One of the things I was most excited about on our adventure was the opportunity to meet so many people, subscribing as I do to the idea that strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet. Along with the hosts, who have been so generous, welcoming us into their homes, their families and their lives we have also encountered all sorts of other new friends along the way.
We have WWOOFed alongside other people, from all sorts of backgrounds, coming to WWOOFing for all sorts of diverse reasons, all ages, nationalities and types of people. We have met the hosts friends, families and neighbours. As a result of bumping into people we have already deviated from our planned route and found ourselves ‘WWOOFing’ for people who aren’t even WWOOF hosts! Our motto is gradually becomming ‘take every opportunity that arises as and when it comes up!’ As a result we have met some amazing people and had some fantastic experiences. Spending time with Jill from Middlewick (twice!) was as a result of getting chatting to her at a pizza evening she hosted for her neighbours, which we went along to with our WWOOF hosts at the time. We feel very lucky to consider Jill as a close friend now and keep regularly in touch.
At our last hosts the next door neighbour was Ian Sturrock, the apple tree man. Ian picked us up one afternoon as we were walking along the lane back to our hosts, let Dragon and Star do some pond dipping in his pond and invited us back the following day for a tour of his apple tree operation. We learnt about sexual reproduction and vegetative reproduction on apples, grafting and root stock, using chemicals or not, pruning, apple tree shapes and sizes and Welsh apple varieties that had almost died out. We tore ourselves away really as spending time with Ian was entertaining, informative and a lot of fun. He invited us to stay any time and we really hope to take him up on that and return some time.
On our last evening at our hosts they very kindly took us out for a meal at a local restaurant where a friend of theirs was singing. We were briefly introduced before he took the stage and were instantly entranced by both his clear and pure voice and his fantastic songs with a strong message of sustainable living approaches. After about half an hour I leant across to our host to ask the name of the singer so I could look up his songs and get hold of copies and did a double take when I got the reply ‘Eric Maddern’. Eric Maddern! Only one of Dragon, Star and I’s favourite authors! We first discovered his books when Dragon was about four or five and started asking questions about where humans came from, why some of us were different colours to each other and how the world began. It seemed that Eric had a book to answer pretty much every question in beautiful poetic words, stunningly illustrated. Books to treasure, to bring out by the pile and snuggle up and share together over and over again.
We all really enjoyed the songs and spent some time chatting to Eric after his performance, thanked him for his stories which we have all gotten so much pleasure from and were invited to visit him at his home and eco-retreat the following day. What an amazing place it is too. Cae Mabon (I really recommend having a good look at the website, particularly the pictures, which do some justice to how beautiful it is there). We sat and chatted to Eric in the sunshine, added to our collection of his books with a couple of signed copies which have instantly become treasured items with a space found for them in the van, had a tour of the woodland, river, amazing eco buildings, gardens, ducks and wonderful space there. We really hope we will return there at some point and have promised to stay in touch with Eric who is interested in our adventure.
Who knows who we’ll meet next, which way our adventure will lead? Staying open minded to suggestions, invitations and opportunities, saying yes to offers, taking chances and going with the flow. We’re going to keep smiling at those strangers and saying ‘hello’ and sticking our hands out to introduce ourselves – every single one of them could turn out to be our new best friend.