Tuesday, 16 June 2009

I'm back

TLB and I have been living in the grounds of a stately home in the Purbeck Hills which has been very nice but all good things must come to an end. We are leaving because we want to pay our way in the world and we want our own home. We do not want to outstay our welcome but the tent is not an option at the moment as I need to be able to work from home. Thus, the house hunting started in earnest a few weeks ago.

The reason that TLB and I first moved into a tent was to clear debts and to have an adventure. We have certainly had an adventure and debts have been cleared but I still have a way to go, on both fronts. We have lived rather too well over the last 6 months, getting functioned up with alarming regularity and commuting from Dorset to Reading weekly has placed different pressures on my perpetually dwindling bank balance.

A few weeks ago some people that we know heard that we were house hunting and offered to let us a gorgeous little cottage on their estate. Being within walking distance from TLB's new job and within our budget we agreed instantly. We move in on the 4th July and have both vowed to make use of the tennis court in the garden to get fit. I do however think the role of ball boy will be well beyond the dogs meager capabilities, for he is a simpleton.

The dog is in excellent spirits and has had the best few months of his life, with the last 5 months spent staring at a hole in the garden. At his disposal have been woodlands, gardens (walled and otherwise), fields and pastures to roam about in and he has ignored them all in favour of his obsession with the hole. On day 4 of living here, he managed to catch a rat, a rat which came out of the hole into which he now gazes longingly. He hasn't caught one since. On the occasions that he has managed to make it further afield he has been to a local conservative party meeting in the big house (alone I hasten to add), has diced with death on the edges of the cliffs and spent lots of time squashing bluebells. His new home is bound to have a hole so he can hone his staring and loitering.

Between us TLB and I own enough things to fill one medium sized tent, which means we are starting from scratch. We have no TV, no sofa and no fridge. TV is very far down the list and I am going to start reading books and blogging more, first we are going to raid the auctions and freecyclers of the world so we don't have to sit on garden furniture in the living room. We do have a lovely wood burning stove, a trailer, some plastic crockery and a collection of lovely Afghan rugs.

I now have about £4k of debt, having paid off about £6k whilst we were living in the tent, I have abjectly failed to save since living here but am newly enthused about clearing the burden. The house we are moving to is within our means but we will have to be sensible about things if we wish to thrive. The combination of budgeting and incredulity at the world around me* made me miserable enough to stimulate my creative urges.

We have been incredibly lucky and have met some fantastic people along the way but now is the time to get serious about escaping from the shackles of debt and building ourselves a house. Key phrases to look out for will be vegetable box, on the wagon, joint account and dog grooming incident.

*Gordon Brown. In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Dear Boxshifters pt 2

Dear IT Support

Your swear filter is somewhat less effective that I thought it was. I have managed to call my colleague a cock muncher, shitbiscuit, gobshite, felcher, arse-eater, dog fluffer, wang daddy, cock beast, hootie mama, jizm gobbler, cum guzzling fuckslut, cumdrain, winnet eater, shitface, dog breath, bananaman, arsefucker and spunk bucket in the last few minutes alone.

However jerk, faggot, bitch and arse are all illegal, all of which could quite conceivably have meanings that are not considered abusive.

Muff diver gets flagged up as racist abuse but Paki and Nigger are completely fine. I cannot imagine what sort of perverse mind could mis-categorise so wildly.

Should you require me to provide consultancy regarding the correct configuration of your swear filter I would be very happy to provide a comprehensive list of abusive terms, racist abuse and sexually discriminatory remarks,



Dear Boxshifters...

Dear IT Support,

I have recently been having some problems with my dog in that he has been eating the cushions and soft furnishings in my house. When I was trying to explain to one of my colleagues what a little pillow biter he is, I was shocked to find that your profanity filter started flashing up worrying warnings about sexually discriminatory terms.Imagine my surprise when discussions about a friend of mine, a landscape artist who has been working on a number of uphill gardens, were flagged as profane. How very dare you!

I am all for sensitivity to our sexually diverse colleagues but I think this may be going a little far. I have decided to spend a little time working out exactly what I can and cannot say so that I will in the future be aware of when I transgress the very sensitive and somewhat prudish communication filter. If you do find a strange upsurge in the number of ambiguous sexual terms going through the swear filter please excuse me and be aware that it is a very short term period of experimentation.




Okay, so we moved house, to Dorset and have had a couple of weeks to acclimatise. I am going to have to change the name of the blog to something more suitable but feel that I should have sufficient adventures to keep what little readership remains amused.

