East Coast 2009

In August and September 2009, the East Coast tour took a jaunt around sunny, flat-as-a-pancake East Anglia.

They visited a lively mix of organic gardens, wind farms and community events, and pedalled into Norwich just in time for the start of the new school year.

Check out their tour journal

Where they went 

Meet the cycle tour team


The tour journal

Notes from the road, week 5

So the tour has come to the end; the last week has been the most hectic but also the most rewarding. We arrived at Felbrigg Hall after a gentle 40 mile cycle not complete without a dip in the sea. The Green Build event that followed was inspiring and informative, also a great opportunity to meet and perform for so many people. From insulating lofts to making wands with fairies it was fun and frolics for all the family.

Then came the mad rush, 3 schools in 3 days, but not before some emergency bike maintenance (a new wheel for Rachael) and a charity shop shopping spree for the rest of us. We planted seeds with reception at Mattishall Primary School and discussed media mind control at Framingham Earl High where Amelia was reprimanded for not wearing school uniform!

We also met Steve; teacher and Otesha East member. His enthusiasm and determination was uplifting and his cameo performance gave the play a new twist. Then to Rockland St Mary Primary, a perfect end to the tour; performing the play for the last time, doing the workshops and at the end of the day being able to meet the eco club.

Now we're all back at home after a last few days chilling out in Norwich. Settling in to and trying to apply the changes we've made to our everyday lives. It has been a fantastic experience and not one that we will be forgetting any time soon. 

Peace and bicycle grease one last time,

The East Coast team (that's Amelia, Anna S, Anna C, Alice, Cress, Dan, Edd, Jun, Katie, Frankie, Lisa, Louise, Nicola, Nick and Rachael) 


Notes from the road, week 4

Hear ye! Hear ye! News from the East Coast Tour has reacheth thee….

15 young beauties to Lowestoft went
Who were very grateful not to be sleeping in tents

With sofas and ovens and ceilings and walls
Boston Lodge was a glorious refuge for all

We rested our bones and took in the sea air
Waded through waves despite weather not fair

Fine festivities at Lowestoft Youth Involvement Day
With sporadic singing and arms a flay
Banana Pirates!
Human Sandwiches!
Talking bins! – For you fair Lowestoft, our play!

And then – sad news – Anna Spinks had to leave
With pass the parcel and vegan cake – your absence we now grieve

So with heavy hearts and heavier bikes
We departed for Holt on a 60 mile hike

Through avenues where wind rotates branch like blades
The team were awed by renewable energy made

‘Offshore!’ says one; ‘Onshore!’ says two
But we remain sure this sustainable future will come true

‘Halt!’ we cried, ‘At Holt we’ve arrived’
‘Hallelujah’ with relief a church hall where we lied

Alas we had to vacate the space we were lent
As twas meant for dancers and prancing dogs to frequent

And so for Rachael her 19th year doth commence
With a growth of leg muscle and new turned vegan sense

‘Happy Birthday!’ on the ukulele, Alice attempts to play
But for silence we pray!
Our mouths maybe singing
But our ears are ringing
She is a woman of many talents
But when it comes to musicality she is undeniably challenged

Departed we must, for Hunstanton it calls
Now to dash away as 'tis time to start schools

We departed optimistic our spirits were high
But after half a mile we succumbed to coffee and pie

Though we had thought 30 miles would be a breeze
Lack of sleep and extreme heat restricted the ease

As lunch approached down an epic driveway we steered
To arrive at grand Holkham Hall complete with lake and 200 deer

So Sunny Hunny we arrived (that’s Hunstanton to you)
Lovely Redgate school complete with a seaside view

We travelling minstrels began our day
Entertaining young minds with pony dances and penguins at play

And whens the bells tolled, the kids did assemble
Anxious to see us perform sprightly and nimble

And so with ‘morning choices’ we won their young hearts
With sounds of bike horns most loud and tales of cows that do fart

And then we divided to conquer year six
Delivering workshops in learning new ethical living tricks

At last it was time to sit for school lunch
And we all found the pupils a most entertaining bunch

Several Oteshites proudly collected devoted fans
Especially Jun – ‘excuse me, is he that 2008 power rangers man?!’

