Caledonian Road 2009

In August and September 2009, the Caledonian Road tour had a highland fling through Scotland.

Read all about the team's travels, starting with a visit to the Edinburgh Fringe, and carrying on through unavoidable, incredible, rolling countryside to Dundee, St. Andrew's and Glasgow.

Read their tour journal

Where they went

Meet the cycle tour team

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The tour journal

Journal 5 – highlights of the final few days

Wednesday: Our performance at Penpont Primary School – great kids who were stimulated by our workshops and a fantastic headteacher. An evening meal of pie and the return of the pegs!

Thursday: Sunshine, tea-drinking, journal-writing and a brand new Money scene finally completed! Performing for the local Youth Club in the evening. It was lovely hearing reactions from an older audience, and thanks for all the pizza!

Friday: The final day of wrap up- and facing the somewhat unimaginable: integrating into normal society! Thanks to a gratitude circles and the sharing of future plans around an evening fire, however, we left the next day with warm fuzzy feelings and a sense of direction…

With Ally, Thom, Cathy, Carla and Juhyan on their trains home, Abby, Rosie, Kate, Annie and Alex continued on to a festival in Knockengorrach!

But alas there is too little space to share their wild and wonderful escapades, continuing the Otesha spirit and revamping the play!!

A big thanks to all the amazing and hospitable hosts we have had along this journey, to the schools, farms and projects. We really have been touched and changed by this experience!

Until the next time, bicycle chain grease and steaming porridge!

Toot toot! ting ting! and a lot of love….
The Caledonian Road Team,
Abby, Carla, Annie, Cathy, Thom, Alex, Rosie, Kate, Juhyun, Ally and Hannah

p.s. ….A few days ago Rosie came across a flyer for Paint Edinburgh Green that had an illustration of a bicycle in some hills with wind turbines on the horizon. “My god” she thought, “the whole tour summed up in one image.. Hills. Bikes. Renewable energy. Peg.”…quite…

Journal 4 – Kinghorn to Clydebank

Apprehension in our bones facing our biggest journey yet, we left the Ecology Centre at Kinghorn extra early in an attempt to defeat tardiness. How we imagined the Hills! The Rain! The Punctures! The Pain! But were met with beautiful sunshine and fantastic flat cycling paths the whole way! (thank you disused railway line). We sang, we danced, we shimmied and we juggled. Rock Shox was feeling fierce (Video footage to follow) and Thom fell off spectacularly.

We arrived happy and sunned in Dunblane. Beautiful wee Dunblane. Kate and Ally had a delightful deli shop in which they were denied a second carton of Soya milk as the man was, obviously, saving it for “Margaret, who always picks up a carton on a Thursday”. Dunblane accommodation was nothing short of spectacular (Thank you Carol!)… we had a room each and beds and baths! Oh my! However the thought of being without each others snores was too much and most people shared.

The delight of beds and clean linen was extended in a visit to the local ‘Tappit Hen’ (or ‘Happy Hen’ as Cathy thought), where we sampled many a fine local ale and tappet-ed our toes to some of the best live folk music many of us had heard in a long while. We were also happy to be joined by Thom’s boyfriend Alex, who, to his credit sat through a long discussion about supermarkets. And! A big shout out to Anne, the bat lady, who armed us all with bat detectors and took us out to meet the locals. This lady knows everything possible there is to know about bats and inspired us all greatly. We are all wearing our bat stickers with pride!

On our day off, we painted a house. Standard.

Then Superhero Day dawned. The Caledonian road tour members were nowhere to be seen, and instead there were loads of weird lycra clad folk milling about: The Mighty Glove; Sun-Flower-Power Man; The Magic Whistle; Disco Demon; Mung Bean; Tea Tree; Storm Shiled; The Knitting Bug; Cat; Zorro and Juyhun wore a bra. It rained, and rained but the superheroes (who incidentally must have stolen our bikes) prevailed and we all had a great time – as did the passing cars judging by the beeps.

We arrived (becaped) in the bonny village of Gartmore, where we were camping in the grounds of the grand and historic Gartmore House. We set up base in the old toilet block and for a few days it felt like (a very weird) home. Spooky. But good showers. We were told by the locals in the pub that the SNP formed here. Ooh-er. Gartmore Primary School – you are amazing! We had a brilliant day with all of you. We’re still talking about the great things you are doing in your school – it was a great inspiration. The village community shop was fantastic too.. we whiled away many an hour eating millionaire shortbread, drinking tea and KNITTING! And on…

To Dumbarton and Knowetop Community Farm (with a short cow poo interlude for Hannah, Rosie and Juhyun. Knee deep). Hello Elenor, Janine, Irene, Gavin, Craig and Rose. You’re all great. We performed in the café to lots of lovely people, had an epic recycled crafternoon with many small children and Ally continued to teach the world and its minions how to knit. Knit one Pearl one Knit one Pearl one. That evening we had a 5 hour meeting. Yes, 5 hours. Very intense but much needed – we opened our hearts, got rid of our niggles and finally found ourselves using consensus decision making at its best. Thanks to Carla for fantastic facilitation.

