(From eyes of Laura)

Three days at the wonderful Green Gathering and a bit of a lazy morning, the two of us set off to our next destination a mere 20 miles away.  The sun lifts our spirits as always and makes the journey easy. We decided to take the main road route as we set off so late which was pretty scary at times. But it got us to just outside of Durham in no time.

The next place we came to see was the wonderful Abundant Earth, a local food growing initiative tucked neatly next to the small but picturesque city.  The warmth of Beth’s greeting was only matched by that of her family, which included and Wilf Richard who is the Permaculture teacher of the area and an expert Transition Town facilitator, and their two kids.

To our surprise they had two other WWOOFers there that I already knew. Emma and Joe had attended an organic gardening course in Edinburgh earlier in the year and had come to Abundant Earth to learn more. Together we helped Wilf in the garden with clearing and preparing growing beds, turning compost and sowing new seeds. The weather stayed dry but we joyfully got covered in mud from the wetter parts of the garden. It amazing how much you can achieve with so many hands and we got lots of work done that day. We also made seed-bombs with some children who were visiting the gardens for their educational farm day. Shy at first, they all came out of their shell once we got actually bombing!



Apart from Beth and Wilf’s amazing hospitality and numerous hilarious conversations, the Abundant Earth highlight for me was tagging along to Wilf’s Transition Town meeting. Wilf had originally set up Durham Transition Town which is now doing some amazing work in the area. They have working groups that span areas such as housing, food growing, local fruit growing, economics and local businesses, energy, research, outreach, events and much more. There are clearly alot of engaged people in the city which was great to see!! We appreciated greatly a glimpse into the actual workings of a functioning and highly successful Transition Town. Wilf facilitated an inspired and engaging visioning session for the city as well as celebrating their successes and a PNI view of their current office space issue. All valuable tools which I will take me into the future.

Top that off with a pint and a pickled egg in the pub and you have yourself a pretty perfect experience of all things Durham!! Sad to say farewell but the show must go on as they say.


Thanks to Wilf we have a few more contacts in the north of England as our own research was coming up with nothing. Our next visit was a short stop off in Newcastle to Scottswood Community Garden which has one of the oldest forest gardens in the UK. The stunning entrance way was dripping with art and sculpture made my the  visitors that frequent the place. We were lucky enough to arrive on a work day so met many who were finishing off their art pieces ready for the grand reveal. After a quick cuppa, a chat with the lovely volunteer manager and a mooch around the beautiful gardens, we set off again.

And so, that was our last project to visit until we reach bonnie Scotland! Is it so that it will all end so soon? Noooo!!! Feelings are mixed. Excited to be reaching home but also sad that such a wonderful jorney may come to a close.😦

And so begins our sprint to the finish line………

That night we stay with a lovely couchsurfer, Susan in Cramlington, a very well travelled lady herself who kindly took two smelly cyclists under her wing. Scrubbed up and bellies full we get a happy knock on the door bringing us Camille back safe and sound. And two becomes three once again!

6am wake up brings sunshine as we quietly prepare for our longest cycle to date. We cycle from Cramlington to the coast, which of course meant a quick dip in the sea…. Well my toes anyway. Camille properly went for it! From there we follow the beautiful sustrans cycle route 1. Mostly off any main roads and occasionally over bumpy ground, the scenery takes our breath away. The sun is shining, our spirits our high and we lap it up. We even get to have a post-lunch siesta in the sunshine which was bliss!

We stay close to the sea until we reach Bamburgh an amazing village with a majestic castle who’s presence dominated the character and appeal of the place, igniting the imagination of time gone past. As we cycle round the corner we are greeted by hundreds of people all waving flags and plastic wavy things. Wow, did they really all hear about Seed-Bomb Britain by Bicycle?  They all cheer as we come past so they must have! Sadly not. They are all here for the Olympic Torch that was due in the next half hour.

Time for a pint and we (pretend cynically Ela) join in the celebrations. 50 miles down and another 16 to go. Our aim is to reach Wooler by nightfall so tomorrow wont be so punishing.

After a struggle to warm our legs back up we heave up that last few hills as we head inland, nearing the Scottish borders to complete our 68 mile journey Phew! Wooler was a place that Ela already knew so she suggested a nice Indian curry as a treat and we debate where to sleep that night. I wasnt feeling amazing as I had picked up a cold somewhere but with the hostel full we had to go for the camping option. Armed with a small one and a half person tent and two bivvy bags we make camp in a desserted campsite and tuck into some homecooked rice and restaurant quality curry. The sleeping arrangements were two in the tent and one in bivvy bag with head in the entrance of tent. Brilliant idea Camille! I opted for the bivvy as the air is more fresh and I was excited to try it out. With all the clothes in my possession on my body I was determined not to get cold, but raindrops on my face at 5am meant I had to scooch my head up into the tent entrance and close the door, testing the waterproof capabilities of my bivvy which I am happy to say worked a treat!

Happily there was noone around to take any money from us in the morning so we sheepishly went on our merry way. But i guess we paid our dues as it rained on us all day. Another long day of cycling with a lot more hills than the day before we reach….. you guessed it………………Scotland!!!!!

And yes, you guessed it…… more hills. On taking a ‘short cut’ to Stow we actually cycle  into the clouds! The toughest cycle to date without a doubt but then we are back on home territory so the feeling was good. Feeling pretty poorly by now I personally was more than happy to arrive at our penultimate destination; my friend Kirsti’s house in Stow. Time for some relaxation before we make our way to EDINBURGH and the finish line!!!!

