Deep South 2008

Welcome to the Deep South cycle tour team’s journal, where the team records their trials, tribulations and triumphs as they journey around the southwest of England.

Tour Journal Five: the end of the road

We are home! Yes, that’s right, we are no longer on the road but trying to reintegrate ourselves into society after an amazing 6 weeks together. We last left you a couple of weeks ago as we were perfecting our bakery blagging skills, so we’d like to give you a little update on what has happened since then.

cyclists in salisbury

We… cycled (obviously), performed to some great schools and youth clubs (our favourite quote is “you are the best thing the school has ever had!”), swam in rivers, considered ourselves freegan experts after dining on free pasties for dinner and croissants for breakfast, and eventually, we said goodbye and returned to our individual lives (boo). There were actual, real-life tears, which is testament to how great a time was had by all and how sad we were that the tour was coming to an end.

play

But all is not lost! Slightly terrified of not living out of each other’s pockets, we have been chatting away on The Nag (where there’s an abundance of photos from our tour, by the way) and updating each other on what actions we’ve been taking at home and what changes we have made to our daily lives. These include:

• Smiling as we switch our bank accounts from Barclays to Smile (much more ethical, innit)
• Doing a non-supermarket shop challenge
• Making a documentary on bees
• Starting Otesha Manchester!
• Working on a permaculture farm
• Running a bike-powered smoothie maker and educating kids about healthy eating, where fruit comes from and how energy is produced
• Giving up a car
• Switching to organic hair dye
• Cycling everywhere
• Charity shop or vintage clothes shopping instead of buying new
• Taking our tupperware and reusable mugs out and about

Hoorah!

As ever, we’d like to invite you to join us in our actions and various addictions to sneakily turning off lights, renegade composting (that’s throwing fruit and vegetables in bushes to you and me), and um, researching conspiracy theories about bee decline.

otesha in a tree

And/or you can join The Nag , read our Otesha UK Handbook (even write for it – go crazy), keep up with Otesha latest by getting our monthly newsletter delivered straight to your inbox and, if you’re really keen, sign up for the Wild West tour journal and track our second cycle tour of the year as they take in the sights and sounds of the Midlands, Wales and Ireland this summer (email us at info@otesha.org.uk with the subject ‘Sign me up to the Wild West Journal!’ to make this one happen).

Peace and bicycle grease,

The sadly departed Deep South Tour

cycling into the storm

Update: yet more photos now online

We’ve uploaded, oh, about a million more pix onto our online space on The Nag. Check ‘em out if you want in the Otesha crowd here. Next up: perhaps some exciting video footage from the much lauded and applauded Deep South performances of the Morning Choices play.

Tour Journal Four: Carry on Cycling

otesha, cycle tour, deep south

So far on tour…

Miles cycled: 609
Record distance in a day: 72 miles
Number of people we’ve reached: over 1200
Number of punctures: 27
Visits to bike shops for repairs: 14
Times we’ve blagged free stuff off bakeries at 5pm: most days

Evolving…

It’s been a busy couple of weeks here on tour. We had a mid-term break in Newquay where we spent time re-writing our play after realising it was a bit preachy. Instead we’ve created an alice in wonderland type adventure where our main character Gilly falls into the back of her wardrobe to discover a surreal land of talking cows, compost bins, handsome credit cards, Jamie Oliver and Cilla Black that help her learn about organic food, fair trade clothes and ethical banking. It’s much more entertaining and we even inspired a student at a school in Totnes to get a group of her friends together to do the play themselves, result!

“It’s really cool to make friends with adults” – school student

We’ve been camping out in school playgrounds and youth clubs where we’ve had the chance to engage with young people in a more informal way. We seem to fall somewhere between being teachers and being friends which is great and a few young people have expressed interest in doing the tour themselves one day.

“The problem is the solution”… learning about permaculture

As well as teaching other people about sustainability, we our learning lots ourselves. We had an inspiring visit to the Eden project where we learned loads of new facts to get into our play such as the cotton industry using 25% of the worlds pesticides and were given a very poetic tour, taken to a giant seed and urged to pollinate the world with love.

We are now well acquainted with compost toilets after staying at a couple of permaculture projects where they turn their own waste into a useful fertiliser. It got us thinking about the craziness that most of us flush away what could be a useful resource using 8 litres of clean drinking water in the process! We also observed well designed rain water collection systems, solar and wind powered electricity and other low tech solutions in self-sustainability.

Research topics

Realising that there is so much to learn we have set ourselves topics. Ali has been busy studying bees after finding out that there is a worrying decline in the numbers of bees all over the world. Nick is finding out about global dimming (the theory that planes are actually reducing global warming), Jo is looking at the carbon footprint of concrete, Cat is our resident expert in nutrition, Becks is finding out more about the cotton and hemp industries, Hanna is researching the chemicals in toiletries and Owen is uncovering the truth behind fairtrade (is it all just a marketing ploy). We’ll keep you informed!