Hark! Whats that I hear?! Is that our fame that has spread?!
No afternoon free as the local infant school has bequested a performance instead!

And so we performed the play twice in a day
And were wisely advised that eating slowly keeps indigestion at bay

And so now week 5 comes to a close
What will happen next nobody knows

This is not goodbye but farewell from the East Coast Tour
One more journal awaits you, be excited for more… 


Notes from the road, week 3

Pitter patter, pit, pat – cats and dogs were splatting on the roof of the tent. It was a dark and stormy night, the cooking team were sheltering in their cooking tent, preparing a very ethically-sourced-vegan-fairtrade-organic-local-low-impact-minimally-packaged feast for the East Coast Cycling rumbling tummies.

"Tell us a story!" said Alice and Nicky, to Cressy and Frankly, and so they began:

"Erhem" said Cressy, "it was a week ago when we said tallyho to Cambridge and pedal powered ourselves to the surprisingly hilly, yes I did say HILLY (and we had not had pancakes for breakfast), Saffron Walden. As we came to an abrupt holt (crash bang wallop literally) on the gravelly drive, we were met by a very mini (frankly one foot tall) horse called Julian, and our very lovely host Alison. A big thank you to Ali who managed to refuel us with some yummy homely cooked food (mmmmm! crumble), and provided us with a super duper loo!"

Frankly continued: "The following morning we whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiizzed down the hill into town to volunteer at the bountifully beautiful Bridge End Gardens, where we met Mark who, as well as green fingers, had green hair. An aMAZEingly enthusiastic and knowledgeable gardener, who showed us the ropes. The next day we embarked upon our longest ride yet!"

"How exciting!" said Alice, and she let out a 'parp', "OH, it must be all those beans..!"

"Yes! T'was 50 miles we went that day! It was meant to be 30 miles but we all got lost, there were rumours that the cooking team spent 4 painfully long hours on a single roundabout in Sudbury. Eventually we arrived safely and soundly at the beautifully and wonderfully inspiring, hospitable, generally fantastic, sustainable Old Hall Community. A big up to Celia and Launa, the woofers and everyone who took their time to speak to us and show us around the Old Friary building, allotments, farm, and …… (drum roll)……. THE CHEESE MAKING ROOM. The following day we trooped along to Wivenhoe, welcomed by Joe and her Vegan Cake."

"Oh how we love cake!" erupted Cressy, "and how we LOVE Wivenhoe transition town. What a great afternoon of workshops and the play. After a day off by the river hanging out with the cows, daydreaming and eating more cake, the weekend was chocablock with our mid-tour retreat. This helped strengthen the group through games, reflective moments, and a return to the ever contentious food mandate."

"Oh tofu! Oh how tofu torments us!" screeched Nicky whilst stirring the (local-organic) Apple Compote. "Tofu or not Tofu, that is the question!?"

"Sunday afternoon was a treat! Hugh and Helen, thank you so much for the relaxation-meditation, and massage. We are now big fans, and have even bought almond oil for those bulging bicep bicycle muscles. The weekend was finished up by performing to the kids camped up on the hill."

"Oh what a perfect end to the weekend that was!" piped up Frankly. "We left East Bergolt in our carbon free wake, and rollypollied to Kersey Mill. Although we outnumbered our audience by 15, our host was so enthusiastic, and we found time to create a human sandwich and perform some street theatre."

"Oh yes I had heard that there had been some hilarities in Hadley." heckled Alice, "But where to next?"

Frankly, "I don't give a damn!"

"We're going to Lowestoft" interrupted the Routebinder, who had been listening quietly from within the trailer, "On your way! Get to the 'Youth Involvement Day'!"

Until next time,
Amelia, Anna S, Anna C, Alice, Cress, Dan, Edd, Jun, Katie, Frankie, Lisa, Louise, Nicola, Nick and Rachael 

Weekly round-up:
Highs of the week: Hitting 350 miles, the Otesha spa a la Mr and Mrs Clover. Hearing about Climate Camp.
Lows of the week: Invisible audiences, Lisa's friend the boil, intense winds. 



