Tag: Winter at Quirky Camping

La Cabushe Mark II

Our lovely friends from Purton, Sophie and Alex left yesterday to get back into their normal lives, Sophie as the wonderful caterer for the rich and famous and Alex as a splendid organic veg grower and master wood carver! They have left behind a beautiful yurt which will be the new La Cabushe in a couple of weeks – it is now down to me to get on with the sewing!

Alex carving the Quirky Camping sign

Sophie making the yurt walls

It is always a bit of a daunting task to start a new cover, I fetch my roll of very heavy canvas (all 80 metres of it, very heavy!), my scissors, chalk and measuring stick and then I just stare at it all on the table and I wonder how on earth I am going to do the wooden frame, always so carefully crafted, justice! But as soon as I get started it is really enjoyable and very satisfying – each time I make a cover I find better ways to finish it to ensure a tailored fit – I’m pretty fussy and have to get it to sit perfectly along the contours of it’s frame, so it is quite a challenge as no two yurts are the same as you can imagine when you are working with natural wood in the round.

Alex’ door and Sophie door furniture

La Cabushe’s new tono

But that’s a job for next week (or maybe the one after) there’s plenty of time for thinking about it (ha ha!) as La Cabushe doesn’t open for another three weeks!

In the meantime we just want to say a massive thank you to Sophie and Alex and Jen a friend of theirs who also helped in the initial stages of the yurt build, for all of their hardwork – they battled the elements to continue working on the yurt through the worst of the winter, and have made an amazing yurt to be very proud of amongst lots of other things.

It’s A bit Brrrrisk!!!

When Dad said that winter was slipping into spring early this year he certainly wasn’t expecting this, two weeks of very cold weather, down to -16°C for long periods!

Luckily no major damage to report on the island but we did lose nearly all of our stored pumpkins and squashes along with the remains of the potatoes, and the onions have certainly been frozen despite it all being stored underneath straw in the barn.  Even the brassicas in the garden took a hammering, but our loss is the pigs gain!

In this kind of cold weather a lot of time is spent just keeping things ticking over, looking after the animals and keeping the home fires burning. 

The chickens refused to come out of their house for about four days and the sheep couldn’t wait to get back into theirs at the end of each day queuing up at gate in the field to come back under cover.  It’s all good fun for the kids though (old and young!), with snowball fights and sledging. Adam even managed to get onto his skis and ski down to the village, much to the amusement of all the locals!


Luckily we still have plenty of projects to be getting on with, building the new Bodger’s Yurt in the barn and a composting toilet in the cart shed. They will be transported to their respective plinths in the woods at a later date.

Wendy and I decided that this was as good an opportunity as any to take a couple of days off and head to Paris over the valentines day period.  We caught an early TGV from Angouleme and arrived in Paris a couple of hours later .  We walked for miles and miles and I have to say I was very impressed – the architecture and stonework is très magnifique and they haven’t spoiled the centre with modern, high rise buildings.  The last time I was in Paris was in 1989 and since then they seem to have dealt with the dog shit problem and even the waiters seemed pleasant, polite and helpful!

We stayed the night in Montmartre which was lovely and the following day we continued our tour on foot.  It was interesting to wander around the almost village-like area amongst all of the street artists, and one of the characaturists there stopped me to say that I had the perfect look for the work of a cartoonist – I didn’t know whether to be flattered or offended!  Having notched up lots more miles and most of the sights, we caught the TGV home – it was a fast, comfortable and trouble free journey and we arrived in Angouleme when we were supposed to!

We now seem to be in the midst of a thaw so hopefully we can get down to the willow and start coppicing with avengence, there’s lots to catch up on before the daffs come out!

Best Wishes, Matt

It’s blowing a hooley!

Blimey!! It’s blowing an absolute hooley out there this morning, very strong, gusty winds with squally showers. This is weather that causes structural damage, the kind of wind that produces some amazing sounds and that you have to lean into to make any forward progress.

All of the animals were reluctant to be leaving their respective shelters as I went around feeding this morning. Luckily no damage on the island yet (I had to fix one of the poly-tunnel doors) but this kind of weather reminds me never to be too complacent when it comes to the power of nature.

Whilst travelling with my surfboard as a feckless youth I learned very quickly how insignificant we are when we find ourselves in extreme conditions, in my case big, big seas in Hawaii, Australia and Indonesia and days like this reaffirm those lessons learned for which I am always grateful. Having said all of that, today I will be working in the kitchen fitting new fire bricks into our beloved old rayburn and drinking tea, this is what happens when you reach your mid forties!

Since my last blog we’ve managed to dismantle all of the yurts and pack them away in the barn for the winter (on a day like today it’s comforting to know that they’re in there). I stayed a couple of nights in one of the (non-insulated) yurts earlier this month (December) without resorting to the onesy for warmth, it has been a particularly beautiful and very mild autumn.

Chris and I have coppiced all of the wood we’ll need for the hobbity kitchen down at the bodgers yurt and work is well underway now. Ideas are developing organically as we move through the project which is the way I like to do things. Sadly Chris has left to go back to England and pursue a career as a tree surgeon, he will be missed especially at beer o’clock time! There are so many things to thank him for, he is truly one of life’s “diamond geezers”, many many thanks Chris.

Well I must go now, my Christmas present has just arrived in the back of a van, it’s a tractor mounted woodchipper which will enable us to turn any waste wood from yurt building into mulches for the kitchen garden and pathways. I can’t wait to go and put it all together, it’s like meccano but on a bigger scale, the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys! The rayburn will have to wait.

All the best, Matt