this house living malarky

well, truth be told our year of being back in a house has been a tricky one. i know we had no end of problems under canvas but i have to say i’d rather be there than here. yes i missed baths and easy cooking, yes we had neighbour issues but i still prefer that to this. i slept better, physically i was better, the children were more chilled out. i miss the simplicity, i miss the outdoors, i miss dim lighting and a lack of electricity, i miss the closeness of the whole family. here there are too many rooms to escape to, to many walls to put between us, we end up shouting out at each other and still not hearing, we end up sitting apart, even at night when we were up and the girls were asleep there was a proximity, now they’re a doorway, a set of stairs, another doorway and the other side of the room away, we go to bed and i can’t sense them sleeping nearby. we’ve just spent 4 nights at Tribal Earth and i loved it. i slept better, i was more awake and able to function in the mornings, when i woke in the night i could look over and see the girls. cooking was a bit rudimentary, but simple enough, i missed our compost loo but the loos were adequate and now we’ve discovered the beauty of the bucket shower my  bathroom requirements are easily satisfied (also at tribal earth they had a water trough with a fire beneath – something we talked about last year but were too busy to actually get round to). I don’t actually want to be in a tent again but a yurt or a hut of some kind would do the trick. i’m not sure how long i can live in a house, it’s stifling, it’s just so unnatural! would like to work out some kind of freezer/decent fridge solution though as keeping food cool & bulk(ish) buying becomes a bit of an issue with no cold storage.

anyway, there’s my latest rambling, and rambling it is.


Not the life we’d planned

This new life is not the one we’d planned. The woods were tricky but this is not the solution. I don’t think there is a realistic solution for this year. I want woods, off grid living, peace & stability for the children. I want to spend time with them. I chose not to work, to home ed because I want to be with them. This does not give me that. I miss my children and I feel sad that others are ‘burdened’ by them. I don’t feel burdened by them, they are mine, I should be there for them, I want to be there for them.

It’s not just the smalls either, I have no time for Ed. She is left to her own devices and that is not fair either.

I meant to be present in my children’s lives, where my mum has been absent in mine.

It all changes tomorrow

Our lives are about to change.

Potentially they were going to stay the same. Ecocampuk won its planning application. This has though, meant that it is time for us to leave. Our only option for staying is to move the entire family into one 4metre belltent. The intention was that a planning application would be made to keep us here, doing forestry work in this area of the woods. The planning battle, the nosey neighbours, have meant however that it is one battle too much and the landowner won’t be applying.

We’ve had to think fast and we’ve had to think carefully – this is our life we’re talking about after all. Ed is upset about the change, but she’s pleased we’ll be leaving. The neighbours have made her feel uncomfortable, she hardly ever sleeps here. The rain and resultant mud have worn her down. They’ve worn us all down. We are, as a whole, sad to be leaving these woods. We all, Ed included, love our compost loo and peebale. We love the woods themselves, and the wildlife. We won’t miss the mud though, or the extra long trek for water and showers caused by the impassable bogs. I will miss living off grid. I like the way we live, and one day I would like us to live completely off grid again.

For now though we have a new chapter ahead of us. WOWO. We will be volunteering 40hours a week between us in return for living space, a space for our tents. Also, breakfast and lunch provided. There are gas showers and compost loos, there are also normal showers and loos a bit further away. There is a huge marquee, where we can all stay dry in the rain, a barn with wifi and electricity – Ed can get online more easily (as can we all). There are other families, other volunteers, many many campers.

The scary bit is we move tomorrow. Ed only experienced WOWO for the first time Tuesday when I took her over for lunch. She liked it, I hope she can be happy there. I hope we will all be happy there. We’ll certainly be a bit less muddy…. and, a bit less stalked!

A few little breakthroughs

We may have had a small breakthrough in the weather….

Nige has been hard at work trying to get me through the tough bits, he’s a star, an absolute star.

Yogi, the angel, (except when she’s not…) ate risotto tonight. Now, in 4.25yrs she has not eaten rice. She just does not eat rice. Rice it seems has always been physically unable to pass her lips – some kind of force field/rice repellent I suspect. Well, tonight, she did it, a whole, Yogi-sized, bowlful of risotto. AND it had courgette and mushroom in it. I told her to not look at the spoon, let me feed her a little bit and see what she thought of just the flavour. It turns out she likes it, I guess risotto is softer, less ricelike than, well, actual rice but she’s been offered it countless times in her life and never tried. I probably won’t give her risotto again tomorrow as that would probably be a little bit foolish. I will try again though, and now I know it is possible to succeed.

I should add Boo ate her risotto too, even with the courgette in it, which I had told her she could pick out if she absolutely had to.

It’s not raining, so I am going to attempt to sleep. Zip no nearer to being fixed, but hopefully it will happen just as soon as I source a zip.

A minuscule/quick update

This experiment is not necessarily working out as planned.

