Thursday, December 4, 2008

Week 35.5: Europe Photo Update

Here's a selection of shots I took in the last two months that I was unable to post until now. Enjoy (or not).


a red flower

a green plant

the piece of artwork that I liked the most at the UN


attempt at creativity

jaw dropping beauty

learned first hand that walking in rivers in October in Switzerland is cold

feel free to stroll through the vineyards

chalet suisse, swiss chalet? looks different than it does in Canada

jaw dropping beauty 2


autumn in the city


a building

a hazy, expansive, flat city

a church

a street


a fountain



deserted castle; ya, I hiked up to it


view of La Alhambra from the hostel


spiderweb early in the morning

mama and son

plants, sun and palace

these are flowers


Belgian flags

best Scout shirt I've ever seen

occupying forces

best street name ever


can you imagine what Critical Mass would be like if you lived in Belgium or the Netherlands?

oh, bikes DO grow on trees

That was fun, wasn't it.
- Kasza

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Week 34: And the Suprise is...

If you didn't already know, I'm back in Canada. A few weeks back I decided that I had enough city hopping and wasn't really interested in doing any other WWOOFing at the time. Those two reasons and the even bigger one that my bank account was hemorrhaging quite quickly brought me to the decision to return to Canadia on Nov. 24, four months earlier than planned.

My last week in Europe was a blast, though. I returned to the UK on Tuesday and visited the awesome people that I had met during the summer. My first stop was Earthworm. Always something going on there, the Earthworm folk were busily preparing for a permaculture course that weekend, the first they've ever hosted and of many yet to come, I'm sure. My contribution for the couple days I was there was to insulate and put drywall up in the events room. It felt good to be doing productive work again compared to my past two months.

I set from Earthworm on Thursday to visit friends at Brambles Housing Coop in Sheffield. Amy-Jane showed me around Sheffield Friday afternoon but this was just an excuse so she could steal materials from the learning stations at the Metalwork Gallery in the Millennium Museum and steal the silver card stock from the demonstration station. We also spent time preparing our costumes for the Cornerstone circus-themed party on Saturday. I dressed up as a bearded lady which went over great thanks in part to my gigantic beard and the awesome pink flowered hat the Amy-Jane lent me. She went as a human cannonball and I hope there are pictures of her costume because it was hilariously skimpy.

I had an a great time at the party, dancing my ass off, staying up all night and getting severely pissed (and then continuing on to the pub Sun afternoon). It was definitely a high note to end my trip on. I will miss all of the excellent people that I met while I was over there, though.

Well, I will be reducing the (intended) weekly posts to biweekly or monthly because, now that I'm back in Ontario, my life likely won't be as interesting. If it is interesting, I'll be sure to let you know.

- Kasza

Friday, November 14, 2008

Week 33: France, Belgium, The Netherlands

I finally visited the Louvre! Pretty frigging big. It's got art and stuff, ya know. The only noteworthy part of the visit was how hilarious it was to see people crowd around the Mona Lisa trying to a catch a glimpse like they were going to have some revelation once they saw it.

After the museum, I went to Le Grand Appetit, a vegan, macrobiotic restaurant and had the Grand Assiette (large assortment). Slightly expensive (because everything in Paris is more expensive) but very tasty. Despite all the random shit I've dealt with in the last little while at least I'm happily eating at veg*n restaurants frequently.

I swear Europe is trying to kill me. It was incredibly windy when I arrived in Brussels, so my attention was divided between trying to orientate myself towards the hostel and not getting blown over. This took my attention away from noticing that the middle area of the road was raised, so there was a slight curb. My attention might have missed this but my foot found it and then my face found the ground as I couldn't maintain balance with the temporary 40lb growth on my back. The backpack did break my fall slightly though which was a mixed blessing; instead of being crushed by the bag into the ground, I only received two scrapes. The downside is that two bottles of wine were sacrificed (not the important ones thankfully). More frustrating is that I only found out an hour later as I was removing my wine drenched clothes from my bag.