Eco festival and biodynamics, Italian style

From the eyes of Ela…
Reunited with Laura in Darlington, having refuelled tea and cake reserves and fixed yet another puncture (I’ve lost the count!) we cycled a few miles south to Croft-on-Tees where we were going to stay for a few days. We were welcomed by Roberto, a young biodynamics apprentice at Clervaux Trust (clervaux.org.uk) and Molly- a lovely Canadian WWOOFer. Roberto cooked us mushroom of the woods (can easily be mistaken for chicken breast!) for tea and treated us to a lovely glass of home brew:) The next morning we headed out into the rain to meet a biodynamics expert called Till and earn our keep on the farm. Over cups of tea and chunks of fresh rustic bread we got to know the story of the Trust and the man himself; what a fascinating personality Till is! The Trust works with young people from challenging backgrounds and adults with learning disabilities who gather life skills by engaging with nature and working on the farm. This place gives them a unique chance to have a better future through improving their employability, addressing their behavioural issues and gearing them up with valuable practical skills.
We strung up tomato plants in the polytunnels and planted a variety of peppers to be harvested later this summer. All the biodynamic edibles on the farm did indeed look healthy and lush; the spiritual input into small-scale farming really seems to work well in Croft.
Till invited us to see the Clervaux bakery and café in Darlington, which is where our delicious bread for lunch came from. The bakery is a bustling enterprise where quality produce is sold, artists rent space for studios and where disadvantaged young people are encouraged to work.
Since we had not heard back from potential hosts for our ongoing journey, we were keen to stay at Clervaux for the weekend, work a few more days and set off on Monday. To our (positive) surprise we learnt that there was no work to be done during weekends; we were welcome to stick around and enjoy ourselves!
Roberto had planned to go down to attend a sustainable festival known as the Northern Green Gathering; in the end we all ended up driving there in Clervaux’s 4×4! Wheeling boxes packed with biodynamic beetroot and rhubarb in a wheel barrel through two feet of mood, we entered the festival site in the rain surrounded by tens of colourful people ready to PARTY! We met Nanda and Dom, Roberto’s fellow apprentices from Clervaux; they’re such vibrant positive folk I couldn’t get enough of talking to them. We pitched up our tents and joined the hippies in a barn whose floor is dedicated to…dancing:) We feasted on vegan leftovers and danced the night away to the sound of fiddles, whistles and bongos.
On Saturday we attended various interesting workshops conducted by lovely volunteers happy to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for all things green and sustainable: permaculture talk, demystifying of biodynamics, rocket stove building, herbal plant foraging, home brewing, forging of metal to name but a few. In the evening the dance floor was taken over by men in dresses and women with moustaches who raved away to the beats of old-school trans and reggae.
On Sunday the sun finally came out; we enjoyed the final hours of celebrating nature and the beauty in people by sharing scrumptious lunch and life stories. Thank you Roberto for inviting us along to this inspirational event where we met so many like-minded people and had the best dance on our journey!

From the eyes of Camille…

From the eyes of Camille…

Old Sleningford Farm, I must admit, is the incarnation of my dream. These people have built such a great place to live and work. The small community is an ecosystem of skills, ranging from food production, woodwork, blacksmithing, art, gardening, teaching… and cooking.

And from the point of view of the veteran seed bombers, this place have won the “Best Compost Loo Ever Award”, amongst the dozens of projects they’ve visited so far. A serious plus when it comes to receiving ladies WWOOFers ;-) 

After a great evening with the farmers and the WWOOFers, all together around a long table (built at the farm) laid with produce from the land, we spent the next day helping with the day-to-day farm tasks as well as visiting the huge property. In the meanwhile. Simon was on his way back to Aberdeen. Nice to have been travelling with you, Simon!

First scything experience for me, at the chicken run. The other team members are already aces at it. Really rewarding activity, as after some hours of tai-chi-like labour in sunny weather, the place is so changed!

Laurissa’s (who had been WWOOFing at the farm for one week) husband came to take her home, after she offeredh to be our host in our next destinaton, Middlesbrough. She’s so nice and so devoted to both hard work and to people!

Then we had a walk through the different parts of the place.

First we visited the preserves and juices kitchen. Everything very neat and well laid out. There Martin and Rachel brew the cider and other products they deliver every two weeks to the surrounding clients by tandem and trailer! They made the juice press themselves (the commercially produced one they have was not good enough).

Then we passed near the neightbour’s workshop. He’s one of the few in the country to modify Land Rovers to operate on railroads.

We carried on to the wildest part of the farm, aimed at wood recovery and willow growing, all of this sprinkled with wooden sculptures born in the genius mind of Keith (the one who made the table, remember?)

Back close to the farm, we crossed the pig and sheeps paddocks, to enter the forest garden, where we could see the different stages of growth, as they planted each part on a different year. Apples, pears, strawberries, some nuts, mint, etc. yield them produce at different months of the year. We kept chewing the edible leaves at hand along the path.

Then we crossed the “classical” garden, kept by a man back from when he was 17 until now, aged 70. Straight lines, mowed grass… different approach of gardening, and both are cohabiting in a beautiful way at this place.

