Lammas in Wales, a communal work…. and building site in progress
These links inform you on recent developments at Lammas and other similar projects:
And now, for something entirely different…. on my way to Lammas, in Wales.Twelve hours of traveling by bus and train, after rush hour, finally sitting comfortably with some guys, from a village with an illustrious name, I cannot pronounce, as it is Welsh. While admiring the sea and the golden evening sunlight, along the train-track through Pembrokeshire, one of them offered me to walk to the driver of the train, with a request to stop at Clunderwen. Once arrived at that station, I found another volunteer from Lammas, waiting for me, with her van. She proved to be very helpful and a technical wonder, working at Lammas. I was welcomed with a warm meal, by the resident of the plot and another volunteer and found my accommodation quite comfortable: a caravan with a cooker, water, an extra blanket and a light on solar power.
Lammas proved to be an entirely different cup of tea……. compared to Monkton Wyld Court, as I found out in the weeks that followed. Although I totally appreciate having being there. Mind you, I am a beginner in the exploration of a communal “one way or another” style of living and I don’t pretend being right at all, in my observations, of places I visit as volunteer. I’m sharing my experiences and impressions. The Lammas community is a group of strong-willed, sometimes pretty anarchistic individuals, living and building on a remote hilltop in Wales. As this group started to live on their plots, a few years ago, some families with children have build a straw-bale home, all true to their own wishes, size of family and sense of beauty.
The transition from consumer lifestyle towards simplicity, self-sustenance and sovereignty, for whatever reasons weary of authority, hence…. or due to…. a lack of trust and confidence, is a great challenge and opportunity to learn and grow, as I see it. I don’t mean to prescribe how such a life should be obtained, as I’m not in the position to do so. Living without a home, always meeting new people along the way, taking care of warmth and well-being myself, nudges me to become awake and accept my issues and deal with them. I admit that I had preconceived ideas, about communal living, that prove to be wrong. I’m happy to change my view on it and I must confess that I can feel superior sometimes. Please don’t be fooled by it, it’s one of my masks. I am speaking my truth, which isn’t necessarily yours. I haven’t much experience yet, in a way of life….. building a home… almost from scratch, more or less living off grid.
I am committed to learn about that way of life, finding myself one day living on the land, in rural Britain.Some residents are struggling, at Lammas, while others, jump hippily around, choosing to be the difference they want to see in the world, accepting that change is inherent to life….. even having to leave that place, maybe, one day. Some live by the day, others look further into the future, there are some pretty colorful people , birds of paradise too! Lammas, its residents and organisation, offers me much food for thought, also pondering my attitude. I am learning here, on many levels, and although it’s been quite intense, also weatherwise, I am finding truth and boundaries, trying my wings and let go of the urge to save the world, or control it. After all…. it’s not up to me to change others, is it? To me, the value of being here, in Lammas, is the excersise to take care of my wellbeing and the discernment of knowing when to shut up and when to speak my truth, for a good reason.
Lately, I received an email from a sister of mine. She acknowledged my Quest and told me she “got it” and supports me and cares for me, which moved me to tears. I felt myself going through second childhood, at Lammas. Being “an apple that fell quite far from the tree” as we say in Holland, I’ve been pretty much alone in my life, feeling different and at the same time longing for a connection, a belonging and inclusiveness. Safety nets were mainly absent in my life, I didn’t feel a need for it, but it made me strong in dealing with situations on my own. Not much inclined to ask support or help.
That start of my life offered me an excersize in endurance, strength and courage, without much safety nets to rely on. I am positive and lighthearted by nature, always welcoming the new day. I am self employed, curious and eager to learn more about life, and who I am. I’ve decided to enjoy life more and simply make efforts to be in trust and happy. That aspect of being an “outsider” or “alien” is changing fast now, I am happy to say, and I am finding many synchronistic opportunities and support in my life in Holland and in England. When I say “yes” to life, life begins to support me in resonance with that “yes”. I’ve found great people on my path too. And meanwhile Devon is saying “yes” to me and welcomes me. You and I…..we each find our path. What a surprise, to find it’s about the affinity with oneself within one’s heart and in that freedom of expression there’s a space to welcome truth as a friend.
This is from one of Richard Bachs books, it resonates with me a lot:
(Quote) “You are led through your lifetime, by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being, that is your real self. Don’t turn away from possible futures, before you’re certain you don’t have anything to learn from them. You’re always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past” (end of quote).
And now, I will continue with my journal: From the 15th until the 29th of May I have worked at Jude’s plot, working with 2 or 3 other volunteers on a variety of jobs: the construction of a self-watering system for vegetable beds, in a poly-tunnel, planting and seeding sunflowers, watering and mulching plants. Sorting nettles and building a compost heap. The compost-heap for Jude at Lammas, using nettles, comfry, sticks and straw. The bales were used to surround the heap and offer warmth too, part of the composting process.
