May 2010


England’s not the only place to have had a change of government recently. Take a look at our orchard.


The odd bird is our new duck (whose name escapes me for the moment – something he’ll never do, as he’s absolutely huge).

He arrived a few weeks ago, in exchange for some sewing work, to the surprise, shock and bewilderment of the ruling cockerel. For the first few days, he sat in a corner. The cockerel strutted around, showing who was boss, and the duck didn’t debate the fact.

But slowly the balance of power shifted.

And now, perhaps because he’s bigger, or because he can hiss, the duck is first to the food. The chickens don’t fight it. They just accept it and wait until they can have their turn. An uneasy coalition has been established. The duck sleeps in the lower house at night, and some chickens lay there during the day. Power, it seems, can be shared between birds of different flocks.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the duck’s wife arrives in a few weeks.

Apart from being ill for a few days (and discovering I’m not very good at it – what’s the point in being this fit and healthy if you’re too weak to do anything with it?), I’ve been working on the first guest yurt platform…


…the outdoor kitchen/eating area…


…and the compost toilet.


But I couldn’t help noticing that the pyramid orchids are through.


(For precision-oriented nature watchers, Her Outdoors said they came up about a week ago.)

Today, we’re appearing in The Guardian special supplement on yurt camps, tipis and other types of cool camping. True, we’re not a featured article (not this year, anyway). Nor are we running a big, flashy, stylishly understated ad like this:


We’re appearing in the lineage ads at the back. Which, with only 15 bookings available this summer, is perfect.

If you’ve come to this blog from that lineage ad, via the website, hi. What you have in front of you is many hours of finding out exactly how, why (and even when) we got where we are today. I’m told it’s a good read, but a dangerous one – a new friend told Her Outdoors I owe him half a day’s work, which is what he lost when he started reading it. (Fortunately, I don’t have a clue how to do his job.)

If you end up booking, as a reader of the only newspaper worth reading, an interest in yurts, animals, smallholding, self-sufficiency, family, prehistory, organic food, good wine and all things related, you’ll be very welcome.

The police have guns. Real ones. With bullets and everything.

Her Outdoors bought some fish yesterday. From a shop. She cooked it and put it down in front of Boy, who looked up in surprise and said: ‘Have you been fishing, mummy?”

I love that the thought of buying it didn’t enter his head. We must be doing something right.

Now I’ve finally managed to post those rocks (New readers – see below and below below), I can show you what’s on the work-in-progress list.


First: Grey water treatment for the outdoor kitchen. Washing-up water will drain through a straw bale grease trap, run along the pipe (a nice, easy bit under the floor there) into some mulch, filter through some washed sand, then gravel, before draining into the ground under a vine. Ooh – and must lay the patio floor and build the kitchen on that weed-suppressing matting you can see behind.


Equal first: Yurt platform. If you can get any more local, or sustainable, than using turf from the upper side of the slope to build up the lower side, I want to hear about it. This is huge fun, and much warmer than making igloos (I imagine). It also takes a surprisingly long time. It soon became clear I had too much mud, so I started making…


Equal equal first: Compost toilet platform. We’re going for a 2m x 2m toilet for comfort. This shot’s a bit out of date. There’s now some of the ramp leading to the toilet (for baby buggies and off-road wheelchair users).

Equal, equal equal first: Take down the 12-foot yurt, replace the cover, sand and oil the frame – when it’s not raining. And put it all back up in time for one of Her Outdoors’ friends, who’s arriving on Saturday. Lots to do. Got to go.

One of the problems with blogs and blogging is that new readers don’t know what the hell’s going on until they’ve read the previous post. A kind of reverse narrative causality, if you like. (Or even if you don’t.)

Here are those rocks I told you about before (New readers: the ones I’ll tell you about in a minute).


The token is the same size as a one-euro coin. To me, the rock on the left is my first definitive arrowhead. The one in the middle is a clearly man or woman-made weapon. The one on the right must have been very satisfying to make all those millennia ago – look at the way the colour of the stone mirrors the shape of the (presumably) spearhead. A shame is was broken.

Here’s what they look like when you turn them over:


Well I think they’re interesting.