At last my home is complete. I say home in the broadest possible sense, there are a few things missing, but it hardly seems to matter at the moment, winter could be a different kettle of fish altogether. So who, what, when, where and why? (the typical list of facts any male story ever comprises of).
About 4 weeks ago as I was just about to cover the bender with the tarpaulins, I quickly realized I would be living in a greenhouse of sorts and that as far a security went, my kit (what little there was and still is) would be about as safe as a virgin in a brothel, on top of that (no pun intended) if I do happen to be here in winter and not out in the land of garlic, snails, champagne and public urination than I would need somewhere a little more robust. The heat that day was ridiculous, so I took a load off and sat in the cool shade of the barn planning my next move. I didn’t have too look far I was sitting in the exact spot I should’ve been building in all along…cue an hours destruction of the last weeks work and a further 3 hours of sweeping, shoveling and removing cobwebs and evicting 8-legged occupants.
The plan was pretty simple: lay down the pallets and then sterling board to give me a solid floor, block of the end of the barn and an open alcove with wooden walls and windows, put stuff inside and move in. Fortunately it was as straightforward as that. The set design company I used to work for coughed up a 70m roll of exterior cable to provide power for the small consideration of £40, I found a fridge/freezer for the freecycle network, purchased a set of dual gas rings online, went back to the tree house to pick up the composting thunder box, double bed (which has since been pimped with a rustic bed head and end) and then collected all things I would need for a simple basic existence. The best bit is that every piece of wood in the whole build was 100% recycled and absolutely free!
Why? Why live like this? Something I believe the better half wonders quite often, believe me I would never expect her to live in such a way and when we do look into getting a place together (renting days are over!) it wont be makeshift: I live like this now, because I can, its as cheap as chips (I pay for electricity on a meter and pay rent by barter) and it is a fun little project to be getting on with during the summer. Although the barn doesn’t hold the same magic the tree house did, I certainly feel like I have gone up in the world, having electricity, a gas stove and running water (albeit from a tap in the court yard) are a privilege, I can work away quite happily in the barn on the laptop without fear of running out of juice, I have access to the internet by tethering my i-phone by blue tooth to the computer, its not that fast but I only need it for sending emails. Some things haven’t changed, I still prefer the glow of my dilapidated paraffin lamps to the glare of light bulbs in the evening and occasionally cook over the fire pit in the courtyard, but having the gas stove certainly makes things easier and a lot faster!
Although the shotgun is under lock and key and unemployed for the moment, the air rifle continues to serve me well, plenty of wood pigeon and Rabbits out her in the Ouse Valley ripe for the picking, the pigeons are constantly landing on the barn roof before flying down to the trough for a drink, the other morning I found myself standing on my bed at 6am firing my crossbow from under the eaves at the feathery alarm clocks…mind you if I had hit one the RSPCA would be having kittens, I mean you can’t even drown squirrels these days?! The blackberries are just appearing the meadowsweet is disappearing and the horseradish is going perfectly with my twice- weekly hit of rump steak. Having the fridge has made this type of living simple for the obvious reason that I can store produce for longer.
Essential Country weaponry.
Unlike my outdoor bathroom I had in the woods, the old dairy part of the barn has been converted into a stylish country bathroom, complete with composting loo, shower and washbasin. The major issue of not being able to dig a hole to place the throne on top of has been solved using a bucket, some heavy duty bin liners and plenty of sawdust. At first, the prospect of basically…well, crapping in a bucket didn’t fill me with joy, but it is a lot more civilized than that and absolutely no smell whatsoever, once again meadowsweet has been extremely useful, this time as an air freshener- medieval style. The bucket shower hangs from a pulley on the beams and rather than having to heat the water on a fire every morning I have the luxury of filling my large pot with water topping it up with a boiled kettle and heating it on the gas stove for 5 minutes…the luxury! No duckboards needed as the sloping concrete floor leads straight into a drainage channel and outside into the courtyard.
I suppose what is most enjoyable about living this way is the day-to-day problem solving, the constant tinkering and exploring new surroundings. I can still pop out with the gun to try and fix some protein for supper, but unlike this time last year, I can visit the butchers and the grocers if I so wish. In actual fact this build including a few new bits of kit, has cost about half of what the tree house cost: £150! There is one niggling thought in the back of my head still…where on earth will I be living next? Any suggestions?
On another note, I had a super time in Hossegor despite the incident with my foot and a surfboard fin and had one of the simple, pleasurable meal ever at a mussel place in Cabreton Harbour at the Moules-Frites place called Chez Minus If you are ever nearby it would be a cardinal sin not to visit. The mussels were done in a mix of cumin and coriander…outstanding!