This is my third month participating in the Common Life at Camas Tuath. In our kitchen- four fathoms from the salty Atlantic, fourteen breaths to the freshwater spring; forty minutes to the tarmac. I’ve brewed gallons & gallons of Pop aka ‘Juice’ aka ‘Soda’ aka natural ferment health tonics. My first clients described it as ‘Fucking Legit’, ‘Pure Minted’ & ‘Dead On, by the way’; & with that kind of street level accolade- I resolved to embed it in the culture here so everyone is empowered to pass on the Good Message.
Charge the Cup of Friendship…
One of the first barriers to relationship with our guests, my colleagues informed me; is the question of diet. Apparently it’s shocking for all concerned. It’s ‘THEM’ & ‘US’ kind of stuff… rucksacks full of Irn-Bru flagons and pot noodles and.. three days in when this runs dry; they begrudgingly start joining in with the ‘food’ aka ‘that organic shite’.
Not that I can talk mind, I’ve got so much metal in my mouth from my school days on the Mynydd- lunch consisted a can of pepsi, half a quarter of rainbow crystals and a ham roll. My breath stank so bad, my first kiss with a beautiful girl called Suzanne O Leary was met with disgust. You start to wise up after that sort of event.
30 odd years on, I’m bringing something to the table, not as a lesson; more as a cultural offering to get involved with on an evening. It doesn’t taste of seaweed; no… we’re brewing the most fantastic fermented fizzy soft drinks, which raises the barr and blows Red Bull clean outta the gate.
Why Bother? Well, I feel that if your going to build a genuine relationship and lead guests toward a curriculum designed to go beyond their own perceptual edges and back again in a short space of time; then the least you can do as a host is meet them half way. Find a common bond, give a taste of something that they can relate too. That’s how respect and trust is built. It’s a welcome gesture…
Plus I do love a good glass of Pop.
This Common Life.
The commitment to a subsistence lifestyle is one of the handshakes of the regenerative design movement. It’s part of a responsible Pushback against the mainstream; meeting our needs creatively in right relationship with our neighbours. Within this arena the two commitments of tending our deep nature connection journeys and a commitment to mentoring becomes contextualized in a tangible relation to landscape- It’s as real as real can be. Our food, our shelter, our heat, our energy use , our waste and all our crafts of the rural household. This is it.
These commitments dovetail neatly easily into context of living, known as the ‘common life’ at Camas Tuath. Shared tasks are, for the large part, rhythmical, cyclical and seasonal.. Bread is baked, food is harvested or foraged from garden and shore, eggs are fresh from the coop not the co-op; kelp & human waste becomes friable humus to complete the circle. All items we can’t provide for under our own steam is linear-to be specific: wheel-barrowed from the tarmac down the track.
Participating in the daily chores known as ‘Get-Stuff-Done’, young people happen upon much of the hidden curriculum; fired by their innate curiosity of ‘what-things-are-for’.
For the curious then, Making Pop once a week is yet another thing to get involved with and learn informally before the ‘activities’ start. A window into the world of human nutrition, ferment, budgeting, foraging,tending the wild, ultra heat treatment, jam making, sterilization; is it? No? Go give a hand with the washing up then would ya? If one in a hundred youth who touch the brewing bucket go on to produce their own for their community; I’ll be a happy bunny.
Making Peace with Pop
Where the Pop really comes into it’s own though is in the realm of Peacemaking. That inevitable opportunity that presents itself after strangers have endured some significant experiences and stretched their edges a little bit. It is here, celebrating Gifts & Gift Moments- around the feasting table, or the Fire; that the transformative power of the bubbles really work their magic.
a sudden recognition of being
in the same boat
& our differences
I like being here
It’s Fucking Legit Mate.
It’d be Pap with Pepsi.
In good faith. I have to mention the competition. The tide we are pushing back against. Have a look on the supermarket shelf next time your in there…there’s NO ferment. It’s ALL carbonated water, saccharine and glucose-fructose corn-syrup; no wonder the government decided not to tax ‘sugary drinks’ and took a recent U-Turn; there’s hardly any sugar in it!
Temperance for our times.
In a dark twist of irony, it is in the direction of the Church we can direct our thanksgivings for preserving some heritage herb-craft recipes! The experience of an explosive non-alcoholic banging ‘Pop!’ & the resultant cheers of the frothy drink from regional hedgerow ferment recipes; has been handed down through the Temperance bars that once graced our high streets.
The Temperance Movement, despite pressures from the monopolies buying and burying family recipes; preserved recipes of blood tonics, burdocks and a host of other foragable life-giving tonics. Back in the day. even a cola was good for you; before Coca-Cola got their hands on the competition. Nowadays, the cultural fabric hangs by a few threads….
It is to my ancestor Mam-Mam, my great grandmother, aka ‘Mam Temps’ aka Ethel Jones that I direct my thanks. The Temperance of Bridge Street, Mynydd Cynffig aka ‘The old carpet shop’ aka ‘the new flats’. It is she who past on the secret of this revolutionary yeast to me, by secretly skipping two generations and inoculating my feet with it at an early age. Imagine my surprise when I recalled the memory, put 2 & 2 together and took a foot bath in a bowl of water/sugar before feeding the bees with it to extract the culture! Who knew I was carrying an ancient Brythonic panacea on my feet, whilst simultaneously walking in the footsteps of the Temperance movement all this time? What are the chances?
Unless your suffering from addiction, it’s not alcohol per se we need ‘abstinance’ from these days. The government has made sure we all know the golden rules of responsible drinking. In the realm of voluntary simplicity; it’s the unscrupulous industries that sell us food and drink that dumb us down & kills our kids that we need to resist. This is the edge to temper, the rest is just symptomatic of a root cause.
At Camas Tuath we don’t buy it and we don’t serve it to anyone that sits at our table.
Here’s to Life! Pob Hwyl! Slanijvar! Nice One!