Having lived all my life with the Thames on my doorstep, I thought that I knew all there was to know about it, during the summer a collaboration between a local folk group 'The Avenue' and London based author Caitlin Davies launched at a local venue. Caitlin has written a book about the history of swimming in the Thames, while the group have created an EP to accompany it.
The book tells of the swimmers and the great range of character's ranging from extreme sportsmen to even more extreme eccentric's. Southend pier is the end-point for those who attempt to swim the entire length of the Thames. One of the funniest stories is of an American who swan along the Thames in 2010, most of the journey went well until the pier was in site , first he was attacked by a shoal of Essex jellyfish, then he had problems with the tides. He made for shore to check his GPS while he stood there he tide went out and he was left stuck in the mud and had to call the inshore rescue service.
Caitlin released information from her book to the group who were able to write songs taking inspiration from it, one is about Annie Luket, a lady champion high diver who also put on a bit of a circus show, another is based on Jules Gautier, who swam in the Thames while in shackles!
Art work produced by Darren Jones a member of 'The Avenue' was also on display, he is well known locally as a talented musician and artist. This was an entertaining event with something for everyone, the author who discussed her book, paintings related to the stories it contained and a live performance of the songs inspired by it, a very relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
The book is entitled Downstream,and the EP Between Two Stones all proceeds from the EP are going to Havens Hospice.
If you come across a copy of the book or EP both are recommended.