August 2011


Remember our pizza oven from last year? This one:



Well, during the winter we had a fall of heavy snow, which crushed the gazebo, one of the broken poles of which pierced the oven, which let in water, which destroyed it. Before we even lit it.

In the last couple of weeks, Her Outdoors took the broken section off…



Mixed it about a bit…



Put it back together…



Covered it with what looks like icing…



Made a slip layer, with help from The Daughter…



Made it beautiful…



Set a fire…



And actually lit it…



All it needs now is a proper roof. And some pizza (doh).

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A bit of everything last week, with two days of 38C and sun, some perfect days in the mid-20s, a few thunderstorms, a bit of rain, and daytime temperatures as low as 15C (one of this week’s lovely guests had a thermometer). No snow though.

Packing suggestion: A bag for all seasons. Just leave the gloves. Unless you’re coming to do some work.

It may have rained briefly during the week, but the weather was dominated by hot and very hot days, pushing up towards 40C. Fortunately, we have trees and transpiration, which brings the temperature down by several degrees. There was the swimming lake at Lanquais, river at Le Buisson (which could do with more parking) and water park near Le Bugue if you felt the need to be immersed.

Suggested clothing: A light bag containing shorts, all-terrain sandals, T-shirts, shades and hat.

Hot tip: Don’t forget to take your car keys out of your pocket before jumping into the water.

Two and a half years ago, I had a crack at the yurt camp world record in this post, wherein I mentioned Yurt Professional Matt who hires coppiced ash yurts through Yurtopia (and made our 12-foot Roaming Yurt), yurt makers Yurtshop who crafted écovallée’s own coppiced chestnut guest and play yurts – and even wrote ‘yurt campsite’ a couple of times for good measure.

It was an unveiled attempt at securing the top spot in the world’s leading search engine, based on what little knowledge of SEO I had at the time. And it failed, earning a historically forgettable second place according to this computer.

Perhaps I should have used words like yurting and yurters, instead of yurt and yurts; or expressions like nomadic yurts, yurt campsites and family yurt camps, instead of the more simplistic yurt campsite; or included geographical references like Dordogne yurt camp, yurt camp in France and Aquitaine yurt campsite.

Only this post will tell.

A full week of blue skies and sunshine, with maybe the odd cloud thrown in for good measure; I can’t remember it raining at all. Still not the punishingly hot temperatures we’ve seen in the last couple of years – something’s definitely amiss in the upper troposphere (or wherever) – hitting the low to middle 30s at best.

Dont forget to pack: Skin-safe sunscreen if you’re going out to the lake or river to swim, shades and that fleece you think you wouldn’t possibly need in August in the South of France. Late evening and early morning still a bit nippy.

I couldn’t find a picture or design of a mobile, fox-proof rabbit run online. So I drew one on the back of an envelope, bought some wood and made this:



Here it is from the other side:



Welded mesh is apparently essential for rabbits, and we’ve certainly found chicken wire can be eaten through or snagged on roots, leading to time lost chasing rabbits round the orchard. But seeing as these runs will be in the field, any escape would lead to a wild population in close proximity to our veggie patch. (Which is forbidden.)

I say ‘these runs’, because the boys and the girls need separate accommodation. Here’s the girls’ one, finished this morning:



And from the other side:



Rabbit run enthusiasts will immediately spot the rope handle, which makes moving the run considerably easier. We found some onduline, too, which makes a very professional looking roof for the hutch. Other bits of learning applied to Run II are:

o Wider bits of tongue and groove make for fewer nails and faster construction.

o Topping the run with expensive (in France anyway) mesh is a complete waste of money. I tried cutting some corrugated iron in half but it made a ridiculous noise, so I used some old chicken wire instead. The corrugated iron sheet now sits on this, creating much-needed shade in this summer heat.

Here are the measurements if you decide you like the run so much you want to make your own:



And now, back to the weather.

A bit of everything last week, with a couple of wet days and at least one day hitting 30C. Otherwise overcast and tropically humid.

The lack of Proper Summer Weather still hasn’t made it to the news, which is dominated by a turbulent stockmarket, almost US default, US debt downgrade and trouble in t’ Eurozone (for future reference, for context). A friend of mine said the summer in Holland has been the worst since, like, EVER – but online news editors have conspicuously failed to pick up on this. Maybe they never go outside.

Packing suggestion: Shorts, off-road sandals, T-Shirts, waterproofs and a hoodie if staying up until 1am.