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‘The future of the future will still contain the past’

Sunday March 20th 2020 – 16km run. Home, Greenwich Park, Limehouse Basin and back.

Sixteenth and 21st century timelines colliding. The Queen’s House. The ever-expanding Canary Wharf, wealth rising upwards towards the heavens.

It’s a world which seems faster, harder, more negative than ever with relentless 24 hour news cycles priming us to fight and flight and panic.

Running and raving helps me cope. First of all to 21 Years with Groove Armada Disc 1, celebrating the weekend, the sunshine, harness and project positive energy in a world full of painful contradictions.

And then the iconic, soul shredding house classic Junk Science by Deep Dish for the trip back home. This album circles back to zero point with its shuddering deep bass lines reaching deep into my brain and out into space.

Timeless, floating, endlessly resonating from its launch in 1998 to now:

Mohammed is Jesus is Buddha is love is the way I see it.’

‘Stranded in your American dream/ Of a Polaroid lie I have never seen/ I’m living…

Music, mirror, reality slide.

The future of the future will still contain the past. Time goes slow and time goes fast…’

The final kilometre home was my fatest – the hypnotic house beasts of Sushi giving new life to tired legs.

Beats dropped in the right place at the right time connecting and unlocking hidden energy.

Everything, everyone, connected at source.

Sunday March 7, 2022 – 14.5km

The Thames at low tide. Running through Limehouse, past mud banks, luxury flats and glimpses of a lost dockyard past. I’m listening to the haunting, heartbreaking strains of Agnes Obel’s Familiar.

The sun glints crystals on the water. A sudden mood shift from my running playlist to Erasures’s euphoric Give a Little Respect .

A small terrier barks and rears up. Its lead is nearly choking it, it’s trying to attack a much bigger dog, who stares down at it with benign confusion. Above them, their owners start to trade angry words. A potential war is started, averted when the bigger dog gently nudges his owner who walks him around and away.

The wind chases the clouds and hides the sun. I’m now listening to Dostoevsky and the Russian Soul. As a young man, Fyodor Dostoevsky found himself in front of a firing squad. For 10 endless minutes, he thought he was about to die. His sentence was commuted to hard labour and military service. Dostoevsky’s observations during his time in Siberia, revealing the deep contradictions of our human souls: the peasants, brutish, violent, yet capable of unexpected kindness, the deep rooted fear of ‘the other’; the need to define ourselves by what we are not; Russia is not the West, the West is not Russia.

Nations endlessly going to war. We act against our own best interests in the name of abstract concepts like freedom. And yet at the same time, we are capable of showing great kindness and compassion.

Literature holding a hopeful mirror up to reality.

Weekend running – time, space, meditate.

The Rhino Who Came for Coffee…

It’s not every day a rhino peers through your bedroom window.

I’m standing in the bedroom, sipping black coffee, watching a rhino watching me. It’s not your average Wednesday morning. It’s Day Two of our stay in Leopard Creek at Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve.

Leopard Creek consists of 5 luxury wooden cabins set in lush landscaped parkland. There are also 2 Wigwams. All have gorgeous sea-facing views over the Kent countryside. And – as befits the name – there are two breathtaking Amur leopards. They roam in a large bespoke enclosure – hills, rocks, space for sprinting. Today, they are both out, playing and basking in the sunshine.

We arrived in the tail end of Storm Eunice. Rain, wind, fallen leaves and branches. There were many humans to be seen, queuing for check-in, parking cars, walking, playing, driving golf buggies. But not so many wild animals. They were being sensible, sheltering from the weather.

Port Lympne doesn’t shut its animals into viewing sections. Each enclosure is specially designed for the animal. High, intricate wooden structures for the monkeys, open hilly grassland and play areas with swings and slides for the gorillas, lots of vegetation for the smaller cats. There is always somewhere to hide. If the animal doesn’t want to be on display (or if it’s raining!) they may decide to stay indoors.

These 600 acres are home to over 900 animals and 75 species of animals. The Hotel and Reserve is run in conjunction with The Aspinall Foundation. This charity’s core aim is to help stop the extinction of endangered animals and release them back into the wild wherever possible. On our hour-long Safari tour, we travel through a Kentish Savannah. Trevor, our tour guide, tells us how he’s having to travel around the opposite direction due to the storms. He points out Rosie the Rhino as we are setting off:

‘ Rosie is a real character. She is my favourite animal, even though she nearly killed me one day. I’ll tell you more about Rosie later…’

We drive past the giraffes, their almost reptilian faces peering out of their shelter. The February weather isn’t very appealing to them, they are staying indoors in their centrally heated house.

