Tag Archives: Nature

Moving On

We have been so busy in the last months we never got round to updating the blog.

Summer has come with its full glory, and with it the heat. Luckily the place we have chosen to create our Italian Centre is situated in the mountains, so it never really gets too hot, topping up at around 34 degrees celsius, actually once you get used to it its the perfect temperature!.

Italian yurt campsite

Our Italian Campground Project

The area we chose for this special campground is below the hilltop village of Torricella Pelgina, in an area called San Venanzio. The whole area is somewhat abandoned, though it used to be populated by 35 families, we are only 12 people. It suits us because we have looked for a place to create a real  “free-from-distraction” centre, to allow people to reconnect with an inner core that seems to get neglected.

The nature is astounding: Italy seems to have gotten more than most in some respect, Abruzzo is a region which is somewhat left alone, it is beautiful and diverse, but for some reason it is becoming more and more unpopulated. Some of this is due to the Italian government and tax system, more and more people flee the mountain villages to seek work. The young people go elsewhere, leaving a thousand year culture of agricultural peasantry and rural life, the fields used to be harvested in the morning and the grain used to be milled that very same day, but those days are gone.

 

Torricella Peligna

The Abandoned houses of San Venanzio

Farmers can’t keep up with the cost of living, and farming in itself is becoming an impossibility, unlike the UK. It seems here in Italy, the national debt situation is not understood on a micro level, leaving the country on a move away from self sufficiency, and that reflects in rural life where the people can’t afford to live in the old way, and small businesses can’t flourish.

We hope to help the area as much as we can by introducing a new level of work and income, and a new approach, changing things on a micro level. It seems we have gotten this area of San Venanzio all to ourselves. The locals are welcoming and open to our project.

It is amazing how many old houses are left standing and we have so many ideas for this area.

But for now we are fully occupied with the creation of “Heartland” that yurt campground we always dreamt of making.

So between the amazing sun basking, abundance of fruit, and trips to the UK and back, we have been reclaiming our 12 hectares from nature, bit by bit as more tents go up, and more fruit and olive trees are found, and nurtured back to health.

Yurts in a reclaimed olive and apple grove

Our parcel of land in the not so distant history was the hiding place of the first Italian Partisans: The “Brigada Majella”, and with a strange twist, the old Italian stone house we have on the land is called ‘La Difesa’, (‘The Defence’), although the locals think it predates the Second World War. The name seems appropriate. There are stories of the Germans gathering locals inside a house and dropping a bomb through the roof. One of the locals has told me, (under an olive tree) how her grandmother lost her head (literally), and another how his grandfather’s been shot when the Germans came to take his cows.

Summer has been seeing us digging  the partisans house  up from the ground again, to install French (but Italian) drains. The local stone is called Majella stone (after the mountain) and the general structure is amazingly intact, with little if no, damage to the old lime, almost seems a shame to have dug it up, but alas there was one little spot where the water entered.

Italian partisan house

La Difesa

But I never miss an excuse to work up our digger, although I did find it funny, that with the abundance of machines we have, 4 trucks (and one digger) we still end up piling gravel with the shovel!

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Digger Love, can you tell?

 

Back to Nature

 

thor heyerdhal

Back to nature

Thor Heyerdhal is one of my favourite writer explorers. Fatu Hiva is his first adventure, when at age of 22 he decided to live his childhood dream, leave modern life and go back to nature. The line “Back to Nature” has become so embedded in our awareness, prevalent especially in our line of business. I like the fact that he was the one to coin it though, his journey taking place before Second World War.

I’m a great believer in holographic maps, so the first thing has the seed of the whole. I believe that there is an awareness that communicates with us, and I see Thor Heyerdhal as a pioneer on that level, someone that lifted the flag of going back to nature, as the remedy to the white man’s disease. That was his message, although along the line he discovered the great voyages and ancient man, the voyages of Kon Tiki, the Sun God, in ancient rafts across the sea. I love those too, but that’s another story.

The book takes him to Fatu Hiva, an island in the Marquesas Group in the South Pacific, where he and his young wife isolated as the only place they can truly go back to nature. On arrival they find that the interaction with society is killing the population and even there, halfway across the globe, civilisation has killed the natural way…….. But on the other side of the island they meet a link to a world gone, in the figure of the last cannibal on the island. They live with him, like a living manifestation of Thor’s Ideas, being healthy and living the old way, whilst the native population the other side of the island is dying off, from living like the white man and eating his food.

The visit to Fatu Hiva ignites Thor’s obsession with the idea that the Polynesian islands where populated from Peru and not from Asia like previously believed.

This great book comes across to me as a message, a personal one,  a guiding blueprint.

Yeah its all so clear, back to nature is the way onward, everybody has been saying it, we are saying it, but there is a force in being in contact with the original messenger, and his message.

How did it turn from going back to nature to totally change ourselves and reclaim our ancient self, to going back to nature for “glamping” (no offence to our campsite customers!) with a bottle of wine, and an iPhone?

abrruzzan wild hill land

Back to Nature

Having just got a place in the Wilds of Abruzzo, Italy had me thinking about all this, the sheer contrast of the times when I’m on that land, where we don’t even have electricity, to the the time I’m at the Gatehouse, a mile away, with wifi and power. It’s like civilisation stops a mile before the land.

