Cocaine in the Commons?


“Look Chris, it’s a well-known fact that the loos in the Houses of Parliament have traces of cocaine on them… they’re all at it!”

Ahh, another justification for crime!

A drug dealer’s rationale is that they’re doing people a favour… by providing a service. Burglars reason that the householder’s insurance covered their crime. And practically everybody cites the bankers as giving them a green light to do something criminal. So, reflecting this back, encouraging people to acknowledge and understand their actions, sometimes feels like a daily uphill struggle.

A few weeks ago, I called into our local garage. After filling up the van, I went in to pay and the manager caught me.

“Hello Matey, had one of your community lads in earlier, can you spare a minute? Come and have look at our CCTV.”

There was Robbo on the screen (he’s about my age and been with us for a couple of months) carefully folding a copy of The Sun newspaper into the Daily Mirror and only paying for the top copy!

This felt awkward. It was.

“We’re not making a thing of this, you know not pressing charges, but thought you would like to know.” Yes, I did want to know but, ho hum, how best to reflect this back to our criminal mastermind?

Later, I gave Robbo a lift down to the bus stop, with a surprise detour, straight to the garage. Where we sat (rather uncomfortably) in the van while I explained that I wanted him to go in and apologise…

After suggesting I could “F@#k off”, he proceeded to enlighten me on his complete innocence. So, I enlightened him on the CCTV footage and we agreed to go in together.

Robbo and I stood at the counter. Robbo said he was very sorry and it had all been a bit of a misunderstanding then, casual as you like, he turned to leave. “Hang on,” I said, “you need to pay for the paper.”

Robbo replied that he wasn’t paying for a shit comic like that.

By this time, I was rather regretting the whole idea, customers were backing up and unhelpfully my face was now bright red. I stood my ground.

Robbo stared at me, then at the lengthening queue behind us, and with a grunt put some coins on the counter.

As we left I smiled at a few people who seemed to want to know me. I was finally at the door and about to breathe a sigh of relief… when Robbo shouted back to our audience, “He asked me to do it.”

I thought he might like to walk to the bus stop.


This time next week Tony will be starting his trek across Costa Rica for LandWorks.

With just a few pounds to go until he reaches his target of £4000 there is still time to sponsor Tony


I feel a bit ashamed to be honest, but I’ve been really looking at myself, it is me saying yeah I take responsibility.” Bob, January 2018

There is a pathway of change at LandWorks. Part of this journey is understanding that change is unlikely to occur until an offender takes responsibility for their past actions and lifestyle.

This can take time. It needs a trusting supportive environment.

Such an environment is almost the exact opposite of most current prison conditions in Britain.

In 1990, the then Director General of the Prison Service said: “The removal of overcrowding is, in my view, an indispensable pre-condition of sustained and universal improvement in prison conditions.”

Since 1990 the prison population has doubled from 42,000 to around 85,000 today.

Not surprising, then, when today’s headline news informs us of the horrendous conditions in Britain’s prisons.

Daily at LandWorks the lads tell us of a prison struggling to cope, as suicides, self-harm, drugs and violence all increase.

Prison staff morale and staff numbers are nationally very low.

So, perhaps before we can have meaningful change in the prison system, society needs to do the same as Bob…. take responsibility.

At present it seems we are trying to build our way out of the overcrowding problem.

However, the construction programme currently underway will not relieve pressure until around 2022 and based on projected prison population figures we will then need to embark on another prison building programme in 2026.

The question is surely more fundamental…

We need to rethink who goes to prison, and for how long?

“I’m not going back to prison; LandWorks has helped me change my life. I should have come here and not been sent to prison.” Bob, January 2018



The New Year often brings a flurry of new ideas and a rejuvenated enthusiasm.

A helpful balance to the difficulties and frustrations others have experienced over the Christmas period.

“Alright Chris I got this amazing idea, I’ve been thinking about it every day, 24/7 since Christmas, you’ll love it.”

I’m sure I will, but we’ve only been open a few minutes…

We like an idea at LandWorks. We love a project, learn by doing, encourage responsibility and providing its legal, we do our best to support it.

“All I need, is a branch and maybe some twigs.”