The next morning we had a workday, tambien, where we de-loused chickens, clipped sheeps toe nails (including the mightily massive Lulu) and watched on whilst Craig stuck his hand deep into the hard rolls of fat of ‘BORIS’ to clean an abscess. Turned Rosie veggie for good. Plus there was this really stinky goat – ‘Callum’ – who, having rolled in his own urine to attract the laydeez, always seemed to be sinisterly standing downwind. Callum aside, it was chips in Tupperware for tea, a swim at the local pool (with the biggest wave machine Abby has ever seen and a fluuume) and a pint at a curious pub where a man who had been drunk for 15 years sang incessantly and nobody listened.

“Morning hath broken, time lord hath spoken”…

Shock horror…. Storm Shiled could not save the day! And we cycled to Glasgow in a monsoon. No sooner had we arrived in the brilliant Centre 81 in Clyde bank, were we off again to Sauchiehall street to inflict some scenes of our beloved play on galswegian soap-shoppers outside the very smelly Lush store (smelly in a good way, not a Callum way). Thanks to the Lush team for your enthusiasm and for letting us get involved with your glitter. Our larger-than-life performance went down well with the sheltering smokers of the shopping centre next door.

Having recuperated and dried off in the ever-lovely Chai-Ovna tea house (amazing chai) it was off to the Woodcraft Folk in Scotstoun. Although we got lost on’t way we cycled through both Annies Land and Kelvinside so it was obviously deemed to be. We knew we were on the right path. Bridie and the Woodcraft kids were so great. We learnt as much from them as they did from us. And a pot-luck, parent-cooked feast was had! Mmmmmm yummmmm.

So there we were cycling back to Clydebank in the dark, saddled up with soup and cake and many great things. And all was well. Until a small girl called Alison thrwe a chair at us! Near knocked Kate and Rosie off their bikes it did! Always lovely to meet the locals. (No, it really is, just not Alison).

We had a really lovely time in Clydebank the next day, but that is a story for the next chapter….. coming very very soon…Fantastic times!!!!

On yer Bike. Go on.
Love the Caledonian Road cycling and decorating circus x x x x
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Journal 3 – A week in the life of an Otesha Caladonian Road tour member...

Leaving Falkland. Rain, late, porridge, Carla ill and Alex recovering, Cathy, Carla, Juhyun set off, with trailer, Cathy's shoulder ouch, stop. Decide to take train, tyre explodes on way to train station, Carla and Cathy think they are being shot at! Try to fix tyre with gaffa tape, fail. Replace inner tube, kaboom! Pop! No more inner tubes. Stumped… Meanwhile- the others rain, hills, mist. Dark chocolate govered ginger yummy cycling snack.

Arrive Newport on Tay. Continued rain and mist. Improvised tarp shelter, candles, greenhouse cooking, view over Tay to sparkling Dundee. Thom walks slow down drive on way to pub to avoid crushing of frogs (there were many!) Juhyun calls Thom 'Old Woman'! Jukebox discovered in local pub. heated debate around the meaning of the world 'Natural'.

Sleep. Morning. Sunshine cycle over bridge. play rehearsal where we finally swap characters. Annie emerges as born to play Betty the Baker. Climb to top of shopping mall to meet Dundee Travel Active. Good chat. Perform at Grey Lodge Settlement. Cooking team discover the complete lack of fresh fruit and veg shops in Dundee! Shocking! Supermarkets have taken over. Cathy gets stung by a bee for the first time ever! Chips in tupperware for tea. Escape from rain to Elizabeth and William's house.

Cycle to St. Andrews. Carla, Rosie and Hannah take trailers Bob, Hamish and Big Zip on a heroic mission up extreme hills, push on with talented back up singers! Fair Trade scene from the play and small Banana chain game workshop is performed at the primary school.

Di Gilpin inspires knitters within the group to new limits! Spending over an hour gazing at the infinite number, varieties, colours and textures of wool. We gathered on the beach late in the afternoon- stunning as a slap in the face! Spotted mad people swimming who turned out to be Annie and Abby of course! Cartwheel learning, Races to waters edge, collecting shells, one-minute drum and bass disco and a pile up! The surrounding town and countryside was stunning in the golden evening light as we cycled back to Strathkinness and Rosie and Frank's comfortable garden and a delicious meal cooked by a tipsie Kate and Ally.

