I spend a relaxing morning writing in bed in Sylvia’s cosy cottage beside the bright white spire of the church and smile at the rightness somehow of the Pagan Sylvia living next to the Christian church, balancing one another, two very different approaches to spirituality, side by side, echoing the freedom we have in our land, finally, to express our spiritual self in the way that speaks best to us.
I leave Sylvia’s tiny beamed cottage around lunchtime, after a spate of phonecalls to and fro trying to establish if it will after all be alright for me to stay at the Landmatters Permaculture Project (http://www.landmatters.org.uk/ ) (tonight. Charlotte, my contact, has had to go to Bristol to be with her sick mum, and many of the community are away or ill or exhausted. We eventually decide that it will be OK to sleep in Charlotte’s wooden round house and that it wouldn’t matter to me about being hosted at all. In fact, a quiet last night could be just what I need.
It is a short walk from Diptford of around 7 miles that feels like a casual stroll nowadays. The South Hams of Devon are interlaced with green lanes and small paved lanes and walking is easy. Sylvia has told me there are a lot of lanes in Devon because there was a misunderstanding of the law once and the council made all their footpaths into roads. Wonderful for me! A veritable green lane paradise!
In no time at all I have arrived and find Rooh working out of doors with a couple of helpers and she points me in the direction of Charlotte’s beautiful round house and I soon settle into my home for the night; a gorgeous wooden structure with a glass pyramid shaped central dome that lets the light in and many windows around the sides too. It has a woodburning stove and a little gas stove and I go outside to pick fresh mint, and to collect water from the well, worked by a hand pump, and very satisfying to draw up the water it is too. Pretty soon I sit by the stove with a mug of fresh mint tea and enjoy perusing Martin Crawford’s wonderful new book “Creating a Forest Garden”. (http://www.agroforestry.co.uk/)
I chat to both Rooh and later Ollie and we are all happy that I can simply enjoy my small cosy space for the night and they can look after themselves too. I invite them to Bowden for a dinner sometime soon when Charlotte is back and they are all feeling better and we all agree that it would be great to get to know our neighbours better, perhaps share our experiences of how it is to live in community together; the challenges and the joys.
Four year old Sylvan brings over raspberries as Ollie and I speak and Ollie tells him I have walked all around the country but of course it doesn’t mean much to Sylvan; he has barely left this field yet, and no need either, the benders and round house that make up the settlement are comfortable and warm, the bore hole supplies all their water, and the small wind turbine a little electricity for necessities, and the wonderful permaculture gardens some of their fruit and veg. Nearby goats graze, and there are several sheep penned in a temporary enclosure in the centre of the main field chomping the grass down to a nice neat lawn length.
I feel soon that I am a part of this small community for the night and feel very blessed to be able to share it with these resilient people. Ollie says it will be nice to see it in ten years time, though I think it already beautiful and inspiring, but he lives here and knows the challenges of the wind on this high land and knows that in time all the fruiting trees they have planted will be providing more shelter for themselves and the things they grow.
As darkness falls I tuck myself up into the comfortable futon and write till the tiny 12 volt light can no longer cope with the fast descending darkness and sleep instead. My very last night on the road; tomorrow I will walk back into Totnes.