Notes from the road, week 2

The East Coast team is now well on its way with a whole week of plays, workshops and 163.42 miles of hardcore cycling secured firmly beneath its 30 trustworthy tyres! And what a week it's been…

A gentle trundle to the fledgling transition town of Shouldham began the journey and we all arrived in good spirits at the house of Bernie and Jim (our heartfelt thanks extended for their warm hospitality, showers and delicious homemade lunch). Our first tentative performance on the village green followed which was met with a good response all round – phew!

The following day we rose early to peddle swiftly into Kings Lynn to deliver our first set of workshops at The Green Quay. Our thanks go to Sonia for her enthusiasm, amazing posters and flyers and welcoming cups of coffee and tea! The group loved working with the kids and were excitied by their positive responses and by how much they already knew about the issues we discussed.

After saying our farewells to Bernie and Jim we embarked upon our first truly epic cycle of 47.27 miles across the flat and windy fens to Peterborough. The prize at the end of the journey was well worth the sore legs and bums: a beautiful lakeside campsite at the Nene Park Trust where we saw swans, other birds and even a fox!

The next day we had a beautiful sunny morining cycle to the John Clare Trust in the picturesque village of Helpstone. Although the audience lacked in number their response was great and we all had a free tour around the cottage – thanks to the volunteers for their warm welcome and yummy lunch!

The morning after was a morning of hardcore rehearsing at the Nene Park Trust which paid off when we rounded up a large audience for the afternoon show, where we battled through the wind to send out the Otesha message. The next few hours were spent on a post-performance high before a confusing 3 mile trek to the Harlington Community Centre. But still no rest! We soon remounted our bikes and cycled to The Green Back Yard – an urban community allotment who had volunteered to feed us that night. Incredible freshly plucked, freshly cooked, freshly gobbled vegetables and an impromptu play performance later we were all getting along like museli and oatmilk (our favourite breakfast!) and only fading light and a long bike to Cambrigde the next day could part us…

We arrived in Cambridge, after a 40 mile cycle trip, to be welcomed into the house of a lovely group of people who are very passionate about campaigning for the environment. They have been an inspiration to be around and so interested in what we are doing on our tour. After settling in and munching on some yummy food (I must mention here that I have never ate so well in my life!), we spent the first evening in Cambridge in the pub playing scrabble (oh yes, the Cambridge spirit rubbed off on us), looking blurry eyed after a tiring first week.

However, all that was about to change as Saturday we had the day to ourselves, and after a reasonable lie-in we went on a tour of the City. Two of our members, Anna and Amelia, are both studying in Cambridge, so we had inside information on the best places to go as well as access to Cambridge University to see their grounds and the dinning hall, which looks remarkably like something from the Harry Potter movie! Between us we chilled out in some of the many coffee shops, visited museums, went food shopping in the outside market and rounded up the day with a spot of punting, a Cambridge activity which involves getting on a long thin boat and propelling yourself down the canal using sticks, great fun!

After a great day off, it was back to it on Sunday and we performed the play in 'the shop', a sort of autonomous activist space loaned to us by our lovely hosts. The performance went well, we had some of the best reactions yet with lots of laughter and great feedback. After running a couple of workshops on bike maintenance and ethical fashion, we were invited to chill at 'the cafe', another shared autonomous activist space but no prizes for guessing what else it is. We had a great time chatting to our hosts and watched some inspiring videos about climate camp with the use of a projector. Cambridge has been absolutely brilliant and we are sad to be leaving, but who knows what else we discover at our next destination!

Weekly round-up
Highs of the week: punting in Cambridge, large play audiences, meeting our loverly hosts
Best thing seen: the lake in the morning at Nene Park, with a flying group of swans preparing to land
Low of the week: Anna's bike being stolen
Fact of the week: Bringing 3 apples to UK from New Zealand produces the same amount of CO2 as transporting 3500 apples around the UK


Flat as a pancake – team journal 1

Welcome everyone to the first edition of the East Coast weekly email!!!!!

We’ve had a very hectic but enjoyable first week here at the EcoTech Centre in Swaffam. Since arriving last Saturday we’ve quickly adapted to the Otesha life under canvas. Thus far, the weather’s been kind to us, and we’ve had a gentle introduction to camping and the great outdoors. We’re learning to live with nature, but have begun all out war with the wasps!

