It’s over a year since my last blog post. Here’s a little update on a major transition.
The house progressed fast through the summer with electrics taking shape, walls being painted, stairs going in, floors going down, tiles going up and the kitchen going in.
The builders cleared out, leaving us with a vast empty building to work out how to live in. So much space! We waved them off fondly; they had become a big part of our lives, an extension of the family and we knew we would miss them. We still do, and Strawberry the hen still wonders where Kev is, with his treats of sausage roll and pasty.
We spent our first night in the house at the end of August. Sleeping in the house meant quite a lot had to be moved out of the yurt. The bunk bed had to be dismantled, the sofa bed too so we had something to sit on. The kettle, tea bags and mugs, spoons, bowls all needed to come down to the house and so the Great Emptying of the Yurt began. After all this time, there was a lot to untangle, untie and take down. We had to get the other beds and mattresses out of storage (of course they were wedged behind twenty million other things) and so at the same time, the Great Emptying of Storage started. Three days later the kids went back to school. We muddled through trying to find things in boxes that had seemed logically packed at the time, but of course weren’t. Most of what we needed had been with us in the yurt so we spent many hours walking up and down the track, carrying bags and books and clothes back with us. By the start of the second week in September there was talk of the weather changing from the glorious indian summer to non-stop storms. Autumn was approaching fast, so I began to dismantle the yurt.
Guitarman was stuck at work but did manage to get out to help roll up the carpet, underlay and foil lining – those precious layers which had kept us warm through sub zero temperatures, twice in our time there.
The wool liners on the walls and roof are really heavy and after 20 months they were also very dusty. The sunny, breezy weather was a gift and once the canvas was off I left the wool liners on the frame blowing in the wind for a couple of hours. Getting them down as the wind got up was fun. Imagine a big old blanket, and then double it, size and weight. Double it again. And again for good measure. Balanced precariously at the top of the ladder with my head and arms through the wheel, trying to harness the wind to help fold the massive roof lining in half and then into quarters. It was so silly as to be dangerous, and the wind never blew how I needed it to (where is Windy Miller when you need him?)
But I did eventually get them down without hospitalising myself, just in time for the school run. Later, as dusk took hold and Guitarman was again stuck at his desk, I persuaded the kids to come and help get the frame down. Two held the doorframe in the increasingly gusty wind while the eldest and I started removing roof poles. Just as night was falling and the structure was reaching the point of delicate instability, Guitarman arrived! (I’m pretty sure his timing was similar when it went up!). We got it all down and stored in the barn, promising ourselves we would buy a trunk to store the canvas in, just like the one we have for the wool liners.
The next morning the rain started. Relief at getting the yurt all packed away in time was huge, especially as the rain continued, days into weeks into months. It didn’t snow. The rain stopped in February for a few days. Long enough for us to remember that amid the remortgaging (again) and general chaos of life, we hadn’t actually bought the trunk. We went up to check the covers and discovered a mouse had nested in the roof cover, efficiently making layers of holes and requiring some serious repair before it could be used again. I had just started making enquiries about repairs as lambing started, and then lockdown arrived. But both of those events are for another time.
One thing I want to mention, as a major part of the transition, is the quiet in the house. Living in the yurt for 20 months and hearing every creature, every drop of rain, the constant river – roaring or tinkling depending on the weather, every gust of wind coming before it hit us, we were completely immersed in nature. It shaped my sleep each night. Moving into the house rudely disconnected us from all that. Not being able to hear these things without wide-open windows has taken me months to adjust to. I miss that intimate connection with the land and am working to find different ways to reconnect.