Martin was then back from his not-less-than 85 miles ride on bicycle, fresh as if nothing. We then had a great barbecue outside, in the beautful sunny evening, eating the saussages produced at the farm, celebrating it with their sweet homebrew wine. Great Moments! We then walked uphill to see the remote beacons light for the jubilee, and crossed the huge lands owned by their landlord and benefactor, Tom.

The next morning, we had our chains oiled by Keith, who as well as being a great woodworker and crazy sculptor, doubles as an eclectic bike fan. You should have seen him riding around on his bike, tuned with wooden kind-of skis attached to the frame to act as back and front racks at the same time. After this last-minute checkup, we started pedaling. In direction of Middlesburgh for me and Ela, and in direction of the train station for Laura, who had to attend a job interview in St Andrews, Scotland. See you in two days!

To make the ride more interesting, my rear inner tube decided to have 3 punctures in a bunch. After realising it was the tyre’s fault and buying a new one, we carried on to Laurissa’s place, not without having my chain derailling a few times (after so much rear wheel unmoutings, the chain was not tensed anymore). A good patience test for Ela, stopping every few miles to wait for me and my technical issues. She definitely passed the test!

from the eyes of Simon…

from the eyes of Simon…

It was time to join the seed bombers in my hometown. I arrived late at Manchester Oxford Rd Station from Scotland and was ready to get pedalling after six hours on the rails. It was dark and warm, a strange combination for these parts which allowed me the liberty of just a t-shirt for the close-to-midnight 6 mile cycle home to Swinton. Jan and John had proved worthy hosts for the girls and Max had found himself a dog of unsurpassed popularity, a lick to melt anyones heart.

Next day after a ton of porridge we hit the road. Ela took this too literally and found the ground near Picadilly Gardens, her wheels drawn to the tram lines and throwing her to the pavement. To our relief there was no blood on the tracks, but the lady lay on the ground to gather herself before a graceful rise as the hard rain was falling.

It was Wei’s time to depart the seed bombers today – I was glad to have met her before she rode into the distance following a seemless handover. The clement weather from the day before had proved short lived and we were not even out of Salford when Ela debut puncture struck and I was discovering how unpleasant it is to fix a tyre in the rain.

 The action packed morning through Manchester was punctuated by several random meetings along the way, furnished with stories of former drug addiction and how difficult it is to get parts for early 2oth century bicycles. All reminding me what a friendly town I had left all those years ago.

Moving north through Manchester we reached the Rochdale Canal, no longer home to discarded motor vehicles and tin twisted grills and reclusive ruffians, but a pleasant thoroughfare for bargers, walkers and cyclists alike. The rain drenched us the whole day. We fought off hunger in Oldham with baked potato and beans which set us up for the remaining difficult miles.

We came from far away. Laura and Ela crossing the Pennines

Crossing the Pennines via Dobcross, Diggle and Saddleworth Moor, we descended into the valleyed village of Marsden with the relief that those big hills were behind us. We arrived at Paddock Farm, home of Edibles where Steve and Rosie grow food, do community work, run permaculture courses and manage seven acres. They’re also involved in permaculture classes at the local school. We spent the next 36 hours learning about their history, plans and work. I don’t know where they get their time! Such great work.

Later that evening Laura received a call from a new seedbomber! Camille had travelled from Barcelona to join the troops. Next day he would retrace our trans-Pennine cycle from Manchester on his folding bike, impressive hey, and will go on to complete the journey to Scotland with the bombers. Nice one Camille.

The following day Pip arrived, who works with Steve and Rosie at the farm. We worked the compost which I find most gratifying, and I learned the qualities of comfrey, an important herb in organic gardening and which can be used as a fertiliser and has medicinal properties. It sucks up plenty of nutrients from the ground which quickly break down which is great for home composting. And how well it grows when re-rooted! We did some work clearing plants in the polytunnel and Ela demonstrated a masterclass in scything. One day I hope Laura will teach us the wonders of willow! Later we were treated to homemade chocolate cake, tea, and clay oven baked pizza with grapes and cheese. Luxuriant scenes.

Laura admiring compost situation

After we had moved the chickens, Steve showed us his presentation on Edibles, the history of their work, the three storey barn conversion, and the permaculture development. Thanks for that Steve!

Setting off from Edibles with the family

Along the canal to Marsden

We left the following day but not before Laura had taught the kids how to make seedbombs which were thrown into appropriate places on the way to the village.  

Seedbomb Christie time

Laura pushing !🙂

We pedalled about 35 miles to our next pit stop at Bradford where we were hosted by the genial Bob and Di. Bob is a keen cyclist and hosts through Warmshowers. Di had prepared a spread fit for kings and queens and we all devoured with glee. I very much enjoyed seeing Bob’s various cycle diaries from numerous tours around the world, and discovered his secret talent for short poems! Martin joined us at dinner and we learned of the Bradford culture magazine he is running called ‘How Do’, well worth a look if you’re in the area.

Ela en route to Bradford

Camille pedal style en route a la Bradford

We woke to pouring rain for our departure early next morning. Hmm. I’m sure Bob, avid cyclist that he is, had reservations about his commitment to cycle with us for the morning but he is a terrifically stoic chap and with no complaints led us all the way to Knaresborough, where after our slog through the rain, a couple of cycle repairs and 30 miles of spray, we arrived in great need of warmth and hot fluids. We hit the nearest coffee shop. With Bob heading back to Bradford, we navigated the final miles to Mickley where we would find our latest rendezvous.

