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The generosity of the people of Burham

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

Burham nestles under Burham Down, overlooking the River Medway and Burham Marsh at Snodland. The Pilgrims' Way runs through the village. In all the awful weather, it is still possible to see how scenic the position of the village is.

With the rain and wind continuing (3rd. wettest March on record) and having offloaded many of the logs, I went for a walk through the village to a petrol station on the main road through the village. I needed to get some dry wood and perhaps some coal. The fuel there is advertised at a very reasonable price (given the cost of fuel), but was shocked to discover the cost of logs. I even pointed out the fact that the price for a bag of logs is at least a third more than the most expensive I had bought this Winter thus far. The coal is nearly double what I had been paying! The little convenience shop has reasonably priced goods for that type of shop, otherwise. Begrudgingly, I bought a couple of bags of each. I had little choice.

During a break in the rain, I got out to have a look around.

That evening, chilling with Rowan, I was suddenly startled by a loud crack. On investigation, I found that some little herberts had thrown a stone or some such thing at a window, resulting in a small hole in the outer skin of the plastic window. Later, I was told that the latest craze is to shoot out car windows with a pellet gun!

In the morning, I noticed the rubbish that was strewn across the field. It was the same old same as - McD junk and cans of fizzy ‘beer’. Always the same culprits. (I have always argued that those junk-food take-aways should be fined heavily for the clean-up costs of their intellectually challenged clientele.)

I decided to put a post on the local Facebook page about the damage and rubbish. Within no time, I was getting visitors. All saying the same thing; “Please don’t think that the village is responsible. We have had problems with the chavs from Snodland ever since the bridge opened connecting that town to the villages on this side of the river.” Everyone was welcoming and many brought gifts. There are three villages that neighbour each other; Eccles, Burham and Wouldham. Just before Wouldham, a settlement called Peter Village has been recently built along with the bridge that has caused so many problems. With more land being earmarked for further development, it would seem that the villages will soon be lost, becoming nothing more than suburbs of Snodland. Snodland is an industrial town, having several factories, particularly paper and cement manufacturers, who no doubt are polluting the river that they stand along.

The first person to appear was a lovely lady called Izzy. She gave me an offcut of Perspex to cover the hole in the window. She came in for a cuppa. She told me that she was going to a supermarket, so would get anything that I needed. I thanked her and asked her to pick up some Oat milk and offal for Rowan. Before she left, another knock at the door introduced me to Wayne, the landlord of the pub at the end of the village, The Windmill. He invited me to the pub. Then a fella called Jay got in touch. He turned up with bags of logs and coal. The most random visit was from some young lads who gave me a fiver and asked to have a selfie with me. I also had a kind offer from some-one in Wouldham to come park there.

That evening, I went to the pub. I was there all evening and never had a chance to put my hand in my pocket. In fact, I had to put a halt on the number of beers that were being lined up! It was a great evening. There was a jam session going on. At one point, I was chatting to a bloke called Ted, when I heard a bloke say something about knocking out some rock tunes. I looked up to see, well, not what I was expecting, but a well developed female chest. Ted began laughing. I looked at him. He said, “You’ve just noticed, haven’t you! That’s Hilary, I used to work with her when she was a him, a welder at the steelworks.” Hilary was very good. She knocked out some classic tunes.

Ted and his Mrs., Debbie, invited me to have a shower. Ted was a bit wary about asking. I reassured him, saying, “Don’t ever worry about asking a traveller if he wants a shower. You will not offend. Showers are a luxury and will almost always be gratefully partaken of.” They also kindly did a laundry wash, too.

The visitors and gifts kept coming all week. On one of the drier days, though still windy, I got back from foraging firewood. I opened my door and found a large parcel. It was a huge loaf of bread. With it was a note signed Bern & Simon. I don’t know how they got it through the catflap!

I was gifted some amazing rock cakes,some scrap wood and kindling, etc. Izzy dropped more milk and food for Rowan whenever she was passing by the supermarket. She refused all offers to pay for anything. I asked her about recycling. She kindly offered to let me use her bins, both recycling and general rubbish.

Jay is a real diamond. He got me more logs and coal when I needed them. (I insisted on paying). He also started bringing over a cooked meal every evening. The food was amazing and wholesome. His partner, Stacey, knocked up the fabulous food. Jay, as I said, is a brilliant bloke. He helps wherever he can, despite the fact that he works day and night. He got me a tube of strong binding mastic so that I could fix the Perspex over the hole in the window. He was born on the road and lived in a Gypsy wagon with his grandmother, though he is housebound at present. Mind you, he’s just acquired a Gypsy wagon, into which he intends to move in due course.

Simon the bread man, stopped by to invite me to a meal. Unfortunately, I had just eaten one of Stacey’s wonderful meals, so was stuffed.

Many of the villagers pass by, walking their dogs. A fair number of horse-riders walk by, too. One older chap walks over to Wouldham regularly to use the small supermarket there. It’s about a five mile round journey. We always greet each other and some stop for a chat. All very friendly people.

One day after foraging for firewood in the woods at the foot of the down, behind the pub, I was struggling with the amount that I was carrying. Some young boys came by on bicycles. They stopped and offered to carry my load. What wonderful, respectful children!

The welcomes and gifts still kept coming. I was told that a food bank once operated in the village. I walked up to the village hall to find out more. It was closed, but there was a notice about the food bank on the noticeboard. I did not have the means to record the telephone number to contact, but did notice an address for donating food in the village. I knew the address as I would pass it on the way home. I called by. The kind lady of the house, Gwen, gave me a leaflet with the telephone number on. She explained that she takes the donations to the hub on Wednesdays and would deliver a food parcel to me on her return. I made the call. That day, I had a small parcel delivered!

One thing I noticed about the spot on which I parked; it’s very exposed to the wind!

As for the villagers, one could not wish to meet a kinder, more generous bunch of people!

The dickheads who damaged my window, in the end, done us all a favour! As a direct result of their vandalism, I published a post about it, from which the villagers and I were pulled together.

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