By Briane Nasimok
(TOTNES, ENGLAND) – The further adventures of Mr Nasimok as he participates in a theatre festival in the United Kingdom.
After a day and a half Tubing the Underground, around London, I found myself on the train, First Class of course, to join five other Canucks as part of a Festival of one-person presentations in a little town in Devon Country.
Organized in conjunction with a local facilitator, Mo Cohen, four of the other travellers were back in steerage (one is lost in transit), and they are not being offered the crisps and beverage freebees from the food cart.
Free that is with the cost of a first class ticket – but for the price I paid, I had a better seat, with travellers who all belonged in my social class.
Three hours, two teas and a bubbly water later, we were greeted by Mo and two other townsfolk, to take us to our abodes for the next week.
Two of the Canadian women are staying at a B and B near the lake, two are in a B and B, in town, one is somewhere else (she being in transit) and I, being the only male, I was whisked off to a communal living enclave up the hill from the Totnes, Bowden Hall.
Please note that I am very grateful for the lodging and the hospitality of my host, Sky, but being the person who I am, I will focus more on the eccentricities than wonderful simplicity that the place offers.
Bowden Hall, some of which was erected in the 17th century, is still a work in progress. Old stone walls appear though out the property. There are some newer living quarters and a large communal house where people share the living spaces. Oh how I wish I had found this place before my first mortgage and when I was a would-be hippie. My Honest Ed’s $5 tie-dye shirt will let me fit in here just fine.
My host, a most wonderful character, happens to be the brother of an interior designer who was involved with the homestead where I abode – someone who happens to still owe us a chair. Unfortunately the brother is much more a capitalist than my host and denies having it. And their relationship is not good enough to let us approach the chair “liberator” again, through his sibling.
After settling in, Sky dropped me in town and gave me a map to get back to Bowden House which showed me the path through the town and up the hill to the property. The first part of my journey is to be on a paved surface.
After that, I must find the steep, rock filled-path up the side of an incline which I believe runs at an 82 and one-half degree angle, with no signage along the way until I get to the top of Fish Cheater’s Lane.
If I get there. (This was the path that fisherman took to carry their wares from market – to avoid the tax collector so you must understand it is quite hidden.)
In reality, this was not a good idea for me to attempt, as I once got lost on a portage and that had a marked path, unlike the one that stood before me.
But before my trek, I got to see the wonders of Totnes.
The town which has a major hilly street filled with shops, cafes, new-age items is a mix of older people and young healthy-types trying to ensure that they will reach old age.
Being the house good guest, before my return, I filled my backpack with beer, wine, cheese and orange chocolate Kit Kats for my sojourn back not realizing that the steep climb was not a good idea. At least that’s what my heart told me three-quarters way up.
Author’s note: Orange Chocolate Kit Kat is not readily available on the American side of the ocean so over the years when friends have visited the UK I have asked them to smuggle them back – so they fit right going up Fish Cheater’s Lane.
I had acquired a UK cell phone for 20 pounds which included 10 minutes of talk-time in London and had most of the time left – so in case I got lost I could call Sky.
I DID get lost.
First I could not find path number one and some local boys were almost helpful.
Then path two was a mystery. Call one to Sky. No answer.
Found path two and called Sky back to tell him I was en route. But then after reaching the end of Fish Cheaters and following the hand-drawn map, I was flummoxed (which is somewhat painful)
Went left looking for the opening and bungalow on the map. No luck.
Called Sky. Went right. Wrong way – called Sky again. Went left again.
Climbed through a fence but couldn’t see the commune. Went back to the top of the Lane.
At this point it was getting dark and I believe the wolverines were coming out (silly me I found out that they only have badger here and their bite is “not that bad”)
After my third call to Sky, with 80 pence left on the time my mobile, I got back on the line and suggested, strongly that he come find me.
As you will have gleaned, from me writing this article, he did.
A little late we rushed off to join the Canadians and the local organizing committee for a wonderful vegetarian pot luck dinner (no the other pot was not around… just yet) at the facility outside of town, where we would be performing – the Green Fuse at Riverstone, Bereavement Centre.
So in reality we were off-off Totnes. (Yes there was a customer or two laying around in the back rooms during the Festival and a few two many jokes about dying on stage)
The coming evenings will consist of “works in progress” by local artists, coupled with the Canadians performing. Tracey Erin Smith, the designated muse and Canadian creator of SoulOTheatre will be giving an intensive workshop and I will be eating a lot of granola.
Mo had arranged major financial support from a Kick-starter Campaign (we Canadians paid our way and may get a small honourarium) and I had brought ten small plastic jugs of Canadian gold – maple syrup, to reward the locals who have kicked in generous contributions.
Yes I am definitely into the communal spirit and after our meal it was back to my abode for a pleasant night’s sleep, surrounded by the smells of the fresh tree-scented air, the glory of nature and many flying insects.
It has been years since I have slept on a futon on a floor. My back reminds me why I shouldn’t do that again.