Old Sleningford Farm, 5 miles from Ripon, is a small informal community where one can partake in  WWOOFing courses, sleep in a yurt, enjoy the wonders of the superb forest garden and slurp on homemade food and cider. One can also learn about beekeeping, raising pigs and chickens and get involved in workdays. Definitely a place rich with activity and ideas. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to donate the fruits of my labour as early next morning I departed on the 10 mile cycle to Thirsk where I would catch the train back to Aberdeen, taking with me five days packed with memories and a lonely bike. Good luck Seedbombers, it has passed in a flash, I had a special time with you.

(from the eyes …

(from the eyes of Ela)

Sunny and relaxing Manchester

Our happy three arrived in the long awaited city of Manchester on Sunday the 27th May. It’d been a glorious day of pedaling throught the fabulously flat fields of north Shropshire and south Cheshire. Wei’s last proper day of cycling; we made sure it was enjoyable! Having had our token houmous+Ryvita lunch on the river bank, which delimits the boundary between England and Wales, we reached the Roman city of Chester in plenty of time to spare for a walk around. Due to Laura’s commitment to a job interview in Edinburgh later in the afternoon we pressed on to Manchester by…train!! A disgraceful cheat one may say, yet a well- deserved and rather enojoyable journey in our view. In Manchester we were warmly greeted by my surrogate parents Jan and Jon and their very lovable crazy dog Max. Lovely food and great conversation were had that evening.

Wei and our lovely host Janet enjoying the Chinese feast in Swinton

With Laura gone for a day to attend the interview, Wei and I stayed behind in Manchester to attend a couple of projects and organise the ongoing journey. Since we had not heard back from the people at Biosphere, an eco project run by the University of Salford, one of the meetings we had been so excited about fell through. We did however managed to organise a visit to Highfield Eco Allotment Project (www.theheap.org.uk/blog) where we ment a bunch of passionate folk who run this worthy initiative which aims at helping refugees and asylum seekers adopt to a new environment by providing social space where they can grow organic vegan food, meet people and simply interact with others in a similar situation. Unfortunately Wei and I didn’t get ot meet any of the visitors; it had taken us to long to cycle to Levenshulme from Swinton and by the time we reached the allotment they had all gone! Nevertheless it was interesting to chat to the project coordinators Gill, Tom and Graham who explained how HEAP is funded and organised; we also spoke about Equinox- the housing cooperative where two of them live here in Manchester. There seem to be several different legal ways in which co-ops can be organised, depending on the financial situation and ethical structure of the underlying social formation.


Laura is now back with the team and we are getting ready to head off tomorrow morning and cycle north to Huddesfield.

Wei will be leaving the Bombers for good tomorrow; the journey ahsll be completed by Laura and I, and whoever is keen to join us for parts of the remaining cycle. Scotland we’re coming back!! Chapter 2 of Seed Bomb Britain by Bicycle commences here!

Treflach’s Farm-camping in hay and making of pies

It has been hot and sunny for a good week now; it’s easy to forget we are still in Britain! From Crab Apple we padalled north towards this 100 acre pig and cattle farm, situated on top of a little hill which blesses it with a stunning panoramic view of southern Shropshire; I bet on a good day one can make out Birmingham in the distance! The starry sky that stretched over our heads at night was breathtaking!

The day we arrived at Treflach’s happened to be the last day of the 2-week Permaculture Design Course attended by some 15 keen and sociable people from all over the country. We were happy to meet them all, hear their stories and listen to their final design presentations; they were absolutely fantastic. We saw a real-life plot turnerd into a community forest garden, listened to ideas about improving permaculture credentials of Treflach’s food growing and chicken enterprise as well as experienced a mind-blowing all-encompassing strategy being born, for a local training network for volunteers from the region. The last group had come up with a tranferable model of cooperation, teaching and generation of revenue through creating both an online and real-life structured network which would be designed to facilitate volunteering schemes, seasonal events, skill exchange programmes and workshope throughout the year, thus sustaining the livelihood of local farmers and artisan craftsmen but also encouraging new ecological and social enterprises and initiatives. How inspiring!!

As far as our personal growth is concerned, the Bombers took advantage of the opportunity to improve our sything skills, learn to make beautiful home-grown-pork pies for sale in London, practised the washing-up craft and experienced a night on hay bales. This journey has certainly been moulding our characters in the best way possible!

Crab is an apple

From Hereford city we wheeled ourselves back into the countryside, namely the Crab Apple Community. The beautiful Victorian house which is home to 9 adults and 6 children sits on some 40 acres of meadow, pasture land, garden and woods inconspicuously tucked away from the local village. We all felt a loving sense of relaxation, peace and community spirit in this social and welcoming space. We were met with smiles, delicious veggie food and ample conversation by the Apple’s residents. We were happy to help Stu out in his herb garden where grass was weeded and herbs were replanted from the Shrewsbury abbey. I had never seen chocolate mint before; it smells divine! Laura performed some sweat-generating digging with Nicky, and lovingly planted pumpkins, courgettes and potatoes to be harvested in autumn time later this year. We loved the walled garden which had been designed following permaculture principles by former tenants; the current residents are reclaiming more plots bit by bit using the mulching technique. Niky also showed us her mushroom logs which she hopes to cultivate for years to come as means of generating a small sustainable income. Everyone had a duty to work for the community at least two days a week, which means that no one has a full time job outside based outside the Crab Apple. Maintenance costs are shared and so is most of the food as the community prepare all their meals together on a rotation basis. We were intrigued by the great wood-burning central heating system which had recently been installed in the house; it is able to support all 47 radiators in the building! Stu Z explained how it works and even agreed to be filmed on our cam-corder which we are very grateful for; it’ll be a valuable contribution to the documentary we hope to make about our epic journey.