The next day I visited the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée (comics museum). It's pretty hilarious that I spent nearly as long here staring at pages of Tintin and Les Schtroumpfs (Smurfs) as I did in the Louvre. I love comics quite a bit. The only disappointing bit is that the museum doesn't seem to have been updated to recently. The latest pieces seemed to be from the early 90's. But the Smurfs turned 50 this year, so there was a temporary exhibit explaining every possible aspect of the Smurfs which was pretty cool. I was very tempted to waste a lot of money books and figurines but I was held back by a lack of funds and the realization that I'll have to carry everything around on my back until the trip is done.

Went to De Bron vegetarisch restaurant for lunch; holy shit it was busy. All the tables were full, so I just joined a four seat table that only had two people at it. It felt a little awkward for me but it seemed to be a perfectly normal for them.

Belgium has strong beers; I couldn't find one that was less than 6%. So, when I went out drinking with a couple of Brits, I felt the pain for the majority of the next day.

I went to two raw food cafes while I was in Amsterdam which I was really happy about because I haven't seen any raw food places in any of the other major European cities I've been to apart from London. The first place I went to is called Rawfood Cafe and is housed the same building as a dance studio. I sort of got dinner and show because the cafe and studio are separated by sliding glass doors. I had the falafal plate and chocolate mousse. I enjoyed the salad that accompanied the falafals but it is amazing that you can make "falafals" that aren't deep fried while maintaining texture and flavour. But the pièce de résistance was the chocolate mousse; basically, it was to die for. And raw cocoa is pretty energizing stuff because for about an hour afterwards I had a bit of a body buzz going on.

The other restaurant is Unlimited Health which is a part of a Yoga studio (no show here though). The plate of the day, four separate salads, was premade (probably that morning), so it slightly lacked the fresh, crispness of a dish made per order but I still enjoyed it. It always fun to have a variety of items on a plate and the size was considerably better compared to the amount of food I have received at other restaurants for €10.

The hostel I stayed at is large and fairly impersonal, so I didn't make any friends. But I was determined to try legal 'shrooms whilst in Amsterdam, with or without accompaniment. I went to a smart shop and purchased a 35g packet of Golden Teacher. I planned on only eating half that night and then the other half the next day but after an hour I felt I wasn't getting an enough out of them, so I decided to eat the rest. Woowee, what a night. It was probably the best trip on mushrooms I've ever had. Of particular enjoyment was the exterior of the Rijksmuseum, the clouds/moon/sky as they moved about and the trees in Vondelpark (which is just out front of the hostel).

The only other thing that I have to say about the Netherlands and Belgium is how amazing it see so many people riding bikes and how much a part of their culture it is. Seeing the sea of bikes at the bike racks in the city centres or at the train station is incredible (and blinding on a sunny day).

Stay tuned for next Sunday's blog; it'll have a surprise.
- Kasza

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Week 32: Spain, Portugal, France

Originaly, I was going to write portions of this post the night of or day after the events occured to give a more immediate and honest description of my experiences but my days got pretty boring and I stopped doing it. So, the first couple days were written in that style and the rest was written over the last couple days through the cloudiness of recollection.

Just after I had posted the blog last week, while we were in line for lunch Brian told me that I'd have to leave Can Masdeu the next day because they already a bunch of friends and family expected to visit over the next little while and they take precedent. To be fair, he told me this was a possibility when I arrived. It's probably for the best because the vast number of people who live there and visit the social centre (attached to the house) was too much for my agorophobic sensibilities.

I wandered around some parks in Barcelona today after checking in to the hostel; nothing special. But I was thinking a lot about the last couple weeks and considering giving up drinking (for safety and spirituality).

Seven and a half hour bus ride to Madrid! It went by alright though; I slept a lot.

I walked around Madrid centre a bit and checked out Parque del Buen Retiro which had an awesome art exhibit starting (I might go back just to check it out again). The park also has a large paved area where rollerbladers go; it was sort of amusing to watch a bunch of people practicing how to stop on their little brakes.

