We’ve been living on the land all week and it has been amazing. Our day starts at around 8.00 am. We anticipated the heat forcing us out of our beds earlier but it has stayed surprisingly cool and we are truly knackered so we manage to sleep through. We have a nice gentle wake up – pottering around doing the washing up from the previous night’s dinner, sipping fresh coffee and swapping stories of the wild life we heard in the night! Our ‘Camping Chef Plus’ has a grill so we manage to make toast for breakfast but it’s quite a mission moving the bread around under the flame to get an even browning. My morning entertainment is watching Nik blow the flames out from his singed bread!
Around 9.00am we put the solar panels for the lights in the sun to charge up all day & are ready to start work. We troop down to the shower block with our cold drink & sun tan lotion, scaring off the snakes basking in the sun as we go. We work until we get hungry, which is usually around 1.00pm. I pick fresh lettuce from the garden and start lunch – a fresh salad and sandwiches. We are ready for the afternoon stint at about 2.30pm. We save the hard physical jobs (digging out, barrowing sand, strimming) for the end of the day when it starts to get a little cooler. From 5.00pm I start watering the garden – shoving the hose in the irrigation pipes in the beds and moving it along every half hour in between my painting jobs or whatever else I’m doing. When the sun is finally off the beds, I water all the newly planted seeds and seedlings (rocket, lettuce, radish, herbs) by hand as their roots aren’t deep enough to get the moisture from below yet and do a bit of weeding as I go. Just before ‘finishing work’ for the day I pick all the produce that’s ready to eat, collect meat from the cool boxes in the stream and make the trek up top to take a shower & start cooking. Depending on how grubby we are we sometimes stop for a shower around 4.30pm when the water is still nice and warm but most nights we run out of time and suffice with a more refreshing one just before dinner.
Menu planning, refridgeration and cooking has been quite a challenge especially since we try to take everything with us we need for the week to minimise the cost to us in time and fuel of constant trips into town. By filling cool boxes with ice and frozen food and putting them in the cool of the stream I can keep things easily for 3-4 days and when we get the new gas fridge working properly we’ll be sorted. Last week’s culinary delights included: spicy chicken wings; poached salmon (with fresh dill from the garden); pork and apple stew (with fresh sage from the land); chicken liver & bacon casserole and smoked sausage and lentil stew – and of course most meals had marrow stuffed somewhere into them! While we wait for the food to cook, we crack open a cold beer (chilled in the cold water in the stream all day) or a bottle of wine and watch the day slip into night. This is the time that the huge stag beetle does it’s fly by over the tent to wherever it goes, the odd tortoise shuffles about, a local cat wanders along and watches us from a distance, the owl starts hooting and the real evening’s entertainment turns up… the farting, coughing donkey! We are a windy threesome because we are eating loads of fruit and veg but the donkey outdoes us all – a truly amazing trumpeter! But we are a bit worried about it’s cough and hope it gives the fags up soon…
By 9.00pm we are usually stuffing our faces and staring at the fire. Suitably sated, we polish off the wine, talk about the day’s triumphs and the work schedule for the next day and star gaze. The evenings are stunning – cool and peaceful but we can’t keep our eyes open much after 11.00pm so we brush our teeth under the stars and crawl into bed.
We work hard, we don’t see another soul, we have no internet connection or TV but we feel like we’re the luckiest people alive.