Wednesday 11 May 2011

The Summer Palace

Tonight is our third night in the summer palace. The experience is throwing up problems I didn't expect, as well as ones I did. I have an urgent need to find somewhere for a midden for food waste - far enough away that it doesn't attract rats to the summer palace (although the cats would deal with them), near enough that it's practical to use.

Clothes don't dry in the wood - there isn't enough air movement and there isn't enough sunlight. So I'm going to have to put a clothesline out in the meadow somewhere. That also has implications for my living economy: if clothes do not dry, I must be very careful about getting wet. Fortunately, I haven't yet had a problem with rain blowing into the palace - despite two very wet windy nights; so I think I'm probably OK there.

Although I do love the palace's airiness and sense of openness to the elements, I think I will have to make it solid walls sooner or later. Just sitting, it's pretty cold. Of course, I don't yet have a chimney for my wood stove, so I can't yet use that; but even if I could, with no walls the warmth would just blow away. I'm as concerned about the cats being uncomfortable as myself - if they don't like it here, they could just leave me. And I'd hate that.

Fortunately they're settling reasonably well. Ivan is a bit clingy, and they both follow me about wherever I go in the wood (but, interestingly, not out in the pasture). But they seem quite calm and spend a lot of time playing together among the trees.

We've had our first visitors. Alice and Meg came over just to see the place, and Finn came to borrow my wheelbarrow, and stayed for a coffee.

Unexpected plusses, I think we have badgers in the wood. We've found a couple of gaps in the bottom of the fence, and the cats have been very interested in the smell of them. By one of them there was a large and well-clawed fresh paw print. I've not yet found evidence of a set though, and am surprised they don't find the wood too wet.

I've been cooking on my little camping gas stove, and am pleasantly surprised how well that's going; I'm having appetising meals from fresh ingredients with little compromise on what I would be eating if I had a more conventional cooker. Of course, I have to cook quick things to economise on gas, so no broths... but I will have the woodstove going soon.

Interestingly my nearest neighbour is also someone who is in the formal sense of the term homeless - he is living in a small caravan in the neighbouring landowner's woods. I've always known there was more rural homelessness than most people guess, but I'm starting to realise that there's far more than even I had guessed. Of course, I am in a sense voluntarily homeless, and hope it will be short term. But if I don't get planning permission to build a legal house, creating a comfortable winter palace in the woods does not feel impossible.

Batteries for both phone and computer are limited resources, so my Internet use is far less than I'm used to, but so far I'm not missing it much.

So all in all so far so good. I'll post occasional updates as time goes on.

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