mumsnetBack along, my family and I swapped a house for a three-acre field in Devon and a leaky caravan where we lived off-grid for two years. Sadly, we failed to get the planning permission we needed to stay. We are now back within four walls, with a proper loo and everything in a cottage in Dartmoor. So this is now a blog about living ethically amid a fabulous landscape with our home educated kids while we adjust to being 'normal' - for a while... and what we plan to do with our land next

Friday, 28 October 2011

Winds of change

It’s not all rain at Charwood Towers – sometimes we get wind too. Earlier this week, we had rather a lot of it. I lay awake as it buffeted the caravan listening to the awning creaking and flapping. Occasionally, this would be punctuated by a loud crash as its sides were blown in with such force that shelves fell over and scattered their contents. For a while I thought I should get up and check to see that the dog wasn’t covered in shelving and assorted items, but became overwhelmed by fatigue and fell asleep.

In the morning, it turned out the dog was still alive albeit a little depressed. The tent floor was covered in an assortment of Barbie dolls, screwdrivers and tins of beans, which mingled with the mud that comes up through the supposedly waterproof membrane we put down as a ground sheet.

The biggest casualty was our tool tent. The very same tool tent I had just removed the skin from my fingers sewing up after the last gale (see A Rent in the Tent). It lay, flat and forlorn, its contents exposed through a large, gaping hole that is beyond my sewing needle or adhesive tent repair tape.

We hurriedly stored some of the more delicate items in our redundant second car, which gave up the struggle of our lifestyle shortly after we arrived on site. Now we have to work out how we can rehouse it all.

It’s not just the tent that needs rehousing. In the summer, our caravan clearly had leakage and water penetration issues. However, in the summer, the wind would blow, the sun would creep out for a bit and it would dry off. Now, it is clear that the water penetration is here to stay. The wall next to where I sleep is so wet it can saturate a tea towel in one wipe. We now have mould, which I am allergic to and isn’t much good for anyone else either.

This all means that turning the trailer into sleeping quarters has become even more of a priority than it was before. The trouble is, we have so many priorities. There’s the drive to sort out, the car to service, trees to buy and plant, weeds to be cut down, awnings to be dried, planning application drawings to be done – to name but a few. We circled in red all the things we thought most important on our long list of Things to Do, and there’s a lot of red on there.

But we have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of any of the rest of it, so we have started converting the trailer. By we, I mean Gully with some useful help from our eldest and hindrance from the other two. I see myself in a supporting role, which involves listing the attributes I wish the trailer to have – such as beauty, ample storage space – and room, ludicrously, for an electric piano that we don’t actually have any electricity to run.

To that end, we have bought all we need and work is in progress. I have high hopes that we will be able to move in soon – then, who knows, we may live in sludge without running water, but if we can get the currently blown-up generator going we will at least have Chopin – well, OK, more likely the Darth Vader theme from Star Wars.

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