River hippos, summery siestas and Totally Tasty food.. notes from the Training week!

26th July 2013 by

It’s two weeks today since Sam, Iona, Catherine and Andy left us to fend for ourselves after training week, so really past time to post a blog about those five rich days.

From beginning as a group of almost total strangers on the Friday night (with Ana joining us midday Saturday following timely bike drama) we had come together with much laughter, shared food, and learning.

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We were inspired by Highbridge Community Farm, their model of community growing, friendliness and the productivity of their fields. We were also glad of the chance to help out with weeding – a great accompaniment to interesting conversation.

Games were a key part of training week, to get to know each other, energise, break out of our comfort zones – and to add to our toolkits for working with young people. Hug Tag, Monsters and Lovers, Hug Murder and the Vegetable Name Game were particularly remembered. We also sang many songs together, with one particular night of rounds to set the tone for singing to come.

A lot of time was given to practical tour prep – learning workshops, consensus decision making and bike maintenance as well immersing ourselves in why we were there, our stories, motivations and tour goals. Putting together small sketches as part of the workshop learning share process was hilarious and ultimately very useful, as from these we created a play for school assemblies whilst on tour. We decided on our food mandate, a long process that put the group’s consensus skills to work. We only finished it in Southampton – To shop from within Europe, organically if possible, with minimal packaging. We would be vegan, except sometimes would buy eggs if they were from very local and happy hens.

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It was the start of the heatwave, hot enough to burst one of our trailer tyres (unladen!) and making swimming in the nearby river during our mid-day breaks/siesta an enduring highlight. This included mud bathing /exfoliation. To quote Jessie “I’m a hippo!”

Our last day worked around a visit by The Media Trust who were making a short film about Otesha. They occasionally pinched people for interviews and gave us a great chance to ride our bikes around the field ringing our bells. We finished that day though with great jubilation, completing a treasure hunt, that invited us to banquet and demanded we dress to impress… We feasted on samosas, two curries and a banana dessert before closing our eyes to receive our little envelopes, full of warm fuzzies, our Otesha T-shirts and our bells – ready to ‘Saddle up and change the world!’

Thanks Sam and Iona for all the enthusiasm, support and hard work guiding us through those days, and Catherine and Andy for keeping us full of delicious food. Also thanks to Peter Hansford Cycles in Eastleigh for their support with Ana’s bike!

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