Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Otters and other things at Lee Valley

Our tame otters currently are at Hackeny Marshes in the Lee Valley in North London. They are taking part in Countryside Live, an event that introduces inner city children to rural life.

The Draper's Barge or Shallop, The Royal Thamesis on the River Lee

I tell the children that the otter's favorite food is the eel. In catching these they help protect fish stocks. Did you know this? Eel are notorious for feasting on fish fry. Old Father Thames, who is depicted here with eels peeping out of his beard has been brought up to the River Lee by the Worshipful Company of Drapers. He sits on the stern of the Drapers' Barge, the Royal Thamesis, which you might have seen taking part in the Royal Jubilee Pageant last year when she was number three in the procession.  

On Thursday 26th and Friday 27th September the crew of the Drapers' Barge will be at Lee Valley, teaching primary school children how to row. In past years we found that it was the first time that most of them had ever been in a boat. We were able to tell the enthusiastic that there are opportunities to join the Sea Scouts or canoe clubs on the River Lee.

I always enjoy meeting the bat men who exhibit at Countryside Live. They literally introduce you to different species of bats. The fascinating pigeon fanciers explain how vital homing pigeons were during WWI, there are falconry displays, ferret racing and gigantic heavy horses.

However it is the sheep who captivate large audiences. Here you can see Belinda being introduced to her admiring public.

What struck me most about Countryside Live is that money is not involved. There is nothing to buy. No one asks for cash - and yet there is so much to do and see. The children leave laden with corn dollies they have made or useful things they have constructed out of withies.

At the end of the day the Drapers have a tradition of rowing pensioners form the Tottenham Almshouses up the river. Some have been known to take an oar themselves although these ladies were happy to be taken for a ride.

To learn about the work of Countryside Live, please click here

For information about events at Lee Valley please click here

Countryside Live run a silent art auction - do have a look at the auction held in July 2013 by clicking here

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