Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Pole Dancing

We are up to first floor level...and the scaffolders arrived today to turn our house into an enourmous cage of poles and planks...the Husband enquired whether I would be taking advantage of the poles? ahem, cough, splutter...horrible thought!

We collected 250 little hornbeam trees to make our new 'walled' garden...40 got planted this afternoon, and they look like they will make a good hedge...the pressure will be on to get the rest planted asap, before the roots get frosted or dry out!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Action Stations

Two years, almost to the day that we moved in...the builders arrived! Yes, I know! It's hard to believe....but we've really started!

Yup! It's concrete...not very eco, but practical for this stage of the project! The things going inside are green - heat recovery ventilation, massive insulation, Krypton filled double glazing...the list goes on!

Phase one has really begun, this phase is concrete and blockwork, covered in render - not green, but quick and is the same as the structure we are altering.

We see the new view from the sink emerging....soon my existing Kitchen will get demolished, and the new one can rise phoenix like from the dust!

Sunday, 29 June 2008


I haven't written anything for a while - at least, not on this blog.
I think I've been in a vacuum - planning went in....and like getting pregnant, there's not a great deal you can do until the times up!

I think this feeling of doldrums is a result of much head bashing against various brick walls - when you try and do something unusual people try to put barriers in your path. Using ancient build techniques shouldn't be like that....but it generally is, people are too happy to point out all the negatives.

This week we had a meeting with our lovely builder - and it looks like we could have a start date...planning permitting....and a lot of other things permitting.
We have speeded things up by spurning straw - a big and unpleasant choice to have to make - but given the choice of building this year or waiting yet another year, green 'sips' panels have won the day.

The Husband has researched some wizzy materials, so I hope when we discuss this next week with the builder he agrees that they are suitable.

Also next week....it's the visit from the planning officer.....it's  a big week ahead!

Friday, 6 June 2008


Planning - just the word makes our shoulders slope and make involuntary groaning noises...but somehow we've inflicted this process on ourselves for the second time in a year.

Having gone through this trauma once, we got to the end of the process, stood back and discovered that in the process we had been so diverted from our original desire that the end result was unrecognisable - which, quite frankly is a surprise given that we both know our minds and know how to present ideas to other people. 
It's just that in the pit of sticky goo of hiring Architects, Engineers and the influence of a planning officer who has their own agenda....it's very easy to be pushed and shoved in a rather different direction.

We got our planning approved.... then felt huge sadness, that we had ended up with something so compromised, that building something so flawed would irritate us for ever more. 

So, we took a deep breath, re-grouped, re-designed, re-drew. 
Having put our revised application in, we sit back, exhausted, and hope that we are lucky enough to have our plans approved again - this time without all the enforced compromises from planning, and building regs.

By the end of the Summer we will discover if our green dream is possible. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008


Long before the television programme Grand Designs was conceived we yearned for a patch of land to build our own home - we never imagined in the early days that our search would take this long - it's taken 15 years! 
While working in America, I discussed our hopes to build a house with artist Emilie Henry, who gave me a book which further fuelled our dream - "House" by Tracey Kidder. That book has moved house with us three times in the intervening years, but our dream has remained.

Moving to our 2 acres of green, amongst the beautiful rolling Wiltshire countryside has been a life changing experience - an altogether calmer existence than the busy, dirty streets of London.

Having space has meant an expansion in our menagerie - we share our rural idyll with three cats, a hairy hound and eight chickens and a rooster.

Equally, having this space has emphasised the fragile nature of our world - from our vantage point on the hill, we watch the weather, we saw the flooding down in the valley, we sat through the storm which blew the electricity cables together and created a light show worthy of an Olympic opening ceremony... just watching the natural cycle of the year has made us look very differently at things!

We made plans to renovate the moment we saw this place, but since the purchase of this money pit, we have had to re-think these - and re-design plans which better suit the life we lead now with a more ecologically friendly existence.

This said we're far from being the perfect 'green' family - we each have our little luxuries we wouldn't give up - the car and the Aga being the worst offenders!

So, we try, we're trying to improve, but  most of all we would really like to prove that 'green' can be also be Luxe!

Over the course of the next year I plan to 'blog' our build - and would really appreciate technical help from any of you out there who have already  'been there' and have road tested the systems or techniques we plan to use!
Equally I hope my blog will serve to assist future, hapless self builders (such as us)!