Tolkein’s Country (Day 125) July 31st
By Steph Bradley 4th August 2010
Today begins by getting up and going to Green and Away to speak at this morning’s Resurgence opening circle at Satish’s request. I speak to a responsive audience, and feel touched by their eager, thirsty, listening of tales of the inspiration of the many wonderful people I have met. Afterwards I meet Ann Marie Borg (www.annemarieborg.com ) who gives me a CD of her music to take on to present to another person. She is so eager for the message to get out of the need to do something to make a difference she is giving her music away to anyone who wants to hear and will send a CD to them on request. We are tearful as we share the value of community and pulling together to recognise one another’s skills and common purpose. She has not heard of transition before and is thrilled by its existence and network of like minded people. She lives in London; I tell her of the website and where to look to find to find her nearest group.
Jane takes me to the Fold’s eco centre and shows me the space they rent out to therapists and bodyworkers and we talk about their wonderful peer supervision scheme and how every teacher is accepted, on a three month trial, in the belief that there is a teacher for everyone at different stages of our journey as we develop our understanding and awareness, and that those who are offering something that people need, and are willing to integrate into the Fold’s ethos and become part of the team there continue. www.thefold.org.uk/wholehealth .
I walked from the Fold accompanied by Will, and Nick Martin and with an eco cafe vegan packed lunch. We lament the fields that Will used to rent and farm that have been taken from him and turned into more golf course space, and the short sighted thinking of those that agreed the change of land use; no doubt, I imagine, because a golf course owner offered more money.
We see Bransford chapel, now cut off from the rest of the village and the rest of what was Will’s father’s farm, a beautiful chapel with a wooden tower and old stone walls, where Will and Jane exchanged their marriage vows.
Nick and I walk on through Tolkein’s country, appreciate why he was so inspired to write as he did, think it a huge shame the film was not made in the land that inspired it, and talk of many other things too. I have been told that Tolkein and his friend CS Lewis met at the Unicorn (a picture of which you can see on day 124 blog) in Great Malvern to talk of the things that mattered to them , before going on to write their great epics that have enchanted so many of our childhoods with their important messages embedded within them in the form of story.
We sit at the top of a hill beyond Cradeley and look out over the view to Herefordshire and see the escarpment which is where Hay on Wye is in the distance, where I will arrive in a couple of days, and the Welsh hills beyond. It is magnificent, and we sit transfixed for a while, munching on fresh juicy local damsons and apricots.
We continue on and speak of local currency, (Rob Scott and he plan to start researching what locals would want and to start to develop this from here), heart and soul groups (it didn’t take off here though many of the group have interest in this area; the group lacked focus), Training for Transition and Transition Training and Consulting, and Nick’s work coaching business people, and forest gardening (I enjoy talking about Martin Crawford’s wonderful course and sharing his knowledge with yet another person).
Nick tells me that the name Malvern is likely a corruption of the Welsh Malwen, and means “bare hills” and talks about the controversial council project to keep a moving enclosure of cows up at the top of the hills in order to keep the undergrowth down and away from the footpaths.
We arrive in Ledbury via the Geopark way, created in the region to teach people more about the geology of the land in the midst of our land, though unfortunately there are no information boards on this stretch, and our final mile or two is through an apple orchard. We also pass an ost chimney and I learn that as this was fruit growing and hop country as was Kent, the ost chimney houses are common here, as there, and are where the hops were roasted. They look a little, to me, like miniature glass furnace chimneys.
We walk into Ledbury and admire its beautiful old Tudor architecture, and I walk on to my hosts’ home on the western side of town and Nick returns to the train station.
I walk on and find Paul and Beverley Kinnaird of Transition Ledbury and Transition Newent. They were at the transition conference in Newton Abbot this year and talk about how much they enjoy the social aspect of transition and the wonderful good friendships they have made since meeting transition. They first started going to Transition Newent meetings because there wasn’t a Transition group in Ledbury though there was a RULG group –the Really Use Less Group who very much follow a transition way of doing things but do not want to become a transition group or to follow its principles; they are mostly a group of young people with families and find it too much to take on, preferring to make small changes at home.
Paul and Beverley are keen to do things locally and have helped organise a local green fair each year the past couple of years which is intentionally not called transition to not frighten people off. There has been a seed swop organised by Transition Newent where they had a great time learning from one another including to leave gone to seed lettuce and other plants in the ground so as to collect seed for next year, and to encourage this in school gardens too so that the children could see where the seeds come from and plant them again.
Beverley is very keen on local food and is taking part in the region’s CPRE food mapping scheme and wants to get other food projects off the ground. She and Paul live in a beautiful converted farm barn and have 6 acres of land where they have an orchard and keep chickens. We eat produce from the garden; spicy peppery rocket, tomatoes, marigolds, new potatoes, green beans, sugar snap peas and walnuts are all ingredients in our main course and dessert is an incredible delicious apricot cobbler Paul has made from apricots grown locally; as big and juicy as any I have ever seen.
Paul is keen on energy and we talk a while about wind turbines and how we all find them quite pleasant to look at in the environment, especially compared to the dreadfully unsightly electricity pylons everyone takes for granted.
I hear about Greening Colwall; Robin’s local group and how their orchard group just took off and became a really successful and vibrant group that just grew and grew, and are identifying other local orchards, and the council are getting interested and coming to help prune the old trees in the right way. I learn that if you cut a branch from an old tree in the wrong way you can shock it severely. Greening Colwall are now working on a community garden as well. The village are really inspiring for their neighbouring transition initiatives.
I hear of Otesha (http://www.otesha.ca/bike+tours/index.en.html) and a group of 13 young university and post university students who are cycling from Land’s End to John of Groats, staying with like minded people, including transitioners and their inspiring visit to Ledbury and Newent, staying with Beverley and Paul.
It is lovely to get news of two transition initiatives at once as well as the group of travelling cyclists, who are putting on eco theatre as they go; look out for them in your area!
An interesting discussion ensures about county borders and really sensible food regions… so that for Ledbury, Newent in Gloucestershire is a close and useful neighbour, even though it is in the next county and we start to realise how useless the current political borders are when looking from this perspective.