People

Carmarthen, and the people of Myrddin’s City

window scene

This is the story of meetings made while walking last year, on the oath to Saint Davids (Dewi Sant).

It takes place while Ed and Will were accompanied by Rose, and sees them arrive in Carmarthen, or Caerfyrddin, the City of Merlin.

It tells of Merlin and his Oak, of throwing axes, of Carmarthen Police Force, and of the most beautiful music we’ve ever witnessed in a pub folk-session.

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And it has interesting recordings too. So please press ‘more’, and read on…

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Our friend Ryan, in the Woods

Horde

gosh

Ryan Weston. A name that strikes fear into those who watch the Canterbury skies at night. Young women quiver in pale delight, when this monster comes scalloping round the lofty corner.

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mr Ryan at ease

Ryan Weston. A pal to us all. When Ed and Will were midst dreadful turmoil this winter, while living in the woods, it was the visit of friends like Ryan who brought the simple smile back to our faces.

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Plaw Hatch and the Modern Farm

Plaw Hatch farm is a place where farming still stands for something more than ‘yield’. Food is not something to be ripped from the animals and soil, the result of a bloody war of attrition and siege. Farming is not what happens when an unfair treaty is imposed on nature. All these metaphors are false. May we forget them.

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Plaw Hatch farm offers a simpler, kinder alternative to these modern stories of ‘how-farming-must-be’. And if they have managed it, so can others…

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Victor Freeman and his War Stories

We met Victor in the Cooper’s Arms, near Crowborough. He was in the Royal Navy during World War II, and enjoyed greatly the sea shanties we were singing that night. “Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy” was his particular favorite. Victor tried toget us singing “Heysborough Light”, but we couldn’t quite follow his melodies. We will look into it further.

HMS Bleasdale -

HMS Bleasdale -

What Victor told us…

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Presuming Dr. Livingstone

Our Malawian pop-star pal Kenny, well-met in Canterbury, told us the tale of Dr Livingstone. This story was related over a pot of Early Bird in Simple Simons (now the Parrot).

The accuracy of the story cannot be confirmed, but anyroad, it goes thuswise:
Livingstone was a Scottish Missionary, a man with a great heart, and with the balls of an elephant. As a missionary, he was not hugely successful, being accredited with only one conversion to the Church. But as a hero amongst men, he was (as all heroes) uniquely spectacular.

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So what did he do?

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Sunrise Celebration

Sunrise Celebration is a festival, and it is a conscious network of hope, technology and music. It is a fine place to learn, about permaculture, eco-technology and lots more, amongst very good people, to razzing music. It is a large village, complete with all sorts of venues, from the Horsedrawn shacks to the rumbling thuds of the Roots stage.  The techno, the swing and the choir all live together happily here.

As an event, it always feels like a festival should, overwhelmingly beautiful and exciting, but friendly and local. It makes for a magnificent and timeless long weekend.

This year a new site, guaranteed to be dry and stunningly beautiful, has been found. It is bound to be a grand affair.

We ended our Southern stroll with a month working for the sunrise Celebration. We were volunteer décor co-ordinators and crew, and had a great time working like furies, trying to manifest an aesthetic from the air and ground.

This work has been continued, and last summer, when the site famously flooded, we had worked for 3 weeks trying to design and assemble the best site-art possible.

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Our décor camp, which included our kitchen tent and all our stores, was perpetually stood in a foot of water. This made living tricky, and working for free required all the self-generating optimism our gang could manifest.

But we did it, with struggles that were laughably difficult.

As the last of the giant flowers was dragged over to the stage area, wedged and hammered into the ground, we stood back. All was finished. The décor was up.

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Everyone had wet feet, sodden socks, and you were one of the lucky few if there was not a few inches of water inside your tent. It had been sublimely tricky, even to walk around the site and see how things were looking, but especially with a huge wooden piece of central decoration. But we had done it, and there were already thousands of people on-site, with no rain for at least a few hours.

Of course, the moment we felt hopeful, the rain came back harder. A half-hour later, the word went around from site HQ – the festival was off.

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We expect it was difficult for everyone, and there was naturally a great sigh of disappointment. But we had no time to waste. Tractors were churning the earth up even more, in efforts to drag the stalls and stages out through the mud. We immediately got on with uprooting all our beautiful work, and trying to get it put away without damage. This took another 5 days in the mud.


It was a beautiful challenge, and a mighty struggle. When we did all take a night to enjoy the music and people who were here for a good time, no matter what, we found the peak of excitement generated by the festival was shining and huge, even after its official culling.

