Tuesday 21 June 2016

"Basically , it's just a couple of grassy fields."

I'm delighted to say that we have hundreds of campers who appreciate our site but a few visitors  have missed the point of our project, Our attempt at being as Eco as possible is sometimes misunderstood.
 In the following blogs I will explain a little of the work involved to maintain our Eco campsite.

I have separated my blog into sections, starting with  the most common misconceptions , in the hope that those people will see how hard my daughter and her team of dedicated volunteers work to make  Eco camping an enjoyable, educational and refreshing experience for everyone..

"Basically , just a couple of grassy fields."

Land is precious and needs to be constantly watched and maintained , anyone who thinks it's easy, I can assure you it's not, especially land which is going to be enjoyed by humans not animals. The work entails keeping to a year round timetable without a break, but a lot of laughs.

The soil needs nutrients, we don't use chemical sprays so our regime involves back breaking work, spreading animal compost across the fields which is all done by using wheel barrows and spades.  Have you ever tried traipsing across acres of wet mud? Luckily our volunteers have a sense of humor especially when welly boots get sucked down an abyss of soggy clay.

The grass must be allowed to flourish but if let to grow too long  it will develop into hard clumps, too short and the natural energy in grass will be depleted, allowing weeds to develop, so topping  must be done at just the right time, we don't always get it right but we do try.

To have the grass at its best, ready  for the camping season involves accurate timing and a lot of prayers to Apollo for the right combination of rain and sun.

 Although against our ethos we do understand that campers want to pitch tents in short grass, so we mow the perimeter of our 6 acres but leave the grass in the centre of our fields longer, allowing people (especially children) to enjoy nature, by walking through fresh grass and wild flowers.

The hedgerows and brambles are carefully clipped back at the bottom but left tall and bushy for the birds and wild life.


Camp fires are encouraged here, it's all part of the out door experience and does no harm to the soil, but all the fire pits have to be scrutinized and cleaned each time a camper leaves.

 Most Eco campers are careful but mistakes happen, bottle tops and beer cans,( it never ceases to amaze me just how peaceful nighttimes are with all that booze being consumed.) plastic sweet wrappers, tent pegs and wet wipes are the most common rubbish dropped in the grass and needs to be litter picked several times a day.

For all this hard work it's still a pleasurable and healthy existence, especially so when we see happy faces soaking in the atmosphere during their well earned holidays.

What some people may see on arrival is "two grassy fields",  To others  they are beautiful meadows of buttercups.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

COMMUNITY - By Kirsten Nance

What is it? Why does it matter? Who is it composed of? All of the aforementioned questions are ones which I have forever struggled to answer.  Growing up in a small town similar to Bude, my original idea of community was: a group of people one is surrounded by that is determined by birthplace. However, the dictionary defines a community as a "social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists” (dictionary.com). Growing up, my personality, thoughts, and ideas didn’t quite fall in line with those of my assigned community members. The only characteristic I shared was my race, and even that was debatable. I decided at a young age that when I was old enough, I would venture out to find communities of my own--niches, comfort zones--and through traveling, communities are exactly what I have found. 

Cerenity: The band of rebels… the nomads, the wanderers, the unique free spirits that live together under one roof (more specifically, a stable, a loft, a caravan, two vans, and a master bedroom, but you get the point). Cerenity gives light to the phrase “not all who wander are lost.” We are a way of life that is raw, untamed, and uncut. The consistent flow of volunteers coming through year-round creates a community that is a cultural melting pot; the silent, the strident, the ludicrous, and the reclusive. Together, we create balance.  

