Back in November last year we compiled a BIG LIST of all the high level tasks and I outlined them in this post, promising to update our progress every month… Mmm, I’ve been a bit rubbish, haven’t I???
Well, nearly 6 month later, here’s an update on progress and the latest news of what’s on the BIG LIST now…
Ur, well, the first item on the list & that’s where it all started to go wrong! The drainage ditch turned into our Elephant Task and no matter how much we broke it into bits, we got so tired of chewing those chunks! But the drainage on the main campsite is now DONE. We still get soggy patches where underground springs mysteriously appear when the water table rises, but things are better. It’s still a quagmire when it really buckets down but that’s mostly because of all the distrurbed earth which Nature needs to knit together again.
- installing our rainwater collection systems
This is a tricky one. Water is so precious, of course we should be saving every drop. But unless we can salvage a couple of big water butts from somewhere, we simply cannot afford to invest in the materials needed to install the system properly. Our first check list for whether we do a task or not is: how much will it cost?
Thankfully, the water tank we filled up at the start of last summer is still half full! So having enough water for everything is NOT an issue, in fact we are desperately trying to empty the tank so we can fill it fresh from the spring before it dries up.
- finishing our greywater irrigation system
We started with grand plans for this project but the cost of fancy joints and weird plumbing bits was crazy so we are going to make do with bits of hose and ’stuff’.
It’s been a stressful time on the greywater front. We were keen to cover the ugly pipes and protect them, but were concerned about piling mud on them and screwing up the levels. These pipes have been lovingly positioned and levelled to have a 2% drop all the way along – not too much or the water will rush through the system and not be properly filtered, nor too slight a gradient or the water will not run fast enough and stagnate. After enclosing them with earth we waited for it to settle and then had to tweak the system a little, straightening the pipes and inserting stones as rests in places. The system still works; the water flows through well. The problem now is with the last bath. We noticed a slight leak when doing the landscaping around the end of the system. It was too wet to use Plumber’s Mait or other good stuff so Steve cemented over the entire piece where the pipe exits the last bath through a rubber bung. Our mistake was then carrying on regardless, in denial that the fix may not have worked…
It still leaks, really badly. And now there’s a frigging stone wall enclosing it and a load of dirt! The only hope is to dig the bath out and attack the problem from the inside. Watch this space to see if this works or if we have to dismantle the entire stone wall:
- levelling ground to create flat terraces for outside eating areas, a Boules pitch and lots more tent pitches
We’ve levelled a lot of ground dealing with the spoil from the drainage ditch. The area we played Boules on last year will be less lumpy & bumpy & sloped than before, if not pristine! Ideally, we’d like to build a proper pitch – a frame filled with sand maybe – but not exactly a priority for this year.
We’ve cleared the ugly pallet fence between the raised beds and the stream so there is a bigger space there for tents and Steve has great plans to use the last of our sleepers and level earth on the very lower terrace. But even if this doesn’t get done, with a little stumping, strimming, raking and mowing we can accomodate up to 30 people quite easily. More level ground would enable us to space the tent pitches out much more, but even so tents will still be less cheek by jowl than many campsites!
- making a rough, covered outside kitchen near to the eating area and BBQ
No progress made on this at all but we have all the raw materials: sink (reclaimed from the side of the road); pallets to make rough decking; an old table for a work surface – and it will be one of those projects that just gets done because it HAS to (hopefully in time for the Full Moon Party!).
- repairing the critical collapsed terrace walls with planted tyre walls
Mmmm. We have tyres. We have tidied up the area around. That’s as far as we’ve got and in truth we may not get an entire wall done this season. After all the inside jobs have been done, it’s next on the list…
- tile the last shower & the urinals
We can’t put the tiling off any longer! We need to get the building functioning again. Everything was moved down to the basement or back to Topla and the shower block has been left empty and abandoned. We need to be living up there as soon as possible so that means finishing the last shower, tiling the laundry sink, installing the urinals and tiling around them and half tiling the loos so they are easy to clean. We also need to fix the position of the cooker so we can tile around it for ease of cleaning and that means fixing the position of gas fridges & more cupboards in the kitchen. Then we can lime wash all remaining bare plaster, move all the furniture and stuff in… and enjoy!
A new addition to the BIG LIST, all wrapped up in being able to move on site soon is:
- clean, mouse-proof and limewash the basement
We need a proper usable space to set up an office, store clothes and things, have a cold store for food stuffs etc and the basement is it. We need to tell the resident mouse (there’s only ONE mouse, right Kirst?!) to move on and get it cleared, cleaned, painted and organised!
- paint the outside of the buildings
This is one of the tasks on the list for our work day on 8th May. I painted a patch on the back of the workshop in limewash last year and it still looks great, even after all the ravages of winter. A bag of lime is pennies (in comparison to the price of paint here) and will make loads of wash, a real cheap option for us and less harmful to the environment. Having a sparkling white building will make an enormous difference – and help us sell the site in photos better!
- plant the flower & veg beds
Made reasonable progress on this task. There’s still lots to do and there’s a bunch of plants queuing up to put their roots down but there’s no chance of doing much more until the rain stops. We desperately need some hot dry weather to follow the deluge of the last few days. We haven’t been on site for the past 3 days due to the appalling weather and I dread to think what’s going on up there….
Since we are determined this year to keep greedy cows and intruders out, there’s a new task on this list:
In practice this means: running barbed wire along the edges of the boundary where a cow can possibly invade and electrifying the main fence to deter the village kids and travellers who got on site, poked around and stole stuff last year. If the barbed wire doesn’t get them, the x 1000 volts will!
Another key task is:
We need a proper weather-proof, sound-proof, easy access structure to contain our trusty genny.
We have been gifted some great wooden stairs from Keith & Maja so now we need to treat them with wood preservative and install them firmly but that takes care of:
- create safe, stable access at each end of each terrace
We now need to start making some rope hand rails or some such stuff to help support people safely down them!
Finally (well, never ‘finally’ because the list never ends but…) now we’ve dismantled the old compost heap we need to:
Gulp! Still a bunch of stuff to do. Thank God there’s no guests arriving until end of May! And we are feeling a little less over-whelmed since we’ve had news that a potential volunteer, Jaime, will be joining us in May for 1 or 2 weeks; a volunteer from Spain, Pedro, is looking to join us in June and will possibly stay for a couple of months if we all get along well and last, BUT NOT LEAST, Nik, dear Mr Nik, without whom it all wouldn’t have been possible last year, is coming back this summer. Hurrah for willing helpers! Anyone else fancy it?