Morning. Abby's unprecedented skill as our Aquaitic Time Lord for the day enduced outbursts of singing, dancing and quotes from the play. In an effort to get everyone up, she bursts and rockshocks into unsuspecting tents!

Ten hour cycle into full on headwind, collapse on arrival in Ecology Centre Kinghorn. Fire. Sauna. Early start rehearsal- creative juices flowing, food scene is scrapped and reborn with whole cast playing various vegetables and one caterpillar! To Cathy's great joy we finally introduce the harmonica!

Picking vegetables from Peter's vegetable plot give the cooking team a great sense of belonging to the land and the realisation that city living can encourage us to take a consumerist approach to life. Knitting circle. Everyone is knitting crazy! Beer. Chatting to volunteers who helped out with the fun day at the Ecology Centre.

Kinghorn Primary School, a sense of achievement at passing on skills to kids who were really enthusiastic about the energy audit of their school. Clean clothes- Joy! Packing up and preparing for our longest cycle yet. Nerves. Exhaustion causes fit of hysterics while preparing jam sandwiches for the following day's lunch.

Thank you so much to the wonderful people we have been meeting along the way. We are all overwhelmed by the kindness and hospitality of our hosts and all the interesting and unusial people we have come across along our bumpy road.

Love, thanks and salutations to all…
On yer bike!
Love Rosie, Annie, Ally, Cathy, Alex, Juhyun, Kate, Thom, Hannah, Carla and Abby

Weekly round-up:
Punctures: 7
Burst Tyres: 2
One minute Discos: 8
Skinny dips: 1 

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Week 2 – from festival to Fife

This week has been massive. Like a year and a week and several long days…

Beginning in Edinburgh, after TORRENTIAL times, our debut performance was born at the Edinburgh Fringe – just the world's biggest arts festival. Our first 3 gigs were sprinkled with more than a little magic from the fairy-tale delights of the Big Red Door and the people of TePooka, the smiling friends and the unexpected visitor from Otesha Canada! The most lovely Sara and flatmates' flat was descended upon… filled to the brim with panniers, tupperwares and fantastic chat.

We sang, we 1-minute discoed and we waved goodbye to Jo, Busayo and Chris. Though Jo and Busayo's departures were scheduled, Chris has sadly had to bid the team farewell for now due to unforeseen commitments. Our team is now one kind, cheeky, strong, hilarious Liverpudlian the lesser. Fingers crossed…he will return!

Celebratory icing sugar still in the air, we spun North across the Forth (in the beautiful sunshine)… to the Kingdom (Fife) and hit the (hill) town of Kircaldy. Lo! Woe! We may not have got ol' Gordy to fill in an Otesha postcard (let alone peg him) but we met even better people! Julie and Ronnie, you're boss: You brought our tent poles many miles = Thank you! And the Argos Community centre was a lovely home for a few days. Our performances and workshops at the first Fair Isle Gala were a joy. In its first year – revived from the past – it was a privilege to join in with this burgeoning celebration of community spirit and initiative.

And now we sit at the eden-esque Pillars of Hercules Organic farm, Falkland, having sailed through our first school performance day and slipped through a muddy soiree here at the organic cafe. The kids (and staff) at Falkland Primary School were fantastic… what an inspiring, switched-on, enthusiastic bunch of future-changers.

All the while not a spare minute has been left un-learning-ed. We've been boffing up on: community-led wind turbines (thanks to lovely Laura from Swift); first-hand organic farming (thanks to all at the pillars, espeicially Rosy and Finlay – currently cooking us up some hand-made pizza bases – shucks); how to negotiate Otesha family troubles; nurturing people's personal talents (piano, guitar, singing, tin-whistle, dancing, prancing); how to cook happy, soulful food for a baker's dozen three times a day; how to stay wet in the rain; and how to arrive last having cycled off first; and how to arrive first having cycled off last. Oh, and how to be on time for our multiple daily deadlines (ALL HAIL THE AQUATIC TIME LORD… water for health/time for time). These are but a few of the skills and know-how proffered by the open plate of the Caledonian Road.

