Glorious morning driving west over the Severn estuary bridge and down to Swansea for lunch in a beach café-cum-sports centre where we arrive on Beach Babies Friday, which has odd echoes of Lower Shaw being a sort of trendy municipal version of yesterdays Breastmates group. Only this time it is not hidden away down some back lane but part of ‘normal’ life. After lunch we head on deep into Wales the roads gradually getting smaller and smaller; M4,A40,A478,B4313,B4329……. til eventually the Satnav directs us down a lane that has a large sign saying unsuitable for motor vehicles at which point we renew our argumentative traveller mode and take the other turning which this time the satnav quickly changes the route to agree with us.
We arrive at Brithdir Mawr a grand country house in miniature that has morphed into a Low Impact community. We arrive to find a full kitchen where not only dinner is being cooked, but a large pan of tomato chutney is bubbling away on the homemade heavy duty range and two young women are busy baking ½ a dozen wholemeal loaves. All round a rather amazing natural form table held up by two tree stumps that forms the centre piece of the Kitchen/dinning/sitting room – well along with the potato crop that is being sorted in the other half of the room – having converted the farm outbuildings to accommodation they have a lack of space to do things like dry & sort spuds.
After a cuppa we play a crazy game of football with young Eli (age 6) where literally the goalposts keep moving! (An analogy for living in community perhaps?) We then set off with Tony & Eli for the community tour.
Having now done a tour-a-day of a different community for the last 5 days they are all starting to blur into a sort of composite-mega-community with a list of must have’s for any would be intentional group; a trampoline!, a laundry room ,a notice board or three, a little office, pigeon holes, a communal kitchen, talk about refugees, a wood store, a homemade compost loo, an old red tractor, an array of solar PV panels, a new biomass boiler, more wellies than members and in Brithdir’s case a very nice rustic goat shed.
After dinner as the light fades we chat about our trip and communal living in general and after a brief misunderstanding about the meaning of the word when Mike asked what security they had, – the first answer being; well the ducks, geese and dogs will let you know if there are any strangers around.- We have a rather sobering conversation about the fact that they only have 4 ½ years to run on their lease and as yet can’t imagine how they could buy the place from the benevolent former founder member who is the landlord who is likely to want to sell.
We ask our stock “favourite things” question and get a few stock answers; “The food”, “Togetherness” ,”the animals” Along with a few more personal responses; “the way things happen by magic!” and “communal tea breaks” (that my spell checker want to change to ‘communal tie breaks’ ?!) We sit and talk til the light fades, some people head off for gathering in the woods, the German wwoofer gives us a fluorescent hoola-hoop lightshow and we retire to our room in the attic. Brithdir is the final call of the Road Trip proper and whilst it was set up in the 1990’s it strangely feels like a blast from the 1970’s rather than a newer community – next call is a 1970’s community celebrating it’s 40th birthday.