Legendary tales from the road: the journey ends

27th July 2011 by

Northern Souls, we’ve done it!

750 miles since setting off from the west coast of Wales, the team spun into our final destination, the city of Edinburgh, looking like we’ve just landed from the Mediterranean; bronzed faces, arms, and legs while boasting a stellar collection of tan-lines (helmets, watches, gloves, socks, sunglasses, t-shirt). No stranger would have guessed from our appearance that we had just spent the past five weeks crossing the UK (except for maybe after having seen our thighs of steel)!

Charged with a major sense of accomplishment and an abundance of new knowledge, we now begin the re-integration into the real world. A challenge it may be for some and perhaps a relatively smooth transition for others, we will try to weave the Otesha message into our separate lives. Over the past six weeks we’ve built a firm foundation of inclusive and transferable community standards while developing the ability to creatively and positively participate in our communities.

During the tour wrap-up in Edinburgh with Calu, the team shared enthusiasm, hopes, fears, and dreams about the next chapter of our lives: from continuing on our personal low-impact routine back home, to starting a student composting scheme, to selling off that car, to baking more bread — we’re all excited to move forward with positive energy in our stride

We also took some time between eating massive jacket potatoes topped with veggie haggis and trading hardboiled eggs for inanimate objects on the streets (a final group challenge dreamt up by Pete and Heni to test the curiosity and generosity of strangers), to reflect and laugh over the amazing adventure we have all just completed! Our final tour blog entry would not be complete without recap of our major highs, the odd bump along the road and awards for all the amazing qualities and inspiration each member brought to the team.

Total miles cycled: 750
Schools and youth clubs visited: 14
Total puncture count: 12 (7 of which were on trailers)
Kg of peanut butter: 12
Rainy cycling days: 1.5
Most obscure performance venue: a polytunnel (the result of a combination of midges and rain)
Bars of Kendel Mint Cake consumed: probably 10 big ones
Team Member Awards

The Wampire: Heni; At the beginning of tour she often pronounced her ‘v’s as ‘w’s and her favourite song to strum on the ukulele was “I am a Vampire” which first came out as “I am a Wampire”. Another favourite is “Let’s buy Weggies for dinner” (instead of veggies).

Hip-Hop Honey: Meghan; She brought a full helping of hilarious American culture (among many other great things) with her on tour and provided the team with great tunes with her Ipod and speaker combo—on and off the bike.

Hedge Diver: Holly; She had a unique way of getting to know her bike at the beginning of the tour by sporadically moving from the road to the nearest hedge. Luckily she had great technique and the only damages incurred were holes in all of her tights.

Sugar Fairy: Rachel; She was always well equipped with emergency sugar supplies from fruits, to marzipan, cake icing blocks, mint cake and more! Her stocks helped out the team on many occasions to avoid potentially disastrous low-sugar-bonking situations while on the road.

Bunz of Steel: Erin; She had a particularly odd relationship with the trailers—namely BigZip—as she was often first to jump on the opportunity to hook one up regardless of the many hills and mountains. The team gave their gratitude through bottomless encouragement and several (serious) offers to have an image of BigZip tattooed on her once in Edinburgh.

Mother Hen: Iona; She is a calming force for everyone and held all the right remedies for low and tired morale. From massages to chocolate, real coffee, and assuring us that we’ve (almost always) cycled further than we think; her energy, awareness and thoughtful actions kept the group’s spirits high.

Taste bud Guru: Susie; She has incredible insight to satisfy every team members’ palate and cravings— an extremely important element in maintaining high morale. From surprise Nutella and fresh bread before a performance, to chocolate covered Brazil nuts half-way up a hill; gourmet Indian dahl, nourishing soups for dinner and sharing bites of her chocolate tiffins; she always knows how to keep spirits high, healthy and “hit the right spot”.

DJ Gasolina: Petor; He set the tour off on a high note with his extraordinary mobile sound system, providing a variety of beats and rhythm in our stride and in the lives innocent bystanders along the road. He also hosted many impromptu dance parties with surprises like strobe lights and anthems to sing while searching for camping fuel donations (hence gasolina).

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Northern Soul Otesha UK tour to make it such a success! We look forward to visiting you all again someday and keeping in touch.

Peace and bicycle grease,
Heni, Iona, Holly, Rachel, Pete, Susanna, Meghan and Erin

Legendary tales from the road – part 1

22nd June 2011 by

At last the team has come together to prepare and bond before we hit the road for our 600-mile adventure from Aberdaron to Edinburgh!