It had been a few days since I had been out socialising and I felt I was up for it. I'm unable to socialise without liquid courage but I'm definitely gun-shy right now, so I limited myself to beer the whole night. Woo hoo, nothing bad happened to me! Nothing eventful happened either; just a lot walking from bar to bar collecting "free shots" flyers from people on the streets. My group would down the shots and then move onto the next bar for more free shots.

I have been avoiding museums/art galleries lately because I'm cheap (wish they were free like in Scotland) but I figured I might as well see some in Madrid, so I bought the Art Walk pass which allows entry to three of their biggest art galleries (predominately paintings): the Prado (pre-modern), Reina Sofía Art Centre (modern and contemporary), and the Thyssen-Bornemisza (medieval to contemporary). Although the Prado collection is impressively large, the constant catholic subject matter gets quite tiring. And I don't "get" contemporary art, so my favourite gallery was Thyssen which is not a huge collection but a great sampling of important artists and periods in Western art for the past millenia.

At night, some of us went to a jazz bar just across the street from the hostel which had great music but ridiculously overpriced drinks (330mL lager for €4.50).

Remainder of Madrid
The next day was beautiful out, so I went exploring the local parks. Although the locals congregate in Retiro as I experienced earlier in the week, there are some great parks to the west that were virtually empty. It was quite peaceful considering a hundred meters away there was the chaos of Madrid traffic.

Wow, after the pace and populus of Barcelona and Madrid, Granada was like heaven.

It took some effort to find my hostel because I only wrote down half the directions but eventually I found it. And what a view! The hostel looks out at the Alhambra. As long as you've got the necessity of some food covered, it'd be tempting to stay up at the hostel for days on end.

But alas I only booked one night and I had plans to start WWOOFing the next day in a small village in southern Spain.

Sierra de Yuega
Despite expecting a girl (Chris is a girl's name in Spain), my hosts were very hospitable. They were overly generous, constantly offering me different foods (despite my reluctance to eat a meal before bed as is the Spanish custom) and teaching me to speak Spanish. I think they expected I would know more Spanish than I did because they knew very little English. Our attempts at conversation were quite humourous.

It got tiring to be working with the old man though, who has little understanding of a person's capacity to learn and retain new words in a short period of time. It also didn't help that he needed to assert himself as the boss and master repeatedly. He means well, I know, but his personality was too much for my little sissy ego and after two days, I had had enough. It's unfortunate because everybody else was so awesome and I think I would have been able to communicate effectively in a week or so. Oh well, on to Portugal.

It pissed down the majority of the time. Other than that, all I can say is Lisbon is frigging hilly. It was like I had to walk double the distance just because I had to go up and down as well as across.

The best thing about Lisbon is that they have a vegan buffet restaurant, Oriente Chiado. That's right, I said buffet. All-you-can-eat buffet!!! I gorged myself. I'm still not used to European restaurant hours though (because I don't eat out often), so I hoped to beat the supper rush and headed over at 17:00. Silly me, they're closed from 15:00 to 19:00. The wait was worth it, though. I ordered a bottle of wine and tried at least one of everything that was available; so good. If you're ever in Lisbon and feel like having something other than meat or fish, go to Oriente.

I decided to spend the weekend in Guarda, a town in the Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela. According to Lonely Planet, Portugal is not a country for hiking; the people just don't do it. But there are some trails in the Estrelas that are supposed to be good and Guarda is the largest town in the area, so I headed there. I never did find any trails but enjoyed the walk along the side of the road because the weather was alright (not raining).

My other significant experience of Guarda was that nothing was open Sat afternoons (I arrived at 15:00) or Sundays. Luckily, there's a supermarket on the outskirts of the town though which was open, so I didn't starve.