The rather grand entrance to Crab Apple

Since Friday is the cleaning day at Crab Apple and it was indeed the day of our departure, we acquired two new Bombers for the first few miles of our journey to Shrewsbury-Stu Z and his gorgeous 4-year old boy Oscar. They headed our convoy for a little while; we parted ways at a lovely little coffee shop at the indoor market called The Bird’s Nest (http://www.facebook.com/thebirdsnestcafe), which is fitted with lots of recycled beauties and which supports local artists and provides great social space for families and young people.Brill!

Wei weeding the herb garden at Crab Apple in scorching sunshine

Nicky’s mushroom logs, Crab Appple


The (very small) city of Hereford

With a minor injury in the team in the form of Wei’s twitching and aching knee we decided to cancel the visit to Laura’s uncle in Coleford since it would have added hills and miles to our journey. So from the alternative town of Stroud we set our GPS gizmo on Hereford where we had arranged to stay with a Couchsurfer called Mike on Monday the 21st May. It was a day of relatively easy albeit very warm day of flat cycling (which we adore!) amongst field of rape being surrounded by the rolling hills of Gloustershire. We reached our destination in the afternoon, had a well-deserved pint of local beer at The Barrels which is a pub in central Hereford that serves pints from its own microbrewery- very permaculture and very Transition thank you very much! Mike, in his flattering kitchen frock, was enjoying a cup of tea while awaiting our arrival outside his house and greeted us with the snap of his camera and a very welcoming smile. He offered to help us out with the bikes (Wei had encountered yet another puncture within the last 100 yards of our destination!), treated us to home-made Moroccan dinner and put up with our luggage all over his front room floor. We enjoyed sharing our story with him and his lodger Emmi. The next day was all about Seedbomb admin work and Laura’s job application. In the evening Mike took us to the best vantage point on Malvern Hills in the area where we could all watch the sun go down, meditate and share ciderJ.

Our hosts Mike and Emi enjoying the sunset on Malvern Hills

Emmi joined our giggly team for a day’s cycle towards Shrewsbury; she managed a staggering 35 miles in scorching heat and no training, what a trooper. She kindly agreed to film the three of us Bombers cycling along various stretches of the route for our documentary. Bags of fun!

Transtown of Stroud

We had been so excited about coming to Laura’s hometown of Stroud for quite some time knowing there would be plenty of things to do and people to meet. We arrived at the Spring Hill Co-housing on Friday afternoon and were greeted by Sarah and her husband Lee. They live in a 3 bedroom dwelling which is part of the 33-unit site which is the first intentional housing co-op designed and built from scratch in Britain.It is home over 70 individuals from different walks of life yet with a common interest in communal living. Each tenant at Springhill can be as independent as they please, although a certain amount of voluntary work for the community is expected from everyone. There is a cosy social space where residents have their shared meals several times a week; the car park is located away from houses to encourage walking around and meeting neighbours. A sustainable rainwater drainage system is place; there is a pond and a green playground for kids in the centre of the site. Small growing plots and wooden benches are scattered around the estate which invites residents to spend time outside. All dwellings are privately owned; there are no prerequisites for new tenants; owners can sell and rent properties as they see is appropriate. We liked the vibe of this place; Sarah’s family are a happy bunch; she herself is the only member of the Green Party in the Gloustershire County Council!!Keep up the good work dear!

Springhill Cohousing in Stroud

Brave Wei fixing yet another puncture at Springhill in Stroud

In Stroud Laura left the team for a night and visited her brother and his two kids. Wei and I stayed behind, wrote the blog, fixed a 1000 punctures and enjoyed our first evening off since the trip started!!

On Sunday, having walked down Laura’s memory lane, visited a couple of the Stroud Open Studios where we grubbed the opportunity to play crazy electronic music on… a metal bucket and met a lovely artist who specialises in illustrated joke telling(…) , we feasted on Sarah’s beautiful roast and cake. We were joined by the lovely Philip Booth, Green party District councilor for Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe near Stroud, who is so energetic he could almost compete with us!!;-)

Together we recorder two pieces of footage: him of us talking about Seed Bomb Britain (the short video has now been published on Transition Stroud TV- stroudcommunity.tv/seed-bombers-in-stroud/) and ours of Philip introducing the numerous active Transition projects in and around Stroud. Together we walked to an evening film screening and discussion organised by the cyclists’ collective Bicycology (bicycology.org.uk). We saw several documentaries about the ridiculous car-based culture, the inspiring Reclaim the Streets collective for direct action and about the cycle revolution in Holland. We got our 5 minutes of fame too when we introduced the small audience to our project; it was met with smiles and an applause which felt rather nice.

Bubble & Bombing Bankers

(From the eyes of Laura)

From the lovely Laura Lei and Jon’s place and we say a final farewell to the mega hills to Devon and a happy hello to the nice flat country roads of Somerset. After nearly a month and we are finally heading north!
Our legs must be getting stronger as the 30 mile ride hardly took any time despite the rain. Our new water resistant shoe covers (donated kindly by Eduardo) keep our spirits smiling just about. We all agree that we have pretty much had our fill of rainy days. It did, however, clear up later and our 2pm arrival to the village of Norton sub Hampton meant that we could have a cheeky pint in th local pub before heading to Tinkers Bubble-dom.