When I first heard of the prospect of a free stately pile in the country I was overjoyed. My tent had collapsed only a week prior to it becoming available to us and we had camped in laundry rooms and in the houses of sympathetic farmers for the duration of the snow. The tent is now back up and running, sat in the garden of our new home and we are installed in what is possibly the most peculiar circumstances one could imagine.

TLB, the Dog and I are now part time house mates with an ex-General, a lovely chap who is equipped with the most dazzling array of stories and can name-drop for England, quite literally. He seems to be very close to the apparently small world of the rich and famous, the good and the great. He often talks about The Queen as if she were just another person, which to him I suppose she is. By virtue of TLB's job we now have at our disposal a cleaner and a gardener, a good supply of wine and endless supply of awesome scenery for the dog to piss on.

So imagine our surprise, a week after having moved in to be told that the Stately Home, the grounds of which we have been living in has been sold. There are 13 houses on site, a few businesses and all of them are being vacated. We have our marching order and until August to enact them so we may well be heading back to the tent after a brief bout of luxurious living.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Oh no, our little home, what has the evil snow done to you?

Today I worked from my friends flat where we have been holed up for the last few days, primarily because it had snowed and the journey would have been painful but also as it would enable me to go and check out the tent during my lunch break. I had not yet had a daylight opportunity to go to the farm and sort it out and today was a bit of a grizzly chore.

When I arrived the old girl was in a sorry state. Covered in snow and ice, the entrance was the only think that marked it as a tent rather than a pile of snowy lumps. I got out my ice shovel (thank you snowboarding brother who abandoned his kit with me last year) and set about clearing it. Once I had shovelled all of the ice and snow from the top I could lift the sopping wet canvas just enough to be able to get out the things that we knew would not survive. We grabbed bedding, rugs and clothes. Tuff-crates, stoves, air beds and the like would be relatively unharmed by a couple more days in the drink and time was very short.

The pole had bent clean in half. Monica (the farmers wife, I can talk about these things now that I am leaving!) came over and grabbed the pole insisting that it would be fine in 5 minutes and scuttled off with it. True enough, she appeared 5 minutes later with pole in hand. She had been to see Richard my welding buddy who had done a credible repair to the pole, chopping off the top that was bent and inserting a new, tougher bit of iron bar and welding it into place. Grand. We got a chance to quickly put it up to make sure it was strong enough and we then we laid it to rest for fear that it would collapse again under the predicted volume of snow.

When up, we could see that the tent had quite extensively flooded and where one of the rugs had been sat in standing water for some time, it had leached some dye into the water. This made the tent look like the floor was covered in blood. Which was then traipsed across the snow as rugs and the like were removed. It looked like serious violence had been done upon that spot, I tell thee.

So, we have been offered a bed tomorrow night on the farm which we are going to take up. We are going to get up nice and early on the Saturday morning and we are going to take down the tent and pack everything into the trailer, upon whence we shall bid farewell to our home since September last year. The atmosphere has been quite solemn since we got back after lunch. TLB remarked that she was sad and just wanted a few more days in the tent before we head off to Dorset. Life in the tent is just not possible now, bedding is with dry cleaners*, floor is flooded and there are not enough daylight hours available to sort it out whilst we are both working.

It has always struck me as a bit of a vulnerability of tent life. We often considered cleaning the tent but to do so would take at least 2 days. Clear the tent, take it somewhere to hose and scrub, apply waterproofing gubbins, take it home, allow to dry, reinstall stuff. Any major changes to the tent environment hinge around the fact that we have to sleep in it. We couldn't send off bits of the stove for repair as we needed them on a daily basis to cook and stay warm. We are now on our third airbed and each time, we have had to obtain a new one** within a day just to ensure that we did not have a miserable nights sleep.

I think what I am trying to say is thankyou to TLB without whom this whole caper would have been infinitely harder. Her day to day sprucing and stoking, hunting and gathering has given a dimension of domesticity to our little tent. Without her it would have been a great deal harder to maintain a reasonably civilised persona at work and at home. This has been her adventure more than mine and I am hugely looking forward to the adventures that she can take me on in our new home in Dorset.

This all sounds very final. On the upside we have a fantastic but slightly weathered tent and stove, trailer and towbar, loads of memories, new friends and money in the bank. When we get to Dorset I am going to take up Morris dancing. The adventure is far from over.

