An Otesha farewell with food

13th September 2012 by

We always knew that Charlie would only be with us for half of the tour, but the moment of her departure had seemed so far away. With sad faces and heavy hearts, we bid her farewell in Bristol.

But of course, this being an Otesha tour we were going to celebrate and not cry about the loss of one of our members! So the cooking team got to work on a 5 course feast made up of local ingredients from the fabulous Feed Bristol, where we were staying, and the Bristol Sweetmart.

One thing we’ve all taken out of this tour is how easy it is to cook healthy, local and organic food on our budget of 5 pounds per person per day. As we’re promoting a sustainable, local lifestyle, it’s important to us that we walk the talk. Our food mandate means we’re eating vegan food that is from the UK, or the EU if it can’t be grown in the UK, and we’re avoiding soya and palm oil.

We buy most of our foods from the farms we stay at or the nearest farm shop and local greengrocers and wholefoods shops. At first, wading through the packaging was hard work – just because something says it’s ‘made in’, ‘manufactured in’ or ‘produced in’ Britain, does not mean the ingredients are British. So we check for signs saying EU agriculture and use our common sense to decide if products are likely to be British. Unless we’ve got it all wrong and cumin seeds do grow in Guildford, we’re hoping we’re doing okay… and all without a supermarket in sight. Woo! For Charlie’s leaving party, we enjoyed a wonderful meal of homemade houmous, English melon, Italian olives, local curried vegetables, tabbouleh, beetroot and green salad and blackberry and apple crumble.

After a delivering our workshops and performances all over Bristol, we rode on to our next stop in Chew Magna. We arrived later than expected due to two punctures and a burst tyre but we timed our arrival perfectly to see the sun set over the pituresque Chew Valley lake where we set up our tents. We were staying at The Community Farm and were greeted by the lovely Claire and the infamous mid tour retreat package from the Otesha office.  As expected, it contained a lot of postcards to spark pupils’ individual actions, ideas for the retreat and a big bar of chocolate. Less expected were wonderful, positive messages from the Otesha team, thanks guys!

We contemplated the previous two weeks, what we had achieved, what we hadn’t, what we wanted to get out of the next few weeks and the Otesha experience as a whole. We then reconvened to chat over our thoughts and celebrate the tour so far with ‘The Great Big Pat on the Back’ where we counted up miles cycled, projects visited, punctures, best views, and highs and lows in general.

The second day was more relaxed and began with volunteering on the Community Farm, with jobs ranging from picking cucumbers to pruning raspberry bushes. We then had a wonderful feast with all the volunteers, well deserved after a morning’s work. The Community Farm, a co-operative vegetable box scheme farm seems to be really established, despite being in its early stages. We were treated to a tour of the farm by Ben and heard about big plans for the new education centre, where numerous courses will be run, ranging from foraging to bee-keeping, so if you are interested and in the Bristol area watch this space.

We had a wonderful, relaxing, mid tour retreat, thanks to the Otesha team, the Community farm and the beautiful weather. It was a great chance to reflect and re-cap on our play and workshops, thoughts and aspirations, which helped us to feel prepared to enter schools; the next phase of the Western Quest tour.

Pinhole Pedalling

22nd September 2011 by

A couple of weeks ago, in true Otesha style, I went on a wee cycling adventure.  I joined Sam (LeJog) and Louise (LeJog and East Coast) for week three of their travels, pulling a giant camera (distributed between two heavy trailers) across the south-west.  We battled wind, rain, and a fair few hills to set-up a three-metre-square camera obscura, into which curious passers-by were then invited.  The project used photography to celebrate beautiful and diverse landscapes…..and let’s not forget bikes.  After a week of idyllic rural landscapes we reached Bristol and visited the wonderful Bristol Bike Project

We made lots of bicycle portraits (of bicycles and their owners/creators), you can see them and read more about the ride and our visit on the Pinhole Pedaller blog!

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