Sunday 11th May witnessed a picnic on Dover Down field, part of Chaucer Fields. Local people and members of the University of Kent community joined to celebrate the coming of summer – in a place most readers are of course well aware is one of Canterbury’s most accessible, beautiful unspoilt settings. Situated at the southern edge of the University’s campus, it is widely known that this has for decades acted as a ‘green buffer’ or ‘green gap’ for the benefit of both local residents and the University itself. The picnic is just the latest example of the many ways in which the immense value of this place is practically demonstrated by the actions of those who know and appreciate it.
The occasion was jointly organised by the Chaucer Fields Picnic Society and the Abbots Mill Project, a prominent local social enterprise founded in 2010 (see Blogroll). Greenpeace Canterbury, the Save Chaucer Fields group, and representatives of University unions were also involved.The event followed a format building on similar occasions in recent years. Participants chatted and shared food and drink; children played safely, getting exercise and fresh air running across the fields, climbing trees, discovering flowers and bugs, and exploring the woods and hedges.There were also some organised activities led by parents and friends, including ball games.
Musical entertainment was meanwhile provided by local musicians, ranging from jazz to pop. The session included an appearance by Richard Navarro, and brought together an interesting array of local instrumentalists, playing together for the first time.
Story telling under one of the fields best-loved Oak trees was provided by Whistable’s Mark Lawson, wearing authentic mediaeval garb.
And there was a celebratory procession involving Dead Horse Morris’s Jack-in-the-Green (made with local ivy from the fields themselves, and from in and around Whitstable, Tankerton and Chestfield). The Jack was accompanied by a piper playing bagpipes based on those played by the Miller in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. This all helped to reinforce the Kentish flavour of what is clearly becoming an increasingly popular local tradition. With children drawn to the spectacle of the Jack and the sound of the piping, a mini ‘pied piper’ procession spontaneously formed!
All in all, a great way to spend a summer’s afternoon,and future events are already in the pipeline. Watch this space!
Chaucer Fields Picnic Society