Autumn, with knobs on.


I had forgotten, during the long, hot, balmy summer we’ve had, just how loud and wild the storms are when you are under canvas.  It’s 2am and Storm Callum is passing over us, giving everything a good battering.  I had forgotten too, how I cannot sleep when it is this wild.  The rest of the family seem to be obliviously in the land of nod but I am wide awake. I’ve just been out to tied down a rain-cap guy rope that had blown loose.  The pan lids and tambourine hanging on the trellis walls are rattling in the big gusts.  It’s pretty wild.  The mini greenhouse I’ve been keeping the purple-sprouting brocooli plantlings in has just fallen over.  At times like these I try to remember that the plains of Mongolia get some really big winds and yurts are designed to withstand this kind of weather.  But somehow this morning I missed the dulcet tones of Kevin Thomas (the Radio Cornwall weather man) who would have warned me of this had I been able to hear him above the usual morning racket.  Nothing outside is properly put away yet, we have been lingering in the late autumn sunshine., lulled into a pretence of a warm October.  Last weekend we  milled and pressed all the apples.



Summer yurt living has been fantastic.  We’ve just been outside a lot, eating our meals and working, doing homework on the table outside.  Internal temperatures between getting up to do the school run, and getting home an hour later have reached 48 degrees a couple of times.  All my stashed chocolate (which was so well hidden I couldn’t remember where I’d put it) melted and re-set many times.  I know this because now I am finding it (what a good hiding place, I think, each time I discover a stash)

The builders have made really good progress this summer.  I am rather behind with updating here.  The roof is on, the original slate roof carefully replaced on the oak timbers, and the new flat roof insulated and waterproof.

The ground floor is ready for tiles, the underfloor heating laid in place over more insulation than I knew got built into a house.


Now we understand why we were so very cold and damp all the time!   There was very little insulation before and only a very basic damp-proof layer underfoot. Having watched all these layers of insulation go in to the house, I am worrying that we are going to be so hot in there we’ll be those people who live in t-shirts and shorts all winter in the house!

Once the screed was laid over the heating pipework, the sandblaster came a and cleaned up the oak frame.  The pen and watermarks have all gone and it’s a wonderful warm shade of pinky wood.   The carpenter chisel marks are still visible which makes me very happy.  They tell the story of the hours of work gone into shaping and measuring and fitting together all the pieces of this amazing three dimensional puzzle.



While the sandblaster/stormtrooper was here, he stripped back some of our furniture too.  The old dark wood varnish of some inherited furnituire, and our table and chairs acquired from the last house we rented in 1999. They need a final sand and some wax and will look beautiful.



All the sand from the blasting left a couple of inches of indoor beach in the house.  Steve swept, and swept, and swept….. (you will go to the ball, Cinders!)


The long-awaited windows were less straightforward.   The colour is great– we chose a shade of green that should nicely disguise the lichen and damp green that attaches to everything here (you can see it on the yellow walls).  We were keen to see how they looked from the inside.  The large area of glass has always been an exciting part of the build, letting in lots of light and giving us a clear view of the bird-busy trees across the river.  Well, at least these eight big panes fitted.  And the smaller windows upstairs were all ok.  But a set of French doors and three tall, thin windows were somehow eight inches short.  Eight inches!!

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The eight-inch gap.

To be fair, the window surveyor put his hands up to his (rather random and inconsistently applied) mathematical error, but had the view of ‘well, what can I do about it?”.  Fortunately, the other people working in the window company have got it sorted and reordered the correct sizes.  The dwarf windows have been temporarily fitted so work can continue inside.  The replacements should be here by mid-November.  That’s an eight-week wait (one week for each inch perhaps) and longer than we had to wait for the initial order.  It’s a first world problem and there are much, much more serious things going on in the world.  But it’s pretty annoying and we all lost a week.  Instead of making internal walls, the builders were roped in to helping with scaffolding as the surveyor hadn’t ordered any.  I spent more time than I want to think about making phone calls and writing letters when I should have been writing essays for my looming anatomy exam.

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This one fits!

On Grand Designs, it’s always the windows where things get held up.   Despite all the preparation and the detailed plans I supplied to the window company, it seems there’s not much you can do about human error – though I am convinced if it had been double-checked properly someone would have picked it up.  Eight inches for goodness’ sake!

This storm is not abating. While I am burning the 3am candles, the littlest has moved into our bed and the biggest has just woken up.  The guy ropes really flap loudly on the canvas! As my dear Canadian fishing friend always says, “Tight lines, tight lines.”



  1. Oh man, it’s coming along so nicely!! I can’t wait to see it all finished!

    We’re about to get a big storm here too. I’m one of those who sleeps soundly while the chaos bangs outside! Sorry, I’d be no help to you!


  2. The house is going to be amazing Jo and I will try and come visit soon. Am so glad that the Summer weather was kind to you all, you deserved it. Let’s hope for a mild winter this year for everyone’s sake. I don’t think we could go through another year on the farm like we had to last year. Alan was fit to drop! Hope you’re all well. Ijaz is doing well. The band are performing everywhere I look. It’ll be nice to say I know someone famous! Love to all xxxxxx

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