Hmmm, this does sounds relatively straightforward, which is fortunate because we’re just a tad busy…

A bit short staffed, first day back, rather a lot going on… Everything seemingly needs to be dealt with now and ohhh here’s the postie, laden down with Christmas quizzes to be marked (remember to get yours sent in).

I give Eric the go ahead to begin brushwood foraging, at the same time I’m trying to work out why the kettle isn’t working.

“I’ll get the chainsaw.”

What! … No no no. No chainsaws, “Just use a hand saw!” I shout, whist grabbing my buzzing mobile. Who says men can’t multitask?

Surprisingly (it’s only 8.50am) a visitor appears at the door!

Our caller would like to sponsor Tony Everett’s walk across South America. Tony is undertaking an amazing challenge, plus raising money for LandWorks. Like I say we love to support an idea. Tony sets off on February 14thso please do sponsor him here.

Sarah calmly sorts out the sponsorship request and quizzes. Martin, magically produces boiling water by simply pushing a plug into a socket. Monika disappears with a team of men to shift compost onto the veg beds.

Probably best if I just show our visitor around LandWorks.

I open the door to find Eric resplendent in orange protective clothing.

“Alright Chris, where’s the chainsaw?”

I vaguely wonder if Tony would like some company.



A frosty start, wisps of wood smoke and the tip tap of hammers a hammering. The creative festive hum is only occasionally punctuated by a distressing wailing from the wood workshop as Graham attempts a Christmas song.

Our Christmas stall (at the field gate) is bursting with Yuletide gifts, all made by LandWorks. I would like to say crafted by elves or even Santa’s little helpers but the lads explained, in less than festive terms, that they were not any of the above or pixies…err No.

I stick my head into the Art Dept. (aka the porta cabin), it’s warm from the recent pottery firings. Jarvis looks up from his handywork. He fixes me with a steely eye, simultaneously holding up a tiny cute pine cone hedgehog and laughs… “I was armed and did banks…now look at me!”

The stall is attracting many customers (you should come over), some people just like the whole enterprise, everything from fresh veg to wooden bowls.

While others are content to pick and choose…Purchasing from our eclectic pottery range, a few prefer to browse the various chopping boards or simply buy Christmas cards and chutneys. For one or two, it’s our amazing mirrors made from Ash and Oak. We have something for everyone.

Which is a metaphor for LandWorks itself.

People can pick and choose the parts of LandWorks they feel comfortable with and others basically trust the whole initiative. One of our great enabling strengths is that LandWorks attracts supporters with such a wide range of opinions and beliefs but a common aim.

So, if you have read thus far… what are you doing?  You should be on the way to our shop, those hedgehogs are going fast.


“The eagle-eyed quizzers amongst you might have spotted an error on the quiz circulated last week. I must have been burning the candle at both ends when I wrote it…!


Question 10 of Section G Cryptic Christmas (back page) – the answer is actually 6 letters not 5:


Light part of music and learning (6)……………………….




A huge thank you to all who took part in the 2016 Quiz last year, the total amount raised reached £1140. We want to beat that this year, with a target to raise £1500.

This year’s quiz is now ready for you to complete with family and friends over the festive period.

Please also forward this onto others to spread the competition far and wide, or send the quiz in your Christmas cards – have you seen our new festive cards available on the stall? (images below)

And there are prizes…!


For the winning draw from those who complete the whole quiz correctly


For the first three entries out of the hat, whether correct or not, or incomplete:

  • A LandWorks Bench, handmade by people in or at risk of going to prison
  • £50 cash prize
  • £25 cash prize


Click the button above to download the quiz, print, and fill in as much as you can (don’t worry if you can’t complete it – your £5 will still count as a raffle entry). Alternatively, you can collect the quiz from the LandWorks Market Garden Stall (at our gate entrance on the Dartington drive).

We suggest a donation of £5 (cash or cheque) to accompany your entry to the quiz.

For each £5 donation, your entry will have one allocated number in the draw (For example: a donation of £15 counts as three entries in the draw).

Please make cheques payable to ‘LandWorks’ and post your entry to:
LandWorks Quiz, Quarry Field, Dartington, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EA

The closing date for entries is 25th January 2018. Winners will be informed by the end of January. The correct answers will be available to view on the Quiz page 31st January and not before!