A community isn’t meant to be perfect, it is meant to have positive and negative aspects.  We eat, sleep, work, laugh, banter, and drink together. There are no secrets. There are disagreements, moments of tension, and occasional awkward moments, but without those things, true connection would not exist. Learning to communicate efficiently, and respecting how others communicate,  is arguably the most vital part of functioning harmoniously in a community. Communities teach us about ourselves: our strengths, or weaknesses. Some of us excel at organization, structure, multi-tasking, and order, while others excel at creativity, logic, ideas, and intuition. A few of us excel at all of the above. Community members learn from one another, too. During my stay, the volunteers and semi-permanent residents taught one another to cook properly, garden (though I still believe that takes more luck than skill), ride horses (Poppy is a pro), fix what was broken (for the most part), create animals from bottle tops, build up a higher alcohol tolerance, twerk and gracefully fall from a slack line. We have pushed each other to be the best versions ourselves. We have challenged one another physically, mentally, and socially. We have engaged in intense conversation, shared hilarious stories, and created stories to be told to future community members. We have rolled dice on the sidewalks of Bude while incoherently intoxicated, we have ran from invisible authorities and hid behind trees in the woods after refusing to pay the entrance fees to a nature park, we have laughed uncontrollably at the sight of others tripping, slipping, or running into various objects, we have watched others get aggressively thrown off of angry ponies, and we have even ran to the ocean at midnight to contemplate swimming naked in the freezing cold Atlantic Ocean. We have created memories that will forever be remembered. 

Some of us don’t mind being lost in the World that surrounds us, while others aren’t bothered  to be lost in our own minds. We range from impulsive, to patient… we are followers, and we are leaders: We all stand apart, while simultaneously standing together. As a part of travel culture, I consider a community to be a ‘home away from home.’ A place filled with people that (if necessary) will pick a person up and help him through his darkest hours, and also celebrate him on his brightest days. A few weeks spent in a community that is relatable, tolerant, and accepting, can make a difference that will last a lifetime. 

We move, we change, we grow, but the people we choose to let in, to impact our lives, to change us, those are the people who matter, those people are our community. 

Thursday 7 April 2016

A Yard for Donkeys

Hello Cerenety campers and blog readers. I’m Stu and I’ve been a volunteer at Cerenety for 6 months now. Mostly I’ve been helping in the house. As a keen carpenter I’m always looking for new things to build and make, and learning new skills along the way.  

After lots of talk about donkeys (and Ben whingeing for weeks), Celli arranged a trip to the donkey sanctuary in Liskard, who have a donkey fostering scheme. A donkey or two would be a brilliant addition to the campsite and farm, especially during the summer. Hopefully they would be able to help out and earn their keep. Everyone knows what good workers they are, and all the stimulation will be great for them. Basically, we really want donkeys!  


After a visit from Jenny (one of the team at the sanctuary) and a routine inspection, we were told that there are some things she wanted us to do to in preparation for donkeys. Firstly, they would need a place to shelter from the wind and rain. After learning that donkeys can’t be in the field all the time, we also need a fence around the stables, closing it off from the drive and the road. By changing the area outside the stables, we can make an excellent area for the donkeys and horses to roam safely around.   

The fencing would be the easy bit. We already had some post and rail leftovers from previous work. However, the amount of gates needed in specific size and length would be very expensive to buy brand new. As you all know this isn’t the Cerenety way of doing things! So we decided to build the gates ourselves, out of whatever we had lying around. Luckily we had recently decided to remove several walls from the house. This provided us with just about enough to build the gates. 

Having never built a gate before I took a walk up to the top field and measured the existing gates there. This gave me the height and distance of the spacings and design of the whole thing, giving me a rough idea of what I should do.   Feeling like I had a good idea of how to build the gates and how they would hinge, I measured the distances in between the posts on the fence. Having the sizes of the gates, starting with the smallest, I made a cutting list. I then checked I had enough wood, which luckily I did. 

I built the gates using lap joints, which I then screwed and glued together making sure they were as tight as possible. As they are made for outdoor use, I needed to make sure that the rain will not get into the joints. A good few coats of paint should help stop this too, and then they will last for a long time. Just need some hinges and we are nearly donkey-ready!  


For me, this was a great project which I thoroughly enjoyed doing. Bring on the next one! 


By Stu Humphreys

Friday 19 September 2014

Really and truly I shouldn't be writing the blog on our wonderful clay pizza oven. It was dreamt up, designed, created, built, wept over, laughed about and ultimately completed by our team of wonderful volunteers. I have however, benefited from its use and so I feel qualified to write this blog now that most of the participants have moved on.

So... where to start? Perhaps at the very beginning. November 2013 we attempted to build a clay oven. It failed. The reasons for this were

  1. We tried to build with clay in the rain
  2. We tried to build with clay in the rain

What we learned from this is 'Don't build with clay whilst it's raining'

July 2014 – Success!