First impressions of the infamous Tinkers Bubble was breath taking. Beautifully peaceful woodland with gardens, wooden shacks and apple trees tucked away in small clearings. We spied a tinkerish looking fella through the bushes who directed us to the entrance and we dumped our bikes at the bottom as we  walked up the steep wooded hillside towards some wooden huts nestling amoung the trees. All looked quiet and we felt like we were intruders in this dark paradise until we met Glen who welcomed us with  a big smile and warm greetings.

Path up to dwellings


Once inside the community space we met others, who were busy preparing a feast for that evenings dinner. Our usual trail of a thousand questions began as we met the other happy souls who dwell there. Many were fairly new residents but a couple of the original members still remain, passing on their fascinating stories of woodland and orchard life. The younger residents were full of inspiration and enthusiasm for their consumerism-free idealistic life. I can’t say I wasn’t a tiny bit envious of the lifestyle. The work is hard but joyous, and all who live there have a sparkle in their eyes and a thirst for life. That kind if work; the kind of work that the rewards are tangible, gives you energy rather than depletes it.  I start dreaming of a life in such a place. mmmm. food for thought.

Tinkers bubble is a community that began 18 years ago. They are totally off grid and live as close to nature as possible. Their numerous apple trees produce wonderful juices and their ample woodland provides timber. The wonderful people who live there have so many skills that our two day visit was not nearly enough time to absorb it all. From leather work to carpentry, from spoon carving to animal husbandry and from story tellers to expert gardeners, there truly is a wealth of knowledge combined with open souls willing to share it. magic!

Steam powered saw mill

That afternoon we help Pete with his poly tunnel, enjoy a bit of afternoon sunshine and on the hypnotic gong of the dinner bell we meet the community and chat about life.

Following a cozy night in the guest hut i awake and meet Mike Zair who has lived at tinkers bubble the longest. He is lighting the fire outside ready for morning coffee and porridge. i soon discover this man is a well of knowledge and stories from his magical and adventure filled life. His cheeky charm was a hit with us all and we all spent many a minute engrossed in hearing about his life.

That day the choice of work on offer included fence building, sything and tree extraction.
The latter sounds simple but living in comunity without using fossil fuels, tree extraction becomes  whole new ball game. Previously the community owned a horse but since it had been sold it wa all down to people-shaped horses and plenty of them. Scarily we manage to drag three huge tree trunks down the steep hillside to their amazing steam powered saw mill. what an amazig place. Hard work never felt so good and was so much fun!

Somehow us girls manage to get distrated from heavy lifting by Dave the cider maker and we got to sample the latest barrel of tinkers cider that was dangerously delicious. After reminding the girls that we are meant to be working for our keep , we reluctantly head back up for more woodwork.

This time sawing logs for communial fire which definatley works a sweat up. Wei being the smallest memberof our teams got to skive by helping Mike in kitchen and i had the  somewhat satisfing job of splittin logs with the delightly and tenetious young girl Kooky, the nine year old daughter of simeon and miranda. lovely family.

Following a hearty fireside lunch listening to birds and admiring how beautifully the light filters through the trees. stunning.

Then it was time to get stuck into some sything. it was all of our first time at this ancient method of cutting grass and getting rid of weeds. that afternoon five of us cleared two whole fields of nettles thistles and hogweed. bodies tired but happy we then chatted under the apple trees until dinner. all in all and wonderful but all to short glimpse of life in a comunity living so closely to nature in a remarkingly beautiful setting.

Tinkers to Glastonbury

Following fond farewells and some seed swapping (rather than bombing these days) we set off for glastonbury in ……halleluyah….. some sunshine!!!! we got to glastonbury from just after lunch so kicked back in the park with some lunch and watched the colourful people of this town. we had ben told that glastonbury is like the disney land of hippies but i found it quite charming. i guess everything looks and feels better in the sunsine. glorious.
Up the high street there were people lovingly giving out free food and it turned out that out host for the night was waiting in the queue. We were introduced to the lovey Anthony who was super relaxed and told us to come on over.
Yet again, our panniers and bikes seem to take over the entire house as we land on Anthony’s living room floor. However, Anthony’s cheerful and light energy doesn’t seem to mind a bit. He leaves us to it so he can attend his garden party and we stick on some vinyl in the form of the Carptenters and Fleetwood Mac. Nice!
When we do finally get some time with Anthony we learn that he is an artist who specialises in tantric plumbing!! How awesome! I guess you will have to ask the man yourself what that entails rather than to get my probably inaccurate version.

All in all he was a fascinatingly creative person and a delight to spend time with. We seed-bombed his garden together and then got down to some cycle route planning. Lovely times!

Seed-bombing Anthony’s garden

Glastonbury to Bristol
The next morning we woke at 6pm as we have to reach Bristol by lunch time so we can meet Mike Feingold who has kindly agreed to show us around.  Anthony so wonderfully makes coffee and brings our nice clean clothes in on a tray!! A true gentleman indeed. The usual ritual of porridge with dried fruit and nuts set us on the right path for a day on the saddle. Packing in the morning still gets no quicker and usually takes at least an hour of faffing before we can get out the door.
The ride to Bristol was good. The weather is dry at least and the road kind. The challenge of the Mendip hills didn’t dampen our spirits as it felt so good to keep dry for once. Coming close to Bristol amazingly I bumped into a friend from Edinburgh cycling the other way!! Crazy syncronicity especially as she was aiming for Tinkers Bubble. Small world huh?

