Mill Road Winter Fair 2018

 

Come and join me making a corn labyrinth for the wonderful Mill Road Winter Fair on Saturday 1 December 2018. You’ll need to wrap up warm (the clue is in the name!) but you’ll be sure to have fun. On the first Saturday in December each year this long and characterful Cambridge street is closed to traffic so that local residents and businesses can open their doors and sell their wares from roadside stalls, while live music and alfresco food smells mingle to create a festival atmosphere. Local churches and mosques also open their doors.

You will find the labyrinth on Petersfield, on the corner of East Road and Mill Road, near the children’s play area. The labyrinth is a great symbol of community and an oasis of calm amid the busy-ness of the fair. We’ll be making the labyrinth (using the sort of corn you feed to chickens) from 10.30 am (it’s fun to take part, or just watch the process – helpers always welcome). It will be ready for walking from 11.30, and we’ll light it up with tea lights in jam jars from 3.00 pm. The whole fair finishes by 4.30 when the road re-opens, so don’t leave it too late to visit!

If you are planning to come and help, do send me a message. See you there…

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Mill Road Winter Fair 2014

This year at Cambridge’s Mill Road Winter Fair we enjoyed a clear blue sky, bright winter sun, and crisp cold temperatures. Thanks to everyone who came and helped or just walked (or ran!) the labyrinth. It was lovely to see some people who visited the labyrinth last year return to enjoy it again. I loved walking to the beat of the Arco Iris Samba Band when they passed by in the late afternoon. If you missed it this time – there’s always next year! And do keep an eye on the ‘events’ page for other labyrinth happenings.

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Making a temporary ‘corn’ labyrinth on grass

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Here are some photos of the process of making an outdoor ‘corn’ labyrinth on grass. The pictures were taken at Mill Road Winter Fair and the ‘aerial view’ one is from the Quiet Waters Christian Retreat House in Suffolk. This method is for making a seven circuit classical (or Cretan) labyrinth. The corn is the kind of ‘mixed corn’ you feed to chickens, and one large sack is just sufficient, providing you are not too generous at the start.

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The stake and swivel are the corkscrew-type dog owners use to tether their dog when at the beach or on a picnic. The rope we used is a 6 meter long dog-tether. The path widths are 80cm and the diameter of the labyrinth at the widest point is 12 meters.

 Note, it is necessary to mark the four corners of the initial ‘seed diagram’ with tent pegs. As the rope is drawn round, it snags on the pegs, thus producing a mushroom shape rather than a circle.

 Please check the Labyrinthos site for full instructions – I can confirm they work!

 For the candlelit version of the labyrinth we used tea lights in jam jars. For a different effect, it is also possible to buy brown paper ‘candle bags’ and put some sand and a tea light in each one.

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For our labyrinth, 12 meters in diameter, we used 180 jam jars and tea lights, with a spacing of 80cm.

 Finally, to calculate the length of the ‘walls’ of your labyrinth (more correctly known as the ‘fields’) the rule of thumb is to take the diameter and multiply it by 13.33. 

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Mill Road Winter Fair Candlelit Labyrinth

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Despite a misty and drizzly start, Saturday 1st December turned into a beautiful cold, clear day, perfect for wrapping up warm and joining the wonderfully varied throng in Mill Road for the annual Mill Road Winter Fair.

 This year saw the first ever labyrinth at the fair, and, as the day went on, it proved to be very popular with visitors of all ages, sizes and backgrounds.

 The idea for the labyrinth began on a summer day when I was passing Petersfield on my way to a meeting at Jimmy’s Night Shelter. I noticed the large green space… the benches round about… the encircling mature trees… I thought, how wonderful to make a labyrinth here, which could be walked by Jimmy’s guests and local residents alike, as a symbol of community. Afterwards I remembered the Winter Fair, which seemed the perfect opportunity to put my idea into practice.

 Mill Road Winter Fair committee liked the idea, especially the plan to light the labyrinth pathways with tea lights in jam jars. Jimmy’s and Cambridge Link Up were very pleased for me to raise awareness of their work through making the labyrinth.

 On the day the labyrinth looked truly magical as dusk descended. Gradually more and more people came to walk it. Quite a few were intrigued by the ancient pattern of its circuits and wanted to know more.  Many clearly experienced the meditative quality of the labyrinth for themselves. Youngsters and small children were particularly drawn to it and had a great time racing round it. Darkness fell at 4.00pm, and soon after the arrival of wonderful local Samba Band Arco Iris announced the rousing grand finale of the Fair. 

After all the jars and candles were cleared away, the print of the labyrinth, edged with corn and marked by the tracks of people’s feet, could still be clearly seen… It was, finally, too tempting for me to simply climb into the car and leave behind… I couldn’t resist one last sprint around the paths. It seemed as if the energy all the people who had walked it was focussed there, and I felt my spirit fly…

 Many thanks to all those who helped make the labyrinth, also those who saved up their used jam jars and those who helped put them out and light them on the day. Thanks too to Paul Edwards who took these lovely photos. All being well, we’ll be back again next year!

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