A design principle and critical assessment of our needs as human beings

Over the course of the last 4 years, whilst building our strawbale house, installing the systems and becoming accustomed to them, we have consistently applied a thorough design framework.

This has come to be known between us and in various conversations with friends, family and volunteers as The 90% Rule which goes something like this:

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Making Interior Walls Using Wattle & Daub

It will come as no surprise that the interior of our straw bale house has taken much longer to complete than the superstructure. Many, many friendly advisors told us this would be the case, and once we embarked upon the wattle and daub train I realised they were astoundingly accurate in their premonition! Progress also slowed markedly when the sofa made an appearance…

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I always look forward to Sunday mornings and the simple pleasure of visiting the compost heap with our latest offerings. For 4 years now we have had a dry toilet, which, for those of you unfamiliar with the parlance of composting, means collecting your poo in a large bucket, covering your deposits with sawdust, separating the urine (to keep it dry and the bucket light) and then creating an active compost pile in the garden somewhere. 

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So far 2020 has been a real eye opener, hasn’t it? With our usual jaunt in the Pyrenees working for Collett’s Mountain Holidays cancelled due to the COVID19 crisis, we took the opportunity (as soon as lockdown would let us), to set off on some new paths high up in the French Pyrenees. It seemed to us to be the perfect getaway amidst all the virus madness – with our own tents and enough food for a few days, no need to see anyone or stay in hotels.

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Now that we having running water in the house – and hot water no less, we decided it was high time to upgrade our grey water filtration system. Originally, we were granted planning permission after having a study completed of our land which ensured that it was suitable for a ‘Lit De Roseaux’, or reed bed system of filtration. The study outlined the exact measurements, tanks, locations and size of the filtration system. This was out of our reach in terms of cost and so we have essentially made a carbon copy of the system but utilising a different type of tank; namely a cast iron bath tub.

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With the hindsight of the past few months, it will come as no surprise to learn of the gratitude I feel for any travelling adventures I have had the good fortune and motivation to undertake. Last year’s cycling extravaganza in Portugal is no exception to this rule. Having had some time to galvanise the memories, I wanted to share some stories and anecdotes for anyone else wishing to take themselves off into the sunset on their faithful steel steed.

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Why FerroCement Water Tanks?

Having the ability to store water seems to create an innate sense of secure satisfaction now that our ferro-cement tanks are finished. Collecting and holding lovely cool, clean and fresh water in a passive way.

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Compound interest is a term few really understand, yet it adds a significant cost to what is already the largest investment most people make in their lives, the mortgage. This impacts everything, our car, our credit card our store cards and we end up, as a friend put it, running in order to stand still. I want to turn this concept on its head and talk about compound savings.

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A little over two years ago, I put together a small powerwall (battery pack) to store solar energy in our caravan. Read more about the process of putting it together here.  We have been off-grid for this entire time, with free power, no stress and an immense sense of connection with the sun! So, here’s an update: Read More

International Women’s Day is a demonstration that our modern world fights the good fight daily in terms of equality, anti-discrimination and liberty to transcend gender boundaries. Some areas are making this transition in leaps and bounds whilst others are laggards stuck in their traditional ways with little or no thought towards progression. Thinking about this started a reflection process about our house build and the stereotypes which I unwittingly fought (and still fight) against on a daily basis.

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I blinked and it was gone… Yes, summer has flown by! Suddenly the leaves are starting to turn in colour and float to the ground announcing autumn’s arrival. Summertime was exceptionally hot, not to mention dry, here in France, although I have the impression that it was the same throughout Europe.

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“Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery…”

👆🏼 …According to Ruskin, who seemed to know a thing or two. And in my mind, their awesomeness is unparalleled. After a month working and hiking in the Spanish mountains I had plenty of time to ponder both the scenery aspect and the people who live within them.

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