Some of my blogs are more to do with other people and, a few weeks ago now…( there’s always so much to say and not so much time). It takes an hour or so to process the photos (which have to be taken first of course) and then a few hours to write the blog …plus a few other people correcting my horrendous spelling and grammar (when they have a mo 😉 Ed.). Well, after the Somerset scythe festival I stayed over to help clear up as not many can stay and help BUT, then I got invited back to Tinkers Bubble by Pedro. I’ve always wanted to see Tinkers Bubble as I have heard so much about it.
Hobbit land was what came to mind when I walked up the steep hill through a good stand of Douglas fir. At the top of the hill (and slightly out of breath), there it was- Hobbit land in all its glory. Now the first interesting thing was the term WWOOF -it is a network for finding sort of unpaid work in the UK and further afield. In Hobbit land there were a few girls from Italy and Spain finding out about fossil free living!
Thing is, this community have set their stall out and decided to work the land without fossil fuel- very commendable to say the least. Most of the cooking is done using wood and the houses are made (predominantly) of the same.
However some of the first ones ever built were made of canvas (now relegated to a store shed) while others use some modern technology and new thinking.
The newest one is made of straw bales and clay rendering while the roof is corrugated iron.
Most houses go through a lifetime of change, some bits removed while others are added. In some cases it’s enforced- this winter they had a few big storms which wrenched a few of the Douglas firs from the ground and, in one case, the occupant went out to see what damage had occurred a few tens of metres away and promptly watched a tree fall straight through his beloved abode. That was a near miss!!!!!
Pedro showed me his house- rather man-like it was a haven of curiosities which some might term as junk! I’d like to say a tool chest for living without fossil fuel. Hanging in the rafters were some sheep skins ready to be cured in some oak bark tannin. That’ll keep him warm this coming winter.
Is Tinkers Bubble living in the past? Oh no they are not, they have as many renewable energy sources as possible and the small bank of solar panels keeps them in touch with the rest of the world. Mind you, it’s back to the past when it comes to heating your bath water though!!
Of course I was then shown around the veggie patches- very impressive. All this home-grown food feeds the community and, along with the poly tunnels, they have almost everything they need. The tomato section was outstanding; Pedro told me that they germinate the early toms with hot water bottles !!!
The chicken run was impressive too; it had to be as, apparently, the local badgers are partial to the organic chickens… Fort Knox came to mind.
As for diary products they even had a few Jersey cows- the milk is far superior to the supermarkets’ white water.
The next industrial centre to visit (and one close to my
head heart tail) was the apple press- more reminiscent of a torture chamber. Pedro showed me around with great enthusiasm, man I must have one of these.
Old and new was next on the list… Pedro’s horse, which he uses to cultivate his rather large veggie patch, (and the horse that provided fossil free power to the scythe festival in Somerset) was merrily grazing the grass under the cider apple trees. The community have recognised that they do indeed need to plant more apple trees.
Finally it was time to go ( and I travelled on to the South Downs National Park to see Mr Allery), but not before I had a tour around the Douglas fir woodland. All the timber is cut by hand and extracted using the community’s horses. So, how do they convert the timber without fossil fuel? My, oh my, oh my! A Stenner & Gunn racksaw (always wanted one of these) but, what was this? A Stenner bandsaw that has replaced the racksaw. “Come on Pedro you’ve got to use some fossil fuel to power this?” He promptly lifted a sheet and revealed a portable steam engine. ” Coal fired?” “Not on your life” he retorted… “wood”. I’m rather jealous as this was the setup at the Woodyard at Wimpole… oh how I dream of what could be!… … …