puppet 2

puppet 1

This is what Her Outdoors has been working on, for a lovely sketch she’s written about a picnic. The clay for the head’s been bought in, otherwise it’s been made from scraps – and a pair of baby shoes. Crafty, eh?

Her Outdoors has been in the caravan for most of the week, preparing for the first Mid-Winter Festival Market of the year. Which is happening in Trémolat tomorrow.

But just for you, here’s a glimpse of the festive handmade textile offerings she’ll be selling in addition to last year’s crafty goodies.

decoration 1 decoration 2 decoration 3 decoration 4 stocking 1 stocking 2 stocking 3

There’s no Etsy shop this year, so if you want to snap up one or more of these (or more than one of one of these), please use the contact form on the home page.


The glamping season’s over for this year and the first leaves are falling.

Now tomatoes in the poly tunnel need roasting with garlic and blending for Winter sauces. Courgettes need turning into gratin and garlicky sauces. We’re waiting for the mushrooms to come through (while walking past lots of possibly edible mushies on the land, which is frustrating). And the temperature has dropped enough for me to do some of this:


It’s an oak the previous owner felled at least seven years ago (and tried to burn in situ!). I had hoped it might be dry enough for this year, but some of it was still wet in the middle. One morning with a chainsaw and splitter and it’s ready to keep us warm for a few days next year, or the year after. I’ve already stashed a few weeks of firewood under tarps or I’d really be panicking. One day I’ll be well ahead of the game, but this is not that day.

Her Outdoors, meanwhile, is working on her Christmas collection:


This is her third year of making decorations and it’s become part of our seasonal pattern. Fabric tree decorations will still be available and she’s working on some paper ideas. I’ll make details of her new Etsy shop known as soon as it’s open.

Pepito, meanwhile, is mowing the grass now the guests have gone. I’m currently wrestling with a new-used iPhone and shot a one-minute video you can see on the écovallée facebook page. The above photos were also shot with the iPhone. I’m yet to be convinced by the technology, as it doesn’t work – at all – as a phone. I can’t help feeling the product is badly named.

Her Outdoors has decided to create a range of crafty goodies from old jumpers (US: sweaters) and T-Shirts next year. Like this little puppy she finished a few minutes ago.

home made dog

How cute is that?

We’re in full Winter mode at the moment. Which means, for me, strimming bits of the vallée to get it ready for re-growth in the Spring (I like to let our wild orchids die down before cutting paths through the meadow), moving horse manure to a holding area for rotting down, cutting pre-dried wood it to keep the shed full, and working my way through a very long list of admin and fixing jobs. Plus a huge job (not the huge job I’ve already mentioned) that I’ll blog about almost immediately – and then a lot for several days.

Her Outdoors, meanwhile, has spent loads of time in the studio and is now appearing at Christmas markets locally. If you’re new to the blog, she’s an award-winning textile artist by trade who does couturier work for money. Last year she created a line of Christmas tree decorations, which she’s added to this year before opening her first Etsy shop – the kooky caravan.

Here’s a sneak preview of what to expect when you click through…

One thing you may not know is that Her Outdoors is an artist. Not your have-an-easel-and-a-set-of-watercolours kind of artist, but your seriously talented, fully rounded Artist who creates beautiful things using pretty much whatever is at hand, pretty much all the time.

True, she’s only won awards for her textile art, but her sculpture is incredible, she can draw, paint and make with the best of them, and (which is very depressing to someone who worked for 18 years as a professional writer) has Genuinely Good Ideas for at least four books in different genres, plus a trilogy she may never find time to write down.

You’re unlikely to know these things because over the last few years she’s been mainly making big yurt covers in small spaces. Like the eating area in our old house…

…the kitchen in the Shack before we built the bathroom…

…the bathroom in the Shack before there was a toilet…

…and afterwards…

…more than once…

…or if she’s been really, really lucky, our yurt…

When what she’s needed all along is a studio. Somewhere to keep all the boxes of fabric, dyes, equipment, reference books and sketch books stashed up in the attic or under our bed, and the industrial machines in the bathroom and yurt. Somewhere that doesn’t need to be mopped after breakfast and tidied away before the kids come home from school. Somewhere she can leave stuff overnight where the cats won’t walk on it. Somewhere, in fact, like this.

This is not her studio. It’s a photo she found on a popular networking site a few weeks ago. But that’s not the point. The point is, it gave her (yet) an(other brilliant) idea.

Because it just so happens that we had an old and neglected caravan in the field that we’ve been using as an animal feed store…

…and we had a space next to the Shack…

…that was almost exactly caravan sized.

It needs some work on the inside…

…and we’ve had to find another home for the scythes…

…but this studio-to-be appears to be here to stay.

Of course, it did mean we needed to build a shed for the animal feed. But you already knew about that.

Her Outdoors set up her stall today for the Lalinde Christmas Market. But just over seven billion of you couldn’t make it (the parking would have been a nightmare) – and if you’re one of those, this is what you missed.

The craftiness of Her Outdoors continues in the run-up to the mid-Winter festival. She made this awesome sock monkey using this website, having been inspired by these designs. All she used was a pair of socks, some stuffing, a needle, thread and a couple of hours.

Her Outdoors is realising a very long-held ambition today. After four weeks of being crafty, she’s selling her own hand-stitched Christmas decorations on a market stall. For those of you who can’t make it to Cadouin before the end of the afternoon, here’s what she has on offer.

If there’s anything left, she’ll be going to the Christmas market in Lalinde on December 10th. Of course, you could always send an email through the Booking Form of the website if you want her to make one especially for you. The decorations are €4 each or three for a tenner, plus postage and packaging. The wreaths are far too cheap at €12 and €15 (I think) – but they’d be far too expensive to post from France. You wouldn’t believe me it I told you the rates.