Love and ethical banking,
Becks and the rest of the Otesha Deep South team xxx

P.S. We’ve just put up some more photos online: www.thenag.net/crowds/otesha/photos

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Tour Journal Three: June 5 – 12

Our eventful last week is summarised here in things we have learnt. Enjoy!

Learnt fact no 1: ‘The play is loved by kids’

Last Thursday we set off in the morning to a primary school in Yeovil, where 400 kids were waiting to see our play. The play goes down amazingly, all the kids love it and are engaged. Some comments made by the kids are, ‘ I’m gong to nag my mum to buy fairtrade clothes’ and ‘ I’m going to cycle to school’. The group find themselves feeling famous as walking round the school induces swarming children shouting ‘look it’s the crazy/famous people’ and asking a million questions about our bikes. Later we do some workshops about fairtrade bananas and transport which also go down great and the kids love it! A good day’s work then!

Learnt fact no 2: ‘Everybody loves the outdoors’

After spending the night in a hotel in Bristol (the festival of nature put us up in one in exchange for a performance) we cycle around 20 miles to a campsite on our way to Exeter. We all arrive very happy as we are outdoors again at an amazingly beautiful campsite, where we realise that spending a night and a bit of the day in a hotel in a city makes us feel worse than when were outside camping! We walk to the pub have a bonding session and walk back in the dark! Lovely.

Learnt fact no 3: ‘Lots of cycling = tired people’

The last week has been very cycle heavy with us cycling around 200 miles! Everybody starts getting sick of getting up early, cycling all day, arriving late, having a late dinner, going to bed and doing the same the next day. On Monday we have 20 miles to cycle to Exeter for a performance however only half the group make it on time (as the distance is actually 30 miles and due to the second group having trailer trouble) and have to perform with only 4 people! We are in a dilemma – we want to cycle everywhere but we don’t want to miss performances. We decide that performing is more important and that instead of cycling 75 miles (probably more) in a day and a half to Polzeath that we are going to get the train so that we can definitely make our next performance!

Learnt fact no 4: ‘Festivals should be more green’

After our half-missed performance in Exeter we head to Polzeath, North Cornwall, where we are getting free entry into Beach Break Live festival for a performance. We arrive on Tuesday night for our performance on Wednesday. We decide that the play is too young for a student festival and decide to do a workshop and also a bit of outreach for future tours.

Play-in-a-day

A day off is planned for Thursday once the festival is over, however once the festival is over and everyone has left the place looks like a landfill! Beach break is a supposedly green festival however all that is left is plastic cups and rubbish. We all get a bit depressed about the state of the world, however seeing this encourages us to carry on and inspire people. Everybody we can do this make a change if we work together and are inspired by each other! Whoever is reading this I am inspired by you and want to make a better world for you.

Nick and the rest of the Otesha Deep South team xxx

P.S. You can see lots more photos here: www.thenag.net/crowds/otesha

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Tour Journal Two: May 29-June 4

Hello hello. I know we’ve been silent for awhile but never fear, we’re all alive, well and developing killer calf muscles.

Here’s what we’ve been up to lately – er, what we were up to last week. Due to non-existent internet access we’re a bit behind with the updates, but we promise to send you this week’s news soon. In the meantime, here’s last week’s update:

Thursday: “Play-in-a-day…”

We woke up at Yeovil community church! Dry, happy and extremely keen to catch up on all of the play practice that we had missed out during the week – due to the torrential rain and ooozing mud.

We had NO PLAY at the beginning of the day but with a roof over our heads and cloths on radiators, nothing could stop us! By the end of the day we had a play that we all loved and were confident performing.

Friday: the weather strikes again

Yep, you guessed it, the “great” British weather was so terrible that we all woke up to discover that Sunrise festival got cancelled, and with it our first 3 performances :- (

The rest of Friday was then devoted to giving the team a much deserved rest. We went to a local swimming pool, mainly with the intent to use their showers but we also enjoyed the sauna (uh, walking the talk?). Then some of us got Indian takeaway – in our tupperwear, of course. What an unexpected return to civilization.

Monkton Wyld Court

The aim of Saturday was to pick up our tents from Sunrise festival and then swiftly cycle off to Monkton Wylde Court. This was our first big cycle, 27 miles! It was tough…who knew Devon/ Dorset was so hilly! When we arriived we decided that the cycle ride was totally worth it. There was a lovely, grand house and extremely kind hosts surrounded by a beautiful permaculture farm. We set up camp and ended the day with a public speaking workshop which involved repeating the alphabet to a tree…don’t ask.

