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  • Writer's pictureTinkers Bubble

Bubble Updates Jan 2024

The first whisperings of spring have been in the air this week, and the loudening of the dawn chorus reminds me that we might have some things to say too, so here we are with another update on the comings and goings of the Bubble. On having a look back at the last update almost 18 months ago, I’m struck both by how similar some of our ‘news’ is, and also how different the community feels. My main sense of the time over the last year has been a feeling of settling into the current configuration of residents and land-work, which has hopefully created a solid(ish) foundation from which we can grow through the coming year.

Greg left us in the autumn – he’s converted a van to live in, and has mostly remained in the area. Meg is also preparing to leave in early March to return to Plotgate, the market garden Community Supported Agriculture scheme near Glastonbury which she joined us from 3 years ago. Meg has also recently become a trustee of the Bubble, so we hope that she’ll continue to be fairly engaged with Bubble goings-on. So that leaves us with a core resident group of Bobby, Alex, Nina, and Richard for the coming year. 


Four residents is a lower number than we’d like, but we’ve been well supported over the last year by some long term volunteers, including two forestry-orientated stays by Finch, horse-drawn visitors Steph with her two Cobs, and Ree & Ged with 5-year-old Orchid and their working horses. Jacqueline will soon be leaving us after making enough preserves for us to survive a couple of New England snow-bound winters, and Kamran, who joined us from a community veg-box project in Brighton, is planning on staying on for the growing season here.


It’s been a tricky year for our animals, with our working horse Soldier and our dairy cow Daisy both being lame. Soldier is on the mend now but wasn’t able to do much for most of the summer, whilst Daisy won’t fully recover and so is likely to be re-homed at an animal sanctuary as she won’t calf again. Our chickens also fared badly over the summer with the combined attentions of the local fox and a suddenly-enthusiastic dog, but we’ve built the flock back up and they are looking healthy and happy again. Dealing with these kinds of issues gives the lie to the idyllic hopes which people hold about this kind of life – instead of bucolic leisure, we are attempting to take responsibility for our place within unpredictable and uncontrollable life, and that brings its own tests and stresses.


Perhaps our headline news this year has been that we now have permanent planning permission. Although this is a milestone for the Bubble and for low-impact development, and was well covered in the media, it hasn’t changed much in our day-to-day lives and it’s easy to forget the amount of energy that’s gone into formalising the Bubble’s existence over the years. I wrote a blog post back in the spring about the planning situation so have a look for that if you’re interested.


One of my highlights of the last year has been welcoming other groups to the land, including 3 days teaching on Shift Bristol’s woodland module, a weekend with FLAME (the youth group of the Land Workers Alliance), and a couple of tours with South Somerset District Council. The Open Day was also a lot of fun, with live music and horses thrown into the mix this year. We’ve also been busy with external events, playing an important part in the Green Scythe Fair and the Communities Conference, as well as attending the Primative Skills Gathering, the LWA Forestry Sector annual meetup and the Land Skills Fair, and the Oxford Real Farming Conference. Engagement with the LWA and the ORFC gives a good sense of the growing interest in alternative agricultures and the movement-building that is happening around food and land-work.


One of the comments that we’ve had from a few regulars over the last year is that the Bubble is looking tidier than it has previously, which is a reflection on a deeper process of clearing that we’ve been doing over the last few years. It is interesting to feel into the ways that energy pools and stagnates, or flows, and where forgotten areas of the Bubble hold blockages. The last big piece of this clearing process is removing the ‘Chantry’ – one of the earliest houses in the middle of our living area which became the overflowing storage for everything that we might need someday. The re-claiming of this area will open up a large space in the centre of the community, and gives us some possibilities for a different focal point of the settlement.


With the glimmerings of spring in the air this morning, and my body-clock shifting back to pre-7am wakings, I’m feeling a sense of leaning into the coming year. February will see the start of our seed-sowing, and the seed swap we’re hosting on the 10th Feb may be the psychological opening of the growing season. Forestry season isn’t over yet though – we’ve got some tricky diseased trees to fell around the houses over the next couple of weeks, as well as more coppicing and hedgelaying to carry out. As we enter spring, we’ll be welcoming back Ree, Ged and Orchid and their horses, which will enable us to do some spring ploughing, and also will have Tammie joining us for a few months.


As we prepare for Imbolc on Thursday, we can start to draw ourselves out from our winter quietening, with hopes to see some of you at our volunteer afternoons over the summer, our residential volunteer gardening weekends in July and August, or our open day in the autumn.

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