The morning passes quickly, I have a lie in and then visit Tess’s lovely garden where we swop soapwort seeds for Saltash pink fir apples, and the gift exchange ritual continues. I have brought Tess some of the Orcheton Quay tomatoes I picked and receive Chinese gooseberry seeds to plant in my garden, when I get one.
We eat radish seeds and find them tastier, fresher, and juicier than radishes themselves. Ian makes up some delicious sandwiches for me to take for eating along the way and in go a handful of the yummy green seeds.
I see some pictures of the amazing work Tess does around edible landscapes in Plymouth and hear more about the challenges aware Ivybridge folk face around how to best handle the incinerator threat. I discover that the incinerator is the brainchild of a company called Viridor and that it is to be situated in an old disused quarry not more than a mile from the town. I talk of my unexpected experienced in Nottingham where I started coughing uncontrollably and was told that there was an incinerator in the city centre and that it made most people cough that way for there were tiny invisible particles in the air of the burnt plastics. We talk a lot about the transition ethos to find positive solutions and to make friends not enemies and to find a way under the radar and Tess and I hatch a plan to hold an open space around waste; a collaborative transition event, involving the surrounding transition groups, PL21 with Transition Plymouth (for the second back up plan if all plans go wrong in Ivybridge is to place the incinerator in Devonport instead), and TTT (transition town Totnes) for we are certainly close enough to be affected by any incinerator project.
I can hear the relief in Tess’ voice when she hears that there can be some collaboration to work together to find an elegant solution to something that at present feels like an insurmountable problem, and feel great solidarity with her as a member of the neighbouring town. I guess the Open Space question might be along the lines of “What solutions are there to dealing with the waste of the area, which would be beneficial to everyone concerned?” I begin to muse about who might like to get involved with this event, and Tess is excited to tell Barry that there may be something positive that can be tried.
We get ready to leave, Tess and Ian will walk a part of the way with me, and on the way through the garden we admire the prolific kiwi vine full of fruit and pick an apple apiece for the walk, a ripe pink discovery apple, sweetly scented and juicy.
I am given a guided tour of Ivybridge which is just lovely, and I see the Ivybridge that I never knew existed and, very much like Newton Abbot at the beginning of this journey, this small town at the meeting of 4 parishes is redeemed, and we walk along the bank of the beautiful river Erme to get to the town, and pause at the Eye, a performance space by the river and the youth centre and contemplate the possibility of Transition Tales told here, then through the shopping area and see the natural health food shop and the Somerfield’s about the become a Coop, and then to the ivy bridge itself beautifully covered in the ivy that gave it its name, and proudly linking the parishes of Ermington and Hartwood, to the west with Cornwood and Ugborough to the east, as it crosses the river Erme.
Next there are the new allotments to enjoy; a shared venture between the allotment association and the council and many others to put top soil on a site that was boggy to make 115 new allotments just at the beginning of this summer. It is full of happy people, whole families, gardening under the benign gaze of the moor and full of veg and looking for all the world as if it has been there forever were it not for the shiny new sheds in the corner of each new plot.
We collect hazelnuts and eat blackberries and walk to Ugborough together, a way Tess, though a local girl through and through, has rarely been, and admire the beautiful village with its timeless beauty; a village square set out perfectly in the centre with houses all around with a church at one end and a pub at the other. A quintessential old English village.
I walk on to Diptford and am met by Sylvia Rose, a fellow TTT-er and she guides me in to her village along a beautiful little footpath and to her cottage beside the church. It feels very lovely to be met by a familiar face; I am very aware now that I am almost at journey’s end.
We go for dinner with Susanna and George, and hear tales from Diptford, and how the film evening arranged by Jacqi and Rob during the EDP preparations hadn’t attracted many folk but that there were a few inhabitants who have put solar panels and wind turbines up, and Susanna thinks it may well be time to have another go and encourage those who have made these changes to their home to maybe participate in an open house event.
And little by little I hear the tales of what happens already and there is the garden club, organised by Ham, who gives talks at different people’s gardens and where they all eat cake and drink tea and socialise, and though it is only about flowers right now it may well be a place to begin and the community socialising is already a good start.
We hear from Susanna about the little French village she has been visiting for years and how it is that the postman has to use snow shoes or skis to take up the post in the winter to the little settlement high up in the Alps with no electricity, and how part of his function seemed to be to check on how people were and of they were OK. Susanna is writing a book about her experiences in this village and the history of the place that she has gradually unearthed over the years, and her dream is to establish an eco community up there.
We have a lovely evening, are presented with French lavender and I leave soapwort seeds for both Sylvia and our hosts and then we walk back to Sylvia’s cottage where I am soon tucked up in bed and thinking about the very last leg of my journey and how that will be..