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Sunrise. This year, when for the first time we won’t be anywhere near, will be the best event of the festival season. It was so close last year, and many lessons have been learned. We say: Go, go there, with your friends and family, and have a ball. It is educational, healthy, and joyous.

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Save Tara

Protecting the hill of Tara from a four lane motorway.

The Ancient hill of Tara is under threat. A four lane motorway is planned to bulldoze right through it.

This is the centre of ancient Ireland, part of a huge complex of incredible sites. The Irish equivalent of Stone Henge.

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For the sake of faster transport we are putting at risk our most ancient historical places.

Perhaps they’ll submit plans to convert Canterbury Cathedral into 2 bedroom apartments.

tara-words

A petition to the Irish government.

More detailed explanations of present situation and how you can help at:

www.savetara.com

www.myspace.com/hilloftara

Dig For Victory

dig-for-victory

Have you heard of Codex Alimentarius?

It is an attempt by the World Trade Organisation and World Food Organisation to control and manipulate the food chain.

The latest in a long line of attempts to make natural medicine illegal will
be imposed on the UK by the United Nations on 31 December 2009, unless the UK Government can be persuaded to reject it.

The WFO intends to change Codex from guideline to rule of law. The suggested implementations would classify all vitamins, minerals, herbs and
supplements as “toxins”, and will require that all foods are irradiated
and “made safe” with a cocktail of pharmaceutical ingredients (not
apparently “toxins”).

This may presage the end of organic agriculture and natural medicine.

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Baz, Barnstaple, Cornwall.

Walking out of Barnstaple, we were jolly from our the first busk in some time. The town drinkers had been inspired to start singing, and we spotted them knocking out Aerosmith songs to slightly shocked shoppers. They had good, if slightly rough edged voices. They held the tunes, with animated delivery. As we were walking out of town, they ran after us with their hatful of money, laughing, saying they’d got enough for a cider each. They tried to give us a cut of the money, for reminding them of this old trick, but we said “hold onto it”. We wonder if they took this further, and started learning, arranging and practising songs, or if it was an afternoon’s fun and no more?

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Plants For A Future

We had heard various rumours about PFAF before we arrived there. It had been a destination lingering in the future, somewhere we seemed bound to go.
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PFAF, or Plants for a Future, is a project that aims to promote, by example and education, the incredible variety and availability of edible and useful plants that can be grown in Britain.

This was born some 20 years ago, when a few people clubbed together to buy a potato field. The week the transaction went through, the whole area flooded, and all the topsoil, and the spuds, washed down the valley into the stream.

So they had a field, with no soil, that was whipped by vicious winds, and notoriously unproductive. It has been used to grow potatoes for as long as anyone remembered.

They set to work, with the added difficulties of not being allowed to build on the land, or live there for more than 3 weeks per year.

As soon as the hedges started to grow, other plants could settle. And they did so, in tremendously fertile droves. PFAF is today a growing encyclopaedia of the edible plants of Britain and the world. There is very little they do not grown and know.

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When we arrived there, we had both been walking separately for a week, for a little space. Will had met with National Trust rangers in a coastal village, with whom he stayed for an evening, prior to a solo busk in the morning. The ranger knew everyone from PFAF, and made the phone calls necessary. Now Will knew the valley, the red phone box, and the time, from which liaison could be achieved.

In the morning he busked, which was difficult but intensely good for him. And in the afternoon, he got to that red phone box, and made arrangements.

Ed, meantime, was walking as fast as he could toward PFAF, without knowing why nor where he was headed. He took the phone call from Will, and made carried right on.

An hour of being walked around the site with one of its caretakers, Will was saturated with varieties of hawthorn, mallow, and all the rest. Then Ed appeared, exuding fatigue. We completed the tour, were offered a floor to surreptitiously sleep upon. A brief catch-up, and we were asleep.

We stayed for two days with PFAF, helping clear brambles, tidying up old messes. We spent good time with Addy, one of the founders of the project. She taught us stretches to strengthen our limbs, lent us books to read, and generally flowed with solid plant knowledge.

PFAF is an unbelievable resource. It is so nearly the perfect project. What it needs… is people, good willing volunteers to go spend time, to learn and work, in their beautiful Cornish garden-forest. This place is the true Eden of Kernow, with no glamorous glass domes nor wide car-parks. It is the future, and if you are heading West, you should give them a call and go help out.

Also, the knowledge-base they have accumulated at PFAF has been built into a website, and is freely shared. We strongly suggest you go look, here.