The EcoTech centre is a lovely setting, and our campsite is in the shadow of a beautiful wind turbine that looms benevolently over us. The centre is open to the general public, who seem generally bemused by our presence, and can’t seem to decide if we are an exhibition or not! 

Many of the activities this week have been designed to build our sense of community. Such workshops generally consist of making a complete fool of yourself in front of the group, and it has been impressive how quickly all inhibitions have been lost. On a more serious note, we’ve had some opportunities for pretty careful self-examination and reflection. All in all, we’ve come out of the training week a strong and supportive group with a strong sense of fun and purpose.

We’ve also learnt consensus decision making. At our first attempt of making decisions together, we've decided to eat vegan food for the duration of the tour (or at least for the next two weeks!). We hope that by so doing we will be able to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint. Many of us were surprised to learn that it can take up to a litre of oil to produce a litre of milk – it might be difficult, but we’re all giving it a go! 

Fact of the week: perfume contains whale vomit and beaver poo. Yummy. Also, the fastest wind car on earth travels at 126mph – we saw it at the launch party!

Best thing seen: The view from the top of Britain’s only climbable wind turbine. Also, the shower at the leisure centre – brilliant!

Fail of the week: Lisa’s bike collapsing – with a little help from Jun and Alice!

High of the week: Bonding as a group and finally feeling like Otesha! 

Videos of the week:  Wind turbine tour, Otesha tastes good! (aka dinnertime) and Lisa's bike

Signing off with wind turbines & wasps,
The one and only East Coast team (that's Amelia, Anna S, Anna C, Alice, Cress, Dan, Edd, Jun, Katie, Frankie, Lisa, Louise, Nicola, Nick and Rachael) 


Where they went

The team pedaled furiously through these spots: 

  • Swaffham
  • King's Lynn
  • Peterborough 
  • Cambridge
  • Colchester
  • Ipswich
  • Lowestoft
  • Cromer
  • Hunstanton
  • Norwich

Take a peek at a map of their route here.

Who came along

Say hello to these fantastic tour members:

Edd Bell

Ed Bell, tour liaison, cycle tour, east coast, otesha, handstand

For a handful of years, and since his degree in 'Design for Sustainability', Edward has been involved with numerous aspects of events and festivals, mainly in the field of performing arts and music. His activities have ranged from walk-about entertainer to creating fun interactive installations, through to roles such as project coordinator and production manager in larger projects. Edward is highly inspired by the notion of 'Place-Making' via social design, interaction and reaction, exchange and development. 

Nick Bolton

Nick Bolton

Nick is studying to be a maths teacher. He was a member of the 2008 Deep South cycle tour, which he joined because it sounded like fun. Nick hadn’t cycled much before, and him and his bike had some challenges together at the beginning of the tour. But by the end, he’d conquered his fear of hills and was more fit than he’d ever been before in his life – amazing calf muscles included! After the tour ended, he started a job at Costa Coffee in Manchester, where he began a sneaky Fairtrade campaign, trying to convince customers to buy fairly traded coffee and swap their throw-away cups with reusable mugs instead. Recently, Nick is the only person under 60 in his local cycling campaign group, and he makes an excellent Handsome Credit Card.

Cress Kinnear

Cress kinnear, tour liaison, east coast, otesha, cycle tour

I first heard about Otesha when I was at on exchange at Queens University in Canada last year and was very excited to find out that Otesha UK was rumbling across the pond. I did the Wild West tour last summer which was the first big cycle I had been on and a wonderfully educational, adventurous and enlightening experience. Between now and the East Coast Tour I will be finishing off my final year at University in Leeds, where I am studying English Lit and History and attempting to grow as many things as possible on my window sill. When I’m not in Leeds, I’m at home in London. I am very partial to banjo music, coffee, cake, board games, mountains, cider, woofing, all things crafty and of course everything that Otesha stands for.