Oh ya, and for Saturday evening entertainment I went to see Tropic Thunder (god bless the Portugese for subtitling and not dubbing). I think half the jokes were lost on the locals but I enjoyed it.

More cold weather and rain; I guess that's what November means anywhere in the northern hemisphere.

Again, I'm not prepared for the culture: I head over to the vegetarian restaurant, Alcacil, for noon thinking/hoping they'll be open (they don't advertise hours, just that they're open for lunch); the waitress tells me they open at two. Waiting isn't that bad if you have something to do, somewhere to go. It's shitty out, so lounging in a park us out of the question and since this is Spain, everything else closed at 13:00 for siesta and won't reopen until 16:00. Still, the restaurant was the high point of Salamanca for me (the city also has beautiful architecture besides a great veggie restaurant). The menu changes daily (a great sign of quality), so out of a choice of three plates, I went for the pasta with mushrooms which was proceeded by bread, salad, and soup and followed by a plate of clementines (vegetarian restaurant, so the dessert wasn't vegan friendly). I was content and ready to go wait for several hours for my bus (nothing else to do, everyone/thing was on siesta).

Walked around St. Emilion in the rain for the first day trying to find chateaux that didn't require appointments for visits. I probably would have been successful if the map acurately displayed the location of chateaux. Everytime I walked to an area where I expected to find a specific chateau, it would either be a field or a completely different chateau.

I left the task of finding chateaux up to a tour guide the next day when I visited Medoc. We visited and tasted at Kirwan and Chateau d'Arsac.

Of course, I had to buy some bottles while I was in Bordeaux, so I bought two in St. Emilion (one for that evening and one to come back to Canada) and one from Arsac.

I really liked Bordeaux; the city was beautiful and they've got a shitload of wine. If I'm ever in the area again, I would definitely visit again.

Eagerly up at five to six to catch the 7:11 train to Avignon where I hoped to catch a bus to Chateauneuf du Pape. The scattered clouds and misty fog rising from the vineyards created an extremely picturesque train ride. An auspicious begining to the day.

As the sun pushed up through the haze it transformed slowly from a bright orange semi-circle into the fiery white-yellow of suns that mean warm days. But as I arrived at the station in Avignon, the fog caught up with the sun. Objects a hundred meters away were practically invisible. If I was driving maybe it would have bothered me but I was thankful it was warm and dry again (compared to the days earlier in the week).

Well, getting to Chateauneuf du Pape is easy... if you have a car. But the lady at the tourist office suggested I go to La Bouteillerie du Palais des Papes which is a wine shop in the Papal Palace. Three tastings later, forty euro lighter and three bottles heavier, I headed back to Nimes with the hopes of doing some more tastings in the afternoon.

I tasted two reds from the town of St. Gilles which has a cooperative wine shop in the town for all of the wineries. The price-quality ratio was the best I've seen anywhere; quite a few award winners and no bottles over €10. So I bought two bottles (good thing, one of them was corked).

I was disappointed that I didn't get to visit any wineries but five bottles in one day is a pretty good haul (hauling them around in my backpack should be fun too).

The next day I was greeted by quite a surprise when I tried to collect my ticket at the train station; my credit card wasn't in my wallet... or anywhere else on me. The girl at the ticket desk tells me she can't print the ticket without the card, so I think "Fuck it, I've paid for a ticket and I've got a reference number; I'll just get on anyway.". Well, the guy checking tickets didn't see it my way and gave me a fine which I was supposed to pay at the Paris train station. Again, fuck that. I already paid for a ticket. I'm not going to pay a fine because I lost my credit card (so, I'll write a letter to their offices explaining the situation). Looking on the bright side of things, at least it was a direct service and I wasn't kicked off at some random stop in the middle of France.

That brings us to last weekend. I'll post this weeks exploits in a few days.

- Kasza

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Week 29: Ugh

It's weeks like this that redefine homesickness.

