Tag: The Bodgers’

Bienvenue Bodgers!

Our first Bodgers’, Susie and Ben have been and gone, but what a journey to get here!

With the help of my little digger I have managed to landscape around the new shower so that it is completely submerged. It has always been my intention with this project that it should have a very low visual impact, my hope is that people will walk along the farm track just above the roundhouse and not even notice it this time next year, when nature (in the form of ivy and periwinkle) has started to take over again.

 Ben sorting out the shower

The straw bale walls have compressed and settled very nicely but they were in need of a haircut so that we could have a good key for the render, so this was done using an old pair of sheep shears, the Bengineer turned hairdresser for the day! The render is a lime and sand mix which for the first coat was pushed and massaged into the straw (gloves on), before the second coat, using trowels and floats was applied. It could then be smoothed off to give you something that resembles a wall. It was great to see Adam, our middle son (aged 16) getting so involved with this alongside Ben and Sam.

 Adam lime-rendering the straw bales

While all of this was going on I was busy cutting up our firewood stockpile to give us materials for making cordwood walls, not sure how we will be heating the house this winter but needs must! All of the walls that won’t be buried will be made from chestnut cordwood, logs cut thirty centimeters in length and laid on mortar like bricks.  Aesthetically these highlight the timberyness of the building which I like.

 Cordwood Wall

Ali’s new project was to line the inside of the shower with sheets of OSB (large boards of chipped up wood – the OSB apparently stands fororrible shitty boards!).  Being a boat builder we thought he would be good at keeping things water tight!! This was a very complicated bit of carpentry, turning a very curvy organic structure into a cube that sits on a shower tray and fits perfectly together with no leaks.  In the meantime Ben was cracking on with his second fix plumbing, putting the sinks and shower tray in place and organising hot and cold water and all of the drainage.

 Shower constuction

All work had to stop on the roundhouse for a day so that we could transport Ali’s deck down to the woods and put the yurt up. It all went without a hitch but needed some muscles to carry the deck down to its plinth.

Laying the deck floor

 Putting up the Bodgers’ Yurt for the first time

Once sat nicely and bolted together we could put the yurt up and organise the canvas and all the rope work. The whole area was really starting to look amazing especially when you consider what we started with at the end of last year, but we didn’t have long before the first punters were arriving!

The Bodgers’ Yurt is complete

Inside the Bodgers’

 The Roundhouse Kitchen

On the big day when Susie and Ben were arriving, the morning was spent furnishing the yurt and roundhouse, clearing up everywhere, getting rid of two months worth of rubbish and accumulated tools and fixings, all the left over pipes and plumbing fittings and off cuts of different membranes. Then in the afternoon it was all hands to the pumps, putting down woodchippings on the pathway, terrace and pole lathe areas, gravelling the kitchen and doing all the final bits and bobs.

As our first clients arrived down the cleft oak steps, made and fitted so beautifully by Matty, Ali was leaving the area in the opposite direction having just finished sealing the shower and still covered in white mastic. Ben was driving the tractor off with a trailer load of stuff and helpers , Wendy and I were there to greet our first Bodgers in an atmosphere of complete serenity. Between us all we have created something truly beautiful!

 Terrace at the Bodgers’

 Bodgers’ Yurt and Roundhouse all ready for guests!

Susie and Bens’ comment in the visitors book when they left pretty much sums up what we are about and why we do what we do and reads as follows:-

“thank you for such a wonderful few days, it has given us time to relax, admire the views and to think. Your hospitality has been perfect. The ginger cake and breakfasts delicious! We are honoured to have been the first in the Bodgers’ Yurt and look forward to coming back for future holidays in these peaceful surroundings. It will be a shock arriving in Hackney later!”(Susie and Ben)

It has been a pleasure to have them both here as our first bodgers!

Best wishes, a relieved and happy Matt x

Work on the Roundhouse

The deadline for the Bodgers’ yurt is today and unfortunately we are not ready!  Thankfully my lovely wife is much more realistic and organised than me so she has secretly kept another yurt available in the event that we might need to juggle bookings around – not ideal but I can’t see anyone minding being in the Grand Abri yurt but especially at the moment as the sunflowers are out in the field just below, so the view is spectacular!

The problems started when we decided that the shower had to be positioned outside the roundhouse perimeter which involved digging another section out of the hillside.  This in itself wasn’t a big deal but by creating a cubicle we had our first corner, and therefore, stress point in the roundhouse. To overcome this we needed strong chunky carpentry again not a problem, just time consuming, so thanks Wendy for giving us that two week cushion!

To say that the last month has been busy is a massive understatement but it has been an absolute joy to see the building come on so quickly.  Once the main timber framing was finished, I went off in search of old car tyres, which lead to yet another classic french moment of me trying to explain why I wanted old car tyres, (well you try explaining about hobbit houses and earth-ship building to the man at the garage) it all ended with that gallic shrug and a mutter of “comme tu veut”.  Once in place they were rammed with stones forming the foundations of our straw-baled walls and they were then all compressed and spiked (with pointed willow rods) as best we could. 



The protective and waterproof membranes and also the land drainage were then carefully fitted as it is critical that the straw bales stay dry. It was decided at this point that Sam was the skinniest person around so he had to climb down between the bales and the excavated rock to organise membranes, drainage and careful placement of the soil, which was then filled up to henge level, compressing the bales still further and giving them a real feeling of strength and solidity.

With the bales in and safe from the elements, we could concentrate once again on the roof. After much deliberation we decided to use large willow wands in a swirling pattern (almost like french randing a basket) which had the effect of smoothing out some of the deviations in the rafter levels, creating a neat look to the underside. We could then carry on pulling the protective and damp-proof membranes over the willow before the soil went on  the roof – it took about 7 tons for the building to be sufficiently buried but the resulting structure instantly had a more cosy feel to it!

In the meantime Ben was busying himself with the first fix plumbing involving three hot and three cold water feeds, plumbing in our home-made solar panel and fitting it on to the roof to get optimum sunlight. 

And whilst everything has been busy down in the woods, Wendy has been tailor making the yurt cover up at the house. The walls are reasonably straight forward but the roof can be awkward and used to require several fittings.  Nowadays Wendy seems to be able to throw the part-made canvas on and make a few deft marks with her chalk here and there which makes no sense to me, bringing a mass of material back to her machine and turning it into a snuggly fitting roof cover with only three or four fittings, it’s a bit of a Harry Potter dark art.  She has also been very busy as ever sorting out all of the furniture for the yurt and roundhouse which involves lots of cleaning and restoration and painting as most of the stuff has to be lovingly restored having been found at vide greniers or brocantes, or donated for reuse!

Two weeks to go and even with the extra time it is going to be right down to the wire to get it ready for the first Bodgers!

Got to go and get on, next time I write it will all be done!

Matt x