Friday 29 July 2011

The Mother Camp

We’ve had a relaxing four days at The Mother Camp at Lime Tree Farm, North Yorkshire.

Apparently there were about 200 people at the camp, but it didn’t feel busy as there was so much space. At the farm they’ve built a roundhouse and a stone circle, and the setting is really beautiful. Composting toilets of course, and as a touch of luxury Paul and Veronika had a gas-powered shower set up as well. We didn’t feel the need to try that out, but we really enjoyed the farm. DH and the girls went on a tour of the place, and that took an hour and a half- I only got the edited highlights! The next field had a pond, a magnificent fallen tree that was fabulous for everyone to climb, and the stone circle. I think the stones had more attraction for the adults- the children mostly headed to the tree and pond. There was a cob oven by the roundhouse, where delicious bread was baked almost daily. That looked really tricky- trying to get it cooked through, and keeping the oven at a good temperature without a thermometer. DH helped with that one day.

We had a shared evening meal daily, something hot and delicious salads as well. A fabulous team effort making and sharing good food. I shall remember crushing 50 cloves of garlic ( it was for soup and chilli) and breaking the garlic press I’ve had for about 15 years! I was glad to have it with me though, and it was finished off doing a heroic task.

The bowls I carved were put into use for the evening meals, and were admired ( yay!). The fruit bowl that’s a bit small is great for getting one adult hot portion and two adult salads in, or doing the pudding round it could get pudding for 4 in comfortably.

The girls had a lovely time. They made friends with ‘the girl in the bell tent next door’ -there were about 8 bell tents in the field (I’ve not seen that many private bell tents all together), as well as a few tent tipis, and another friendly little girl as well. They busily disappeared, and in between times found time for crafts, making jam jar lanterns, tie-dying, origami and I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. One day an empty barrel and loads of children meant fun was had rolling the barrel around the slope!

I was able to tag along to the knitters circle- not that I can knit, but I could help crochet some of the squares together that were for the wedding gift. I even got to some of a talk about astrology- I’ve not really considered that for years now.

While we were there, there was a wedding- a Handfasting ceremony. I think it’s pagan,and it was a wonderful experience and beautiful ceremony within the stone circle. We were able to sit on the grass and enjoy the ceremony, with the sun peeping out from the clouds and the children happily running about without it being a disruption. I found it quite emotional at the start, then Veronika’s voice wobbled and I knew I wasn’t the only one! It was very...well I’m struggling to find the words, Peaceful? Magical? I’m not sure, but it was a really special afternoon and I will treasure the memory. I’m grateful that the happy couple shared their wedding with us.

One evening there was a Men’s Circle. DH went to it reluctantly, expecting to leave early, only to tell us in the morning it was great, he was out till all hours and after the discussions there has a few different opinions on things. I’m not quite sure what went on, but I’m really impressed. We’ve discussed vaccination at different points, and DH wasn’t for not doing it completely, but now he sounds fine about not vaccinating. I obviously wasn’t getting the message across too well, but a bunch of blokes having a good talk seems to have done the trick.

The Mother Magazine is considered a bit on the extreme side of parenting, and I wondered what to expect at the camp. Reading the rules last year dissuaded us from going ( and the cost, and getting the right time off work, etc) but this year we decided we are pushing our boundaries and 4 days out of 6 months isn’t that long to try something different. I think, on the whole, I was a little surprised that it wasn’t more different! I’m used to seeing slings in use, mums breastfeeding and ECing or using cloth nappies. Home education is what we do. We usually eat vegetarian food, vegan food isn’t a big deal... soooo- the Pagan aspects of it were new to me. The Men’s Circle is pretty fabulous as well. It didn’t hit me as odd that this was a field full of people I could talk about all of the above with- but then we’ve just chosen to spend 6 months visiting smallholdings/farms where folk are farming organically, care about the land and are pretty open-minded anyway. I think I’m going to be in for a major culture shock when I return to work.....but I don’t need to think about that just yet.

The Mother Camp also had a serious set of rules, which started off as a deterrant, but ended up a real bonus once we’d got there. There’s rules like no phones, computers, computer games, plastic toys, junk food, alcohol, dead animals( i.e.meat!). We’ve already easily lived without all of that list, but when you focus on it, it suddenly is a little harder to say we’d not have any of it for the entire time. However, when there it means you’re not going to find your child whining they want a DS because they’ve spent hours watching someone else play theirs, be hyped up on additives from some sweets you’d never have but the kids found in a neighbouring tent, worry about the drunken antics or be kept awake by drunken snoring from a fellow camper, standing barefoot on some abandoned lego, etc. It suddenly made a lot more sense. Our contraband was locked up in the van and out of bounds until we left, and I’m not sure it was particularly missed.

Talking of the van, it has been poorly. The morning before we head off for camp it started making an odd noise, which DH narrowed down to the fan. It wasn’t too bad until we were 5 minutes from the farm, and it really sounded rough. DH managed to find a garage, get the part ordered, and Paul very kindly helped with getting the van to the garage for the day for them to fit it. Genuine Ford parts are expensive ( the garage couldn’t get hold of another one) so only £18 labour but over £200 for a new fan. Ouch! At least the van was all sorted and able to drive up to Dumfries without any problems- and we’ll just be grateful nothing worse has happened- touch wood.

Dumfries and the hotel were very hot and sunny when we arrived- so another poor nights sleep, but thankfully we got rain today, so its been much nicer. We don’t like Dumfries for parking- not specifically the van ( though we did find one multi-storey car park it wouldn’t fit in) but so much of the parking requires a disc, which we didn’t have. We were happy to pay for parking, but couldn’t find anywhere after driving around for nearly half an hour ( we’ve not had this problem anywhere else) but finally found spaces (and free) by the river.

I’m still feeling tired, but also trying to figure out what kind of tired it is- its not just physical, and I think after a few days of being around a lot of people ( who I wanted to get to know!) and realising I quite liked the peaceful space in the tent- I think I’m finding all the talking, getting to know people, and then moving on quite quickly really draining. I realise I’m looking forward to the end of our journey now, and we’re on our second to last new host tomorrow. Our last planned host is for a longer stay, though that might not work out now. DH has an uncle and aunt who live near Aberdeen, and we just heard today they can’t fit us in when we’re free. So, when we get to our last host we’ll just have to see if we can break our stay to go up to them for a week or so, and then return to finish our planned stint.

We’re also fairly hopeful we can go back to our first host in September. Asking Big One about where she’d like to go back to, she still says Andrea’s after all these months. She wants to see how big the lamb is ( a sheep by now I expect!) and we had an email saying there were rabbits as well, so she’d like to meet them. I feel this would really nicely finish off our journey, full circle so to speak. DH likes the idea as well, so it feels a good way to end.

We did have a few more hosts we wanted to go to- but we realise we’ve probably done enough. We’ve worked hard, travelled a lot and need to make sure we continue to enjoy ourselves, and don’t push ourselves to work when we only have a few weeks left to enjoy. We’ve been recommended a campsite in the Lake District which I hope will be another welcome break for a few days.

Before I return to work, we also have some sorting out to do. We have furniture and belongings stored in various places, and its becoming clear that a conventional house isn’t what we want in the near future. So, we can try to sell beds, fridge freezer, dining table and chairs, etc (if you’re interested in anything we have, email me and I’ll give you first refusal when we come up with prices!)- we’ll probably offer it on the local home ed list first, and then see what we need to do.

Off to our next host tomorrow, must sleep......

1 comment:

  1. It was a joy sharing our handfasting with you :)
    I still cant believe the luck we had with the weather !
    Will you be coming again next year?
    Petra x