We make it into Bristol but about 11:30am and are greeted by Mike’s beaming grin and lots of volunteers constructing an outdoor kitchen in Trinity community garden in Easton.

After introductions and a show around, Mike takes us to the Hungry Goose, a centre in Easton that gives free food to the local community. Bellies full of lovely mushroom curry and heads full of wonderful stories told by Mike we head back to the gardens to get our bikes in order for Mike to give his whistle stop tour of East Bristol and the amazing projects that go on there.

The man himself

First stop is Gordon Road Allotments Project where i happen to bump into Christina who I met at the permaculture design course which was lovely.

Homemade humus and herbal tea later and its onto Mike’s allotment at Easton Community Allotment where he talked us round his round house construction and his apple tree grafting workshops.

We even had the honor of checking out his own personal allotment space and his rather tame chickens. “There is life before chickens and life after chickens”, he says as he explains the fundamental permaculture principles that he adheres to. A wealth of knowledge and experience leave our ears buzzing and our minds humming with possibilities and ideas. An incredible man. The last stop on our super busy day was the Stapleton Road Station in Bristol which once had been a very dangerous and unsavoury area of east Bristol, but had since been turned into a beautiful community garden centre and an amazing social space. A wonderful finish to a happy but  exhausting day.

All left to do was to do the shopping for that nights dinner and meet our hosts in Bristol, Lizzie and Joe. Lovely couple also into cycling and planning a big cycle trip next year. But when i say big I mean BIG. South America big.
The next morning we had an appointment with another project in north Bristol, and this time we got to help building a polytunnel. The volunteer team were actually all from lloyds bank so after making a load of seed-bombs we had them all seed-bombing a piece of land we had prepared.

Seed-bombs filled with home saved seeds from Ourganics in Dorset!

Bombing bankers

We helped get the plastic on and then had to move on to yet another project.

This one was at the Create Centre which was an exibition showing how Bristol developed its blossoming environemntal movement. It seems Bristol is way ahead when it comes to ‘Transition’ into the future, if you know what I mean.

Sadly on the way my bike decided to give me yet another puncture, but being in a big city i thought it be easy to gte sorted. Right? …..
Wrong? I went to the nearest bike shop, a shop called Specialize, who actually said to me “Can’t you see we are selling £3000 bikes here, we can’t help you”. Flabergasted I reluctantly go to buy a new inner tube and do it myself. But even that was too much for them as I would be breaking health and saftey protocal. When did money and health and saftey take presidence over common decency? Jeepers! I then have to walk up to the top of White Ladies Road to find a proper human being. I found two in a shop called Psyclewerx who were more than helpful and gave me an greta deal on a new back tyre. Lets hope that puts an end to my never ending puncture issues!
Meeting up again with the girls who got to see the exhibition we go for a cuppa and then a bit of sightseeing at Clifton Suspension bridge we celebrate our being on the road for exactly a month.
Our delightful Bristol hosts helped us to celebrate by going to a Morroccan restaurant that evening. Good times good times.

From rain to sun

(from the eye of wei)

9th May
After two days of relax, we started to cyling towards Totnes together with our lovely Jo. This day has been turned out to be a day mixed with happiness with misery.
— Visiting Totnes Transition Town

Being the birthplace of Transition UK ( the second transition place after Ireland), Totnes becomes our indispensable stop. It is such a honor that Ben Brangwyn, the co-founder of the Transition Network and  a Transition Town Totnes member, agreed to meet us. After serving us hot tea and warm clothes, Ben started to explain us the famous “Totnes pound”.  Totnes pound was introduced in March 2007 as Totnes’ alternative currency to support the town’s economy. According to Ben, local currency is not a new concept. It has been always exist but was gradually replaced by the national currency. However, the national currency is not good for sustainable economy, and would deal a body blow to the local economy during the national economy downturn. Ideally, the introduction of local currency can protect the local economy while the national economy falters since it can limit the circulation of the money inside the local society rather than flow into multinational companies and out of the local society. At the same time, it can motivate people to grow the local food, which can contribute to a more sustainable society.  With the effort of Transition Totnes Team and the volunteers, there are around 70 local shops agree to join the local currency system.
Currently Totnes pound is attached to the Stirling. But Ben and his colleages are trying to attach it to the local energy. Due to the complexity, there is still a long way to go before Totnes pound can out of the attachment to stirling.

After the conversation, Ben brought us to the eco-house of Isabel Carlisle, an amazing lady who devotes to the transition education work. In her 3-year old eco-house made of green oak, she told us her plan to launch a project to engage more young people into the transition work due to the concern that the young generation is not active enough as they are expected to be in the field of sustainable development.
In Transition Totnes office, we also met other lovely people. Meeting Rob Hopkins during our conversation with Ben is such a big surprise, driving us into a extremely high spirit.

THE apple core!


Before we left the Transition Totnes office, Ben who is also called doctorbike, helped us fix our bike.
— Hell route to Landmatters
Climbing a steep and sludgy hill while pushing a bike with more than 20 kilograms panniers on the way from Totnes to Landmatters definitely rewrote the record of the challenge we had been confronted with. We were totally exhausted when we were on the top of the hill. But it was not the end. The green lane which was supposed to be a short cut turned out to be a hell route. Pushing a bike in a narrow lane with  mud up to half of our leg in a rainy day for more than two miles brought us tears and anger!

