Somerset's Memorable Moments:
Weeding Onions @ Spring Grove
Have you ever done something so much that it hurt?!! Well, imagine spending days on end bent double, weeding. You cant imagine what it does to your hamstrings. The moment I remember most about weeding at Spring Grove was the day I did the onions in the lower field. Remember, this isnt an allotment..its commercial, so the rows are about 60 yds long. Let me tell you, by the end of the afternoon, my arse hurt so much I couldnt lift my feet up! In hind sight (scuse the pun!) check the evidence...Buns of Iron!
I loved my little caravan! Over the 6 months I was in it I found neat little ways to make it prettier, warmer, easier to live in. If there was one thing that let it down, it was the Solar panel. Dont know why but I could never get enough charge in the battery for my needs. I could either watch a dvd or listen to music, but not both! It meant that I had to plan the evening thus...read until the light went...continue until the candles were'nt enough and then...music or film? I usually watched a dvd in bed as the seating only had a comfort factor of about 1 hour, after that my bum went numb. I painted inside and out, added shelves and made a garden and finally...my Eco Futon...!
One thing I really wanted at Spring Grove was a bike. The problem was what to do with it afterwards. It took two trips to get everything down there from Wales and I didnt fancy a 3-trip removal! Well, having left the matter unresolved, I went along to a Scything day with the guys and at one the stalls found a lovely old ladies bike. I stood there for at least 15 minutes weighing up the pros and cons of bike-ownership before deciding to ask if she worked. Well, she did, sort of...there didnt appear to be much in the way of brakes and the gear (singular) was a bit dodgy but after much negotiation I managed to secure her for the grand sum of £1. I bought a new tyre and inner tube, a new gear cable, a pump...and then discovered that the mechanics inside the hub meant that the gear cable wouldnt work. James came up the the solution..wack a nail into the thing...one gear was enough after all! I called Jase to tell him about my prize and during the conversation he suggested that I sounded like I was turning into a Miss Marple character...well there was her name...Miss Marple! I rode her once to Wivvy, scared myself to death...flies in my eyes, hub shrieking and no brakes to speak of...she's still at Spring Grove, behing the loo in my garden..where she will remain!
Becoming Cook and the Kitchen
It didnt take very long for the opportunity for me to cook for the guys to turn up and I grabbed it with both hands. I love cooking. Imagine the luxury of being able to walk into the fields though, and harvest what you want from an organic source!! My favourite salad is raw grated beetroot and raw grated carrot (got that one from Beth) and I think courgette is the most useful vegetable ever. One in a while I used Tim's oven - like the day Claire's mum came to visit and I made scones - but possibly my absolute favourite thing of all were the tomatoes! Gardners Delight is the gardener's choice..they taste amazing, they just explode in your mouth. They tend to split but if you catch the split ones before they drop, they cook a treat. You've seen the kitchen tent and it cant be called anything but primitive (!) so imagine the excitement when it was finaly agreed to build a new kitchen onto the barn...sadly I haven't cooked in it and it was still only being painted after I left but one day I'm going back...just to cook in it!
Minehead Farmers Market
Once a week on a Friday, Spring Grove goes to market. Minehead is lovely, its by the sea. The majority of customers at the market were quite elderly. I loved going to market. I loved the trip out there, setting up the stall, coffee at Cream (a small cafe right opposite our stall) and I loved the customers. People are very important to me. I think they reflect/validate your worth or your contribution..if people are pleased to be in contact with you then you are nice to be near. I suppose I need that... to know that I'm nice to be near (!) Of course you develop relationships and "Boots", the ladies who make the bears, Chris and Chris, Margaret, they are all lovely. Sorry I didnt say goodbye guys.
Joe and the flute
Definately one of my most memorable moments. I was sitting in my caravan at around 9.00pm and the evening had that special "summer" quality. I was enjoying a glass of Merlot and gradually became aware of a sound outside. I opened the door to hear the pure notes of a flute drfiting across from Joe's tent. I stood there for a while just listening and then walked round to see if he was out. Two things...the view across the fields and the sound of the flute...hard to describe but magical comes very close...
A steam train ride...
For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to travel on the Orient Express...it's an Agatha Christie thing - I loved Miss Marple (especially Margaret Rutherford's portrayal) and I can watch Poirot endlessly! Well, I may never make the Orient Express but I did get a steam train ride in Somerset. I caught it in Bishops Lydeard and road all the way to Minehead, past the beautiful old town of Dunster. The carriages were authentic but the ride was a bit expensive.. Nonethless, I enjoyed every minute of it and on the way back stopped off at Dunster at Tim's suggestion. I wanted a cream tea but ran out of time, the place was so pretty.
The Hawkwing Moth
I was tidying up the Sorrel bed one afternoon and had the most horrible scare...I looked down and there apparently coming out of the ground was what I thought was a snake! Actually it wasnt but I didnt know what it was, perhaps a monster slug? I poked it (gently) with a bit of Rosebay Willow Herb and the thing wriggled...ugh! It had "peacock" eyes on its skin and was a brownish colour. Well, I left well alone, for all I knew it might have a bite on it! Later on that afternoon though, I found another one so this time I took it down to the kitchen tent to see if anyone could identify it. After some deliberation and reference to bookage....it was decided that it was the pupae of a Hawkwing Moth..large elephant..amazing. It likes Rosebay Willow Herb apparently and is quite rare.
I cant believe how many lovely people I met in Somerset...first there's the Spring Grove guys; Beth, Tim, James and Mandy...then Emma who makes the most gorgeous soap..I need some more Rose and Geranium, Emm!! Then the Herb Girls; Anna, Dina and Tonje..one of the best weeks of my stay was my "exchange" week to the Organic Herb Trading Company. My interest in herbs stems from there. Then there's Joe and Richard (flute and mandolin respectively) "Boots" Bartok (opposite) and the Minehead lot and more recently Chris and Bob from Wivvy. There were others but all of the above will remain my significant others!!!
Woodsy Chic and Felt!
As I said, going to the Herb Field was an exceptional experience. The girls are so special and lovely and despite being a lot younger than me, they seemed to have a very deep "old" knowledge..I supsect in medieval days they would all have been burned as witches!! One of the moments I will treasure is the day that Dina and I discovered how similar our tastes were...we both love an earthy, womanly, romantic style and discussed how we might adapt clothes to achieve this look...the next day at the Wivvy Food Festival I inadvertently named it Woodsy Chic...the rest as they say....I've been hooked on recycled clothes, knitting, pockets and patches since! Lucky Dina had electricity and a sewing machine so could get on with things straight away...its taken me a lot longer but the other day I created my first piece of knitting ( I learned it off the internet!) Howzat! My other big find was Val Grainger...The Woolly Shepherd. Val is a human dynamo. She rears sheep, creates the most amazing wool from them and has invested in a huge wool carder and felting machine. I had a go and I'm hooked. I'm going to house-sit for her in the New Year and I'm determined to come home with some wool and a piece of felt!! I'd love to work with Val somehow...she's a "connector"...people know her. This is Val.
OK...I think that will do for now...obviously this isnt the sum total of my adventure in Somerset...there were lows and frustrations and many more events...but it heralds the first 6 months of my new life. What have I learned....? Well...people are crucial, the right people. Organic IS best but local is 2nd. I can live a very simple life but I need a real sense of purpose..haven't found that just yet. Life isnt about material things but it is about doing things. Contribution is everything..in whatever small way you can, make a difference to someone everyday.