We’ve been at Oakdean Cottage for seven months, and with the rain setting in, it seems like I get a chance to work on the computer and write a blog post! I’d been hoping to blog regularly, charting our journey, but when you’re outside all day working hard (building or gardening), then looking after a little one and cramming in all of the general day to day stuff, sitting down at a keyboard just doesn’t seem to register.

Work is slowing down as we both return to our ‘day jobs’ – University teaching – and Chris has stepped up his hours. It’s necessary as we need to build up some more funds for stage 2. I was hopeful that I wouldn’t have to commute this year, but it’s only one day a week for me, so it’s not too bad, and the rest is home based. The yurt is up and running for family, but we need to finish the bathroom and kitchen before we have ‘real’ guests.

I’m also desperate to get a polytunnel up, and manure down, for our no-dig veg garden. We had a big allotment in Bristol when we were there, and I am missing the convenience, taste, and money-saving of home grown fruit and veg (as well as the immense satisfaction). It has been delayed as I wonder how to keep the deer from eating what we want to eat (can they please leave off the poor little apple trees?!). I am waiting for a delivery of hedging trees as I think that is going to be the best long term solution, but how do I stop the deer from eating them as well before they grow (answers on a postcard!). There are plenty of orchards and lots of hedges in the Forest, so it must be possible…

Last weekend we went for a quick walk in a part of the forest we don’t normally go to, around the Speech House (purely coincidentally, this happened to be at the same time as the Forest Food Showcase, so we ended up in quite a busy spot – unusual for us). Anyway, this turned out to be serendipitous as Lukas found some children to play with, and we found loads and loads of huge sweet chestnuts ripe on the trees and forest floor, which we then ate for our dinner on Monday eve (River Cottage leek risotto with chestnuts on top is one of our family favourites). Chestnuts are so expensive, this is one food that is definitely worth snuffling out.

The forest never stops thrilling me with it’s health and abundance.

Today, we hope to get our Rayburn back in action after it’s temporary hiatus, due to a flue filled with stage 3 creosote. We decided to install a flue liner as a chimney sweep said he ‘didn’t like the installation’ we had inherited. After knocking it out, we found a chimney coated in hard black creosote. We managed to get rid of this with the help of our chimney sweep, who coated it with a nasty stuff called Creaway (I don’t like chemicals but I like a decommissioned chimney even less). This dissolved / disintegrated the creosote and we are now ready to install the flue liner and get the thing up and running. The past month without heating has been a bit nippy, but nothing too bad.

So, it’s torrential rain, and we’re sat inside waiting for it to stop, so we can get up on the roof. Fingers crossed I’ll be sat here nice and toasty tomorrow in front of the old beast, with a fire raging in her belly.

till next time…

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