18 June 2010

Friends of Ham Lands

Ham Lands is the name given to the wild stretch of land between the River Thames and the houses as it sweeps round the long way from Kingston to Richmond. It's a lovely wild area where the presence of man is well hidden and I delight in walking there and taking photos of it for my other blog.

Recent events locally led to the birth of the Friends of Ham Lands (FoHL) which, while I had to muss their inaugural meeting, I've been quick to get involved in via their web site, forum and facebook page. And this week I had the chance to go to a meeting too.

The group having been established at the first meeting the committee was already in place and was sitting formally at the front of the room with the rest of us facing them lecture room style. This was no real surprise but it was hardly the best arrangement to encourage participation and involvement.

There was an agenda and we may even have followed it at times, e.g. I recall a Treasurer's report to account for the £100 or so spent to date, but we spent most of the evening discussing the committee's pet topics, which seemed to focus on getting rid of undesirables from the area. This was not a Ham Lands that I recognised as in my many years of walking through the wilder and more secluded places I have never had any trouble of any sort.

There was also a lot of enthusiasm for signs to tell you where you are, i.e. to label the different sections of Ham Lands, in case you needed to phone the police to report these undesirables. This struck me as a very last century solution as the easiest way to find out where you are these days is to ask your phone.

That said, I do like the idea of useful maps that show you were to find the different flora and fauna that take advantage of the wilderness.

On balance, the meeting was just about OK and I felt that some gentle nudging could get them to take a structured and informed approach to making changes. This is what I get paid to do at work after all.

But the real highlight of the evening was going to the Ham Brewery Tap afterwards. I had heard rumours from several sources of it's recent rise to respectability after its years of notoriety and they proved to be true. It is now a cosy locals pub that sells a decent pint of Young's Ordinary and I am one local who'll be going back there soon.

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