Monthly Archives: April 2014

Mog on the Blog

unimog 1300l

The Mog

The Group Mind seems to doing its job as the morning I was writing the entry about the Elfi Yurt Edifice, I got to thinking that the Unimog needs its own entry and right then, there was an email from a guy who wanted to buy it…we sold it over 2 years ago.

So that was a sign that the Mog did indeed merit it’s own entry which looks like this. .

It’s a bit of a long story, as many of these are, but the vision for the Unimog and maybe the whole adventure came at the Hoopoe Yurt Hotel (a story in itself), when we were sewing their oh-so-big yurt cover in time for Santa and it looked like this: heart of the world, 4×4 trucks and tent palaces.

Morning Star had always wanted an excuse to get a Unimog so we began looking and found a nice looking one in Essex, of all places. The boss, (who had a  grand piano in his office) took us to his playground out back to show us what the Mog could do and drove to an extremely steep cliffside, “No way” we both said. The Unimog did it without even blinking…..and then back up: an impossible angle. It is often said that the Mog has more balls than you.

This Unimog had quite a colourful history as a mobile welding unit in Kazakhstan and thus had a 25KVA hydraulic generator, which ended up under the bed and meant we had endless power on the road.

The generator

The generator

 The welders in Kazakhstan were Brits who drove it back to their local pub in Essex, and opened a book on how many miles it would do. The story is that the clock stopped in Dover…..

With combination saw on tail lift

With combination saw on the tail lift


The million-dollar question was how we were gonna afford this vehicle, but the Spirit was with us, because as I sat in the old box (we changed the box to a bigger one) pondering this question, the ‘phone rang and it was a woman called Penny (get it?) confirming an order for 2 yurts. So there it was…

Now (it’s not an excuse) I hadn’t driven a Unimog before with its unusual steering and a Left-hand drive (this unimog is LHD) on the left, and when I went to collect her and drive her home, I had a bit of a meeting with the tail gate of an oncoming truck which meant I lost the right side wing mirror making it even more of a challenge to drive. Luckily they think about these contingencies and I got one in a fuel station, and made it to the B&B for the night, where this came from Morning Star…..

This little poem is about the real way
Some have forgotten some seemed to sway
The half moon is light of new dawn
It is time for the flautist, the sun rise of his day.
It is the peak of his life,
to go unfortold To a magical place called the dot dot dot dot
No one as been there, because nobody knows
That the spirit itself is the one who has called.
The magic has been such, that many have written
the story of one, but one is that flautist that have lead them away. To the point of conjunction, to the place that is called the center of lines,
a mind of it`s own, or the warriors way.
So it is time for a flutist to bring this new dawn
That all possibilities WILL BE surly forgone.
To invent this new language, the tongue of the hearts
To play it, and walk it, and dream it about.
If you have heard his music, you know, it is sad.
and for longing, it captures your soul
it is sad as you know you must go.
but your body is unable, to let go of his hold.
to move to the music, to truly be bold.
But yet the music still lingers,
not to be followed but as, a real note
to the composer itself, that some of us know.
And we still do follow those haunting notes
of unearthly music played by unearthly fingers
walked on unearthly toes.
The day is not breaking
but it is nearing the point where
the night of the dreamer
Be followed by a true living day.
When the music will play, in the hearts of the few
to go to that point of conjunction, that center of all
the place where the music as lead all along .
This morning twilight is the last hold of known
The flautist has waited, not for someone unknown,
but for his completion, to cleanse his own music,
for the truest of tunes, a tune he can own.
So the day is now breaking, even if the star
of the dreamer still lurks in the sky
or a cloud may obstruct him From the view of the eye.
The music is playing, to the strings of the world,
A voyage beginning to that place unfortold,
To The heart of the world.

Now a Unimog is basically a fancy tractor so has 8 forward gears, all quite high geared, so when you drive off, you have to very quickly do the whole range 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 which makes traffic lights quite interesting, and not only that but it has 8 reverse gears as well, the full range of which, we were never in a situation to need.

When we eventually got on the road, the Unimog, being a tractor, isn’t known for her speed at the best of times, and being loaded and towing the trailer, made us the slowest thing in the West. On the mountain roads of Austria where there is nowhere to pull over, we sometimes had to deal with a 10 mile tailback of angry Austrians. A bit scary for the Wandering Jews.

Having such a powerful generator aboard was fun and made lots possible….like running the combination saw in the forest or welding stoves next to the road.  (We were once parked in a (rare) lay-by in Austria where Morning Star was welding a stove when the tall blonde Aryan cops came along. They were very suspicious and a bit scared which intensified when they asked for our passports and Morning Star pulled out his new Austrian one, curtesy of his grandfather, and they realised that he didn’t speak a word of German. Nicht koscher).

After many adventures, we sold her, as the type of terrain we drove on didn’t really justify such a juicy vehicle, and we miraculously found a buyer for both the Mog and trailer in Lancashire.

With the others

With the others

Tales of Yurt Power: The Elfi

So the background of this tale is that once upon a time we were in Wales building two 4×4 trucks to go on the road: an oh-so-sweet Unimog and her big brother: a Mercedes 1820.

