Imbolc has just passed, signalling the first signs of spring.
The ewe’s first milk swells in her breast, the snowdrops raise their gently defiant heads, and the bird’s chorus sings that spring is near. Here we begin our quest. An idea has become a reality. Armed with a top of the range (10 years ago) video camera, and a list of questions, Pete and I head West for our quest to find the uncivilized folk of our land.
A slow start leaving Brighton: civilization’s sticky mitts hold tightly to our fingertips, as time ticks by… A special visit to our PO Box yields no fruit. The microphone is 5 days late, after a chasing game with the suppliers and DHL, we decide to hit the road, with promise of delivery to Embercombe, tomorrow before midday. Fingers crossed. But first, to the rigidly civilized B&Q car park, where we fill the tank with 80 litres of used veggie oil from the jerry cans we keep in the boot of the van. With a belly stuff of this golden nectar, Sunny purrs like a cat in a fish and chip shop, and we commence the 5-hour drive to Embercombe, accompanied by our dear friends Ollie and Alice.
Civilization’s sugar coated lips whisper words of temptation as we scurry past the rows of shiny sweet wrappers to the toilets at the motorway service station. Oh how they try get us when we are weak!! We resist, and continue with our journey.
Green patchwork hills unravel before us, as the velvet cloak of night folds in. We arrive in the dark, welcomed by the still, star-studded sky and the gentle buzz of voices and clanking cutlery coming from an open-sided airplane hanger, housing a large khaki yurt and a crisscross of washing lines, draped with aprons and dishcloths. Next to the hanger, a circle of benches, surround a fire, softly crackling.
It is friends weekend at Embercombe. A huge pot of warm curry feeds the weary travellers, we eat at shared tables, by fairy light, amidst the clatter and excitement of old friends re-united and new connections being made. Many hands make light work as people join in with the clearing away and washing, there is a feeling of community, togetherness. Soon breakfast is laid out, ready for an early start. We will meet around the fire for check-in at 9am, to receive further instruction.
Pete and I are directed down a winding track, leading to the foot of the valley, where we nestle in next to the lake, at the crook of the woods. The burner is fired up, and the candles are lit, and we are snuggled beneath the blankets. How very (un)civilized…