‘I felt like I’d arrived in a parallel reality when I got to Tinkers Bubble. I couldn’t believe anyone in Britain lived like this’
Tinkers Bubble will stay lodged in my memory for ever. When I recall it, I can smell the grass. It’s unique among low-impact, ecological communities around the UK in being almost entirely free of fossil fuel. They occasionally use paraffin lamps in winter, but all the work they do, they do manually. Haymaking takes place over a couple of days in June or July. I was spending a week there, volunteering and taking photographs, so I joined in.
We got up early each day, at about 4.30am, and worked until about 12, when we’d stop for lunch under a tree: bread, cheese, some cider. It is a beautiful bit of countryside, about a 20-minute walk from the nearest village, Stoke-sub-Hamdon in Somerset. And it was amazing to work in that ancient way, scything, using a pitchfork to turn the hay. You pick up a bundle and turn it in the air and watch it fall down. What made it really special was that we were doing it for Samson, the shire horse in the picture – it was all for his winter feed.