*It may seem to some that we are the epitome of middle class campers and this is probably not untrue, but we do require a certain degree of comfort in order to make this whole ventureworthwhile. When your £150 goose down duvet is stained and soaked through, I am inclined to give it to an expert to salvage rather than ruin it myself.

**I have fixed many a bike puncture, but trying to get an entire airbed underwater when every drop within a mile is frozen to find the leak is not something I can recommend.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


Well, what an adventure the last week or two has been. I seem to have recently lost a bit of momentum with regards to the blogging, partially because I have had no peace in which to scribe my whitterings but mainly because I have not been doing much camping.

I took a couple of days holiday at the start of this week and TLB and I decided to head down to Dorset for a long weekend and explore our new home. We arrived on Saturday morning, stocked up on cheese and bread from the local market and set about finding the beach, the garden etc. Sunday saw extreme weather warnings which we heeded and decided to cut short our trip to Dorset in case we got stranded. I had booked a day at a spa for TLB and I to celebrate her birthday which we very much wanted to get home for so we set off into the bright sunshine and clear skies, cursing the weather that had better come.

We went to stay with a friend, knowing full well that if it did snow, the farm would be cut off from vehicular access and we would be stranded. On Monday we woke up to a blanket of snow. We got a call from the Farmers who were sad to report that our tent had collapsed under the weight of the snow. There was no way to get to the tent, even the farmers, with quads and a tractor had not been able to get out so we went snowboarding for the day instead. Tuesday was the day on which we had to go to the spa, which we did. Today is the day when we are going to have to go and rescue the tent.

The farmers have done a little investigating and reckon that the canvas is not ripped and that it must be a bend in the central pole. The padlock that we fitted for security purposes has prevented them from investigating any further. My theory is that as the snow built up on one side of the tent, it caused the tent to lean which made the central pole slip on the cold ground and bought the lot down but until we can get there, there is really no way of knowing. All I am sure of is that all of my worldly possessions are currently in a large soggy pile in a field.

In many ways I am counting my blessings, we are neither stranded at the farm, nor were we in the tent at the time of collapse, which would have been truly horrible. We have a house available to us immediately which we can go to at any time we choose. We plan to move in this weekend so our homelessness is very brief and a very good friend has been putting us up for a couple of nights in the meantime.

It is absolutely typical that we have the coldest, snowiest winter for decades at the same time as I decide that camping out for Winter would be a brilliant idea. This may seem like a somewhat inglorious end to the camping odyssey and could mark the time we have spent in the tent as a failure. I do not believe this is the case for the following reasons:
  • We have now lived in the tent for 6 months in all but the most extreme weather, we have survived local flooding, temperatures below -10C and high winds, and have taken all in our stride.
  • My aim of saving money will be going from strength to strength as we now have a free roof over our heads and I will be working from home a lot more, saving further money on fuel and lunches and the like.
  • I have managed to pay off far more debts than I would have been able to living in the old house, and have not accrued any more.
  • We have both had a fantastic time, which we will one day tell our kids about, and hell, may even repeat when the summer comes if we fancy it.
I sometimes wonder if we are chickening out by making a dash for the Dorset house but I think I would have given considerable ammunition to my detractors and their claim that I am insane if I were to forsake a warm, dry, free house just to make a point. As I have often said, if the sole reason that you are doing something is the principle of the thing, it is probably not worth doing.

And for all those of you who need a top camp site, not too far from London but suitably out in the sticks, I can very strongly recommend Mellow Farm, near Dockenfield in Hampshire, James and Monica have been the best landlords we could have hoped for and we will miss them very much.

Tell them Ben and The Lovely Bella sent you.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

From the sublime to the ridiculous.

This post may err on the scatological but I will do my best to keep it decent. As no honest person can deny, the clear up required after a hefty and satisfying discharging of ones bowels varies in it's involvement. On Thursday night I found myself at the wrong end of a serious clean up and decided that I would just skip the tissue and leap straight into the shower. As I went to get into the shower my family turned up and would not, despite my insistence, leave the bathroom. I remember the sensation of anger rising in me and I ended up screaming the house down, raging against my unwelcome intruders as I desperately wanted to get clean. Dreams can be most peculiar things.

Feeling the separation of the buttocks caused by an epic klingon, all I wanted to do was to get clean. I hysterically battled with my mother to leave the bathroom, the location of which remains a mystery, until eventually she took offence. Then it was tears, recrimination and blame as all I could think about was cleaning my polluted posterior. I was aware of a shower nearby and being naked as I already was I left the room and headed into the middle of the high street, covering myself as best I could, to find this surreal open air shower unit. It was not working so I returned to the shower room from whence I came. The room was clear, the shower was functional and just as I was about to get into it, one of my colleagues materialised in the shower and blocked my entry.

