After our initial visit to Bude when we were bowled over by the welcome we received and with the uniquely beautiful local landscape, we couldn’t wait to go back up to North Cornwall to unearth some more stories.
In collaboration with the Bude Climate Partnership, we have been tasked with creating resources to help the community explore the area’s heritage, culture and environment, and understand the impacts of climate change here. We spent much time researching community initiatives and identifying contacts who might have stories to share and have since spent an inspiring and thought provoking few months with people in and around Bude.
We returned to the Sea Pool to interview Nicky and Billy, two regular swimmers and volunteers who hold this iconic spot very dear. They spoke passionately about how it had become a life saver for many people, especially during the pandemic – a place of comfort, consolation and connection. It became clear that the volunteers who care for the pool represented a shining beacon of a resilient and committed community, something we heard many times from other initiatives in our visits to Bude and which bodes well for the future.
Sue Read, a local artist and another keen swimmer, has a life- long connection to Bude and her spirit is most definitely embedded in the local coastline where she creates her dramatic and colourful seascapes. Sat in her studio on the family farm, surrounded by her art, we heard about the changes she has witnessed to the coastline, her art, her love of nature, and her focus on the tiny details around her that bring balance into her life.
There’s a quiet food revolution emerging in Bude so it was exciting to talk with Alex and visit his vibrant Electric Bakery. Alex is at the forefront of a movement to address food security in the area with his 3-mile loaf using grain grown, milled, baked and sold within 3 miles. He has created another supportive and committed community around his enterprise and is exploring healthier and more sustainable ways of eating. If you are ever in Bude you must drop by and sample his sourdough… sublime!
We wanted a young person’s voice to be part of our collection and provide a starting point for intergenerational conversations about the future, the value of nature and climate anxiety. We were very excited when we were passed Lochy’s details, and when it came to interviewing him, we were absolutely blown away. Lochy, a 16 year old local surfer, spoke eloquently and honestly about how it feels to be young in Bude and the worries that his generation are feeling about their futures. At this time of uncertainty Lochy shared how he interacts with the natural world around him to maintain his wellbeing and what small acts he is undertaking to make a difference in the world. A truly inspiring young man!
As the climate continues to change, we are becoming more vunerable to flood events and protecting Bude from floods is an ongoing challenge. As well as remembering past flooding such as those that hit Bude in 1993, Simon has spent many years, as he puts it, “looking into rivers” through his work with the Westcountry Rivers Trust. Perched by the river Strat, we were infected by Simon’s passion for the local landscape, rivers and measuring things! Learning about the things people can do to help improve our landscape, soil and reduce flooding, both big and small, left us feeling hopeful.
On our visits to Bude we were keenly aware of the diversity of the landscape that surrounded the town. Walking along the canal with Hilary, we learnt about the myriad of individual ecosystems existing here, ranging from salt marshes, to rockpools to woodland to sand dunes. Hilary has spent her life absorbed in the natural world and as a fantastic wildlife photographer, was only too happy to contribute some of her wonderful photographs to the project. Never before have we been so spoilt for choice for images to accompany a digital story!
As Summer turned to Autumn we were delighted to be invited to Jan’s home and witness his light touch way of living on the planet. With a life-long commitment to reuse and repurpose he has created a beautiful home from what most people would normally throw away, heating it with renewable energy as well as nurturing the natural world around him. We might not all be able to aspire to these heights of self sufficiency, but listening to Jan certainly made us think about how we live and left us feeling inspired.
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who shared with us and made us so welcome. Bude’s a very special place and we’ve loved getting to know it better through the stories of those who know it best.
We are now putting the finishing touches to these digital stories and accompanying resources, which we’re looking forward to delivering to Bude to share far and wide. By building a better understanding of our past, we can encourage and develop new thoughts about our future. The more we understand what we are facing and talk it through with each other, the more we will feel empowered to take the actions necessary to futureproof thriving, resilient communities and a healthier planet for everyone.