And between all of this we've been: 1-minute discoing; 6 and a half foot hula-hooping; north sea sea-swimming; water-slide sliding into stinky old acrid 'fish' water; daily highs & lows musicalising; cream cake eating (non-vegan. Yes. Free); improv comedy watching (made man impersonate clothes peg) ; 500 balloons blowing; Aquatic Time Lord crowning; local organic wine drinking; night-cycling; bike-accidenting (nothing too serious!); many a berry foraging; and secret buddy luurrve sharing. I won't mention the sinister Rock-shox flasher avoiding (Abby. Second-hand gaudy cycling jersey. Inappropriate lycra flashing tendencies). And so we build towards our mid-tour retreat…

Our trip is challenging and rewarding us each and every day. This beautiful part of Scotland has already shown us that we are in no way alone in our inspirations towards changing our world in the totally-achievable ways we can and is allowing us an incredible opportunity to learn, share and celebrate.

Love, thanks and salutations to all…

On yer bike!
Love Rosie, Annie, Ally, Cathy, Alex, Juhyun, Kate, Thom, Hannah, Carla and Abby "Flasher" Nicol.

p.s. Peg-essed, from the latin: to be possessed/ obsessed by the joys of the peg game

Weekly round-up
Rose of the week: Alex's eyebrow peg bonanza (to explained in a future youtube video – watch this space)
Thorn of the week: Saying goodbye to Chris
Confessions: We ate cheese! And cream cakes. And cappucino… with cows milk! We are rubbish vegans.
Punctures: 4
Bike fallings-off: 3 (1x A&E; 1x up the royal mile; 1x down the royal mile)
Slices of cake: 40 +
1 minute discos: 3
Aquatic time lord ceremonies: 4
Laughs: a million 

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Whatever the heather – training week edition

Hey!

In the hills of Kirknewton, we’ve just completed our week’s intoduction to the Otesha experience…which has, among other things, featured a tent so large it has been christened The Dubai Palace, and a tent so small it will be forever known as the coffin tent. The coffin has also been turned into the ‘wardrobe tent’. Yes that’s right, a wardrobe. Putting up the tents was our first activity once we arrived at the farm on Friday, which was successful until the Scottish gale force winds forced a late night re-pegging session. Good.

Despite being training for a cycling tour, we’ve only actually spent about three hours cyclng…and the rest of the time eating! Delicious vegan meals prepared by Dan, Ali, Orlando and Kick Ass Kelvin has set high standards for our own cooking attempts.

Luckily, we have four cooking teams, each with their own song and dance: Mushy Peace, The Supernatural Trio, Good Looking Gruel Cooking and The Veggie Masters. We’ve already been cooked some inspired dishes by The Veggie Masters and The Supernatural Trio, the latter of which of course prevailed. Ha.

So aside from doing food-related tribal dances in the local fields, we also created, through lengthy discussion, our food mandate: dictating how we would eat throughout tour. For the next five weeks its no dairy produce, no meat, and eggs only from happy hens. Oh, and a LOT of veg. In fact, today we got some root veg from local Kirknewton farmer, David (aka Peter – we can’t quite remember) who also gave a corker of an interview for our film on food, as well as a large bag of tomatoes. Yum and thanks David Peter Peter David.

We’ve also been preparing our play, Morning Choices. The play has had a revamp from the Wild West tour earlier this year and is already ten times more ethical. And, its down with the kids, featuring a sandwich (w)rap off between a plastic bag and a lunchbox.

This masterpiece will be toured around schools and youth clubs from Kirkcaldy to Moniaive, but first stop for our debut performance is tomorrow night at the Edinburgh Fringe. The world’s most famous theatre arts festival is about to be hit by 12 cyclists, 3 trailers (Bob, Hamish and Big Zip) and infectious enthusiasm for blagging a play we’ve put together in four days.

We’ll let you know how we get on…

On your bike,
Kate and Alex (Supernatural Trio) and Abby (Good Looking Gruel Cooking) on behalf of the Caledonian Road team

Where we're going

With big plans to tackle the hills of Scotland, the team cycled through: 

  • Kirknewton
  • Edinburgh
  • Rosyth
  • Kirkcaldy
  • St Andrews
  • Dundee
  • Perth
  • Stirling
  • Dumbarton
  • Glasgow
  • Kilmarnock
  • Moniaive

Take a peek at a map of their route here.

Who came along

Carla Jones

Carla Jones, caledonian road, otesha, cycle tour

Hey…By August I'll have graduated (woohoo!) from a degree in Geography and raring to go the Otesha tour…I'm really looking forward to being inspired by the projects out there and inspiring others along the way. I love drama and am particularly interested in social, political and environmental issues around the global food trade…well, any excuse to play an angry banana!….really look forward to meeting you all in the summer..