As we turn the corner, the drive points out a spot where Rosie the Rhino held everybody up for 2 hours by lying in front of the truck. The keepers tried everything to move her, but Rosie was having none of it. ‘As result we don’t go back to Basecamp that way any more!’, says Trevor.

And how did Rosie nearly kill Trevor? Rosie was a rescue rhino, used to being in an enclosed space. On arriving at Port Lympne, she was put in a large open enclosure. One day, she charged at Trevor as he was driving people on a safari – the keepers realised her behaviour was because she was agoraphobic – the open space scared her.

After our safari, we went through the Wallaby Walkthrough. One of the Wallabies was lying on its side, panting, licking its foot. Its friend stood over it, staring inquisitively at us. Not being experts in Wallaby behaviour, we thought we’d better get it looked at. Typically, as the keeper walked up to it, the wallaby was standing up, but it looked like there could have been a mark on its left foot. It was in the right space now, with the keeper looking at it.

We started chatting to the fundraiser Kate. Kate told us about Howelett’s the sister sanctuary near Canterbury. Kate told us this could be one of our last opportunities to see the herd as they are going to a sanctuary in Kenya in Spring 2022.

‘The UK Government now doesn’t allow elephants to breed in captivity. We have two bull males, they are almost 10 years old. This is the age where they will start roaming further afield. They are getting frisky. Some of our ladies want to breed and they can’t. Elephants in captivity often only live for 18-30 years, one of ours died recently and she was 58 .Elephants in the wild can live for 60 years or more.’ (sort out this quote)

13 elephants on a jumbo jet. Qatar airlines. All the seats will be removed and the animals loaded in crates ‘We are getting them used to the crates. We are putting food in there.
Kate is looking emotional as she’s speaking. The elephants will be hugely missed.


The next day – seeing the elephants being let out of their house, walking slowly and regally to their field. Two of the elephant children are playing – jumping on each other’s heads, and other parts….

You don’t have to travel as far as Kenya to go on Safari. You can see rhinos, leopards, lions plus many more beautiful creatures in Kent. It’s not cheap but it is a holiday with a conservation consciousness. You’ll make memories to last a lifetime – go and see the elephants while you still can!

Early one Friday morning

A group is gathering on an open heath

Imperfect circles, jump, squat, lunge

Preparing to run the cares away

All piled up together

The sun paints a rose sky

In front of us, the day spreads its potential

Photo credit: TBC

All the paths never taken

(Inspired by Ralph Feinnes’ haunting performance in T.S Elliot’s The Four Quartets at the Harold Pinter Theatre, Saturday 27 November 2021)

All the doors never opened

Take route in our memories

Planting their coils

What if?

What then?

What might?

Ahead of us, the road whines and winds

The future made each slipping instant

The past now a fixed shadow.

Nantwich Canal: early morning, Christmas Eve 2021

London Marathon: Over £9,000 raised for South London Special League!

Our original target was £2,000 to provide weekly tennis sessions in Greenwich Park. Thanks to the phenomenal support from our family, friends, community, the Westcombe News and Blackheath and Westcombe Ward who donated £4,500, we have raised more than four times this amount.

L-R – Cath Farrant, Olwen Davies, Helen Marley-Hutchinson, Rachel-Mai-Jones, Miren Davies

Sharon Brokenshire, MBE, Director and Founder of South London Special League says the extra money will go towards new Powerchairs for Greenwich Powerchair Football Club. (GPFC):

“Greenwich Powerchair Football Club play in the  South England Region League and travel each weekend to matches. It is essential we are able to provide modern competitive equipment for our players.

The 10 Powerchairs are getting old and expensive to maintain. A new Powerchair costs over £7,000 and the Marathon money will go towards buying new Powerchairs.

Powerchair Football is a skilful, fast-moving game, enabling physically disabled players to play football at whatever level they desire – at a really competitive level, or just enjoy being part of the game. Many players prior to Powerchair Football lived solitary and isolated lives; the health and wellbeing improvements are enormous and can be seen at every game.”

A huge Thank You to everybody who supported our appeal – every penny is making a direct, positive impact on people’s lives, providing much needed opportunities for our diverse, disabled community of all ages to meet friends, get fit and have fun.

We hope to see the Powerchair team in action one weekend soon. In the meantime, there’s still time to donate to our Marathon Appeal.


Matthew Pennycook MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, visits Greenwich PFC

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