Poor Jo, who was even not used to cycle in the rain, had to suffer from such a pain with us. But we were amazed by her toughness! When we three seedbombers keep complaining in front of muddy lane, she said, you just need to accept it and go with it.  It was very late when we reached Landmatters, so Jo did not get the chance to have a look around before she left. We really appreciate her company and felt so sad and and guilty when saying goodbye to her.

10th May
— Short visit in Landmatters
Larmmates, which has been established for six years, is a very mature community. There are around 9 adults and 6 children living there. Even though we stayed in Landmatters for only one night, Sharon, a member in the community, kindly gave us a short tour around the field in the morning.

Visiting Landmatters is absolutely an eye-open trip. This is our first time seeing so many different types of benders. Circular ones, square ones, rectangle ones, we are amazed by the creative ideas of the bender designers. Mostly, they are made from clay and logs. Some of them have green roof with grass and wild flowers growing on the top for better insulation and better natural appearance. Inside the benders, you can see the willow branches weaving on the ceil.

Sharon showed us the water system in Landmatters. The borehall is main source of water. We were surprised to know that the residents in Landmatters had ever spent four years bringing all their waters from the bottom of the hill.

the bender we slept in Landmatters

another part of the bender

one bender under construction

using beer bottles as decoration

the roof of one bender

another bender

Sharon was showing us around

the borehall in Landmatters

— back to heaven in Torquay
It started to pouring with rain just when we were about to leave Landmatters for Torquay. All along the way the weather was keep challenging our temper. We were completely soaked not long after we started out. Feeling dirty and stinky after after two-day’s being stuck in mud and no shower, we all in a down mood.
What is worse, both of Laura’s bike and Ella’s bike had problems in the brake.  The bikeshop named Dialled In Bikes in Torquay was extremely kind to help us out.
After several hours’ suffering, we finally reached Peter’s luxurious guest house (Villa Marina), which was the turning point of our mood!!! With a warm shower, nice dinner, relaxing in the extremely comfortable sleep, we felt that we were back to heaven. We were really grateful for the hospitality of Peter and his wife.

Another happy news in Peter’s guest house is that, we received our carbon neutral T-shirt! The green T-shirts with our team logo on the shoulder look amazing! Thanks for Sustu for kindly giving us the well-designed T-shirts!

Villa Marina

having English breakfast in Villa Marina

11th May
— headed to Laura farm
We left Peter’s guest house in the early morning to Bulstone Barn farm. The sun finally stick out his head after disappearing for long time, making the trip much more enjoyable.

on the way to Bulstone Barn farm

Laura’s mother came to meet us carrying a Laura tree near Exeter.  She was planning send the “Laura tree” which was brought by her for Laura’s birthday to plant on Bulstone Barn  Farm where the owner of the farm is also named Laura(W).
Laura(W) came to pick us when we got to Exeter since there are a lot of big hills before reaching her farm. She is such a lovely person. Laura(W) showed us around when we got to her farm. Her farm is located in a valley. She and her husband Joh left the busy life in London and bought this valley (about 40 acres). That is a valley with absolute gorgous view. On the slope covered with grass were lots of chicken and guinea fowl capering around.

guinea fowl

guinea fowl

In the far end is a piece of thick woodland. Walking along the path, we entered a kingdom of bluebells. What a stunning decoration! The sunshine leaked in through a window in the trees, making the whole piece of woodland look like a place inside the fairytale.

There are three tanks and three natural ponds. Currently they are doing carp farming, which is one of the most sustainable fish farming since the carp can be fed with any kind of food. Their carp are currently sold to Asia market in London, but they are trying to use different recipe to develop the local market. Also, they are trying to the fish farm waste to fertise the soil.

the pond in the farm

Compared with the shortage of water source in Landmatters, there are several mouths of spring, making them very easy to access to water.
So far we had visited several permaculture farm, but all of them are already in a mature and well-designed stage. It is very interesting to see such a farm still in a elementary stage.
This is the first night we did the camping. We slept inside a tent with the stars smiling to us.

the tent we slept in

12th May
The chitchat of birds woke us up in the morning. The fragrance of the grass and flowers pervaded in the air. Walking out of the tent, a golden valley bathing in the sunshine came to our view. Everything seems so happy and energetic.
Today’s work is to replace the fence around the farm. With excellent team spirit, three of us removed the old fence in a very efficient pace. Also, we helped remove the tree guard, which was proved to be a slightly difficult job.

Moreover, since Laura and Joh have bought three Alpacas, so we removed a huge amount of nettle,in order to spare some space space to build a shelter for Alpaca. Laura told us that Alpaca is an very good guard for chickens from the foxes because they will chase the foxes and spit at them.

Laura (W)

13th May
We were supposed to leave the farm this day, but since all of us wanted to stay a bit longer in this stunning paradise and also can do some more work, we decided to extend our stay. The weather was very kind to us, giving us another sunny day.
We were distributed with different task. Wei and Ella were helping Joh put the new fence on. Installing the new fence looks like a simple task, but it turned out to be very difficult and annoying job. We were quite efficient at the beginning, but gradually with more wire getting entangled, we finally ran out of our patience.
Laura were helping build the shelter which is designed by Laura(W). After two days’ work, they finally build a lovely shelter to welcome their new guests – three Alpacas!