We had done the outer structure on both: put on bodies, spray painted them (the original “yellow in the Welsh rain saga“), added ‘Spirits Intent’ stickers, put windows and doors in the boxes and, a crane at the back of the 1820 for good measure.unimog 1300L and mercedes 1820

But then the cosmic clock said its ‘time to go’, so we ended up buying a Brockhouse Army trailer for living in, which was to be towed by the Unimog, loaded up the two trucks with everything else: the materials for doing the interiors (such as insulation and piles of red oak tongue-in-groove), the combination saw machine, the sewing machine, canvas…and 2 coppiced yurt frames which were nearly finished, and tumbled onto the road.

The Trailer (Stay tuned for the full movie)

The Trailer (Stay tuned for the full movie)

(Incidentally reversing the trailer which is a draw-bar, meaning it pivots both at the trailer and the Mog, was not impossible but almost).


Unimog 1300L, Brockhouse Trailer, and Mercedes 1820

Anyway, the core of this story began when we were waiting in Italy for the go ahead on another Yurt Power Story, this one involving our Garden Fairy. It was eventually a No on that yurt, and we were (literally) about to turn for France where we had another yurt cover job when…the ‘phone rang and it was an Elfi woman wanting to know if we had any yurts. (The Elfi are a group of wild communities mainly in Tuscany, north of Pistoia, which are either on the land, or in houses they made themselves or resurrected from the old mountainside dereliction). The internal builds of the trucks were coming along slowly on the road, but it would be good to have a bit have more room in them so maybe we can get to live in them, especially with winter drawing near, so we gave them a good price. We still needed to finish the frames and sew the covers.

We understand that the first sequence of an event is the ‘map’, the blueprint for the whole story. This map was that when we went to meet the Elfi woman (elfess?) in a tiny hamlet, there was no room to park which, as you will see was to be played out in the body of the story.

The roads up to ‘Casa Sarti’, the community who had invited us, are narrow and winding so the 1820 and the trailer would never have made it but the Unimog did! Looking for a place where we could park and work on the yurts somehow, one of the communal fields seemed the only option. That evening saw a community event in the opening of a new forno (pizza oven), and we met all the players. When we asked them what they needed they all said, RAIN, as it had been dry for a few months. I told them we could do rain, then we had all the dramas of the community run about us using that field.  There were all the objections: the cows, the road, the noise, the wells, the lack of water….so we would be going straight into the heart of the inner conflict of alternative communities. We realised we would have to find some other way to do it, maybe on the road somewhere.

That somewhere came when we returned to the petrol station where we had left the 1820 and trailer and the boss said we could stay there.

So life at the Tamoil gas station started, with a laid back boss who had a strong liking to wine lunch breaks and playing the clarinet.  There was not much room so we had to pitch the 22′ and the 16′ yurts concentrically and sew outside next to the trucks. concentric yurts concentric yurts We were finally doing it on the road. I think the gas station must have had 50% more clients just so they could ask what was going on.  It was somewhat hard to hold such a space, but it seemed that in comparison with the elfi politics  it was easy.

The trucks guard the space


Oh those seams

Seams good

The main issue seemed to be the weather, as maybe that long awaited for rain was on the way…so we did a little marathon to finish the yurts, and, as we finished the second yurt cover, the rain started.

22' complete in the Tuscan Tamoil

22′ complete in the Tuscan Tamoil

We got the boys to help and we drove the bigger yurt to the platform it was going to go on…. …and then all hell broke loose on our heads. We decided to stick it out, so we put that yurt in the strongest rain ever getting completely soaked, and even heaving to paddle ankle deep on the PVC groundsheet.

Reflection of the wheel in the lake made on the groundsheet

On the deck after the rain

On the deck after the rain

We later heard that that yurt had blown down in a storm. La Dolce Vita.

A poorman’s vice, or hands for feet

We decided it was time to start eating out of wood, so I went to make some bowls for us.

Carving wood is in my blood I guess, (sometimes I give it blood too). Anyway I never liked using workshop tables or vices for holding the piece Im working with, I remember being asked when I moved into a community years ago, by one of the man, If I would help him build his workshop, he said I can have my own table in it. I said I use my feet to hold the piece I’m working on.

Ive been told my feet are like hands they are so broad.


Poor man’s vice


Hands for feet


Broad axe for rounding the corners


I love heavy tools, the axe I should be using is probably a quarter of the size


Carving is in my blood, and my blood is in the carving


Crooked knife for bowl inside


Another bowl and spoon quickly done


The Elves got to eat out of wood


The elf queen’s bowl




Zome: As Above So Below

We did some zome work today, trying to figure how to connect the top layers. Sometimes I get all confused, and trying to figure out how to transfer the “female” (helix zome) to the “male” zome (the version has straight ribs) for the top most connector and last level, is actually quite confusing, that is not to say that I don’t get my head wrapped around easily, because I do. (See here for more on our zome and how we got to it).

zome struts

Zome struts for top level of zome


What I was trying to get my head around is how to avoid the tight curves and connectors of the top level. Here is a picture of “female” or helix zome by Nicolas Causse who’s work inspired us to make this zome with curved ribs.



Curved Rib Zome

It’s at times like this when I get confused that something from out there comes to me. I have always had it, even as a little kid, a thing that guides me and shows me the way, or simply puts it in front of me when I really can’t get it.

helix zome

Really in front of me

Or in other words…..


As above so below

Some people don’t believe in being guided. They have to think hard about things but as I am a very bad thinker, I put a lot of stock in friends from above.