It was at this point that I woke up. Shocked at my sleepy adventure and pleasantly surprised to find I had not soiled myself in my sleep. My colleague was most surprised when I greeted him with a slightly harrowed 'I dreamt about you last night'. I am not usually one to read meaning into my dreams but I was acutely aware when I awoke that I do not have my own ablutionary facilities. No privacy in which to enjoy cleaning, it is all in public facilities, be they friends houses, the shower block or the shower at work. I cannot wait to have somewhere I can safely leave my soap.

That looks to be approaching very quickly. TLB returned from her meeting last night very excited and keen to talk about our new adventures in Dorset. I have asked her if it is okay to blog about the subject and she has kindly allowed me to share my excitement, as long as I do not mention names or places. So, the plan as it stands is to pack up the tent in 3 weeks and transplant our lives to Dorset.

TLB has managed to secure housing in a clock house in the grounds of a stately home on the Dorset coast. The house is the holiday home of a Knight who has been helping her to secure funding for a fossil museum and he has kindly offered to let us stay in it for the foreseeable future. The house, complete with walled garden, cleaner, wood burning stove, pool and horizon lake will be a world away from the tent. Wood will be delivered weekly and chopped for us and the track down to our private beach will make for excellent mountain biking. It would appear that we are going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

It all seems quite surreal. For many years I have always been the instigator, in matters of housing (or tenting) I have always been in the driving seat and for the first time I get to sit back and enjoy the ride, and what a ride it promises to be. TLB and I will both be working from home for quite a bit of the time. We will be able to share lunchtime walks with the dog, who will continue to be in seventh heaven, evening strolls to the seaside and balmy summer nights in our rural idyll. The mind boggles, I can hardly believe it is true.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Up and down.

TLB is away for the day finalising details of her new job in Dorset so the dog has come to work with me. At lunch time we set off across the fields over the road from work entirely unprepared for what we were about to witness. As we crested the first hill we gazed down upon a sight that simply took my breath away.

5 Red Kites were playing over the fields, antagonising a flock of pigeons that were resting, chasing off magpies and bombing each other playfully. The dog trotted out into the field to see what all of the fuss was about and one of the kites hovered about 10 feet above him, giving me a perfect view of what has to be one of the most magnificent birds I have ever seen. I have seen them from a distance a few times but today I got a chance to watch them in all their glory and it has made my day.

Back in 1977 Red Kites were all but extinct with only a couple of breeding pairs in the entire country, though there was a small population in Wales. Today they are thriving with an estimated 600 new birds being born each year in England alone. In the west country Buzzards are two a penny but they are most inelegant creatures when compared to the Kite whose long wings and relatively small body make for a very agile flier.

It looks like, one way or another I will be moving to Dorset in the next few weeks, TLB's job is looking more and more like a certainty. My employers have said that I can work from home for a few days a week but I am starting to wonder about the logistics of doing it from a tent.

The thing is, we have put in all of this effort to acclimatise to the winter and whilst it has been far from unbearable, it has been a learning experience which I will not forget. The thing that has kept us going, aside from the meagre cost of our day to day lives, is the promise of summer. The evenings are very slowly starting to draw out, the coldest of the weather seems to be passing and it is all downhill from here into a glorious summer or barbecues, parties and t-shirts.

Living in Dorset and working from home will require me to have a desk and a stable supply of electricity and bandwidth. For all of the things that we have made possible in the tent, I suspect that these will not be feasible and it is all quite a disappointment. There is also the fact that I will be away from home for at least 2 nights out of each week and I would not like the thought of TLB being alone and vulnerable in a tent whilst I am away on a sofa or a spare bed. It seems that accommodation will be thrown in with TLB's job for free which means that I will be able to continue to save, pay my increasingly modest debts and so forth but I will miss the camping terribly.

It will also relegate me to the status of a blogger waffling about my mundane ordinary life which I suspect would be rather boring. Therefore the options as I see it are:
  • Give up camping and blogging.
  • Pitch a tent in the garden of my new home and live in it.
  • Find a whole new and exciting odyssey to embark upon in my spare time and write about that.
If anyone has any ideas let me know, meanwhile I will continue to try to amuse and inform my readers with tales of camping while I work on the sequel.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

There but for the grace of god go I

It turns out that the people with the snappy dog were not in fact a young couple, nor were they on holiday. They are father and daughter who are homeless. They spend their days sitting in the car and their nights sitting in their leaky tent.

