September 2011


This is for Dave, who wanted to see why I said the yurt and gazebo look awesome and make two yurts look greedy. Who could want more than this?


Except someone who would want it in focus.

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This week, I’ve been trying to get the work:work balance sorted out. I’ve been doing the physical stuff in the mornings: cutting and stripping acacia, and digging post holes in readiness for a gazebo next to our yurt (it’s about time we did something just for us). In the afternoons I’ve been doing the mental stuff: tweaking the website, writing a book, getting in touch with an agent and all that.

Gazebo-wise, it’s worked out pretty well. Here it was a few minutes ago:


Problem is, the physical stuff is such fun that lunch gets later and later, and the time for writing before the kids come home from school gets shorter and shorter. And as I found in the summer holidays, kids and book writing don’t mix. At all.

I love this time of year. When we don’t have guests we are open to people who come and help, bringing all manner of interests and skills with them. Yesterday, Marc and Aimee rocked up at the start of their long walk to Italy. You read that right – they’re walking (you can follow them on their freedombyfoot blog link on the right).

Now Marc is an archaeologist. And you may know I’ve been wanting an archaeologist here for YEARS. Especially one specialising in prehistory. So you won’t be surprised that I quickly exposed him to my Interesting Rocks.


These are some of the countless rocks I have unearthed during the making of écovallée. Some or all of these rocks have been dissed by some or all of the people who have seen them. But I kept the faith, and Marc has identified these as being definitely shaped by man or woman.


He actually got quite excited about one of them.

Last week I spent two days being an extra in a French film and two nights being the first person to sleep in a friend’s beautiful straw-bale house. While I was away, Alex and Laura made this.


A couple of mornings cutting and splitting wood, and it’s already one third full. We’ve never been so prepared for winter.

Just back from a 10-day holiday in England, where I was an usher at my little brother’s wedding.

It all went very well, thanks. The only complaints I’d make are the slate-grey sky we saw almost every day, the size of the new shopping centres in Exeter and Leicester (which seem to be excessively large), and the price of beer in pubs.

Although Alex and Laura looked after écovallée and our guests magnificently while we were away (see their Life in Brian blog link on the right), you’ll appreciate there’s a lot to do right now. Projects include making a shelter for our wood pile, building a gazebo and roof for the clay oven (see below), tweaking the website to reflect next year’s more rustic offering, laying a 100-metre (100-yard) road and car parking area near the Play Yurt using our own hand-gathered stone, building the snail-shell shower cubicle we swapped through project1p, and writing a book designed to coincide with the screening of a 12-part TV series called “Little England”.

Which is why I’m in a blind panic at this very moment. You see, I used to think I had months to write the book. I used to think the TV show was going to be aired some time between October and April 2012.

But I was wrong.

Today’s post (US: mail) included a flyer that informs me “Little England” will start on Monday. This Monday. Monday September 12th. I don’t know which of the 12 shows we’re going to be in, but I strongly suspect I won’t have much time for blog writing between now and Christmas.