So I planned on getting my new glasses in Genova on Monday but
apparently most places are closed on Mondays there. I had to go to
Fiumara, a mall quite a distance from the city centre to find an open
glasses shop but luckily I was able to order a pair and they were
ready for me on Wednesday. Obviously losing my glasses in the first
place bummed me out but then having to stay in Genova for more days
than I had planned and having to shell out a fair chunk of change for
a new pair of glasses didn't help.

After I had ordered them I decided to walk back a different way than I
had taken to get there. That's a really stupid idea when you're not
familiar with the city and your map doesn't cover the area you're in.
I finally came across a metro stop which had a map in it. So I after
I misread the map I decided to head up a street which was definitely
not the street I wanted but I followed it to the end anyway. At the
end there was a trail leading past gardens going up the hill. It's
common for there to be steps leading up the hills for walkers instead
of following the significantly less steep road. But these steps
quickly turned into a trail. The prospect of a small nature hike
lifted my spirits and I held onto the belief (and still do) that if I
continued up I'd eventually come to another road. However, when I
heard cautionary grunting up the hill I got a little scared. But it
wasn't on the path, so I continued some more steps. Then there was
some movement in the bushes and grunts up ahead of me. At that point
images of being impaled by boar's tusk on a trail in Genova filled my
head, so I turned tail and scrambled back down the path the way I
came. I eventually returned to the metro, gave in and bought a ticket

Despite the fun the evening before losing my glasses, forgetting my
Nalgene bottle on the train, the cost of new glasses and getting no
reply from Brian at Can Masdeu (place I plan on visiting in
Barcelona), I was definitely feeling depressed. I wandered around the
city center some more and visited their very old light house which
allowed for some nice photos.

The best old buildings are the ones without tourists. I wasn't
picking up my glasses until later in the evening, so I went hiking in
the hills behind the hostel which have several abandoned castles.

I was at the highest peak at noon which was pretty cool because the
noon bells from the surrounding churches floated up together (there's
a lot of churches).

I'm might be gutsy, stupid or both but it seemed like a good idea to
walk into an area where there was a hunting party. I figured the
worst that would happen was that they'd tell me to go back but they
didn't seem to care and I passed other hikers in the area. Although I
could have been mistaken for a Sasquatch I felt confident that I
wouldn't be shot.

The next fun experience happened when I returned to the hostal. I was
approaching the doors from one direction and two cops were approaching
from the other. I guess because I look like a shifty terrorist they
stopped me and tried to question me. This is tough to do when I don't
speak Italian and they don't speak English. Eventually one of them
continued into the hostal and one waited with me. The whole time I
was cool because I knew I hadn't done anything but when he asked for
my "documento" I got a little uneasy. That's all I needed, some cop
stealing my passport. But I gave it to him and he returned it after
looking it over. A few minutes later the other cop returned with a
cook who I assume called them. She took one look at me and then
seemed to tell them I was not the one they wanted. I think she said
something about three people loitering about playing instruments. So,
I continued into the hostal, dropped off my camera and set out for
Fiumara to get my glasses.

Happily, they were ready when i arrived. They're definitely not as
good as my last pair but I was in a jam and to buy something. But I
can see!

It was back up to the hostal to grab my bags and then down to the port
to board the ferry for Barcelona.

I ran into Eric, an American I had met in Torino, so it was nice to
have somebody to talk with on the 18 hour trip.

Got to Barcelona at 14:30 and headed for my hostal. Eric was going to
stay with his cousin who was renting an apartment for a few weeks with
another friend.

I didn't figure I'd seem them again but ran into them a couple hours
later at the market when I was some dinner, so I hung around with them
for the evening. We went to a couple bars and got fairly pissed.

I wandered around Barcelona and saw some pretty parks and La Sagrada
Familia which is pretty impressive. Then I went to Juicy Jones, the
only vegan restaurant in Barcelona. It's very similar to Fresh in
Toronto and it was nice to have full vegan meal compared to my recent
diet of bread, apples, and celery.

