many blackberries were on our path. We arrived in this fairytale Cotswold village and walked to our first hosts who live right along the Thames and welcomed us with vegan flapjack.

Sep 16th – Source of the River Thames

Sources are holy places. Meet the source of Thames. No water, yet. Tomorrow we will discover from where we see water flowing.
Grateful to prepare this morning with Debbie Campbell from Cotswolds Rivers Trust and Windrush Wasp and her children. Enjoying picking delicious blackberries.
Happily surprised by a big article in the local newspaper that we read in the pub Thames Head where we had dinner. Little nervous that I could not calibrate my pH sensor, so family who will join us from Friday in Oxford will bring a new sensor to me.
Debbie was blessed by a Kingfisher in her Windrush, tributary of Thames, this morning. Maarten and I have been blessed with dusk to be eye in eye with an owl!

Sep 15th – Thames, here we come!

Thames here we come! Yesterday evening we’ve arrived in the Cotswold source area of the Thames, tributaries like the Churn and other rivers like Frome. Most of today we were still behind our laptop (the last few hours of many…) which has resulted in almost 24 hosts, 115 co-walkers, 15 events, and about 20 partners..! Grateful (and hopeful) for all the enthusiasm there is already. One of them are brewers: today we met our first Nick Hunt from @CotswoldLakeBrew during their late Summer party and enjoyed his good tasting beer. Without healthy water no good beer. Nick also connected us to critical partners here.

Just prior to our departure, we gave our first printed copy with a deep bow of gratitude to Henk Ovink our water ambassador and former water convoy. We were happy to do a tour through the NL to personally give our books to various people and organisations who purchased boxes of books. Yesterday morning, we goodbye dipped into the North Sea: see you in 4 weeks from the other coast.

Soon, approximately in two weeks you can order our printed book with your local (online) bookstore from anywhere around the world..!

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