I have really enjoyed being part of the group that is researching and planning a walk around Peckham. It has made me think about what makes the activity interesting, and have concluded that it is a mix of three ingredients:
The Process: What could have been the dull stuff has been quite inspiring – each person investigating according to their own interests; photographs, maps, history, literature, art, green spaces, gardens. Meeting up to walk potential routes makes you feel very connected to the area, and brings to life the stories uncovered in the research.
The People: A short time ago we were just an arbitrary group of people who liked walking, had some time to spare, and answered a newspaper ad for volunteers. Gradually we have swapped stories of redundancies, retirements, and new directions. Meeting people with different interests and perspectives has been stimulating. Finding out about Cooltan’s work has been thought-provoking.
The Place: What can I say about Peckham other than that I love it! I turned up expecting to see the land of Del Boy and Rodney, but instead found a place of contrasts: exotic vegetables in the grocery shops, green spaces and hidden gems of gardens, a peace wall and an urban-chic library. We have learned about helping wildlife at the London Wildlife Trust garden in Marsden Road and caught glimpses of ‘East Dulwich Mummy’ in her natural habitat. We have uncovered stories of nuns heads, and William Blake’s vision of angels on Peckham Rye… who could ask for more?