Rolling along the English laneways aboard our bus allows for great contemplation if you can ignore the clang of saucepans and occasional run in with oncoming tractors. The slow pace of our Ldv minibus suits me just fine and today is no different. The morning eases by and we start to follow the coastline of south-western England.
Today seems fresher than normal with an expected high of just 14 degrees. I wonder what the hills back home in Australia are whipping up for the locals. It’s about this time on the farm I’d harvest the first brassicas, broad beans and attack the brussel sprouts.
I have managed to sneak some herb pots onto the bus and two bowls of salad greens but space is sparse. Adorning the kitchen bench the plants take prime position for sun and attention alongside the ever-fermenting vat of kombucha.
Gardening seems to have sunk its energetic teeth into my soul long ago so I am struggling to come to terms with buying all our food now. It has become my traveling ethical dilemma – buying food and fuel to allow for our adventures. I used to grow so much food for the family but now I rely on the efforts and ethics of others.
As a small cafe looms in the distance against a backdrop of stark green hills and grey skyline, I reach for my camera and jacket knowing we will stop. My heart quickens a little sensing something new. I can’t see over the edge completely but know its the sea below by the amount of spray and lack of landform towards the horizontal horizon. Birds appear to be flying out of a cliff face as they fight against the windy flows. I see the words ‘Hells Gate Cafe’ on the side of a white building and wonder who named such a place? It looks so clean and peaceful.
Along with the inhabitants of nine other cars and caravans we walk across a sea of wild flowers to see what the fuss is about. As my family and I approach what feels like the edge of the world we feel the full force of the Atlantic Ocean. The blow rises against the steep gradient of the cliffs, channelled by the shape of the land. The beauty of these cliffs surprise me. A rare, untouched piece of paradise, inaccessible to most where the fragile balance of life is ever-present. I begin to understand the name ‘Hells Gate’.
I feel alive here, tingling with adrenalin as I sway on the edge of certain death, watching razorbills and herring gulls protecting and feeding their chicks. Their nests perched precariously on small ledges facing the blows of mother earths’ breath.
I watch my daughters reach for their binoculars as we get closer and closer to the limit of safety. The water draws you in, the flowers mask the scent of fear and the binoculars alter your perception of distance. My heart is pumping.
Placing my hand on Nakeela and Jays shoulder I point out the dangers of the area and leave them to explore at their own pace. Its moments like these I just have to cut the umbilical cord and allow them the freedom to be responsible for their own fate ( and death). I am constantly accessing the appropriate level of parenting. Sometimes I annoy myself with my own nagging voice. Learning when to let go is just as much about my growth as it is about their personal development. I fight the urge to stay by their side.
There is no climbing here unless you have a death wish. No barriers or fences. I am certain the girls are feeling the confrontation of life and deaths’ struggle here just as much as I am. I have forgotten about the mess in the bus from packing in a hurry. There is no insistent demands for tired people to go to bed or clean their food plates. Just body rocking winds and the cries of baby gulls waiting for their food. The parallel comparison between man and animal, food and parental responsibilities are profound.
(bird photos courtesy of the Uk National Trust site)
The family divides to follow their own interests and I sit to meditate. Rock and water battle beneath like a metaphor for my own journey at the moment and I play out in my mind’s eye the effects of opposing forces within the family that are occurring. New grounds and new buses mean new power plays, new emotions and stresses that have not been present for many years. We live so closely together and there has been many changes since selling up and hitting the global circuit. It becomes evident that the ego within me is still waiting to burst forth and all four of us need time and space to grow and develop our spiritual grace.
Hopefully things will begin to slow again soon as we have almost completed the bus transformation and the last two house sits are almost over. Life on the road is waiting for us and we are ready – impatient in fact.
Buckling up we ready ourselves and adjust the saucepans one last time before starting the engine. Nothing. My husband tries again. The ‘Gentle Revolution’ wants to start but there seems to be no ignition of fuel. He coughs and farts, releasing white swirls of smoke that join the Atlantic winds. I say a silent apology to mother earth and unbuckle the seatbelt. My husband says white smoke is unburnt diesel and a few fuck words.
All I can think is – this will test the dynamics again and the bank balance.
As the bus sits silent in the car park I smile knowing the cliffs are waiting like they have been for thousands of years, combating the elements in silent grace. I relax the tension from my nervous shoulders and smile, knowing we are just where we need to be for the moment – Hells Gate.