Blogging from Balcombe

Dear friends and family,
At long last we have a chance to update the blog… and a lot of updating there is to do! So much has happened since the last entry here, so please bare with me as I rattle through it all.

This particular blog is coming to you from sunny Balcombe, where it is currently raining and where we are presently camped, doing all we can to stop the fracking and poisoning of our water here and across this beautiful island.

But before I tell you all about what’s happening here I have to backtrack to our time in Appleby and the death of my father…

I have to say, that being there for my dad’s death was an immense honour though, naturally it was a very stressful time. We returned to Appleby having spent a week Ilckley, getting the tow-bar on the car re-enforced. I think I told you that my dad had been taken straight back to hospital in Carlisle having spent only a couple of days at home. He was still there when we got back to Appleby and it quickly became obvious that he wouldn’t be returning home again. After a few days (maybe a week?) he was transferred to the community hospital in Penrith and I have to say the staff at Penrith could not have been more caring and supportive, not only of my dad but of the whole family and friends, who visited to say their final farewells.

For most of the time dad was out of it on tranquillisers and painkillers, though one morning, after having been asleep for at least 36 hours, he suddenly woke up, asked to get out of bed, drank tea, ate sweets and chatted about what was happening to him (he was slightly confused by all the medication). After a few hours he told how depressed he was and said he just wanted to fall asleep and not wake up and shortly after that he was back to sedated unconsciousness.

A couple of nights later he died peacefully in his sleep, with Marge, myself and Prajna at his side, easing him through the transition. It was one of the most grounding experiences of my life so far! I was honoured and grateful to be there
And I was very glad to be there to support Marge too. She’d had months of running up and down to hospital by then, helplessly watching as her husband grew frail and weak. She was so strong throughout the whole ordeal, and by the end just needed to let it all out.

The universe seemed to have the timing of everything under control: one week after my dad passed on, and one day before my eldest niece was due to return to Australia (she had to go back to work a week before the rest of her clan) we had the funeral. Had it been one day later several people who came to the funeral wouldn’t have been able to get there! That’s just one instance out of many demonstrating immaculate timing on the part of the universe, many others escape me just now (sorry!). Oh, wait! I remember one… My sister was desperate to get home from Oz to see our dad before he died, but just didn’t have the funds to get here. But the universe stepped in to help and just in the nick of time the house she’d been trying to sell in Liverpool sold, meaning that the whole family could come for a full month and everyone who loved him got to see my dad before he went. In addition to these perfectly timed synchronicities there was the timing of our arrival in Appleby that I mentioned in my previous blog post.

The funeral was in Liverpool, so a few days after he died, Prajna and I hitched up our caravan and returned to Hooton, near Chester, where the wonderful Mark welcomed us back with open arms!

The day after the funeral we had a very welcome call from Commonly Known As Dom who asked if we would like to steward at The Green Gathering festival in Chepstow the following week. Naturally we leapt at the chance. So having said farewell to my dad, to my sister, brother-in-law and nieces, we headed off to Wales and the Green Gathering. We had the most amazing time there, met up with friends old and new and recharged our souls. Whilst there we heard about the anti-fracking camp here in Balcombe and decided we needed to get ourselves here as soon as we could.

Before we could get here though, we had a few other things to take care of: First we had to head north to Bishops Castle, near Shewsbury, where we delivered some medicine (cannabis oil) to a friend with cancer. Massive thanks to Dean, who supplied the medicine and much, much love to Rachael and her family!

From there we headed down to Essex to steward at the One Love festival, with a couple of stops along the way.

We stopped first at Hereford to visit some friends at a community we spent some time with a couple of years ago. And here I have to get very, very cross with Guy Taylor, who ‘owns’ the site in question. When we lived with that community, Guy asked if we would stand guard at a demolition site (also owned by him) where we spend our days cleaning up the salvaged bricks for sale, and our nights guarding the site. Once the job was done we returned to the community only to be asked by Guy to go back to the brick site, as he hadn’t yet sold all the bricks. He told us he’d come to the site the following morning with £60 for us, and that he would ‘weight us in properly’ once the bricks were sold. Suffice to say he was not as good as his word, but we lost no sleep over that. Money means very little to myself and Prajna, and we were happy to be of service either way. However, on our visit to the community we were informed by Guy’s son that Guy wanted to charge us for plugging in, despite the FACT that Guy himself does not pay for electricity on that site, claiming that the electric company actually owes him money there. Also we were informed that there would also be charges for ground rent. We gave Guy a call, imagining that he hadn’t realised it was us who’d pitched up there, and as soon as he did he’d have a change of attitude. Oh how deluded we were! Next thing we knew we were being threatened with physical violence (via his bully boys) if we didn’t leave. How very, very cheeky Mr Taylor! Just you wait till I see you next!!!

On a much more cheerful note, from there we headed to Tring where, at long last, I got to introduce Prajna to two of my favourite people on the planet, Chug and Lynda. We spend a very relaxed and enjoyable few days with them and their daughter, and as I’d predicted, love and friendship blossomed as Prajna, Chug and Lynda got to know each other.

Our next stop was at the One love festival where we had an absolute ball, giving out free hugs, getting fully acquainted, falling in love with the Steward HQ crew and soaking up the wonderful atmosphere.

From there it was less than 50 miles to Balcombe in Sussex, and the anti-frack camp. And here we are! There’s a wonderful community growing here; folk from all walks of life sharing a common goal, to stop the fracturing of this beautiful planet, the only one we have to call home, and stop the poisoning of the water on which all lad-dwelling life depends.

We’re a very diverse and creative bunch here and some of the direct action taken by individuals have been amazing! From a local guy who locked himself on top of a wagon exiting the fracking site and tying up police resources for hours; a local lady locking herself onto the main gate, right under the noses of the police; a guy who set up a huge tripod in the middle of the road and climbed on top, once again, tying the police up for hours.

Naturally, the police are never best pleased when these direct actions take place and start getting heavy handed with the campers here.

There have been plenty of arrests since we’ve been here (up to 7 or 8 a day) , all petty and of little consequence except to the mainstream media who use arrest numbers to suggest we’re a bunch of lawless thugs (go figure). But, with experience, people are learning not to accept the ridiculous police bail conditions imposed (don’t cross the road) which are invariably revoked by magistrates and which are nothing more than power trips on the part of the police.

That said, most of the police here are pretty chilled out, particularly the protest liaison officers, who are on the whole very approachable, reasonable and intelligent. Prajna and I are spending many, many hours in conversation with the cops, discussing various pertinent issues surrounding fracking, the nature of policing, governance, legitimacy of this government, fracking licences, what it is to live a real life outside of the bounds of ‘legal fictions’, etc, etc. Two or three of the police are beginning to consider the relevance of their arguments their position and their way of life. Two/three down, 50+ to go! 😉

We’ve been here for almost three weeks now and counting. Although Cuadrilla have stated that they will not be seeking to extend their drilling licence here, we are aware that once Cuadrilla move out it will only be a matter of time before some fracking corporation moves in to pollute the water and fracture the bedrock. We (that is the community here) will not be fooled and will not move on until our work here is done… and then we move on to the next site.

In the meantime we send you all our love and best wishes and hope to see you here in this most beautiful part of the country very soon! Join Us!!

Much love,
Kali and Prajna. xxxx