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Down in Dingly Dell with a Twinkly Eyed Man

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Whilst travelling back from Brittany on the ferry Tom had several times bumped into the same man and they had got chatting, Roger, a white haired twinkly eyed man had a home in Brittany with lots of land and was back and forth himself to the UK as his wife was staying there at the time. During one of their conversations Tom was explaining our predicament to Roger about where to go next. Without a thought, Roger just said “Bring a caravan, you can live in one of the fields”  Tom told me about this and seemed very keen but I had never met Roger, he had never met me, what if it did not work? So we drove over to find Roger in his little cottage to find out more.  I fell in love with Roger and his cottage the moment I met him. Twinkly eyed was just the start, he had the biggest heart and was so incredibly kind but also hilariously funny. Roger is a famous potter and his quirky little cottage is full of weird and wonderful creations, it is the most heart warming place to be.  A plan was made and we then sourced a caravan and were on our way to the next part of the adventure.

Dougal – our home

When we arrived at Roger’s land we first chose a field away from everything and everyone. This was lovely in the sense we were surrounded by nature but also it was not so easy when we both rely on the internet and therefore a power source for work… So, after a day of heaving and pushing and swearing, we moved the caravan to the field opposite Roger’s cottage, it is a narrow but long strip of land with the pottery studio at the top and at the bottom, the most glorious little haven of tranquillity, Dingly Dell.  I spent a lot of time in this place, it was so peaceful, magical even, and I found it the most wonderfully inspiring place to work. I would sit in the hedge there and do my readings, just a delight.

Chatty afternoon for Tom and Roger

We quickly settled into our new life and much to the delight of Roger, offered to clear a piece of the land in the middle of the field which had become a big heap of “stuff”. We cleared it and then turned it into a spiral garden where we grew veg and herbs. We also picked up a small poly tunnel so we could get tomatoes and cucumbers on the go. Watering all of this was a bit of a lark, we had no water supply this side of the road but found we could go to the communal well and fill up from there, so we bought a wheely bin and dragged that up the road, filled it with buckets and then wheeled it somewhat haphazardly back down the field. Sometimes we even had water left in it by the time we got back to the garden….

The mound is being prepared

After a hilarious and dangerous day of hooking up the longest internet cable in the world across the top of the cottage to the studio on the other side of the road, we had internet and were able to get on with work. We were finally beginning to be able to save some money.

Poly tunnel

Roger was just the most delightful neighbour, we had many evenings where he or I would cook and we would share fabulous meals and a lot of gin and tonic. I spent a lot of time taking him a cup of coffee to his studio and then returning 2 hours later because we had got chatting. Tom did the same and if he said I am just popping up to Roger’s I knew I would have a few hours peace. Roger was in the process of making chairs from hazel growing in his hedges so he showed Tom how to do that and they spent many an hour whittling away making these wonderful creations. Roger taught us both to throw pots and  to decorate them. I also learnt to make dowsing pendants and beads, we just loved it all.

At one point we found another caravan for a really low price so picked that up and brought it back, with the caravan came 4 chickens who needed a new home, the owner of them and the caravan was returning to the UK. So Mr Magoo, Mrs Magoo, Buffy and Bella were made a house by Julia (Roger’s wife) and I and became very happily ensconced in the garden behind the cottage.

Planting spiral garden

Mr Magoo and Roger became very close, I think the fact that Mr Magoo stole the cat biscuits and pecked the cats out of the way was what clinched the friendship, Roger just found his antics hilarious.  Our new caravan became our bedroom, or the west wing as we liked to call it. It meant that I did not have to unfold the bed and cushions morning and night, we could spend the day in Dougal (as we called the main caravan) and walk (or slide in the winter) down hill to Mrs Doyle (yes, the second caravan had a name too) to go to bed.

Chickens incoming

We had not really thought what we may do next, but as another winter was approaching realised that we may need to find something a bit more substantial than the caravans, they were great but only touring caravans that got pretty chilly in the winter.  We had the potential of a caretaking job further South but this kept being put on and off on a daily basis and became clear it was not reliable.  Tom began to get frustrated and said “We just need a home”. So he went on the internet and 5 mins later informed me that he had found a cottage in the woods, and we were going to see it on Monday morning.  We did, we both fell in love but decided we needed a “grown up” to come and see it too so we came back again with Roger. He took one look at it and said “Buy it. If I could put the two of you into a cottage this would be it”. So we did. Three months later we got the keys to this falling down, holey roofed, over grown gardened, rat infested cottage and the next chapter began.

Tom potting

Leaving the caravans was hard, not because we were sad to leave those but because of Roger. We both knew that chapter was coming to an end but what an extraordinary time we had all had together. I will never ever forget that period of our lives. Roger passed away in May this year, we still cannot believe he has gone and miss him terribly. His twinkly eyed loveliness will stay with us forever, and our home and garden has so many reminders of him and his incredible talent,  a cup here, a jug there. We were meant to stay in Roger’s field for a few weeks, but the few weeks stretched out rather longer than planned and in all we were there for 14 months. I blame Roger entirely for making us so welcome.

These blogs are just short excerpts of much bigger chapters! I am currently working on getting a book publiished about our journey so far in order to assist funding for the Earthkin project. If you would like to be informed when the book is available, please subscribe to our newsletter, thank you.

 

 

Hello, I am Debs. Myself and my partner Tom are following our long held dream of bringing our vision to reality – Earthkin – a place of sanctuary for nature, wildlife and people.  I am sharing our journey so far by writing about the good, the bad and the downright messy!  I will continue to update you every step of the way, do come and follow us www.earthkin.org

 

 

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