Tag Archives: Wales

A Yurt Living Adventure by Sara Wheeler (Guest Blogger)

The things that people ask me at first is ‘ Why do you live in a yurt?’ Closely followed by…. ‘What’s it like?’

Well, first let me introduce myself.

I am a 40 year old woman who is Mum to 2 boys ages 8 and 6. My husband is called Mike.

We used to live in a nice house in Bristol, UK and realised that we were missing the children’s childhoods and working too hard to pay for it all.

One day, Mike suggested that we sell the house and travel round the world. I thought he was joking at first. Within a few months we sold the house, took the children out of school and set off with a one-way ticket on the trip of a lifetime.

On 2 October 2015 we flew to Indonesia and made our way around South East Asia, employing a strategy called ‘World schooling’ where children lead their education, sparked by curiosity of the world around them. We climbed mountains in the Himalayas and snorkelled with sharks in Belize. We scaled the Grand Canyon and camped on a beach amongst wild kangaroos in Australia.

Our trip was immense, hard work and awesome in every sense of the word. Increasingly though, our thoughts turned to when- and if, we should return home. We missed our family and friends and being part of a community. Most of all we DIDN’T want to fall back into the trap of working to pay bills again. Old friends of ours had a smallholding in Wales with a few acres to spare. For years they had suggested we come and live on their mountain. We skyped them from our beach hut and apparently they were serious. We’d split utility bills and the field was ours, if we wanted it.

We looked at converting one of their barns, craning in a container… but we had always loved camping and yurt holidays. Having spent over a year living in the same room and out of 2 backpacks, a yurt would feel palatial.

Mike set about researching yurts and we joined some Facebook groups to talk to people and get an idea of what we’d need to live fairly comfortably. With friends in the festival trade, installing infrastructure into our field was no problem so we focussed on what we needed from the yurt:

  • A traditional design
  • as big as possible to fit on the existing platform.
  • To future proof it, we’d need to get a high wall and roof so we could install a mezzanine for the children to sleep on for a bit of privacy.

Oh, and we wanted an ‘indoor’ toilet.

We ordered our 22’ Turkmen Yurt from Spirits Intent and that was our decision made. Updates on their Facebook page were exciting as we could see our new home being built from the other side of the world.

Mike was clever enough to bag himself a job when we were in Guatemala, so we had a deadline for the yurt build. We had to be moved in so he could start work on the 4 December 2017. After a whirlwind of reunions with our friends and family, we took ourselves to mid Wales on the 24 November as the weather forecast was… ok…We had been chasing the sun for 14 months and I think we had forgotten how harsh British weather could be. Anyway, this was Wales and we needed somewhere to live so we had to get on with it.

Nitsan from Spirits Intent arrived at our friends’ house, hungry and serious. He had been building our yurt with some volunteers and had come to stay the night before- sleeping in his van, to brace us for the hard work that was to come on Build Day. I felt sick with nerves as I heard the wind and rain battering at the house windows. I think the weather forecast for an‘ok’ day might have been optimistic. The whole family pitched in. We tried to ignore the hailstorm and Nitsan showed the youngest how to do a sun dance. Oddly, it seemed to work a bit even just to lighten the mood as we got battered by chunks of ice being hurled at us from the sky.

The trellis was up, the doors and rafters tentatively slid into place. We stopped to warm up with soup and I realise I had lost sensation in most of my body due to the numbing cold. We piled on the layers and the children decided to stay indoors after the rest of it (I couldn’t blame them)

We knew we’d start to lose daylight at about 3pm. So we hurriedly put up the felt insulation and lifted the canvas on with the last ounce of strength we had in us. Tying the fabric to the lattice was painfully slow as I had to cling to the edge of raised platform whilst my hands were frozen by the cold. Nitsan’s rallies of positivity were soothing, as our energy fell to its lowest ebb.

Then, all of a sudden, despite every sort of weather that the Welsh mountainside could throw at us, we had a yurt.

We were soaking wet and exhausted but we had a home all of our own. We waved Nitsan an emotional goodbye, as our team disbanded- the hard work cementing a bond between us. 

For the next couple of weeks we worked at sanding the floors, putting in the filtered water, installing a gas boiler, hooking up electric, building a kitchen, digging drainage ditches and laying pathways… lastly we brought in our furniture.

So, what’s life like in the yurt?

The day we moved in our furniture a blizzard came and covered everything in 6 inches of snow. We slept and woke up to a world that was like Narnia.

It looked beautiful but the reality was hard work. The first night the canvas dripped in multiple places as the seams had not had a chance to bed in…. the children were frozen from playing but it was hard to keep them dry and warm. We had no toilet, running water or drainage and icy drops of water falling on our faces when we were in bed.

After the blizzard though, normal Winter feels easy! We have learnt our lessons, dried out, and are enjoying nature as we fall asleep to flicker of the fire, the sound of the river and Barn Owls calling along the valley. 

We have found a rhythm and have learnt that with this life, you can take nothing for granted. We wake and start the fire. We have learnt to shower in the evenings when the yurt is warmest and appreciate that hot running water fresh from a mountain spring is a beautiful kind of sorcery. We keep the woodpile well stocked and keep muddy boots by the door. We have very warm duvets and wear lots of layers. We use ratchet straps to tie down the yurt as 80mph winds are quite common here. We empty the composting toilet every week and we have found that the Ultrasonic pest deterrents really work. Yes, we have found droppings amongst our dinner plates and had whole bags of clothes eaten by mice! Never again.

The horses in the field next door come and bray to tell us when the weather is bad and we all enjoy being connected to our surroundings.

There isn’t a day that we don’t open the yurt door and have our breaths taken away at the sight of the mountains around us. Yes, it would be nice to have conveniences like ‘heating’ but the amount we’d have to sacrifice for that just isn’t a price we want to pay.

At the moment, anyway.

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Thankyou Sara.

For more on this family adventure…see Wheelers on the Bus: Facebook page

And their lovely  Blog

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.

Zome Angels

Zome Connector

Zome connector

If you have read yesterday’s post, you may find this picture strangely familiar, this here is the first connector.

This is a multi level story, and so this connector is represented on more than one level, although it is noteworthy that this is the ground level connector, and we will be building up from here.

As this day has been hyped for quite a while now, coming back from town and after re-spraying the truck bonnet (another story), we knocked it ready just before sunset (hard to weld without the light, as we were doing it outside). This connector then is going to be our introductory point to this project and story, to the living myth.

On one level it is a box section 50mmx 50mm of 3mm mild steel, welded at an angle to another section of the same, acting as a sleeve connector for 4 wooden lengths that come together (they simply insert into it). These are wooden laminated ribs which, in turn connect to other steel connectors just like this one to form ………

Zodiac tent

The zodiac tent 3d

The Zodiac tent.

You can read the background of the original Zodiac Tent and the mythical prince who dreamed it up here…. http://www.lastactonearth.com/zodiac_tent.html and if you press on the gnomad (gnome+nomad) with the camel, you enter the next room where our modern version is revealed.

This tent is going to be the core of this project, and the building of it will, among other things, be the focus of this story, so this is the first layer connection, hope you can follow the idea that life has more than one layer of meaning.

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Zome Angles

Like John Maynard Keynes said about Isaac Newton that “he regarded the universe as a cryptogram set by the almighty………… By pure thought, by concentration of mind, the riddle, he believed, will be revealed to the initiate.”

Here is a picture showing the various angles and the layers of the zome.