Sunday, 30 August 2015

Echoes of the Summer of Love

My son's first Stonehenge (photo: P. Mills - I was driving)

Question: How do the people who are skint go to the holidays? Answer: They go and visit relatives. Quite pleasantly, my English family lives in southern England.

Don't ask about British summer weather

I have rarely been so inappropriately packed or dressed. In an extremely optimistic fashion, I dreamt of West Sussex swimming in the sunshine, us having pub lunches with the in-laws and promenading along the Brighton and Hove beach. I did not pay any attention or give a second thought to the fact that we were going to visit a community in Devon. With the attempts of self-sufficiency and all that smallholder malarkey. I had packed my decent jeans, best white shirt and a couple of summer dresses. The reality was a complete wash-down in West Sussex and a request to help to get the potatoes up in Devon. Great! I was creating that hippy look in my Desigual top I had bought for conferences. My only piece of appropriate wear were my trekking boots. I did not even have a woollen top.

We enter the car free zone

I am a complete city girl and despite being an archaeologist and standing in the rain during the working hours, I am known to refuse to go camping. You cannot predict when it is going to rain during a British summer, so no, I do day trips or could discuss chalets. Or camping vans. Nevertheless, it was lovely to spend time in the middle of the Two Moors trail in a commune where my brother-in-law is the youngest adult. The other residents were remembering being in a full summer of love mode during the Summer of Love in the year when he was born. In addition, even if some residents where living in rooms, there are also self-contained flats and central heating. Luckily to me, they have to sort out their temperamental wifi, so I had a couple of days of total social media holiday. Naturally, there was no TV, so Andrew Wallace-Hadrill and the building of Rome had to wait for another day.

Beech Hill - with not a hippy but hubby

Being the holiday season, we only had one proper communal meal on the said Thursday when Andrew had his second premier. being true to the tradition, we did have lentils. The residents were enthusiastically discussing the following evening's Jeremy Corbyn's visit to Exeter. Most had booked their tickets and Friday night in the community was very quiet. On return people were visibly energized. This is what the Labour elite is afraid of. The grass root and 'the hippies' actually like his policies.

In the walled garden

The children were enthusiastically running around with the dog and collecting the eggs in the mornings. We did a hike through the woods to the nearby village and went for lattes in the village shop. We visited the parish church and did a day trip to Exeter. We fed the children in Pizza Express and cultured ourselves in the museum afterwards. We even met the editor of the Smallholder magazine and saw my sister-in-law in its cover. Since our son really misses his cousin and wants to see her again, we will return. With excavation trousers and a woollen jumper.

You can go camping in the Beech Hill Community. They also do courses, you could participate in voluntary weeks and there is a micro B&B, too.

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