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Whispers Of Chalk Stream

Celebration of Spring Light

Willow Fish And Labyrinths


‘Such a warm, heartfelt, and inspiring sense of kin - being together to  celebrate the ‘light bringing’ of spring.’ 

‘I have a new interest and appreciation of the chalk stream’. 

‘I enjoyed the willow fish and learning new things’. 

On the 9 th March 2024 Attention2Place organised a free family event to welcome and  celebrate Spring light in Bishop’s Sutton Village Hall as part of the ‘Whispers of Chalk Stream’ project.

We were delighted to welcome 35 people and two dogs from the village and further afield. It  was particularly wonderful to involve young children in the event. This time attendees came  from Bishop’s Sutton, Basingstoke, Andover, Alresford, Shedfield, Chandlers Ford, Fair Oak  and Fareham.

Fish Feature Creature


The hall was prepared for the event with information boards celebrating the ‘Chalk stream  stories and songs’ event, a ‘Fish feature creature’, a ‘Celebration of Willow’ and ‘Poetry as a  way to respond to chalk stream’.

Tales From The Riverkeeper


The afternoon began with a talk about aquatic life and the work of  local river keeper Howard Boardman, through  amusing tales and questions from the audience.

The focus for this was on the 'wet' aspects of the river -  the varied fish and other aquatic life, and the plant life and maintenance of his length of river, which included monitoring and cutting of weed, etc. 

The Importance Of The Dry Winterbourne


On the 'Dry side' Tim Sykes, from the Environment Agency and Southampton University, drew attention to the  dry phase of winterbournes and the amazing life that exists even when a chalk stream is not  flowing. Tim also revealed the hidden life of the chalk aquifer below the village, including  mysterious aquatic creatures called ‘stygobites’.

This was fascinating for most of us because we didn't even think about the chalk stream  when it was dry and yet there is a whole new aspect of life taking advantage of the tmporary change in environment.  

Willow Fish Weaving


Participants heard about the magic of willow, a riverside tree that likes to grow with its  roots in the water of the chalk stream and learnt how to weave willow fish. It was a lovely  evening of: 

gathering, making, creating, bending, flexing, celebrating, chatting, mixing,  colouring, decorating, waving, weaving, twisting, constructing, folding,  mingling, turning, rotating, swivelling, crumpling, and laughing

Shadow Trout


The children enjoyed colouring fish and playing with trout shadow puppets. There was: 

giggling, tickling, dancing, swimming, diving, moving, chasing, floating,

Tales From The Riverbank


The evening continued with a story of creatures on the banks of the River Arle returning the Spring light to the  village – ‘As you walk the watery lanes of Bishop’s Sutton focus your attention, look carefully, be patient …  and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one of these small creatures.

The Labyrinth


The evening ended with a community walking of a labyrinth – together, slowly and taking steady  thoughtful steps to welcome Spring

What People Said About The Event


What have you learnt about the chalk stream today? 

Stygobites. Trout migrate along the river. 

Willow weaving - cool! 

Mostly thoughts on winterbournes and what is there alive. 

Amazing! Fascinating talks from Tim and Howard - the teeming ever present life of a winterbourne in  flowing waters from source and when dry- seasonal change… marking time… they're looking  forward to the return of the silver spring from the aquifer. A character all of its own. 

That we need to look at the Winterbourne when it's dry also there is so much more fish life than  we thought. 

That it is still living even when dry How unusual and special they are, plus their cycles. 

Creatures live in the aquifer. 

We really enjoyed hearing new things about willow and thinking about the dry riverbed.

 Wildlife under the river and when dry 

What have you enjoyed?

 Community involvement Hopeful feelings of the changing season Celebrating dry streams! 

Willow fish! Love chalk streams and learning new things. 

It was great fun and interesting talks.

 I loved weaving my fish. 

Will approach the dry riverbed in a different way. 

Enjoyed getting more information

Thankyou From Helen and Sharon


A special thank you to Howard and Tim for their informative talks and for all who attended, participated and were generous in their feedback. Many thanks to all who helped to set up  and pack away the hall, especially Michael and Aaron for designing and creating the labyrinth.  

We would like to acknowledge the Watercress and Winterbourne Community Grant Scheme  and National Lottery Heritage Funding. 

If you would like to read more about the project and the Celebration of Spring Light see an article, and a  gallery of photographs, in the Hampshire Chronicle here:

Whispers of Chalk Stream at Bishop's Sutton Village Hall | Hampshire Chronicle

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