I probably shouldn’t show you these photos. You don’t really need to look at them. But they’ll be good for me and Her Outdoors to look back on with the kind of head-shaking disbelief you are about to experience.

You see, when I say (as I do at the end of Part One of my book) that we became poor within months of moving to France, I wasn’t kidding. We continued to be poor for many years, while pouring our energy – and every available penny (or centime) – into creating a beautiful and successful yurt camp down on our land.

This means we’ve had to make do with living conditions few people in the developed world would bear.

old yurt cover

This is our old yurt cover. Made with cotton canvas in 2007, it was long past its use-by date last winter. And we’ve only been able to continue living in it by covering it with plastic sheets.

leaky yurt cover

Tied and clipped to the roof wheel.

yurt cover holes

With other bits of plastic tucked in where the rain showed us they should be.

yurt cover patches

Patches in some places.

yurt cover leaking

Silicon sealant in others.

yurt cover patch

And bits of canvas over big holes where the cotton canvas shrank unexpectedly (I’ve covered our disappointment with canvas in another post – we won’t be using it again – ever).

yurt cover ripped

Some holes we left over the summer (this was patched with kitchen foil on the inside last year).

yurt cover rotting

Others were fully revealed when we dug away the hillside behind the yurt.

trench round yurt

Which was done with pick, spade and buckets, to create more air flow.

yurt frame dusting

On the coldest day of the autumn so far, we took this cover off. Which gave us a good chance to dust it properly.

new yurt cover

And put the gorgeous new cover on.

It’s made from Sunbrella, which has only just been made available in this country, and should last for a very long time. One moment of tension came when we had to put the new stovepipe through the roof, just as school pick-up time was approaching, with a parents’ evening to follow and rain due in the morning. But this kind of thing has happened so often, it wasn’t particularly remarkable.

So there we have it – from shanty town embarrassment to fancy yurt splendour in one day. In other words: Just another Thursday in écovallée.