My last day! I wake up deliciously warm and comfortable in Charlotte’s round house having really loved my last night; no socialising, just me and my thoughts, it really couldn’t have been better. I laze around in bed in the early morning light enjoying hearing an unknown bird singing on my roof.
Life don’t get much better than this. Slowly I ease myself out of my warm cocoon and into the bright sunny early morning to find the compost loos. The simplicity of a life lived mindfully of one’s impact on the surroundings is just too satisfying for words.
Back in the round house the kettle sings on the stove and I prepare for my last day of walking and write up what I can of my last day’s experiences before the battery goes flat on my netbook. There are no electric sockets here.
I get a call from Ben Brangwyn and we arrange to meet at Bow Bridge. I get ready to set out, pack up my rucksack for the very last time, say goodbye to my cosy last night sanctuary, and walk across the site to take a photograph which is not to be. My trusty second hand blackberry shows only a white screen.
I am frustrated but shrug, I am only 6 miles from home, I can come back another day for a picture. I leave the field, a little bemused that the gate looks different. I soon realise that I have come out of the wrong gate, I don’t recognise anything; there is an enclosure of beautiful brown goats that were not there yesterday, I wonder back and forth, am about to re enter the site but Rooh’s dog is guarding it beautifully and I have never been confident around dogs without their owners, and though I can see his tail is wagging even as he barks I am reluctant to open the gate. I set out across the field, find my way to the other end, and find another gate, and just to my left I can see where it was that I should have ended up. I climb the gate and scramble through the brambles and gain the lane.
Off I go, on my very last walk of the trip. I decide against the green lane for it looks muddy and slippery and follow the little back road instead. I am about ten minutes later now than I had planned to be and when my phone rings I am five minutes from Bow Bridge. I turn it on to answer Ben and let him know I am almost there, but I get a white screen. My faithful piece of technology has let me down at the very last minute. When I get to Bow Bridge there is no sign of Ben and I can do nothing. I leave a message in the pub where I thought he would be waiting, in case the message that I couldn’t hear was to say he would be late, and carry on, up the very steep Totnes Down Hill.
I think as I walk about how it is we become reliant on technology, when it isn’t very reliable at all, and how glad I am shan’t need to use my phone anymore, for I am only 2 miles from home!
I walk in to the town, slightly disappointed that I cannot take a photo of my beautiful town to show to you all, with its reddish brown church spire and its round castle walls, it is a beautiful place. I walk past familiar buildings and it feels for all the world as though I have been nowhere at all, until I reach the market place and there are Ben, Naresh, and Rob, with Helen, Rob’s PA, and Inez Aponte the storyteller, Isabel Carlisle, Chris Bird of the building and housing group, my parents, and Sally , Geraldine and Vincent, my fellow communards, waiting to hug me home. Jo arrives, our office manager at Transition Network, with little Sammie, now nearly 2 and a half. She walked out of Totnes with me 6 months ago and cried when she was put back in her pushchair after 100 yards, legs too little to continue. No such problem now, and she races around the market square as if to prove her little legs are more than up to it now!
It is good to be home, yet my legs are slightly puzzled, warmed up now for a whole day’s walk; how can it be that I am stopping already?
I hug mum and dad again, who are off to meet a doctor’s appointment schedule and walk to the Transition offices reunited with my colleagues, for a lunch of our favourite Riverford pies. It seems strangely as though I have never been away, yet here is Rob, sitting beside me regaling me with tales of what has been happening during my absence.
I hear that I am still in time to be able to by share in TRESOC our brand new local energy company, they are £20 each and 1 share gives a voice in the company. They have been quietly researching away for quite some time now and have discovered that the best energy for Totnes will be wind power and anaerobic digesters.
The civic hall is now the proud possessor of solar panels and the energy day launch was a great success. Money has been agreed upon from the funding to invest in a long term project within the town and the ATMOS project for regeneration of the old Dairy Crest milk factory site is still moving along and has been awarded a large pot of money for a feasibility study. A residential and work place community is what is planned.
The Healthy Futures garden plan now has a small central garden to use as an information centre from where to promote its work and all in all it appears that big things are finally beginning to manifest themselves here in the town that is not too big and not too small.
I leave my colleagues to their work and go to meet my rendevouz with my partner. It is just wonderful to be together again and a perfect ending to my walk that he walks up the hill to Bowden with me, accompanying me the last mile and a half of my walk back home.
We gain the gates of Bowden, where stone lions once guarded the entrance, and find two living lionesses perched up there on the gate posts. Sally and Geraldine sing a greeting to us as we enter and behind the gates are Nick and Peter playing music. We process through the beautiful baby woodland that was planted at the beginning of the year and I delight to see the saplings have grown. We make the house and Carmella and Yemuni, friends old and new, are there to greet us too.
Later, as we venture out into the late afternoon sunshine to collect eggs from the chickens and salad from the garden, we meet the rest of the community members as they go about their business and lots of old friendships are rekindled.
My partner cooks a celebratory dinner for me and I look about the flat I left behind six months ago, and enjoy finding the little gifts the various people who have stayed here in my absence have left here and there, a rug, a crystal, beads, and think how lucky I am to have such a lovely home, in such wonderful surroundings, with such a fantastic man in my life. I am home, and I am happy.
A short holiday at home, and then…. I have a book to write… tales to tell; of all the amazing people I have met, and all the inspirational things they have made happen. Watch this space!