Last night we invited them over for some food, thinking that the extension of a warm hand of kindness might make things a little less bleak for them and they seemed to relish the attention, being unusually candid about their situation.

The father has never had a home, has been in and out of jail and after a lifetime of drug and alcohol abuse, had finally pulled himself together just enough to be able to look after the only person in the world that mattered to him.

He explained that when he reached his teenage years he found out that the woman he had always thought of as his sister was actually his mum and his mother was actually his gran. Dyslexia had made school unbearable at the hands of unsypathetic and spiteful teachers so, feeling betrayed and lied to, he left school early and hit the streets. He spent the next 20 years living in shop doorways and hostels, eeking out a living where he could doing odd jobs, fruit picking, labouring on building sites and rummaging amongst bins. When the minimum wage came along he could no longer find work that was not illegal so he became a beggar.

I could tell that he has had drug problems the second a plate of food was in front of him. TLB rustled up a hearty sausage stew which he picked and prodded, never quite getting up the momentum to finish the plate. From what I could tell, on a daily basis he ate very little and his daughter lived on packets of savoury rice cooked atop their little gas stove. My heart went out to them so much.

The daughter did not speak much, we managed to ascertain that she was 21, has never had a job and is fleeing from a violent relationship. She joined her dad on the open road as her only option about 2 years ago out of fear of staying still and being tracked down by her ex. They got a dog, a yappy little jack russell/staffy cross who they both dote on and they endure life on a daily basis, rummaging for new bits of cardboard to line the floor of their dilapidated tent as the old ones go soggy. They both sign on but their transient life makes even that hard. I have never felt so lucky in my life.

The thing that struck me most though was how kind they were. They both automatically took off their shoes when they came into the tent. He had bought a few beers to drink so as not to have to take me up on my offer of a few of ours. We have a spare dome tent and a couple of camp mats which I offered them but they refused, somehow maintaining enough pride to be able to decline. They were profusely grateful when they left, I suspect mainly out of surprise that anyone would actually invite them into their home.

It occurs to me that these two are just two of thousands of people in similar situations. And they are some of the lucky ones. The dad has enough wherewithal to sort out a car and a tent, to get off the drugs and to feed their dog but it is apparent that not all campers are born equal. I can see that if my family life had been different and if I had not enjoyed the opportunities that I have had, I could well be in the same situation. My brother is dyslexic (but thrives nonetheless), my father has had alcohol problems in the past (and conquered them admirably) and I live in a tent.

I know that whenever I have problems in the future, I can look back at our nomadic neighbours and count my blessings. There but for the grace of god go I.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Strangers came...

Wind sucks. This morning I was awoken at 3:30 by gusting winds that made the tent more akin to a boat at sea. The lantern on the central pole was knocking back and forwards, spurts of smoke were being forced out of the stove and into the tent, the walls billowed this way and that and the tarpaulin that covers my trailer was flapping and undulating in the gale. All in all not a very peaceful nights sleep. Cold is, by comparison, a doddle.

We have been joined by various hardy (and not so hardy) campers in the last few weeks. The first was in the week between Christmas and the new year. He turned up with an improbably large tipi which took him about 3 hours to erect, he had a fire bowl which he started outside and then dragged in once he was all set up. We were told by the farmers that he had started to take his tipi down by about 5:00 am having suffered a bitterly cold night and I am sure that said tipi will be found on ebay any day now.

Then we had a chap who was complaining that the cold snap had ended by the time he had arrived. I could only guess that he was going to Greenland on some mad expedition as he had a tent very slightly larger than he was and a sleeping bag that he boasted was manufactured solely from the down from 2.3cm either side the centre of a gooses breast. Clearly mad but fared very well.

Last night we had a young couple and their snappy dog arrive on the latest leg of their holiday. They arrived after dark, pitched their tent and then sat in the car for the entire evening. I was quite surprised to see them still in their car when I left for work this morning. I can only assume that the wind has made life in their little dome tent a bit too uncomfortable and that they were rethinking the rest of their holiday.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

2009 has mostly been cold so far.