The base was built from meticulously cleaned, recycled bricks from our recently demolished house. 

Clay was initially dug from the ground and an area created for the cleaning of the clay. This proved far too difficult and everyday deteriorated into clay fights or phallic modelling classes. Basically the dirt was too stoney. 

Finally Patrick and Ben arrived at the genius idea of digging the clay from the bottom of our wildlife pond. Galloping with excitement (not forgetting the obligatory arm swinging), they began. We all watched with baited breath and fingers crossed that the water wouldn't start to drain from our pond with each fresh extraction of clay.

Luckily after about a week of removal and eight dirty, wet, slightly disgruntled volunteers, we had enough clay, a full pond and a date to begin 'the build'.

We first laid some fire bricks, reclaimed from a local church which was undergoing refurbishment, onto the base. After this we then surreptitiously stole a small amount of sand from the beach to make a mold for the oven. From this we learned that even a small back pack of sand carried for 1.5 miles is a heavy load!

We covered the sand mold in wet newspaper and began the first layer of clay. The clay needed to be around 7 or 8 cm thick on the first layer, so we started to build around the bottom. Gradually the oven took shape and we let it dry in the British summer time.

Whist drying, Tano made a beautiful chimney from clay and wire to allow the smoke out. We then covered the oven in more recycled bricks, creating an arched doorway at the front, using more clay as mortar.

When this was dry, all the sand was scraped out and a fire was built to dry the clay and burn off any left over newspaper.

Finally the day arrived when we could eat pizza, but where was Stefano when we needed him? Never mind, with Spanish, French, Dutch, Australians and English we managed to light the fire and make siliceous pizza. This was our first attempt, so we ate at around 11:30pm by which time a few celebratory bevvies had been consumed and the pizza, although delicious, was definitely under appreciated.
Fast forward a month and we gain a genuine full blooded Sicilian (Australian). With vast amounts of pizza and cooking skills he lit the fire 2 hours in advance and we took up dough, tomato sauce and toppings for DIY pizza night. These were spectacular and cooked in around 4 minutes... Success!

A big thank you to everyone who helped on this project.

Tano, Patrick, Ben, Florian, Ryan, Arthur, Cedric, Thomas, Marleen, Jess, Coral, Kai, Jowan, Antoine, Fernando, Nathan, Anna, Alex, Simon, Sara and Glenn Candy.

And a huge special thank you to Ade and Sam for helping so much with the roof of the oven and supplying the delicious toppings of our 3rd pizza night.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Cerenety's Shit Hot Chilli Sauce


30 chillis
5 bell peppers
6 onions
6 tomatoes
6 sun dried tomatoes
2 bulbs garlic
Sun dried tomato oil
Lime juice and flesh one lime
Lime zest
Tomato pure
70g dark chocolate

Thank you Patrick x

Thursday 26 June 2014

A Wander Down the Garden Path

Being first time gardeners, we have had quite a lot to learn as of late.
Being newly responsible for the gardening last winter, we started preparing the patch for the coming season. After much googling, asking questions, discussions and numerous cups of tea, we finally came up with a plan methodically scribbled on the back of a brown envelope. 
So we got to it, removing all of last seasons plants, re-planting things that shouldn't have been in the veggie patch and taking out chunks of carpet and plastic from under the earth. We had some help from the lovely Alice, on recommending techniques from her permaculture course and some Bude Haven work experience boys with preparing the ground. We covered the entire patch with manure, nettles, seaweed and mulch and let it rot down over the winter months.

When the time came, we raked off the top layer of mulch, dug the earth over and divided the patch up into vegetable beds. We spent a lot of time deliberating about what we would plant and the size and layout of the garden. Eventually, we had to go with what worked in the space available to us so as to maximise our growing potential. To do this we needed to plant vegetables which would prolong our growing season, that were easily harvested by everyone throughout the camping season, ones that could be preserved over winter and also make sure we planted everybody's favourites. We also needed to choose varieties of species that were easy to grow and would be successful despite our limited experience.

