After the first week of the Millionth Tree Lecture Tour, I had a day off from public talks on Sunday 15th April. I stayed with some good friends and long-time Trees for Life supporters, Geoff and Lisa Sharp, at their farmhouse home in Somerset, which dates from the 14th century. It was a very nice place to rest and relax, being peaceful and secluded out in the country, with a view to the famous Tor at Glastonbury in the distance.
Because Geoff is a board member of Trees for Life, we did have some work-related discussions, and on the Monday I had two talks to give. The first was to a company based in Bristol that we’ve taken on to do some fundraising for us, and I spent an hour and a half giving a presentation to some of their staff about our work. Then, in the evening I gave a public talk in Bath.
The next day I left Somerset during an intense hailstorm, with hailstones about quarter of inch in diameter hammering on the car as I drove off. It proved to be a typical April day, with alternating periods of blue sky and brilliant sunshine interspersed with very heavy showers of rain. It did make for some spectacular skies however, sometimes with one half being and the other half black with ominous clouds. It also meant there was a series of beautiful rainbows throughout the day.
I was heading to Exeter, where I stayed for two nights with Adam Griffin, an old friend and kindred spirit whom I hadn’t seen for about 12 years. Adam used to come and volunteer with Trees for Life, and we trained him up to lead our volunteer groups, but in 1999 he co-founded the conservation charity Moor Trees, with the specific aim of doing similar work to Trees for Life – forest restoration – on Dartmoor, and he hadn’t been back to Scotland since then. I’m a patron of Moor Trees, and Adam is one of their trustees, so it was good to catch up, both with him personally and about the work of Moor Trees itself – one evening I had a walk in a nearby Nature Reserve with Adam and his fellow trustees.
The first night I gave a talk at Schumacher College in Totnes, and it proved to be the best attended lecture so far on the tour, with over 60 people at it. The audience included quite a few people that I knew, including some who have been on Trees for Life volunteer weeks, and I was introduced by Jonathan Dawson, who lived at Findhorn for over 10 years and is now Head of Economics at Schumacher College – it was good to see him again. The talk was also filmed, and my thanks to Constantin Dumba for that, and also for getting it online so quickly.
Alan Watson Featherstone’s lecture at Schumacher College:
The next day I drove on to Cornwall – my first time there – and to the Eden Project, where I was scheduled to give two talks, one at 12 noon and the other at 3 pm. The Eden Project is a very successful and inspiring initiative, providing a hands on practical experience of different ecosystems from other parts of the world. Two huge clusters of interconnected geodesic domes house biomes – one contains tropical rainforest plants and trees, while the other houses Mediterranean-type vegetation.
There were a lot of visitors at the site that day but unfortunately only small numbers came to my talks. However, those that did attend them were very enthusiastic and positive, including one of the staff from the Eden project itself. In between the lectures I managed a quick visit to the tropical rainforest biome, but didn’t have time to look inside the other one. The Eden Project has been open for just over 10 years, but the trees and palms in the rainforest biome look like they’ve been there for decades or longer – it really does look like a tropical rainforest when walking through it.
The next day (Thursday) I drove on to Brighton to give another talk, and was delighted to meet another old friend there – Andreas Kornevall. Andreas single-handedly runs the Earth Restoration Service, a charity I helped to found, and which I’m still a trustee of. It does excellent work, particularly in terms of getting schools involved in growing trees, and Andreas and I had a great catch-up chat after the lecture – it had been a few years since we last met up.
The talk in Brighton was the 5th I had given in the course of 4 days so I’m really into the rhythm of the tour now, and am ready for the final week of lectures … to be continued in the next blog!