Info Tour Blog # 7
Leaving Colchester late in the evening and driving deep into the depths of rural Norfolk (at one point I was seriously scared that the sat nav might stop working, or a disgruntled local might start shooting at us “city kids”) we headed for a lovely land co-op (which possibly I should mention is technically in Suffolk), which was the home of our next all too awesome hosts. After a thoroughly wholesome day of healthy food, garden work, and a stroll in the countryside we headed over to the Norwich Quaker Meeting House.
Little did we know, scheduled at a similar time to our meeting was the local food cycle weekly sharing (food cycle is a similar concept to food not bombs- “skipped” food is used to create a communal meal) which probably helped to boost numbers, whilst being slightly disruptive to our focus. The meeting was well attended, and included people who had read about us in the local paper!!! (Those 7am press releases are finally paying off) Despite some technical glitches, there seemed to be a good energy for local organising, and discussion flowed freely, with people wanting to know in particular how they could help to support Smithy Fen, and Dale Farm residents in their on going struggles.
Following the meeting, we headed to the pub and a catch up with some old friends before disappearing to bed for an early day of press releases (since the last one had gone so well)
Our journey from Norwich to Cambridge on our break day was interesting, as we brought a long our friend who needed a lift to his parents house in March (April would have been too late). The only problem was, although he knew the street address, he didn’t know how to get there, anyone’s phone number or recognise any landmarks in the town whatsoever. The last time he visited, he had apparently only found the house by walking into a random housing estate and bumping into his mum! However, despite this, we got lucky with some directions from a taxi driver and were directed to the house, just off a road we had already driven down.
We spent Saturday and Sunday in Cambridge leading up to Sunday evenings meeting and as always were well looked after by our kind hosts. The meeting drew a fair crowd, with a fair few familiar faces from the local Traveller Solidarity Network. Some of the residents from the nearby Smithy Fen site came down to talk about their situation; 6 families there facing eviction if their current planning application is not successful.
With no meeting scheduled until Tuesday, and the four of us wanting something useful to do; we decided to travel to Dale Farm: to speak to residents about the new notices they received, catch up with some good friends, and get some publicity photos for Roma nation day (These should be uploaded to various websites by Grattan soon). The journey from Cambridge took longer than expected due to a need for stomach calming food, and a rather odd tale involving two German hitch hikers, crossing the Dartford bridge (only to go back under the tunnel less than 5 minutes later), and moments of anger over this recent discovery http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/development/travellers-to-be-banned-from-green-belt/6521113.article.
Still slightly confused, amused, and annoyed (is that even possible) we arrived at the good old Dale Farm site, where we were once again greeted by a host of friendly (if slightly forlorn) faces and ushered in for cups of tea, biscuits, and plate after plate of sandwiches. We talked to lots of people, who were all very frustrated and angry at their current living conditions (to add to this insult the council have now threatened to evict people a second time, and have served notices demanding residents leave within 21 days). It was a long day of talking to people and visiting friends, and slipping in a few games of ninja with the kids. For those who don’t know ninja goes something like this, although for Jacob it went something like this, and he hasn’t been able to move his neck since. So last night we decided no to move far and stayed at the home of some local activists for a lovely dinner and some down time.