Sunday was a day devoted to our bikes. We thawed them out of Sunrise festival mud, and then Ryan, our visiting bike expert, led us through some crucial bike knowledge. And whats more..the sun was shining! Yay

On Monday we did some work exchange at Monkton Wyld court in return for the kindness we’d received from our hosts. Meanwhile the cooking team (Jo, Owen and Nick, Team JON) cycled to Lyme Regis to get food and to put up flyers to attract as many people as possible to our first performance.

otesha, deep south, cycle tours, oteshauk

The performance went really well! Lots of people turned up, all of different ages, and after the enjoyment of the play we got down to some really interesting discussions about sustainability.

Tuesday “Saving Private Nick”

Tuesday the 3rd of June is remembered (by those who are brave enough to remember it) as “a day of hell”. Here’s a summary – eight punctures, a broken seat pole, a wrecked set of gears, a rescue van.…and Bridport. We intended to travel 27 miles back to Yeovil to get ready for a school performance. We set off in three teams but as the day progressed each team begun to face their own unique disasters. Pushed to the limits, with crushed hope, irreprievable motivation, and complete exhaustion the only thing keeping us going was our sense of humour (and JON’s lentil sandwiches), and the thought that we were all going through the same thing together. That night the last team arrived, 10 hours later, to greet the others and recuperate just in time for bed. We crawled into our sleeping bags with a smile of relief.

Until next time,

Owen, Nick and the rest of the Otesha deep south team xxx

P.S. If you’d like our updates delivered direct to your email inbox, please email info@otesha.org.uk with the subject “Deep South tour journal sign up” and we’ll add you to our list of glory.

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Photos are now up on online

Get a firsthand glimpse of our trials, tribulations and triumphs here (just click on the bit that says ‘photos’).  You’ll feel like you were actually there.

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Tour Journal One:
The Great Marquee Disaster of 2008

May 24 – May 28

So, it’s Wednesday and A LOT has happened since we gathered together on Saturday. We’ll break it down for you using our now institutional ‘quotes of the day’.

“Dragons eat palm oil, palm oil is made from the blood of dragons”

Cycling into Yeovil for training week in the sunshine, the cycle tour seemed exactly as it looked on the poster! Camped in an endless agricultural field in the run-up to Sunrise Festival, we shared stories about our hopes, fears, motivations (and the origins of palm oil).

squats

We also jumped around the field like monkeys, did 8am punishment squats and filmed a spoof documentray about the renegade ‘Ozesha’ (Otesha’s evil cyclist twins).

All fuelled by extraordinary vegan cuisine cooked by the amazing Doudou, who now has his very own thank you song (doudou, doudou, doudou).

“uh…guys….. guys? The marquee’s gone”

tent around truck

If you haven’t nearly killed someone with a flying marquee, you haven’t lived. Two hours of construction, a little use and one huge storm later, we found our 6 metre long marquee two fields away, wrapped around a truck, having taken out two fences and one tent on it’s path of destruction! Sheltering from the gale force winds in a permaculture tent, we shared cups of tea and waited for the wind to die down so that we could unwrap it.

“Say Coping!”

Say coping

“Guys, I’ve got us a bus!”

bus

No shelter, cooking or rehearsal space plus no wellies = unhappy Oteshaites (except Jo, who has an unhealthy love of mud). But, after some intrepid investigation, Liz sourced the perfect squatter’s double decker bus. Toot toot!

“I just washed my feet in a potty!”

Wednesday morning found us in the middle of a severe weather warning – according to Gilly’s mum, a month’s worth of rain had fallen in the last two days! We watched fields flood and since we were all barefoot (wellies don’t fit on a bike) we were too useless to help on our work exchange day – the festival organisers took one look at us and sent us to the welfairies tent, where we were provided with a steady stream of tea. It was evacuation time, and after a quick call-around, Yeovil Community Church came to our rescue (we are there now – hoorah!) We are warm, dry, had cookies and all is well. The mud is a distant memory…. until our performance back at the festival on Friday. So we have some serious play rehearsals planned… wish us luck for our first performance!

Ali, Hanna and the rest of Otesha deep south xxx

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If you’d like our updates delivered direct to your email inbox, please email info@otesha.org.uk with the subject “Deep South tour journal sign up” and we’ll add you to our list of glory. Be prepared to be wowed with photos, reflections, stories, updates and maybe even some videos, as the Deep South team journeys around the West Country, spreading the message of sustainable living far and wide along the way, courtesy of the shiny and new Otesha UK play and DIY workshops on just about everything.

Here we go! Wish us luck!

P.S. Very soon you’ll be able to see all our photos (and if we’re lucky, even some video) here: www.thenag.net/crowds/otesha