Abby Nicol

Abby Nicol, caledonian road, cycle tour, otesha, tour liaison, superhero

Hello hello. I'm currently in the thick of a, soon to be finished, Geography degree at Edinburgh. I was a fellow Otesha tour member last year peddling around the Wild West where I completely got the bike bug, became pretty adept at on-bike bean-sprouting and played various exciting roles such as a compost bin and a Billy Connolly inspired cow…there's so much to look forward to! I come from Aberdeenshire and have a non-identical twin sister (to correct the previous unofficial bio). I also love cheese, outdoor swimming, marmite and banjo-playing Canadian folk musicians… Last year I was on exchange in Canada where I got involved in lots of environmental and social issues organisations, WWOOFed around the west coast and found out about Otesha. I realise I've seen more of Canada than Scotland so I'm very excited to be on the Caledonian road tour this summer and can't wait to meet everyone!

Kate Weiler

Kate Weiler

Hello hello, I’m currently doing an English degree at Birmingham but originally from Devon. Mostly I like dancing, being outside on summer evenings and UV face paint. The three combined is even better! Whipping my body into cycling-fit shape is proving difficult…but I remain excited for the Scottish adventure!

Ally Ling

Ally Caledonian road cycle tour Otesha

I graduated last year with a degree in Choreography with Visual Arts and I am now working very hard to get my own performance company up and running. I love many things, smiling, a challenge (hence why I am here!!) being creative, exploring, and I have never explored Scotland so I am very excited! How awesome to be involved!!  

Thomasin Marshall

Thomasin Marshall

Hello I'm Thom. Normally i'm found backstage in theatres designing and painting productions – so for a change i thought i would see what it is like on the other side! I'm really looking forward to our trip and 6 weeks of doing something so worthwhile. Challenging myself in many different ways and of course meeting all you fine folk as well! My favouritist thing in the world is probably cake so i may well try baking while on tour!…

Alex Hunter

Alex Hunter

Hello hello. My name is Alex and I'm from the flatlands of Norfolk so my training for the Scottish hills is somewhat hindered!  I haven't been a student for a while now but when I was I studied Art and Photography in various places, home and abroad.  At present I work for a Community Arts Charity called NORCA. At the moment I am working on Brazilian style carnival projetcs that will end up being an elaborate costume-clad, dance through the streets of Norwich. When I'm not working I can often be found at the allotment or making something of one description or another.  I love making things!  I also like cycling, fixing punctures, cooking, sleeping, hoola-hooping, cyanotypes, permaculture, trees, books made out of trees and people, among many another.  See you all soon!

Cathy Rowsome

Cathy Rowsome

Hello all, I'm Cathy. At the moment i'm at uni studying philosophy and cognitive science, and living in Brighton. I enjoy a bit of painting, singing, writing, general making of stuff. Although I'll admit I'm a bit nervous, I'm looking forward to the tour massively. Think it will be pretty special to travel completely off our own steam. I've always felt like taking planes to a holiday destination feels unnatural and too sudden, aside from being bad for the environment……much nicer to watch the landscape slowly changing. Good luck everyone with fundraising and getting fit! See you all soon.

Oh Juhyun

Oh Juhyun

Hello, I'm looking forward to meeting all of you. I'm currently studying Political Science and Economics at Nottingham as an exchange student. I have always enjoyed sports activities like marathons, football and especially challenging extreme sports. Above all, I'm really excited for meeting many different people during our summer tour. See you soon.

Annie Griffiths

Annie Griffiths

hello all Caledonian Crew, I'm Annie. I'm originally from Herefordshire, but have been living in Brighton for the last three years. I've just finished university at Sussex, studying World development studies which has been great. I love swimming in rivers, exploring new places and  boogying to music. I'm super duper keen to be in on the project with all of you, i think its going to be incredible. I just need to get cycling up those hills in preperation, and i will see you all in wee bonnie scotland, ready and raring to go!  

Rosie Sullivan

Rosie Sullivan

I'm 24, from Penzance in Cornwall, and live in Edinburgh, having just finished my degree in Social Anthropology there (as demonstrated). I freak out a bit when I'm not within easy reach of the sea and I've gradually found a deep passion and commitment in my life to be one of the many, many folk actively putting their energy into all those positive and good things we all say we want all the time. Personally, I'm particularly inspired by the task of helping other people to believe in their own power and freedom to change their situation and our world, and am currently really involved in very grass-rootsy community development projects up in Scotland. This Otesha tour for me is all about getting beyond the common boundaries of ‘sustainability' talk – putting down those powerpoint presentations and placards and beholding a group of people on bikes having fun, living the choices they believe in! I can't wait to share some inspiration, know-how and unknown treasures with you tour-members and the unsuspecting Scottish youth! I also fall off bikes a bit too often. 

Chris Gallagher

Hannah Cheverton