Our tent zip has NOT stood the test of time – the rain and the in and outs seem to have been the death of it.
A non-sewn in groundsheet in the UK – a definite mistake.
Our precise location in these woods is awful – we are living in a constant bog, with not enough sunlight to charge our solar fairy lights.
Cooking outdoors is lovely – but only if it stops raining long enough to actually make it possible.
Our fridge set up is only going to start working when the rain stops – er that’ll be no time soon then…

In short, the idea of going to bed and not knowing just how far the rain will make it in is not attractive. Also, hoovering so as to totally discourage the mouse population from entering our tent is not exactly an option off grid – Cat should solve that though, another few days and he’ll be ready.

Tonight though, the questions are: how wet will everything be in the morning (or how much rigging things is Nige going to have to do to keep it all dry), and how many mice will be joining us through the night.

It may be that I’m not enjoying myself terribly much currently.

Oh, and, excuse my language, some fucker has stolen our roof box.

sun, campers, rain, mud….

It feels like an age since I last posted here.

We’ve had lots of glorious sunshine, and happy campers, and now we are back again to mud and to rain.

Needless to say the sunshine was fantastic, campers were all happy with the woods and the weather. I on the other hand appear to be never happy…. I love the sunshine, I love the woods, and I do love living here. I’m not quite so keen on some of the campers though. I’m not sure I’m supposed to admit to that but it’s true. Some do not love the trees, not as they should and that hurts. They leave litter, they trample indiscriminately and they do not consider the wildlife when moving around. Others, now, others are wonderful. They are gentle with the woods, they love the trees, they love nature, they clean up after themselves (although there is not much to clear up for them). Their children are happy with the trees, they climb them, they hide in them but they are gentle with them.

Also, I find it tiring, tiring to greet 10 tents worth of campers in a day, even 4 tents can equal 16 people. That’s a lot of people (even if half are children) for someone who finds meeting people difficult. I feel constantly tired from it. It’s OK though, I know it’s what I signed up for and that this is what provides me with my beautiful surroundings. When they are easy gentle woods lovers I find it easier, the noisy, TV missing nonecolivers I find much harder. Every visitor feels they have a right to pass judgement on our decision to live here. We are either mad, stupid, courageous, amazing or fantastically nuts, clearly destitute. I guess we have signed up to a life of judgements, but it again it tires, it tires to even just nod and agree, yes we’re nuts, yes we’re whatever label they decide to put on us.

And now of course the rain is back. It’s rained in through the doorway, right now I’m thinking a sewn in groundsheet would’ve been a better option, or the zip up. I worried though when we bought it that the zip up had more things to go wrong and the sewn in wouldn’t have given us the freedom to roll up in the heat. Also, it was just a festival tent, not a home at that point.

One thing this experience has definitely given me is a vision of where I want to be. I want to be in a community, I want to be surrounded by trees (but not necessarily right in the middle of them…), by people who feel more similarly about the world, I also have more concrete visions of our future but I’m not ready to share them with anyone but Nige just yet.

On another note, Nosey has been conspicuous in her absence these last 2 weeks. I expressed concern over her well-being and was very rapidly shot down. Ours is not to reason why, just to enjoy her absence. As it happens, I spotted her this morning so I guess she was just away for the duration. I’m glad, I cannot wish bad on anyone and I do hope that whatever the reason for her absence all is OK in her world. Maybe if she feels my positivity she’ll change her mind about everything.


Night capers

Outside the tent men’s voices can be heard, also the rattling/moving of iron bar type things…
Inside Belltent 1: Eds voice chat chat chatting
Inside Belltent 2: Ema strains her ears to hear the men’s voices. Unable to she desperately shakes Nige awake
‘Nige, there’s men outside’, Nige responds with ‘hhrgh, hunnh hurgh’, ‘No, really Nige there’s men outside I can hear them’. ‘hunnrgh’ followed by Nige’s silence. ‘Am I seriously going to have to go out there myself?’ no response, ‘really?’ Ema gets up, puts on wellies and head torch to investigate the noise. Across the field she can see an amber flashing light, several cars and can hear the clanking of metal, she remembers seeing a South East Water van there earlier. Relieved she heads back to the tent. ‘Mum, what’s that flashing light’, ‘it’s the water board’. ‘eh?’ ‘the water company’ ‘erm what’ ‘nothing don’t worry…’

Before she makes it back in to the tent she hears more noises, this time from by the fire drum… She approaches, softly, from out of a bag pops a tiny little brown mouse with big ears and huge, shining black eyes. He stares, daring her to make something of it, she smiles, tries to get a closer look, he runs off.

Back in the tent Nige continues to snore, oblivious of his wife’s night wanderings. Ed, has finally stop talking and goes to sleep. Boo & Yogi continue their blissful sleep, exhausted by the full day they’ve had, perhaps dreaming of the Ancient Egyptians they will be visiting the following day at Maidstone Museum.