chapter 4 tea time

We woke up in the morning and walked around to discover the Runnymede eco-village. It is set in an abandoned campus the university is currently demolished by a private investor who wants to put expensive apartment houses, but as the terrain is determined to serve for education and not for profit, and has nice old buildings and a beautiful forest, the people occupied it. They have been trying to evict the camp five times so far, but came to an agreement to be let in peace if they retread in the forest for the time the buildings are being demolished. They built their homes, there are wells and fire places, gardens and even a temple, all integrated in the nature and widespread in the forest on the hill. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHeathrow is not far, therefore many deep flying planes disturb the quietness. People didn´t even hear them anymore, but we startled every time. From up the hill you could see Windsor castle, the residence of the queen, she apparently wasn´t at home, because when she is the planes take different routes. The community was different from I had expected, there were no rules, no rituals, no hippie-chic-rainbow-people. May of them prefered to live on their own, hardly ever communicating. Some helped each other building houses, taking care of the babies, or cooking. It kept raining for the next three days, only for some hours the sun defeated the clouds. Time passed quickly, we slept, listened to each other telling stories and reading us books. We got up with the sun and got tired with diminishing light. It took us hours to light a fire with the wet wood. The smoke rose between the wet trees where there was little sun coming through in the moments without rain. We got to know our neighbour who offered to show us around and cook dinner. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe saw the permaculture garden, the chicken, goose, cats and the common kitchen. People asked us if we came to stay forever or just for some time and seemed disappointed when we replied we had just a couple of days. I never have seen such a nice community, they had no social pressure at all. It was perfectly okay to be alone, eat alone, where you could even wear plastic or leather clothes, eat meat or smoke cigarettes and no one would ever criticise you. We got invited to drink tea by everyone we met.  We asked about the places to go skipping and went to the next villages, searching through the dumpsters of Egham, Ashford and Staines, but unfortunately didn´t find much, only Costa (coffee-chain) sandwiches and some potatoes. We asked in a shop if they were throwing away any vegetables at the end of the day and they gave us a big box of sweets and 10 bags of mixed spices. We also went to the library to get an hour of expensive internet and told our friends and family we´re fine. It kept raining and the small path between the bluebells turned into slippery muddy ways down the hillside, we couldn´t avoid to step on the flowers if we didn´t want to sink to deep in the mud. One night we got lost on our way back to the tent, sliding down the muddy paths, falling every few meters, I´m sure everyone woke up because of our laughing. Everyday we had really interesting conversations with our neighbour while trying to get the fire to live. I really admire them for living there even in winter, it was may and we woke up freezing every night in our 1,5 person tent. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESPeople in England are very good at hiding or closing their bins, but in Egham we found a flag, which we adopted and took with us. On our last night we were tired of the rain and the cold so we decided to spent some money on a bottle of wine and then cooked lentils and stinging nettles for dinner in the common kitchen which had a roof, so we could sit by the fireplace and dry our socks. Read a book with the flashlight. In the morning all the squirrels and rabbits woke up and ran around. The only sound came from a big tree falling down, from the birds and the cows on the field. On the margin of the forest there were some big oak trees, then a pasture down the hill were the mist persisted, behind it there was the river Thames and far behind, the skyline of London with the lights going off as the daylight come. England is beautiful. We got up, put on our wet shoes and appreciated the english breakfast, porridge oats, it really warms you and fills the stomach. We left with the promise to return some day (when it´s wamer), it´s not eary to go and leave a community when you still didn´t even meet everyone. In the morning we packed our stuff and left for the Lake district, in a strange mood, expecting a difficult hitchhiking day, because we had to go back towards London on the ring motorway M25 where there´s no service stations, find someone to take our motorway north. We figured to walk towards a roundabout at the exit of Egham and try our luck. We hadn´t had a shower and it was still raining, we looked the wrong way, almost got run over, and got really confused by the clockwise roundabout. When we almost reached the spot, we took another look at the map, wondering if it was a good decision to go there, and where it would probably be best to stand and if it was better to try the M1 or the M40… People had warned us, hitchhiking in England would be hard, and even harder without a sign. When suddenly a woman stopped, we still hadn´t stuck out our thumbs or the sign, she asked us where we where going, and took us on the right highway on a really huge service station. Hitchhiking is easy and people are super nice. 🙂

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