The guys met me at the hostal and we joined the Flamenco and tapas
tour hosted by the hostal. The flamenco band was awesome; I could
have watched that all evening but it was only a half hour. The "tour"
continued and turned into a crawl and I got more and more pissed. We
were given a stamp to get us into a disco later that night but when I
wandered off on my own trying to get there I got lost.

The rest of my night was spent trying to orientate myself to get back
to the hostal while fending off prostitutes.

But the event of the night was when I was I robbed. I don't even
remember how it started but some guy was walking with me acting all
friendly. He was chatting to me about something and I was still
trying to walk back to the hostal but obviously he was sizing me up
because, all of a sudden, his hand is in my pocket going for my
wallet. He pushed me to the ground and I got some scrapes but I
lunged for him and he threw my wallet on the ground after getting the
money out of it. It could have been a lot worse. All I lost was the
cash; still have my cards.

I suppose it sobered me up a bit because I continued on without
anymore hassle and got to the hostal.

I'm really getting sick of hangovers and definitely need to curtail my
drinking habit.

But I headed over to Can Masdeu; Brian emailed me the day before, so
I'm psyched for that.

It's a bit intimidating because there are so many residents (25
adults) and Spanish is the language of choice (which I don't speak).

On a completely different note, the best movie title I have ever seen
is Sexykiller, a movie in theatres here, and judging by that title, it
may be the best movie ever.

Still alive,

Sent from my iPod

Monday, October 13, 2008

Week 28: Six Months Already?!?

Ya, so I'm horrible at updating this blog consistently these days
(then again my friends' blogs are more stagnant than mine). It's
mostly because it doesn't feel like anything noteworthy or interesting
is happening. Anyway, I shall cover what has happened in the last two
weeks since I left Earthworm/England.

I attempted to travel directly to Geneva in one day but due to
multiple train delays I was stuck in Paris for the night. I figured
I'd go to the same hostel as last time but being as I got there
slightly late (9pm), they were full. I rented a locker for the night
and dumped my bag, planning on strolling the city until I had to
return to the train station at 6am. I only made it to about 2am until
I was too tired/bored and headed back to the hostel hoping to hang out
in the dining room for a few hours. They did me one better and let me
crash out on the bench in the lobby, so I got a few hours sleep.

I arrived in Geneva later that day with no more hassles and headed
over to Clos Voltaire which is a student house that accepts coach
surfers. I was lucky enough to hook up with them through a friend of
Cath's. Unfortunately, I missed a killer party that night as the lack
of sleep caught up with me. I knew it was through a combination of
hearing the Russians talking outside my door at 4am and seeing people
still milling about at 9am when I got up.

I decided to check out the UN while I was in town but two buildings
devoted to international burocracy is hardly intestring. In
retrospect I don't really know what I was expecting.

From Geneva I headed to Rabten Choeling which is Buddhist monastery/
Tibetan learning centre situated on Mont Pelerin overlooking Lake
Geneva. It was absolutely beautiful there. Basically all I did for
that week was read books on Buddhism and hike around. A very chill
and enjoyable week. The leaves started turning while I was there and
it snowed in the mountains across the lake which just added to the

I've just finished two days in Bern which is almost eerily clean and
pristine (all of the buildings look like they were just painted the
day before I arrived and there's not a speck of dirt on them. I guess
that cleanliness, not to mention technology (museum doors are sensored
to open as you approach) comes at a price; namely admission to all
galleries and museums was always over ten francs (too steep for me).

I'd say the highlight of Bern was going to see The Dark Knight
(despite the"reduced" admission of 12 francs); soooo good. I was
ready to run around and beat up Bern's criminals when I got out of the
theater but I couldn't find any, so I just went back to the hostel.

I crossed over into Italy mid-week and now after spending two days
each in Torino and Roma, I'm heading back north up to Genova. Torino
is a suprisingly large city (especially after being in Bern), so
there was a lot of walking. But I got to go to their museum of
cinema which was pretty wicked (regular museums get tedious pretty
quickly, so it was nice to be at one which was different). If you
ever end up in Torino/Italy, I highly recommend going there, at the
least just to see the exquisite building.

