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” ( 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