Lisa Tozer

Lisa Tozer

I'm v. excited to be doing this bike tour this summer.  I have never done anything like this before and have already told my friends that I will be coming home with thighs like He-man!  It's going to be great to get outside and do something positive, especially after spending the last two years studying philosophy and sociology which requires dark rooms and walls to hit your head against when it all gets too much ;-)  I love laughing, bourbon biscuits and cute fluffy kittens though not necessarily in that order.  My hobbies include hula hooping, *trying* to grow things (I hate slugs) and making things!  Look forward to meeting everyone soonio, hugs x

Louise Laker

louise laker, east coast cycle tour, otesha, cycling holiday

Howdy folks! I'm Louise and I'm just finishing my first year of studying English Lit. at King's in London. Home is the Kentish countryside where I love cycling around on 'The Terminator' (my bike!), picnicing and pubbing. Other fav. things include homemade wine, sunsets, dancing, acting and cake baking. A cycle tour like this is something I've always wanted to do and it two-wheeled ethical, educational, dramatical ethos is sort of me in a nutshell. Am so excited! 

Daniel Key

Daniel Key

Hi, I’m Daniel, I like surfing, skiing, sailing and football. When I was 10 years old I moved to China with my family due to my father’s work. In Beijing and other parts of the country I saw firsthand the impact unsustainable economic growth can have on pollution, congestion and environmental degradation. I just finished my degree at Manchester uni and found a link to the Otesha Project on the Careers Website voluntary section, and when I read about the project, I found it inspiring, since I’ve become more interested in environmental issues during my time at uni. I’m been keen biker since I was a kid, when I would always race over to my friends house on my little brothers BMX, and nowadays I bike to and from uni and work.  

Alice Clarke

Alice Clarke

I've been looking forward to doing a bike tour ever since my sister (Jo) started to work for Otesha.  Right now I'm in France for the last year of my degree in Civil Engineering and when I'm done I want to be an Eco Engineer, so I hope the tour will help prepare me for starting work in September. I like french cheese (although nothing beats cheddar), terrorising my housemates by practising the only song I know on the ukuklele, ("Happy Birthday"), and being on my bike.  I don't like that even though I cycle almost everywhere I go I still can't cycle with no hands, I also dislike punctures (my record is 11 in a month). 

Amelia Benson

Amelia Benson

Amelia Benson has just finished her first year studying history at Cambridge and needs a break from work! With this in mind, she is very excited about travelling around the country by bike, though she fears her lack of a sense of direction, her inability to read maps and the fact that she is really slow on a bike could be a problem! Her other interests – besides biking, and learning about fun historical figures – include loitering backstage at theatres, yoga, rounders, reading good (and not so good!) books and generally enjoying the sun, with a dash of baking and student politics to liven up the mix. This will be her first time on any kind of long distance biking tour, but despite the physical challenge, she's very much looking forward to it, mostly because her favourite things in life are friends, and meeting new ones.

Frances Brown

Frances Brown

Hey! I have just finished my undergrad degree in Anthropology and Development studies at Sussex Uni. I'm now wondering what I'm going to do with my little life, perhaps a masters..! I want to live a little before I re-enter the academic world, that's why I bumped into this project via a friend of mine and fell in love with it! I'm a keen cyclist and have participated many times in critical mass events, and the one off naked bike ride in Brighton..! I love the 'act' of traveling, and have lived in several places in my life (France, Finland), but have never done a long trip by bike before! Can't wait to meet you all!

Katie Finnegan – Clarke

Katy Finnegan-Clarke

Hi! i'm Katie. I'm much of a more of a talker than a writer – so please excuse this! I am currently a student, living in Brighton, studying the mind-boggling world of International Development. I love being active, drinking strong coffee, cycling by the beach and dancing with friends. I've been interested in alternative ways of living since I moved away from home a few years ago – this year I've become addicted to freeganing, consensus decision making and 5 rhythms dancing. I'm really looking forward to living and cooking in a community, being outdoors and performing our play.

Jun Taoka

Jun Taoka

Hi everybody, I'm Jun. I'm from London but I've just graduated from Manchester University. I decided at uni that Marx was a clever chap and I've become increasingly sceptical of our mass consumerist society where happy adverts serve to hide some form of social and environmental exploitation far removed from our everyday lives. Raising awareness of how our simple actions empower us is something I feel is important. I enjoy tea, adventures, free parties, surfing and am looking forward to the 6 week nomadic lifestyle!  

Anna Spinks

Anna Clover

Rachael Merry

Nicola Cross