Thursday, August 20, 2015


Bristol was a real treat.  I’d never been before and was lucky enough to stay with a great friend, Mike, just before he packed up and headed to a new life in Spain.  He knows the town like the back of his hand and we spend several days touring round all the interesting and alternative spots that he thought might take my fancy........

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Eco hamlet in central Bristol

they even stick pencils in the road outside schools!!

Gaudi style community restaurant

Shaun the sheep was everywhere - on tour

Then off to see Simon, another host with a stunning wooden house and fascinating gardens just out of town.  A short visit but definitely worthwhile and someone I hope to meet up with again.  His home was an inspiration to home made, lifestyle similarly put together and outlook on life coming from the same sort of place as me.  Along with two other helpers we had a terrific time, ate the most amazing vegan, mainly raw, feasts and put the world to rights.

my home for the week

hand made home

a pizza rocket stove

inside the wooden yurt

with a mezzanine bedroom space

grow it all together garden

brilliant use of digger tracks

My return, through Bristol was timed for Bristol Pride. Stayed with Mike again. I hadn’t been on a Pride march since the 90’s in London and was pleasantly surprised with the size and efficacy of the event.  The march, complete with banners, music and chanting took us through the centre of town, including a shopping centre! culminating in a canal side park with stands, stalls and a couple of stages hosting various acts.  The main stage, rather mainstream and modern for my tastes so I tended towards the alternative stage, with drag acts singing the old favourites, encouraging audience participation and plenty of the usual acid humour thrown in for good measure.  We ate drank and enjoyed the acts, scenery and spectacle of the day before heading back for a couple of hours shut eye before heading out clubbing.  The things one misses without realising.  I had thought that my clubbing days were long gone, but no.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself, dancing the night away through to four or so in the morning.  Unlike days gone by, I was fuelled with mineral water and lemonade this time so woke up the next morning almost as bright as a button, vowing not to let it be so long again before I hit the dance floor again.  

catching up

My trip back to the UK was the result of an accumulation of possibilities that started gathering together sometime during the autumn of last year.  In chronological order, for want of a better way of organising things:

En route, I stopped off with the family Meers to catch up and spend some time,  chaotic and enjoyable as ever, they were in the throws of starting their summer glamping site, erecting yurts, tipis and a new shade structure for people to dine under in the shade.  I called in on the way home too, expecting an overnighter and ending up staying three days to help them host a wedding on site.  Fabulous fun, in a way only they seem able to manage - the sort of organised chaos that comes right, with a wing and a prayer, just at the last moment.  Everything fueled with great food and washed down with lashings of cheap beer.  

Dad’s Birthday, an important day, especially as my brother is in the UK too and so we can get the whole family together which is a rare occasion these days.  It was great, we went out for lunch and the whole family spent time together and had a lovely time catching up and celebrating.  

College reunion.  I haven’t been back in 25 years, so I thought it was high time, and with the promise of a good party and the chance to catch up with plenty of folk that I spent two years of my life living, studying and enjoying life with, an opportunity not to be missed.   I was right, it was an absolute ball.  The evening gathering took me(us all) back to our college days with a great collection of students from many years all gathered in the bar swapping life stories, reminiscing old times, plenty of beer and cider to lubricate the evening, a great hog roast and dancing like I’d not danced for years.  The atmosphere in the tiny disco/night club room was electric with positive energy, nostalgia for the times we shared, a room full of smiling, happy faces all reliving a night of our pasts together.  It couldn’t have been better.

Annual visit to the dentist.  Who knows what delights that will bring.  Indeed.  Three revisits with plenty of attention required.  Getting older and the lack of early care and a sweet toothed diet is taking its toll.  Thankfully I was given the thumbs up on general maintenance and ongoing care.

MOT and service for Percy.  I can’t import him into france as he doesn’t fit with their standards, so he has to return each year for MOT certification here.  He’s getting a bit of special treatment this year, with rust spots being sorted and a couple of minor dents repaired.   Well, after the event, much more of a special treatment than initially anticipated, excessive welding was needed for the MOT and a new front wing and bumper after a minor tussle in the west country with a london driver (paid up insurance job!), he’s back looking as good as new.

My biennial mini tour to as many of my friends to spend time, catch up and generally spend a good bit of time with the people that I love and am too far away from to see more frequently.  Hopefully, before too long they’ll be able to visit me too.

I’m really looking forward to my mini adventure and have filled in the gaps with a bit of exploratory helpXing just to keep life interesting.  Two visits to intentional communities, one that focusses on sustainable living and the second, a meditation and relaxation retreat type place.  I am interested in seeing how such places work and whether it would be something that may be of interest for the future.

Both stays were inspiring, interesting and very different.  I’ll write more about them some time but have too much catching up to do to give them justice for the moment.  Just a couple of photos of Lyme Regis for the moment.

Though I did get to visit the Scythe Fair and bump into some lovely folk that I had the pleasure of meeting at Nick’s in France a few years ago.  Random scything photos:

And the lovely communal gardens of my second stop over near Shaftsbury.


making comfrey tea as a tonic to water onto the garden.  Stuff tubes with fresh leaves and wait for the juices to seep out and collect in the bottles below.  Dilute plentifully and water onto your veggies once in a while.