It’s annual, summer camping trip time again, which means we’ve stuffed the van full of bikes, surf board and camping equipment. Our destination this trip was a half acre field 10 minutes walk outside St. Davids, Wales. Here, our host has refurbished a shepherd’s hut into a basic, one room beach cabin. We’ll be pitching tents in the yard, enjoying the sea breezes, rocky shores, and maybe even some surfing.
Not fancying a swim under today’s gray skies, I am perched on the northern side of the rocky point of St. David’s beach, carefully sat between jutting slabs, watching the turquoise waters roll into a quiet bay. On the southern side, there’s a life-guarded beach and a few hundred people, including Dani, Brenda, and Laura, doing their best to catch some of the mini-surf.
We are five this trip: Brendan, a Scottish architect whose cousin owns the cabin and field where we’re staying, Dani, his warm-skinned and warm-hearted actress girlfriend, Laura, an outdoorsy now-solicitor (amidst some career questions) with a sunny disposition, Will who said he’d like to surf the break this side but isn’t feeling well and is no where to be seen, and me of course. All in all, an extremely hospitable and jolly crew. There’s talk of veggie chilli, beer, and games tonight!
We drove about 6 hours last night, arriving just before 2 am in a dark field, full of shadows cast by an enormous, silvery moon. Eyelids falling, we set up camp and turned in exhausted. Poor Will had trouble getting to sleep. Just as we both nodded off, I suddenly felt my hip digging into something hard. I turned over, only to end up with my bum undoubtedly on the ground. Our lovely air mattress had sprung a leak. One freezing trip to the car later, I was noisily re-pumping the mattress in the cold, silent night, much to our neighbour’s dismay, I’m sure. But immediately upon pausing, a foreign hissing told us something was still amiss. My belt, carelessly discarded too close to tender mattress flesh had punctured the wall. Great. Without any tape or glue, we pumped it full and resigned ourselves to waking up on the ground shortly.
It wasn’t so bad really. The field’s grassy mane made a firm but fine bed and I awoke with no pains. Eating breakfast and chatting with our host in the morning, all was soon forgotten.
Tom is Brendan’s cousin, one of those tall, lanky Englishmen with a straight triangle of a nose and perfect accent. But he is also tan and has workman’s hands and told us excitedly of his new book-and-bar in Leipzig, where apparently property is super cheap so opportunities for a young entrepreneur abound. He told us how the cabin he rebuilt from the ground up was rebuilt from the ground up and transported to the field down narrow, hedge-rowed lanes by a giant lorry that could not deposit it on the field as it couldn’t get down the drive. Much rain, many tears, and hours of backed up traffic later, a solution involving log rollers and a neighbour’s tractor was found. He said he hopes to never move it again.
The little shed is lovely – one room of about 8′ x 15′, at one end a simple kitchen with running water and a camp stove, a platform bed at the other, and a table with chairs with a wood stove for company in between. It has simple white walls and wooden shelves, table tops and drawers. There’s an outhouse around the corner and a shower at the back. He rents the land for £300 a year and spent every day for 3 months rebuilding the cabin and fitting it out.
I love the punk rock ethos of “get shit done” attitude. You want your own place? Just do build it.
Wales seems like a place where a lot of people think this way. I’ve been looking into taking the next step with my own business and manufacturing my North River product line. The research has actually led me to Wales where I’ve found several sewing manufacturers. Feels like there is possibility here.
I like the idea of Tom’s Leipzig too, a city that is empty except for the visionaries.
I wish I could do something like this too. I could. I will. But where?