FIG TREE DIARIES

RORY SPOWERS

Like many of us, my life to date has felt like a series of chapters, spanning a number of paths and locations, from cooking to writing, campaigning, film making, ecological education and eco-tourism.

Although I lived most of my early life in and around London, the last fifteen years have taken me to live in remote rural Wales, south Sri Lanka and now Ibiza, where I am lucky enough to live in an old rented finca on top of a windy hill in the north. (According to some, this is the highest house on the island, earning me the dubious title of ‘highest man in Ibiza’, an accolade that almost anyone would find hard to live up to.)

Fig Tree 01.04.15

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the property is a magnificent fig tree, under whose perfectly proportioned dome of splaying skeletal branches, I am able to indulge myself, my family and friends, in long, late Mediterranean lunches. It is also a spot suitable for solitary contemplation and has been the inspiration behind this blog, combining my passions for Ecology, Film, Food, Spirit and Travel under one umbrella.

After cycling through Africa on the three-seater trandem used by The Goodies on BBC TV in the 1970s at the age of 22, I guess my career path was never set to be too conventional. This journey forever changed my perspective of the world and was the catalyst for the many years spent since working as an environmental writer, activist and filmmaker. In the early 1990s, I wrote my first book about the Africa trip, Three Men on a Bike, reviewed as a ‘rip-snorting read’ by Loaded, then made a film with Bill Oddie (and the trandem) about ecological issues threatening the River Ganges. Since neither of these projects proved to be too lucrative, my embryonic cooking career kicked off, most notably at The River Café in Hammersmith, under the tutelage of the indomitable Rose Gray, who was a mentor and inspiration to me for the rest of her life.

My other mentor from this period was the environmental writer and filmmaker Herbie Girardet, although our time working together came to an abrupt end when I accidentally won a competition in The Independent newspaper that led to me spending six months walking the length of India, pursuing a spiritual quest that was consuming my life at the time.

Although the book I wrote about this journey, Full Moon at Sunset, has yet to find a publisher, it led to a different project commissioned by Canongate – Rising Tides, a critically acclaimed history of ecological thought, compared to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Naomi Klein’s No Logo as ‘a wake-up call to action’.

webofhope

This in turn led to founding The Web of Hope, the word’s first on-line educational database of best practice role model solutions for sustainable lifestyles, social justice and positive change, since absorbed by Sustainapedia.

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After many years spent writing and speaking about such issues, and attempts to ‘live the good life’ on a wild Welsh hillside with my Caribbean wife and our two small children, I moved to Sri Lanka in 2004, to try and finally ‘walk the talk’. Some months later, our world was forever rocked by the Indian Ocean tsunami, followed by the re-eruption of civil war. Along with the purchase of a 60-acre abandoned tea estate and the subsequent evolution of the Samakanda ecological project, this period became the subject of my last book, A Year in Green Tea and Tuk Tuks, commended by Zac Goldsmith and Eden Project founder Tim Smit.

During the seemingly inevitable mid-life crisis that ensued, I started 999 It’s Time, a national campaign designed to motivate people to take a series of positive actions on 09.09.09 and supported by Ambassadors such as TV champion of ‘real food’ Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Bruce Parry of BBC Tribe, Amazon and Arctic fame.

Two years later, I found myself moving to Ibiza to work with Bruce as a writer on his independent feature length documentary called Quest. I became so enchanted with Ibiza that the island has since become home, not just for me, but also for my now ex-wife and our kids.

The Ibiza chapter has since expanded, from working with Mangu TV to promote their documentary Neurons to Nirvana, to being the inaugural chef for the re-opening of the chiringuito on Tago Mago private island off the north-east of Ibiza in the summer of 2013.

Since 2015, I have been working as Creative Director of the Tyringham Initiative, a world class think-tank and incubator for new paradigm projects.