Tomatoes were a definite... everybody loves tomatoes, they are 10. We also chose spinach, which could be planted and harvested in the poly-tunnel over winter and then outside during the summer. Others included broccoli, garlic, onions, leeks, courgettes, peppers, chillies, lettuce, broad beans, mange touts, peas, corn, parsnips, carrots, pumpkins, squash, French beans, potatoes, strawberries and of course, Jerusalem artichokes. We also love our herbs, so we decided to grow a fairly large herb garden, some of which were from seed, some were given to us by our lovely neighbours and others we had from last year.
We then had to decide where to plant everything. Brassicas, such as broccoli and spinach should be planted in the same bed, so that they the crops could be rotated next year to prevent potential disease and lack of soil nutrition. From our experience over winter of digging up hundreds of Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes from all over the vegetable patch, we decided to make a separate area for these. The Jerusalem artichokes we planted far away at the top of the camping field next to our cattle trailer shelter, these also provide a great wind break during some of the British summer. Mum found a genius and space saving technique for growing in a box, so we tried this out in front of our poly-tunnel and in our forest garden, which included two different varieties of potato. After these veg were placed we generally tried to keep similar varieties together for convenience.

Throughout spring we planted up our seeds in the poly-tunnel, timing it from our fantastic month by month gardening book bought for us by Ben South. Our books now a little faded and watermarked from constant use with the odd added splatter of chicken poo. None of us expected the shear level of excitement when our seeds started to germinate and our veggies began to take shape. With a lot of re-potting, thinning and love, we could eventually plant them out into our poly-tunnel and outside beds as the weather improved.
We wanted our vegetables to be organic but also to grow strong and healthy, we therefore spent a lot of time on google, researching natural fertilisers, compost and pesticides. We made nettle tea fertiliser by collecting some of the abundant stinging nettles in the area and soaking them in water, usable after 4 days. We love to add this to our tomatoes and they are growing so well that we are now over run with tomato plants. Nettles are nitrogen fixing, which means they make the present nitrogen in the soil available to use by the plants. We therefore used it on all of our plants that love nitrogen, such as tomatoes, peppers, corn and chillies. We also found that coffee grounds are a great organic fertiliser. Luckily we drink a lot of coffee, so this was always in abundance and we add it to our veg every few days and then water it in. It doesn't seem to be hindering the growth, so we are just going to continue with that and hope for the best.

Early in the season one particular variety of lettuce seemed to be hosting some kind of bug. We therefore resumed our google searching and found a recipe for organic pesticide. This involved citrus rinds, biodegradable soap and water, with which we then sprayed the leaves. This was the most organic recipe we could find using the ingredients we had at hand, and it seemed to work well. Luckily none of us are too fussy about a few bugs in our lettuce. 

We found some half filled compost bins in amongst the nettles at the back of the poly-tunnel that needed some attention. We dug them out, cut back the undergrowth, took out the plastic and started to turn them over to add air and
so that they would produce enough heat to compost down. We then proceeded to collect all of our un-cooked kitchen scraps and add them to one of the buckets each day. It was incredible how quickly this became beautiful compost, perfect for growing our new veg.

From the advice gleaned from many people we discovered that the most common mistake gardeners make is to overcrowd there seedlings when planting out so they do not have space to grow well and produce a good yield. We can understand how tempting this is, as we didn't want to sacrifice any of our well loved seedlings during the planting process. We therefore made a separate veg bed next to our picnic area where all of the 'left-overs' could be planted for us and campers to help themselves. We have broad beans, some herbs, leeks, tomatoes, a bay tree, a fig tree, squash, pumpkins and currents up here. It's a little more wild but seems to be producing well. We also decided to make a pea roof from hanging baskets for the shelter in front of our caravan cafe. These seem to be doing ok, although they need a fair amount of attention, but now we are able to sit and eat our lunch while picking peas from the roof.


The season isn't over yet, and there is still a lot to do. It seems weeds and grass love to grow in June, so we spend a lot of our time pulling that up at the moment. We also seem to be constantly potting up tomatoes as we got a little excited when planting the seeds and now we have hundreds of tomato plants. Anyone visiting is obliged to take away at least two with them. It's been a big learning curve, growing our own veg, and although we feel we've done well this year, there are things that we could change in the future. The proof is in the pudding though, so lets see what food we'll be eating come August.