Changing Cycles

An ongoing project exploring the use of the arts as a form of action to ensure the sustainability of the planet. and stuff.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Back in da hood

And so, some 86 days and 2400 miles since setting off from Salford, I have finally swapped my saddle for a swivel chair and hung up my cycling shorts (well, not entirely - I still have to get about and it'll be a while before the tender spots heal... but enough of that!).
After Brithdir Mawr I continued up to Aberystwyth and the warm hospitality of the family of Hannah, a friend from the G8 bike ride. Great food, conversation, music, card games and a stunning sunset backdrop... beautiful!
The next day I cycled to the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, one of the longest established eco centres in the country and probably the biggest tourist attraction in Wales. Well recommended to anyone who's never been... Bumped into a friend from Brithdir there so had a camping buddy for the night too.

Then came a two day mission from mid-Wales to Derbyshire to the Earth First! Gathering for four days of discussions, workshops and training sessions aimed at anyone wanting to take action to stop the destruction of the planet. I'm not bothered really, I just liked the vegan carrot cake! Seriously though, it was great to meet up with friends from the bike ride as well as meeting lots of new, and on the whole brilliantly inspiring, people. I did find myself having to hold back from getting involved with every worthy campaign I heard about, but there's a lot of things I can do as I get on with writing, from organised protests to personal lifestyle changes,and I'm excited about those too, as long as they don't start taking over my life!

It's been an amazing journey, completely different to how I'd imagined it but then it was always going to be. I've met a lot of wonderful people and been inspired in many unexpected ways. And now I have to try and shape it all into some sort of meaningful and entertaining experience for other people... when all I really want to do is plan the next ride!
Off to catch up with friends and family in Edinburgh, London and Hitchin for the next couple of weeks, and may happen to chance upon a certain arms fair while I'm down, but after that it's all about pens, desks, chairs, and keyboards... and the odd cup of tea/coffe/wine/bike lubricant.
I'm going to keep the blog going for now as I'd like to continue to document the project, though maybe more intermittently as there's also the thorny little problem of supporting myself while I do so... However, there'll be a website along shortly, and before long you're going to have to relinquish your computer entirely and come and see something live... Unless I come to you first!
Thanks to everyone for all your support whilst I've been away, from hosts to centres to those at home and abroad leaving messages of love and sympathy! You've been wicked. Keep checking the blog for news and updates, it'll be cool to get people's opinions about the direction of things as they go along...
Coming to a theatre near you soon...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Harlock Hill wind farm. Not at all noisy, and the sheep like it too! Posted by Picasa

Tired of lovely views yet? I am... Posted by Picasa

This is what a container for high level radioactive waste looks like. You can drive a train into it and it will stay intact. I feel so much safer knowing that! Posted by Picasa

Welcome to Sellafield! Mmm, smell that radiation... Posted by Picasa

Me in the Lake District! By a lake! Think this one is Lake Buttermere... Posted by Picasa

That party I mentioned I went to in Hebden Bridge... Posted by Picasa

...And the morning after! Posted by Picasa

Boa Viagem Laura... We'll miss you! Posted by Picasa

Forgot to mention I went here, this is New Lanark World Heritage Centre, a former cotton mill village run by Robert Owen (progressive educationalist and fore-father of the co-operative movement) restored to it's former glory and also home to Scotland's first hydro-power station and some pretty impressive water-falls... Posted by Picasa

Cora Linn, the tallest waterfall in the UK... Posted by Picasa

... And the massive hydro power station that has stolen half it's flow. Once again, renewable energy robs the people of the picturesque... Posted by Picasa

Thought this looked like a face so I took a photo of it. Posted by Picasa

Eek! At least this one was downhill... Posted by Picasa

People of Scotland seem unsure of whether to save the planet... Posted by Picasa

... or the view! Posted by Picasa

Coming back across the Cairngorms, stopping at Glenshee ski centre... Think these two were here for a while. Posted by Picasa

And this is some of the lovely Findhorn folk and the pot luck dinner I was invited to when I arrived... amidst some of the less glamourous abodes! Posted by Picasa

Didn't take many photos of Findhorn as I was too busy chilling but this is one of the many different dwellings there, this one built from an old whisky vat! Posted by Picasa

Brithdir's Brilliant!

Once again I'm rushing this because I have about 5 minutes before the library closes and I've just spent ages trying to post some more lovely photos but have been denied... damn these watertight download proof public computer systems! Anyway, I am now safely in Pembrokeshire, staying at the beautiful Brithdir Mawr organic farm/ecovillage. It's a community of about 7 or 8 permanent residents, a few kids (human), some goats, chickens, ducks, a couple of horses and acres of organic gardens. They're completely off-grid electricity wise and supply all their own energy from hydro, wind and solar power. The deal is you garden for four hours a day in return for your food and board, which is a pretty good deal as far as I'm c0ncerned... Loving the gardening, have been inspired to get myself an allotment when I get back! Help, I'm turning into a young fogey... (turning into?). The good news is that you too can take part in rewarding, soul nourishing work like this in places all over the world, courtesy of WWOOF. Recommend it to all, will be sad to leave... Oh, and being on the west coast the beach plays host to some amazing sunsets. Lush, as the welsh would say! More pics on the way... Peace x

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Last Leg

Wow, it's been a long time since I did one of these, and much has happened! After Penrith I cycled across the Lake District to visit Sellafield, which has a glitzy, state of the art visitors centre, complete with interactive cinema that allows you to be energy minister for a few minutes and decide where you'd build lots of lovely new nuclear power stations! It wasn't as biased as I'd expected but still a much more sanitised view of the industry than I got from the people at CORE (Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioavive Environment). Whilst in Cumbria I also got to visit one of my theatre heroes, John Fox from Welfare State International, and have a good chat about my ideas and where to go with the project... excellent stuff.
Then it was back to Manchester, where I spent a few days enjoying clean clothes, baths and a kitchen to cook in, whilst frantically trying to decide where to go next. Eventually I decided that as it was all the direct action stuff around the G8 that has most gripped my imagination so far, I should pursue that rather than continue to aimlessly meander down to Devon and Cornwall via Wales, as was the plan. This is a bit sad because I was really looking forward to getting down there but it was all a bit badly organised anyway and I need to get back by the end of the month for a few things, not least the urgent need to stop buggering about and start writing!
So, I resolved to combine a couple of places I'd planned to visit in Wales with a couple of activist gatherings and here I am in Brecon library, fresh from a weekend in Monmouth at the Dissent! Gathering. Dissent! is a network of groups who organised the resistance against the G8 and are now trying to figure out where to go next, bit like me (apart from the organising resistance against the G8 bit)! Cue lots of tea, cigarettes, lentils, cider, and lengthy political/philosophical debates about the difference between a network and a group. My idea of a fun weekend, if not yours!
So now I'm cycling across to Pembrokeshire where I will be visiting the West Wales Eco Centre, staying on a sustainable organic farm for a couple of days, then cycling up the coast, visiting the Centre for Alternative Technology and then cycling to Derbyshire for the Earth First! (what is it about activists and exclamation marks?!) gathering (environmental activism training/meeting thing). Phew! Good thing it's bank holiday when I get back, I'm gonna need a break!