After firewalking (she says nonchalantly – of more later) we ate by candlelight (see pic) wholefood vegetarian dishes we had bought to share: tofu, sprouts and potato salads, hummus, homebaked spelt loaves and a coconut-apple dish to round off the feast.
In a forgotten farm lane in the heart of Bristol city, the Larch barn (our home for seven hours) made eco-living a reality. Powered solely by solar panels on a grey-cloudy day, the sudden departure of electricity plunged us would-be firewalkers into dramatic darkness.
The candles sent shadows flying to the wooden eaves.
The fire we had built earlier in the rare November light was burning brightly in the winter night. Waiting.
We had prepared: voiced some fears (and did not exhaust my list). It was striking to hear others express sometimes identical anxieties – I was not alone when gripped by irrational thoughts.
Sumir, our firewalking teacher, guided our 12-strong group like a gentle young father. Firewalking four years ago in California had been the catalyst for jacking in a sensible career to follow his dream of making music.
I am slightly group-averse but something about facing this fire-filled experience broke through my usual social barriers. We stood on the cold grass in our bare feet.
Samir raked the fire so the embers glowed.
The first person crossed the red-hot dust and I followed as if caught in her eddy.
I walked, as instructed, at my normal pace. I was crunching on hot embers but it did not hurt – no minor blisters or any ill after-effects. I accepted and gave hugs to my fellow firewalkers. We crossed and recrossed the embers several times. It was exhilarating.
And of course I had to write about it.
Is it OK to boast?