I made a slugbarrier with a mixture of water, flour, sugar and yeast, in buckets, placed around the garden. We sometimes prepared meals in turn, mainly organic and vegetarian, with fish on Saturdays, delivered by “The Drunken Sailor” with a van. Which the non-vegetarians welcomed very much, me among them.We all enjoyed each other’s jokes and conversations, I am called a talent in understatements and wry comments, somewhat mischievous even, in a jester’s way. Jude’s meals are excellent and the caravan often shook with our laughter, in the evenings. On chilly nights we warmed ourselves at a fire in the stove, the weather here is quite changeable. We went for a day at sea, collecting seaweed as composting ingredient and we ran on the beach, with Scruff, the dog of one of the volunteers. The seaside was shrouded in mist, I’ve never experienced a mist at sea before. Sounds were muffled and sights so magically different!
Far to chilly to jump in!
The 30th of May I moved to Ayres plot and started working on the roof of the roundhouse (see the picture), covering it with turf. This house, to me, is a work of art and I loved it on first sight. On a rainy day, Mark (another volunteer) and I created a floor of jigsaw pellet-pieces in the house, a storage for the strawbales, which arrived on a huge truck, swaying while driving on the path with many holes, its load of strawbales brought in by a chain of people and stored under the roof of the house. How sore the eyes of those who had handled the bales were, the next day! The fine strawdust causes this irritation on the outer fleece of the eyes.
The work on the roof is a balancing act, as it’s sloping. The turf is quite heavy on rainy days and as a precaution, to not injure my back, I worked half days on filling the car-tyres with straw and cardboard. These so called “worm-towers” are continuously filled with manure and emptied at the bottom, for use as compost in the vegetable garden and orchard. Human manure composted in 2 years time, turns into perfect soil without a trace of smell. Also I’ve worked on the turning of the soil for vegetable beds, preparing them for the planting of potatoes, later on this year.
And I learned scything! The meals are much appreciated, while we are working hard, enduring more or less cold nights in our tents, with wild wind and rain. We usually eat our meals in the poly-tunnel, amidst the toys, the sandboxes, the grapevine and the bathtub filled with soil, growing strawberries and a little fig-tree. Being 3 weeks with this family means a lot to me.
I shared my cooking with the family and my handcrafting with the kids. It’s been a gift and a healing, living and working together for a while. I’ve grown fond of the family, hopefully now living in the home in the picture below.
In the evenings, the company of volunteers and residents, is often the start of many interesting conversations, exchange of experiences and inspiring entertainment. One volunteer, Holly, is a playful lovely lady, showing her appreciation, one day, by placing a heart in front of my caravan door, made from a white nylon strip. Or placing a line of arrows, made of wood-sticks, towards her caravan. Beautiful, no words. Holly and I have shared our dreams, we walked and talked to the pigs and we’ve been working together, singing, sorting the nettles, filling the car-tryes and cuddling at a fire in the roundhouse. We’ve baked strawberry pie and raisin cakes, at Simon and Jasmine’s plot, to share with Ayres family and we had a birthday party at Paul’s place. Being with a crowd of people, chatting (and music) in a room, to me, was overwhelming, after being outside all day in the silence of rural Dorset and Wales, for almost 2 months.
A hamburger with beef helped me through this “ordeal” as this was my first meat in 2 months. I’m no carnivore and I choose my meat carefully and with much gratitude, but I felt my body craving for it, when I took the first bite! I’ll never forget the taste of that hamburger, ha!
Recently, around 2015, a milk-service is organised, with a cart and a dog.
This Sunday, the 17th of June, fortunately a Sunny day, Holly has made a nest of willow and grass, with the kids, behind the roundhouse, where some trees form a hollow underneath their branches. While I’m glued to Richard Bach’s book and just enjoy being, without having TO DO anything, letting the sunshine in and absorbing it in my body, after a couple of cold days. After lunch I dozed off in the hammock and enjoyed a little nap. I am happy to have a chance to write, at a laptop in the barn, at Lammas, and complete this diary, before leaving and arriving at another location, possibly without WiFi. The barn is one of those immense constructions, about 15 meters high, 30 meters long and wide.
Imagine me, sitting at a wobbly table with one lightbulb above my head, surrounded by utter darkness in that barn without heating, with the wind howling around it, rattling the roof-covers! My volunteering at Lammas has ended. I am sure to be back for an open day and meet the residents, see the results of their efforts, their commitment to live and secure their existence here. And possibly find also that some may have left, choosing another place to live. Another choice of lifestyle. For after all, one needs to experience such a life in all aspects, all winds of change, before one can discern if it’s the fulfillment of one’s dream. Even when people leave, there’s the experience of having tried, having made efforts. And that won’t have to be a reason to regret, after leaving and on the last day of such a person’s life, as I perceive it. I think that a number of members at Lammas are accomplishing much, in many ways, with great perseverance and patience.