Rising bills, compounding energy crises, the head of the UN announcing an existential threat to humanity.  When the head of the largest diplomatic organisation in the world uses language that wouldn’t look out of place in the Extinction Rebellion manifesto, it only adds to our desire to be a part of what follows this madness. A few questions we often ask ourselves follow the ‘four Rs’ set out in Jem Bendell’s famous paper Deep Adaptation, what can we relinquish? What can we restore? How can we be more resilient?

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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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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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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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“If the rules are such that you can’t make progress, then you have to fight the rules” 

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Once the foundations and box beam of the straw-bale house were completed, we focussed on a quick project to create a beautiful space for yoga, meditation and general chill out. The foundations for this area were made during the summer with lots of help from our friends and they served as a practice ground for the rammed-tyre foundations we used to make the house foundations. Read More

It’s Mayday soon and spring has really sprung here at Les Vignes Basses. Despite an odd cold snap, the plants and trees are blooming and everything is turning a lush shade of green. We’ve been busy bees planting out seedlings as well as spring cleaning (and fixing) the caravan in preparation for summertime visitors 🙂

Dan has been busily mulching around our trees, which we planted last autumn to make sure that they aren’t out-competed by the ever-growing grass. Dan was a little overexcited about all the orchids that have popped up this year, including the elusive Vanilla Orchid. I think all flower walkers will understand… Read More