Yesterday I went to Margate. I went to other places too, but I went to Margate.
It was a funny day in a way – it had elements of looking backwards as well as living in the moment and a bit of looking forward.
I woke early, I often do, and that made the rest of the day easier. I drove to Sandy, which I used to do often but now do very rarely, and parked at Sandy station in time to get the 0620 train into Kings Cross. As we moved south towards London the train filled with people dressed for work whereas I was dressed for play. I looked around and smiled that I was in jeans and a rather scruffy fleece and they were in their suits. I was reading a book, and everyone else was looking at their phones. I felt the odd one out, but I didn’t mind that.
At Kings Cross I went to the Cafe Nero booth where I often used to buy coffee and a croissant in a previous life (often as I caught the 0720 back up to Sandy after an overnight in London) and handed over a full loyalty card for the coffee. I’d hoped that a lady who I used to chat to, in as much as one can develop a close, deep and meaningful relationship over ordering cups of coffee, in a previous life would be there but she wasn’t. I then walked across the road to St Pancras and found the platform for Margate. it would have been slightly easier but much more expensive, if I had caught a train from my nearer station Wellingborough (which arrives in London at St Pancras) instead of having to go to Sandy but, there you go, the world is a slightly crazy place.
The train to Margate had just arrived at the platform, maybe from Margate, and was disgorging more men in suits and women in make up as I sipped my coffee in my jeans and fleece.
The rail journey was quite long but I had a book, and I had my phone too. We whizzed past Rainham Marshes RSPB nature reserve and I thought of the Wasp Spiders of my last visit, and of a Spoonbill of long ago.
We got to Margate where there was a sign saying Margate (rather reassuringly)…
…some Herring Gulls…
…and some eggs and chips from Angela’s cafe on the seafront…
You can’t have days like this if you have a proper job, can you?
And the eggs and chips were just right to fill a space and to fill the time until 10am when the Turner Contemporary opened. For, dear reader, this was work, not a jaunt. I had come to see the Jeremy Deller English Magic exhibition which includes a rather large mural of a Hen Harrier (see above, at head of this post (and there’s Mandy too)).
One good thing about the Turner Contemporary is that there is free admission. Another good thing is that there is an enormous Hen Harrier on the wall.
Now, as I looked at an enormous Hen Harrier I was becoming a little puzzled as it was a mural – how was this mural in Venice last year, I wondered? And the explanation of the mural said it was painted by Sarah Tynan – so who is this Deller guy (who I thought was the painter)?
So I turned to the lady in uniform and asked sheepishly whether photography was allowed (expecting the answer no) and was told it was. Hooray!
So I took some photographs, as you can see, and got talking to Mandy who explained that Jeremy Deller was the moving force behind the exhibition and had brought everything together, and dreamed it all up, but that a variety of folk had done the artwork. Sarah Tynan had led on the Hen Harrier image, especially on the central part of the bird (head etc) but that a variety of people had painted the rest of it including Mandy herself. Wow!
Mandy had painted some of the bird’s right wing (that’s the left one as we look at the painting).
And so this is the third place that this Hen Harrier has landed – being repainted from a projected image each time, I’m told. And when the exhibition is over then it just gets painted over and disappears! Wow again!
But there will always be a Hen Harrier on that wall, under other paint. What a nice thought.
Mandy knew lots about Hen Harriers, including the recent disappearance of the two birds in the Trough of Bowland – I was impressed.
I went downstairs after thanking Mandy, and getting her to pose in the photo above, and was pleased to see that the Deller/Tynan/Mandy et al. Hen Harrier was on sale as a postcard – I bought all that were on display (74 of them). The lady and gentleman who sold them to me also knew about Hen Harriers – and the missing birds. I was impressed again!
I think there may be a few Turner Contemporary staff signing our e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting.
I left the gallery and headed back to the railway station. On the train I wrote lots of postcards to friends of the Hen Harrier such as the GWCT, Moorland Association and BASC, as well as Defra and NE, and a few rather deeper friends too.
Now, you did notice the date didn’t you? Today is 7 years since whatever happened at Dersingham Bog happened at Dersingham Bog. And that was where I headed, from Sandy station, after my return train journey.
I drove past and around Sandringham and posted my postcards at Dersingham Post Office. Some will arrive today and others next week. It seemed the right place to post them.
I sat a while overlooking Dersingham Bog (see below), from 5pm until 545pm. I didn’t see any Hen Harriers. The rest of that visit can be told at another time, in another place. But I hope all the friends of the Hen Harrier enjoy their postcards and enjoy the fitting date on which they were sent and the location from which they were sent.
The English Magic exhibition at Turner Contemporary is open until 11 January (Tuesday-Sunday) and is well worth a visit if you love Hen Harriers. And there is a lot more to look at besides. If you go, do chat to the staff about Hen Harriers and ask them whether they have signed the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting and therefore protect the Hen Harrier.