When we moved onto the land in July 2009, life became pretty basic. We slept on mattresses in the Play Yurt, had a bucket compost toilet next to this, a decrepit caravan 100 metres (100 yards) away down the field, with a drinking-water hose on one side and a two-ring camping stove for cooking, heating water for washing and washing-up set up under a gazebo on the other; and a few yards (metres) away, a table, chairs and a hammock.

Not much by western standards, but still far more luxurious than most of our fellow humans beings.

Although some friends and family were shocked by our living conditions, we knew that we had chosen this experience and every little thing we did would be a quality of life improvement. Some improvements – moving into an 18-foot yurt, beds, electricity, broadband access, a wood-burning stove, a hot water cylinder, a bath – were bigger than others; and they still go on happening.

Like drainage for the kitchen sink.

Yes, for nearly two years we have been throwing out our washing-up water by hand. Nearby plants and trees have loved this but, for us, it has been a bit of a drain. We put a large bucket under the kitchen sink which pretended to help but, after the handle broke off, probably made things harder.

Don’t get me wrong. We knew what we had to do – we’d already done it in the guest kitchen nearly a year ago – it’s just that our to-do list is very long, full of things like building yurt platforms, finishing the sand filter, making a play area, installing a solar shower, butchering a pig. With a yurt camp to worry about, our own comforts were bumped further and further down the list.

But a few days ago, I realised we were wasting valuable energy and time carrying water every day. A bit of effort now would pay back very quickly. So I knocked a hole in the kitchen wall, dug a bath from the tip into the ground, dug a trench from the bath along the front of the shack into the woods, filled the bath with layers of washed gravel, weed matting, washed sand, more gravel, some pipe with slits cut into it, made a hole in a brand new plasterer’s bucket, filled it with straw and put this under the sink to act as a grease trap and – ta-da – our kitchen-sink-waste-water-carrying days are over.

Which may not sound like much, but it’s already made a huge improvement to our quality of life. For the first time ever, I am actually enjoying washing-up by hand. Because I know that it can be much more tedious.

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