The difference between -1 and -11 is astounding. I laid in bed the other night, took the sleeping bag from over my head and let the heat seep out of my face and into the freezing air. I could feel the cold sucking the heat out of me and my face felt like i was melting into the air. Creepy. I whipped the sleeping bag over my head to create a nice pocket to warm up with my breath as was as snug as a bug.

Mornings are the hardest bit, we often have to break the sponge-scourer thing out of a block of murky ice and then defrost it on the stove so that we can wash up. We have to save the last bit of water in the container so we can get more water, which will go through a cycle of solid and liquid until it is used to defrost a tap.

I have always rained scorn on people who dress their dogs up in coats. Cold has turned my dog gay. In the night he likes to snuffle about at all hours, and will often shed his blankets, which then need replacing or we will wake up to a meek looking shivery dog trying to get into our sleeping bag. In my defence, the pooch poncho is brown, aside from the maroon bits, and it is made out of 3 wale corduroy, in accordance with one of my demands. I found him trying to shred it the other day and though I scolded him, I was secretly proud.

I have also become very aware of the variance in quality of tea lights. We use a lot of them and have even become sad enough to develop a favourite. We had some of them from the garden centre down the road and they required a great deal of attention to light and then died in about half an hour, with most of the wax unburned. Useless. Bolsius candles from the market will last for about 4 hours, almost to the minute, will burn all of the wax and are easy to light. Ideal.

We are running out of heat logs which means either re-order or start using other sources of wood. The welding dude whose workshop is on the farm has a mate with a big pile of wood which we are investigating.

Other than that, it has all been very laid back. We eat well, personally, rather too well in fact having put on a few grams since I moved in, we are warm in the evenings and nights and cold in the mornings, I have paid off more debts and we have not so far been mistaken for gypsies and hounded out of the neighbourhood on the wrong end of a pitchfork. We keep getting invited to increasingly weird dinners with the farmers and I have taken up archery.

It is however illegal to hunt rabbits with a bow and arrow in the top field beyond the pigs. So I won't be doing that. A guy here who has recently closed his adventure sports company has a barn full of archery and mountain biking kit that he is flogging cheap so I intend to obtain a compound bow (very dangerous, myeh heh) and some of the associated gubbins (like arrows), and do some shooting in the field, at targets. A mans gotta have a hobby other than fantasising about women about land rovers.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009


As a complete aside to my camping adventures, I recently discovered a new category of objects that I am trying to find a suitable name for. The definition of this group is 'Objects whose primary functionality determines that they are highly likely to be lost'.

Being the mildly obsessive sort I have been looking for additions to this category and have so far found 4 items that I think qualify for the accolade of being included in my newfound clutch of items. These include Aerobie's, anything camouflaged, spectacles and marijuana.

If anyone out there can come up with a suitable name for the group or any items that should be included in my eventual submission to the authorities I would be most grateful.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


This morning my glass of water was frozen solid, the car took 20 minutes to defrost and the temperature was -11C when I left for work. The butane in the cannister had frozen and only a trickle was coming out when I went to light it first thing and the dog was most reluctant to come out from under his blankets. Winter has truly arrived.

I reckon that this has to be the worst of the winter, doesn't it? Whilst wrapped up in a 15tog Goose down duvet, inside a fluffy double sleeping bag it is pretty much impossible to get cold, I am still sleeping without pyjamas, I have not felt the need to start wearing clothes in bed and I can't see it getting too much colder. Lord please don't let it get any colder, if for the simple reason that getting out of bed is a visceral and very determined morning gauntlet that must be run and it is not much fun.

I have had a couple of weeks holiday from posting, sorry if anyone thought I had frozen to death, I have mostly been holed up in peoples houses enjoying luxuries like taps and electricity. Some good friends joined us, along with the farmers and we spent new years eve around a fire and were all remarkably comfortable, using the Romanian Grappa provided by the farmers to keep warm. Not to drink you understand, but to fuel the fire. A few days on a friends sofa doing laundry and one softens up considerably, I found that I was very reluctant to go back to the cold of the tent. Once back though you settle in pretty quickly, the old routines of fetching wood and water, food and fuel quickly returned and the romance has not been entirely frozen out of us.

It is now only a matter of days before we have a firm idea on what TLB will be doing and when her new job starts in Dorset so I will soon be able to make some plans about what I am doing. Work have provisionally authorised a couple of days per week working from home so I may find myself out of the tent in a matter of a couple of weeks, a fact I am slightly sad about on the quiet, as is TLB she tells me. Will post more tonight when I have some more time and in the meantime, wrap up out there!
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