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"End to End via the Margins"
-the diary of a walk.

- Wootton Bassett to Fairford


Notes on Wootton Bassett: This is an old coach town with lots of pubs. The place I'm staying advertises itself to contractors. There are lots of men in the launderette and some in the chippie. It seems a number of people come down to do jobs here. But I'm told there is affordable housing in Swindon despite its overheating economy.

Gleanings: Did you know that there are no mushy peas in Germany?

The walk into Swindon reveals how much the town cares about its railway heritage. (Now of course it's all cars, with the massive Honda plant on the outskirts). There are names on the streets like "Corfe" and "Pendennis" which I last saw on arced brass plates. Later I went into a newsagent and consulted an AtoZ to answer a question I had in my mind. No, the planners had bottled out: there is no Drysllwyn Avenue.

The station at Swindon was one of those significant points of the journey which is of interest to me but not really to anyone else. Unfortunately, because of an administrative slip-up on my part, I didn't get to meet anybody of the Swindon part of the ISR team. Later, on the way out of the town, I could see occasional glimpses of the chalk downlands to the south, with all their ancient stuff.

But my route lay northward, to Fairford. Janet and Hannah picnicked with me in Stanton Fitzwarren and relieved me of my bag. And later Bryan Elkington of the church in Highworth joined me for the remainder of the day. It is great having someone walk with you. The time seems to go so quickly (I never even started the "process", let alone finished it). You feel stronger, careless of aches and pains (perhaps too careless - I could have been doing damage unawares). We chatted about churches, about how Highworth URC is surveying needs in the locality, so as to decide where to put its energies, about walking, about much else.

We approached the airbase at Fairford from a track which led to a point on the perimeter road just before the end of the runway. There were police all over the place, police from Cheshire, from South Wales, from all over. The bombers were a distant brooding presence on the far side of the airfield. The whole thing scared me: which, presumably, is the desired effect. Later a police officer asked us if we were going to try and cross the fence. I thought not, my hesitation coming because although I had no intention of crossing the fence, I felt guilty about the fact. Bryan had no such hesitation, but she asked me again, "I don't think so" not being the required answer. Eventually she was satisfied that we were no threat to security and the three of us had a small chat. The government had decided, apparently, that all these police needed to be deployed down here. There were, it seems, some officers left behind to deal with the muggers of Middlewich and the crooks of Crewe.

There was a house on the main crossroads in Fairford with a "not in my name" poster. Bless them for their courage. I still don't have any certainty about this war, but I still think it probably wasn't the right thing. Maybe when Mr Bush's mother was busy telling the young George about the evils of pretzels, she'd have been better employed telling him what my mother told me, which is that two wrongs don't make a right.

Pictures from today...
Street sign in the GWR style
Bryan Elkington on the Thames bridge
God of Amos and Isaiah and Micah,
we give you thanks for people who speak
with the courage of their convictions.
We thank you that we live
in a democratic country
where people can speak and act on their convictions
without fear.
Give us a new and surer knowledge of you
and of your intentions for the world,
so that we too may speak
as the prophets did.
God make us brave,
and God give this world peace.
© Bob Warwicker. The words here may be reproduced freely, but not for gain, or without attribution. All alterations must have the permission of the author.