Part one – THE BRITISH ISLES ADVENTURE (part of a four month, round the world adventure).
The time arrived for us to board our Qantas flight from Brisbane, Australia, to London, UK, on Tuesday 12th of July. We prepared, mentally, for the 30 hour trip, via Singapore, then changing to Finnair, through Helsinki, Finland and on to Heathrow. The movie marathon was fun, however, now I can’t remember a single movie, except a wonderful documentary on Finland’s huge Bilberry (Blueberry) industry. Note to self – the Bilberry juice is to die for.
Julz and I arrived into Heathrow and with our four (4) – yes, that’s correct, four backpacks, we hoist onto the “tube” and head for our Air BnB hosts home in South Ealing. Paul is our host and he is so trustworthy. He is at work, however, leaves the key for us to shower and relax, before heading out to visit the local districts shops.
Julz uncovers some new clothes (eeeek!) and then we uncover Marks & Spencer’s food hall. This must have been invented for weary travelers, like us. We stocked up on fruit and veggies, along with some healthy dinner to cook at Pauls home. We are very happy.
Awake early (off by 5.30am) to catch two trains to the Luton airport for our flight to Inverness, Scotland, which left around 9.30am. Good thing we caught the train, as the car traffic was a car park for many miles (or so it looked).
We arrived in Inverness and looked around the city. A very historic city, lovely old architecture of stone buildings and homes. We waited for a bus to take us to Forres, spoke for ages to a local Scottish lady, willing to impart her knowledge on every topic you could imagine. Is it possible she spoke more than me? An hour after the bus was meant to leave (it breaks down regularly we were told), we departed on a healthy bus to the beautiful town of Forres. We dropped off our backpacks and met our new Air BnB host, Nicole, who proceeded to give us a guided tour of her amazing backyard garden. We decided to head off the next day to walk around Forres and see the local sites. These included seeing an ancient carved stone, Sueno’s Stone, a 6.5 metre high (21 ft) Picto-Scottish/Celtic created in the 9th Century. Just up the road from that stone is a plaque in memory of the Witches Stone. Read the plaque image below.
The rain had set in for the day, so we decided to continue our walk with rain jackets on. The flowers in the gardens are striking. All through Inverness and Forres, the coloured flowers look extraordinary at this time of year (possibly all year long). After retiring back to Nicole’s home, after a huge day exploring, we crashed and slept for a good 12 hours straight.
Refreshed and ready to get to, our main reason for bring in Forres in the first place, Findhorn Foundation College –
We had only heard about Findhorn from our friend, Peter Watson, who had shared some of their background at a regular “meet up” group in Brisbane. We were talking about Eco Villages and other successful ways people have discovered how to grow food, but also how to grow people in community. We researched the “back story” and it felt right to go and see firsthand this 50+years community and what makes it tick, first hand. So here we are, rocking up in a taxi, all four backpacks between us, at The old hotel, now college, ready to experience, “EXPERIENCE WEEK”.
We walked into the foyer and no-one greeted us. We looked at each other and Julz approached the reception desk, however, saw the chap behind his alcove. People were bustling around and no one seemed to notice us, even though we were packed to the eyeballs. It was only awkward for a few minutes (thoughts about “why are we here again”?, shooting a glance between Julz and my eyes).
All that changed when the chap behind reception, shot up and showed us a space to relieve us of our backpacks. He then pointed for us to go upstairs to registration and meet our “Focalisers” (a new, funky name for “Facilitators”). We meet Niels, who now lives at Findhorn, he takes us on a whirlwind tour of the four floors of the Findhorn College and shows us our bedroom, where we stay for the next seven nights. We settle in and visit the huge lounging area, where we start to meet a few newbies also attending “EXPERIENCE WEEK” with us. There is also a large contingency of Portugese speaking, Brazilians, who are also doing their own “Experience Week”. There is quite a buzz in the place as many newbies are getting aquatinted, unofficially, with each other. Lunch is buffet style Vegetarian, which makes us very happy, all week long.
We finally meet all of our ten members of our group, plus the two Focalisers. We are advised that another person will join us on Sunday, making the group 11.
We sit in a circle and start by introducing ourselves, with a short story of how we all came to hear about Findhorn Foundation. As we went around the group, it started to dawn on us how quite global our group was. In our group, we meet Robert, from Scotland, John from New Zealand, Beat from Switzerland, Pam from Houston, Texas, Juli from Austria/Florida, Franceska from Switzerland, Corinne from Byron Bay, Australia, Margreta from Switzerland and Julz and I. Joining us on Sunday is Regina from Brazil. Our Focalisers are Niels from Denmark and Ilsamarie from Germany.
And so our experience began.