Also in my work, there is such a contrast sometimes: I make tents for my customers using power tools and machinery, but make them for us using hand tools only. I make door posts out of tree trunks, knowing the scorpion that crawled by the tree. I know it will be the Scorpio yurt, because the tree spoke to me.

using adze for making yurt doors

Using Hand tools for making the door posts

The message is clear: we have found a place where the italian country side has been reclaimed by nature, it is only half a century ago that the fields were cultivated, and the olive trees amazingly have survived it all, the wells are still full of clear water, but the land has gone back to nature.

It’s an ancient place, but it has been abandoned and has gone back. I’m working to re-open it up, but the truth is that I don’t want to take it back away from a nature, I want to let it take us back to it.

Once upon a time when I was young, in another life it seems, I was a part of a family of quarry men. I used to live in a hidden lake in the north of Israel, a quarry that filled itself up with water. I remember seeing how it was that the grandfather was the one who dug the hole, the father the one that made the profit, but the son, the son he has gone back to nature. The quarry filled up with water, and I lived next to it. It was a secret, they called it the hidden lake, so I feel close in being to Thor Heyerdhal, renouncing modern life for that connection with the elements again.

digger in italy

My quarry

This comes back to me now. I have my own digger and I feel like one of those quarry men of Israel. It’s strange the line that runs inside of us, like a split inside our being, those ancestors that mined the land, and me, that lived on it. I use my power tools, so I can live without them, that to me is so funny.

So yes I have a digger, but I make the road with it. I feel strange sometimes as I push oak trees out of the way. Those power tools are too strong, but I guess this way, the oaks can grow by the road instead of being cut, and all those power tools are making that road back to nature: we call it Heartland, the place that nature re-took, the place where our wild nature will reclaim us at.

Of Mountains and Canvas, of Baker Tents and the Welsh Robin Hood

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The Yurt Cover mountain range

Been staring at mountains of canvas for some time now….

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Yurt wall ridge

…which decided us it is time to go to the mountains in canvas (in our larger baker-tent). As you may know we currently live in Wales which happens to be very Wild and beautiful, especially around here. On a Canvas delivery last week we were told about the Welsh Robin Hood – Twm Sion Cati so we decided we are going to start exploring at Dinas Hill.

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Dinas Hill

His magical cave just happens to be just south of my favourite spot the Llyn brianne reservoir, and we quickly scaled the hill to the cave, and amazingly we found our names on the wall of fame: it is a Welsh secret that anyone who carves their name in that cave becomes…….. (not going yo tell you if you don’t know it already or it would not be a secret).

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The Cave wall of fame

It  reminded me later on, when came to a waterfall, of the Journey to the Heart of the World by Ian Baker where he goes to seek the illusive mythical waterfall, but to get to it he has to follow a set of directives. The Tibetans believe that the landscape is the body of a goddess and her secret spots are “Beyuls“: (spots that are gateways, some are described like Paradise, some are places in other worlds), but in order to get to the waterfall he had first to go and visit the mountain top, and that also could not be done directly. So circling around Dinas Hill made think about all that, the Body of the Welsh Goddess and her Wild spots. I am a great advocate of the power of the wild, in fact I secretly hope that religion will revert back to the days before gods, when mountains and valleys are where the powers are, powers before they solidified into personifications as mountain gods and goddesses – of rain and thunder) when naturalism was pure and power was pure and nature was pure……. ok enough, breath.

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Waterfall

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At the top of Devil’s Staircase

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At the bottom of Devil’s Staircase

We went through forests and up and down the hills looking for a spot to pitch up that night and and ended up going of the road on one of the most off-road routes in wales: the Strata Florida 4×4 track.

This to me is the best part of Wales, where wild oaks and rough mountains come together, “where wild horses are in the face of the battle”

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Wild Horses with face for a battle

It was getting dark, and we realised that our cute little 4×4 just defeated the most 4×4 worthy track and that in fact we don’t feel much for green laning, when with a sigh when we hit the the tarmac again and stopped bouncing. Why people call this fun defeats me with all the burning clutch smell, and fearing for the vehicle anatomy, like worrying about shock absorber bushes etc, , you know that picture of fording a river with your Defender, I mean seriously ?

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Baker Tent

So anyhow… we took back to the lake, and,almost dark we quickly pitched up the tent, (the Land Rover Campfire Tent without the Land Rover) and went wooding in the dark and the rain, like good gypsies do.

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Baker tent (campfire tent) by the lake

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Fire Lit

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Gypsy tipping tea

That night was lovely: the wildness of the place and darkness poured colour into my dreams and I felt energised sleeping there by the power of the wilds which was enhanced by fasting the whole day, and walking (and some intense 4x4ing) the Welsh Goddess.

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Morning Coffee Yoffi

We woke up early to an amazing misty morning, with canvas banging in the rain and the wind, and our hearts feeing wild. It was like a scene from one of Bill Mason’s documentaries, and a grand victory for the baker Tent, which has proved itself the real tent of the wild. We were recently involved in a heated debate (ok actually it was only me that got heated) about the ups and downs of this fabulous open fire tent, one of our new wild canvas range.

So no more Debate.