Saturday, 7 June 2008

The funny bits..

It's worth recording here that depsite my going on about sacrifices and putting up with stuff..I find something to smile at everyday. You'd be surprised what a glass of Merlot can do of an evening to render a situation funny and the times I have sat in my caravan giggling at the silliness of a situation..well lets say I'm pleased my caravan is tucked away!

OK - the first thing has got to be the loo. Here it is. Yes, I know it appears to be a rather dilapidated old shed but in fact its the very height of environmental technology.

It's a compost loo. OK, its held together by cobwebs and a bit of wood that keeps it sort of upright and OK...I'm sure if a really strong gust of wind did hit it, well actually, I dread to think... but I like our compost loo. It's reassuring that there is a very simple and effective solution to wild-eco-living and one day, when I get my own caravan and live in that meadow near those woods...well I wont need to worry. Actually what I want is a compost teepee, now that's what I call Eco!

So this is how it works...dont worry this isnt going to get graphic. It ends up filled with sawdust and shavings 'cos thats what we add after every use. It doesnt smell much, sort of piney and I guess those holes in the wall allow a through-draft. When it needs emptying and yes, I've taken my turn, we load it carefully onto a wheelbarrow and trundle it down to the special composting area where it gets added to the rest. A tarpaulin covers the whole thing and like horse/pig/chicken manure (sorry!!) it degrades in exactly the same way. And NO!! I dont know anything about using the final compost yet..I havent asked!

So imagine me late at night..mist down over the fields, moon shining down...I leave the door open...there's no one near and it's the most amazing feeling, like you are really connected to the earth.

See one month in and I'm already losing the plot! I'm turning into a real eco-warrior!

This is the view have to admit, it's quite something!

My first month as a Volunteer...

Well! Here I am - a Volunteer at last! If anyone is still in any doubt that a dream can come true then you need to read this blog and my web page - its the story of how my dreams are coming true.

OK...first things first. The pic is my caravan on the day I arrived. A bit scruffy eh?

This way of life is not for everyone. I work really hard and I ache all day. I've sacrificed almost everything I took for granted - hot running water - constant electricity - familiarity and friends.

For two whole, dreadful weeks I suffered horribly from homesickness. This was completely unexpected and totaly knocked me for 6. It was in fact grieving - very physical, very painful. The only place I felt myself was in the car..I know..crazy! But its true. It's as if my car and I are somehow connected to my old life and it was my comfort.

Part of the problem was that I struggled with not knowing where anything was - for example I wanted a paint brush one weekend, so I jumped in the car and set off to find the nearest B&Q - there's one 5 mins from where I used to live, so I naively assumed such would be the case down here! But no! In the throes of my homesickness, can you believe I ended up in a Wickes car park in tears because I couldnt find a B&Q!!! But I did get my paint brush.

The secret to the end of my homesickness? Well in week 2 I went to Surrey with Phil Terrett and spent a week working on his exhibition stand. I was distracted by people and laughing and hot showers!!! By week three - I was sufficiently distracted and havent looked back. I need to remember this in the future -distractions - they are the secret!

What have I gained?
Well I find that I can adapt really quickly. I know I can put up with a lot, the saga of keeping clean is another post!! I know I can lead a very happy life with very little. I am losing weight (over a stone) and getting stronger by the day. I am learning about organic growing and I find I pick stuff up really quickly.

I adore picking my lunch/tea from the field it was sown in. This pic is one of the lettuce beds that I look after. I've sowed dozens of trays of lettuce seeds ready to plant out and these beds are weeded by hand - my hand! In the first week I sowed 3000 spring onion seeds and got badly sunburned!

I have a local pub - I've always wanted my own "local" but pre-smoking ban, just hated the stink. My local is the White Hart in Wiveliscombe - lovely pub Simon!! I dont have a pic yet. Most importantly, I am realising whats important to me. Little things like keeping clean, feeling girly but being fit and strong...I'm sure others will emerge but those are the ones that matter for now.

Would I change my mind..Oh no! This is my training ground. I'm learning skills and knowledge here that will support me in the future...go back to tv, constant electricity, hot showers, washing thanks! The fact that I now see these things luxuries is the point here. When you have to decide whether to spend today's supply of solar power on the laptop for a dvd or an evening of music on the stereo you know that you are truly environmentaly aware - and I feel a bit superior in truth!