Halfway along the train ride down the coast from Torino to Rome I
peered past the sand and watched the sea for a bit. As I was doing so,
I noticed two objects bobbing in the water. I quickly realized these
objects were human heads and a couple hundred meters later I saw other
people in bathing suits, in and out of water, and I realized the
significance of this: it's hot enough to swim! Ah, southern Europe,
I'm happy to make your acquaintance.

I have had two beautiful days in Roma, enjoyed good company and went
out each night. In that lies the problem; I got unnecessarily trashed
on the Friday night and while dancing like an idiot at the bar, my
glasses flew off my face not once but twice. The second time we were
unable to find them, so I have to buy a new pair of glasses now. I
have pair of contacts (dailies) which I'll wear until I'm able to a
glasses store in Genova (most stores are closed on Sundays in Europe,
especially Roma).

It seems like the tourists outnumber the natives which gets a bit
taxing but the sights are quite beautiful, so I grinned and beared it
(now, if I lived there, I'd probably shoot somebody: me or them).

I'm wrote this on a train and emailing it from front of a cafe. I
don't think I'll have a chance to upload photos for a week or two, so
they'll have to wait.


Sent from my iPod

Monday, September 22, 2008

Week 25: The Best Not-Wedding Ever

Finally, something eventful to fill the blog with.

I'm not able to call the event that happened this past weekend the "Best Wedding of the Century" because it has been billed as a not-wedding the whole time.

The week leading up to the event was set aside as Earthworm's September Work Week and some work unrelated to the not-wedding was completed but for the most part we were busily preparing for the weekend. With an expected 300+ attendees (based on RSVP), there was loads to do: clearing more camping space, erecting compost loos and straw bale womyn's urinals, raising marquees; not to mention the logistics considerations of Friday's ceremony.

I say Friday's ceremony specifically because it had some special considerations to Saturday's ceremony. On Friday morning, a huge portion of the not-wedding guests piled in vehicles and hopped onto bicycles heading over to Ludlow, a nearby town, 8-10 miles away depending on the chosen route. I decided to be part of the bike posse which meant a ten mile ride along single lane back roads up and down hills, surrounded by the rural landscape of the West Midlands (much recommended).

After a short break at Ludlow's organic shop, Myriad, we turned on the stereo in the bike trailer and created a mini critical mass as we made our way through the town to the local Shell station, which is where we were holding Friday's ceremony. Unfortunately, the stereo is on it's last legs, so the music was intermittent and when it was attempted to be utilized for Hymn 666 during the ceremony, it obstinately refused. That was fine though because the protest/not-wedding guests, with hymn sheets in hand, sung beautifully without assistance.

A leaflet was handed out that explains the need for the action. It is available here.

Back to the ceremony: we all piled around the pumps (making sure not to trap any cars in) and made it impossible for any petrol business to transpire while we were there. One "gentleman" did try to undo our efforts, driving up dangerously close to people holding banners and muscled his way through to grab a hose. It was no matter though because he soon found out, despite his aggressive efforts, the pumps had been shut off and locked off when we first arrived.

It was a very chill action; Veggies set up a a catering table of samosas, pasties, tea and coffee, people held up banners and a few other people handed out leaflets to vehicles and townsfolk passing by.

We all had settled into place and the ceremony proceeded with readings from friends and singalongs of two hymns: Dancing on the Ruins of Multinational Corporations and The World Turned Upside Down. The ceremony was concluded with a tearful d-lock joining through pump handles. Once that was completed, it was time for us all to disperse in opposite directions. Getting a block away, a group of us realized that heading directly back to Earthworm wasn't ideal; we had to go to a pub first. So we turned around and headed in the opposite direction. We went to the same pub that I had went to with Joe and Same on my birthday back in June which overlooks the River Teme. Just like the day back in June, Friday was also sunny; leisurely, we sipped our pints and chatted away. Others had the same idea as us because the not-bride and groom and some of their close family members had beat us there and after us four more from the bike posse arrived.