We’ve had an action packed week of workshops; sharing our journeys to Otesha; outreach training; and familiarising ourselves with the ‘Morning Choices’ script to craft our very own version of the Otesha play. We’re beginning to feel well prepared to spread the message of low-impact living far and wide, and we’re excited to learn more from everyone we meet along the way. Thanks to Liz and Calu for facilitating all the week’s activities, and to Matt, Harriet and Sylvia’s Mother for keeping us well nourished!

There have been so many highs with a few healthy lows; we were perhaps all too optimistic in leaving those extra layers behind only to realise that just because it’s June, doesn’t mean that it’s going to be warm! But it was easy to forget about the cold nights with the beautiful rides, learning exchange, bicycle maintenance, cob building, and did we mention delicious food?

We’re very grateful to our hosts here at the inspirational and beautiful Felin Uchaf centre, who have shared bounty from the garden and their enchanting folk stories around the fire. It’s going to be hard to leave but after our first successful play performance, we’re energised and excited for our shows ahead.

Smiles, pedals, peace & peanut butter power,

Meghan, Pete, Erin, Susanna, Holly, Heni, Rachel & Iona
The Northern Soul cycle tour team

P.S. Follow the team on twitter or find us on Facebook

P.P.S If you want to subscribe to updates straight to your inbox, email cycletours@otesha.org.uk with the subject line “Ey up, it’s a blog!”

Josie Long & Otesha meet Climate Camp

2nd September 2010 by

Ta da!! Here is our first foray into film with our patron, comedian Josie Long! Over the next few months, we will be showcasing some of the coolest and best aspects of the social and environmental justice movement here in the UK and relating it back to our daily lives.

This month, we went to Climate Camp in Edinburgh. A thousand activists camping outside RBS headquarters and protesting against their investment in fossil fuels and destructive projects like the tar sands may not seem relevant to a lot of us, but when you think that the bank is 84% owned by the UK taxpayer, it makes you wonder where your money is going.

So this month, we’re not necessarily asking you to siege your local bank branch (although, that of course, is your individual choice). We are asking you to put your money where your ethics are, pester your parents about their pension and above all, be honourable. That’s the title of Josie’s current show (nominated for an Edinburgh Comedy Award!), which is about trying to act in line with your beliefs, saying goodbye to complacency and just being aware that there are people out there fighting for a cleaner, greener, fairer world. Sounds pretty good to us.

You’ll have to excuse some of the poor sound and light quality in the video – it was me, Josie, a flip cam and a bike light running around in the dark! The next one will be more fancy.

End to End – tour journal 6

19th August 2010 by

The new week began with the usual scramble to leave on time. Bags loaded and with our temporary new recruit Helena on board (Mike’s girlfriend), we left Newcastle in search of Alnwick. It was a beautiful 50 mile journey along the coast to the place of Harry Potter’s Castle. We slept away the night in style at Alnwick community centre, which was full of luxurious treats such as a tuck shop and table football! But the slumber was short lived and once again the morning, along with the youth of Alnwick, was upon us. The play and bicycle maintenance workshop were met with much enthusiasm which powered our pedals through the treacherous thunderstorm that was to come on our way to Budle Bay campsite (the wise amongst us hibernated with coffee and cake whilst it passed over).

Sleepy cyclists crawled out of their tents at the cry of the time lord “6am everybody!!! Breakfast in fifteen minutes”. Greeted by a glorious blue sky, the day began with a pretty trundle along the coast. After a euphoric boarder crossing, Scotland kicked in and we struggled with our first mountain! Celebrations at the top included a puncture and a heavy shower. After that, all that remained was to cruise downhill to Edinburgh (although the ferocious headwind meant that pedalling down hill was a must!). But all arrived safe and sound 83 miles later at Mike and Helena’s flat, and after chips settled down to a restless night excitedly anticipating the day of the Fringe!!!

After a quick rehearsal and a run through of our new final song we made our way (fuelled by Irn Bru) through the streets of Edinburgh to the Royal Mile. We were greeted by more rain, but it ceased long enough for us do our work in all its splendour. The audience were not only treated to the delights of Mike in his kilt (and all that entailed) but witnessed the LEJOG crew at its best. The day off in Edinburgh that followed was most enjoyed by all (various activities included haggis eating, fringe watching, Arthur’s seat climbing), and concluded with a magnificent ceilidh, in true Scottish style.

Next stop…. Kirkcaldy!!!! And an easy peasy lovely jubbly pucker 35 miles over the magnificent Forth Bridge and along the coast. Here we experienced our first wild camp, as we pitched down on the beach front ready for our early morning dip. A misty murky morning lay ahead for those brave souls who ventured down to be greeted by a somewhat refreshing wake up call!!!

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