Tartan Trail – the penultimate journal entry (a.k.a. part 6)

27th September 2011 by

So we left you with tales of chips in Tupperware and big hills en route to Glasgow. On arrival we were greeted with great gusto by Roz and Alice who quickly showed us into their big cosy house. To top off their already fab welcome they cooked us all an amazing curry and introduced us to the ancient Glaswegian tradition of sock-wrestling (i.e. ripping off someone’s sock by any means possible). Andina bravely took on Arthur and unfortunately lost, although she took half of his sock along the way. Next day we attended a community sustainable transport event and had lots of silly fun trying to master the crazy bikes they had hired. After which we upped-sticks to Toryglen community centre where we pitched our tents outside then had dinner on a REAL table (!!) kindly laid and decorated by the owners of the centre. We had fine fortune to meet a former Oteshite Kerry.  She cooked us Cranachan, a traditional Scottish pudding that brings new life to porridge by adding whisky and (soya) cream.

Whilst in Glasgee we volunteered for an inspirational social welfare charity called Starter Packs, run by the upbeat Sarah. She and her team work tirelessly in a deprived area of Glasgow to provide support for people moving into social housing with nothing, upcycling furniture and providing other basic supplies. After a day working in their bustling charity shop and offices all were inspired by their ethos and passion for helping those on the edge of poverty.

During our time in Glasgow we delivered workshops and our ever-improving play to two primary schools in the local area, kindly organised by the fabulous sustainable community project Urban Roots. Fun was had by all, despite the occasional language problems (in Glasgow ‘why’ means ‘how’, which took a bit of explaining). We also visited a lively and enthusiastic Woodcraft Folk group in Scotstoun where we all amused ourselves recreating more ‘truthful’ enactments of adverts in our ‘Admania’ workshop.

I think everyone learnt a lot from Glasgow, especially working in more deprived areas where perhaps sustainable living is not top on people’s agendas. Despite the obvious problems the group was very motivated by the inspiring work of organisations such as Urban Roots and Starter Packs.

With this is mind we set off for a rather undulating ride to our next destination – Coalburn, an ex-mining community south of Glasgow. Despite some minor (or major) map reading errors and some very wet dejected Tartan Trailers, we were welcomed into the Talamh housing community, and very kindly given a warm and dry caravan to sleep in (it was a bit like sardine at bedtimes but we were very accustomed to each others snoring by now). Talamh is a community of around 15 people, housed in a house, caravans and trucks. It is an amazingly tranquil place with various organic gardens, woodland and fields. We were happily supplied with an outdoor kitchen, complete with a gas oven (!), sink and firepit- our host Anna and other residents popped by occasionally with homegrown veg and fruit, and freshly foraged mushrooms. The next day we all had a very well deserved day off. Some chose to explore the area on their two-wheeled steeds, some took a leisurely shower at the swimming pool, while others lazed around and did absolutely nothing in the rarely seen sunshine. The next day we performed and workshopped at the local primary school- which as usual went rather well. One kid swore “I’m never gonna buy a non-fairtrade banana again!”. Then, after a day of work exchange (plum picking and weeding) we all bedded down early for the longest cycling day yet- 50 (ish) miles to Dumfries.


Many thanks to the Postcode Trust for their generous support of this project.

The Fifth Epic Tartan Trail Journal Entry

23rd September 2011 by

Roll up, roll up, for the next edition of the adventures of the Tartan Trailers coming to you from Luciana and Lucy, the luscious liaisons. When we last left you we were just about to embark on the epic journey of mid-tour retreat. Upon arrival at Hugh Grierson’s farm near Perth we hung up our wet socks and dried out our soggy sleeping bags in a handy poly tunnel and settled into our new home. Mid-tour retreat was a time for us all to reflect upon our time on the road and come up with ways to make us even closer and more effective as a community. And of course we planned to have lots of fun! We kicked off with an intense play rehearsal where we all swapped around our roles. It was really funny to watch people build upon the characters that others had previously played and rehearsal halted many times whilst we all got over the attack of the giggles! The weekend was also spent doing more serious stuff like sorting out the inevitable conflicts that arose from twelve strangers living in each others pockets for 3 weeks (like the strange occurrence that Otesha time seems to run circa an hour behind the rest of the world!). Although this was difficult at times we managed to resolve many of the issues we had encountered and our little band of two-wheeled world changers was much stronger and closer as a result. The only downside to this weekend was the onset of an autumnal turn of weather. Evenings were spent huddled together for warmth in a big breezy barn, partaking in the big Otesha quiz (that included every single obscure fact that Luciana’s brain contains), listening to the guitar and ukelele or snuggling down to hear Zoe’s dulcet voice reading us all another chapter from the wholesome ‘Ecotopia’.

Although mid-tour retreat was very fulfilling and spirit lifting I think we were all very ready to get to Stirling where we would have an indoor place to warm our cold toes and noses, so we set off on our two-wheeled steeds with gusto (actually setting off EARLIER than scheduled). The cycle ride was AMAZING! We rode up onto the moors above Stirling, just us and the buzzards to enjoy the spectacular views all around. Andres bravely took a naked dip in a small stream whilst we all played poo sticks on a handy bridge. Congratulations to those who lugged the heavy trailers up the massive hill at the end. The icing on the cake was arriving at our accommodation and finding a lovely church room with an OVEN (!), LIGHTS (!) and a real toilet. Oh the luxury! In high spirits we settled into our big carpeted room and had a couple of relaxed play rehearsals before our performance at St. Ninians primary school the next morning. From our first real stage we acted our hearts out and had the kids giggling away, especially when Andres the cow mooed his way onto stage with Arthur attached to the back of him making up his back legs. That afternoon we got a free bike check from the extremely kind mechanics at recycke-a-bike (we made them an amazing recycled thank you card) and later we munched our way through vegan pizzas mmmmmm. Next day was our day off, used in a variety of ways. The speedy gonzalez crew (Andina and the boyz) went on a 60 mile bike hike while the rest of us went for leisurely swims and checked our emails. Civilised. Then I (Lucy) left to London for a job interview (sadly unsuccessful), not before handing lots of money over to Luciana to sustain the team in my absence and waving them off to Gartmore for fresh adventures.

Thanks for your enlightened scribbles Lucy! Luciana here again! So after a speedy and uneventful cycle ride (apart from one Everest style hill) we arrived in the beautiful village of Gartmore. Small but perfectly formed, Gartmore had it all – a community run shop, a handily placed pub with a variety of tasty ales and a teeny-weeny school with only 19 kids! It was in the playing field of said school that we pitched our tents much to the curiosity of the local kids. Myself and Catherine got stuck into fixing the rather overgrown willow dome whilst the boys settled down to well-earned game of footie. Next day we pootled over to the school to perform the play, complete with a brand new song. It was a hit with all 19 of the kids! After an old-fashioned school dinner we cracked on with three workshops, food, fashion and transport. That night we discovered we had run out of gas so the cooking team decided to patronise the local pub and came out with tupperwares full of chips which we scoffed in the nearby village hall to shelter from the rain. Morning came and thankfully the weather had dried up as we mounted our steeds once more and cycled over (some very big) hills and dales all the way to the big smoke of Glasgow…. Love from Luciana Banana, Leah-Pop, Jenny Tree, Jenny A, Lucy Colbiz, Zoe, Kimberley (Eco), King Arthur, Colin-der, Dina the Dinosaur, Andres, and Catherine xxxxxxx

Many thanks to the Postcode Trust for their generous support of this project.

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