Finishing our pints, it was agreed that we should take the scenic route back and stop by another pub in a closer village, a few miles from Earthworm. Alas, being a Friday afternoon, the pubs were closed during lunch and supper. The only option we were left with was to wander down to the local shop, buy a bottle of local cider and perry and enjoy them in the local millennium park. The rest in the park really did me in causing me to bike the final leg much slower than I had earlier and I required a nap when we got back.

Somewhat rejuvenated, I returned to the liquid courage and mingled. My evening was split between sitting around the fire, watching the open mic show in the marquee and trips to the storeroom to stock my fists with beer. During a lucid moment later that night I remember trying to explain something to someone and the words flowed out in a drunken dyslexic jumble. I definitely paid the price the next morning. Even after sleeping in, a killer headache and a general blah feeling over didn't subside until sometime in the afternoon.

But now we are onto Saturday, which means last minute preparations for the second ceremony. It went over beautifully with an explanation about why it was a not-wedding ("The celebration is about the bonds we have with each other and our network of families and friends; it is about our place in the world around us and we hope that what we are planning reflects our aspirations as well. This is an open invitation to everyone to take part."), more readings from friends and then ten promises brought forth by friends and family for Cath and Donal and for all the friends and family in attendance. Having agreed all but one of the promises (not to work past midnight), Cath and Donal passed through the arches of bolt croppers, spoon, spanner and outstretched arms (which is quite a feat when you consider that directly beside their faces are some of the hairiest, undeodorized anarchist armpits in the country). The couple then slipped away to have a private cry and cuddle before continuing on with the events.

Next up, after we gorged ourselves on an amazing feast prepared by the Anarchist Teapot, was the speeches. Unfortunately, I missed the majority of the speeches, only catching the last couple which were quite moving and funny (I'm assured the other speeches were as well).

Much credit has to be given to the children (and probably adults) because all through the day the tables in the cake tent had been filling up with tantalizing treats which were to e left untouched until after the speeches. I was a bit slow heading over, still full from the feast served a couple hours before, so I missed out on the "best" cakes but the chocolaty treats that I did try were amazing.

Then, the entertainment for the evening began: two ceilidh bands and then DJing into the early hours of Sunday. Although I didn't participate in the ceilidh, which seemed to be quite a lot of fun for those who did, I feel I made up for it by dancing my ass off the rest of the night (my strained back muscles will attest to it) right up until people cut the power sometime after 4am. Somewhere around 2 or 3 I decided to indulge in a few magic mushrooms with the intent of enjoying the sunrise from the hot tub in sensory bliss. but I was getting very tired and after chatting with mates a bit, seeing dawn start to peak at 6:30, I decided to call it a night... morning?

I'm not sure what everyone else did Sunday (I heard the drinking started quite early or maybe it just continued) but I slept most of it away. The majority of people left through the day but there were still some keeping the party alive (waking up to Sex Pistols at 4am was fun). And Monday was devoted to taking marquees down, returning rented tables/chairs, etc.

It was an amazing weekend and much love needs to go out to Cath and Donal for initiating it, as well as to everyone who made it happen.





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Rocky, very much at ease at the pulpit, educating the onlookers to Shell's transgressions in Rossport

Friends and family sing along to hymn 666

The ceremonious d-locking of pumps

You may now kiss the not-bride

Local constabulary

More local constabulary



More cakes

You don't want to mess with this doorman

Or this one

We gather

And the ceremony begins

Mothers welcome children to respective families

The promises begin; a rope will be wrapped around their clasped hands for each promise agreed

The rope is wound some more as they agree to another promise

Promises complete, hands bound, you may kiss the not-bride... again

And we all cheer

Passing through the arches onto a bright future

The first dance

Alcohol makes Ollie recede back to a child