I went on a walk four years ago when we were living in the Hebrides which bloody nearly killed me. Mentally, I’m not quite over it yet. The difference between walking in the Hebrides and walking in, say, Cornwall – where we’re living now, on board our boat – is that if your spirits flag and you begin to fall behind, in Cornwall you can slip into a coastal hostelry for a restoring pint – or if you’re on a low-alcohol diet, a cup of coffee in cafe with steamy windows – before having a quick pee and heading back out to catch everyone up …whereas if you lag behind in the Hebrides, your a dead man.
I bought some straw bales last week. I’m not a very good at buying straw. The bales required for building (did I mention we’re building a straw bale house?) need to be bound so tightly that you’d struggle to push your fingers under the baler-twine, your finger tips turn white, and when you attempt to lift them they’re so heavy – and you unused to dealing in agricultural quantities – that the bales pull you off balance throwing you face down in the dung. It gives the farmer something to chortle at – for which purpose he excuses himself and tells you he’s got to go …back up the ‘ouse a minute.
The bales I bought weren’t like that, though. I could float my arm freely in the space under both strings and when I braced my feet to lift the bale – 1 – 2 – 3 heave, it was so light it shot over my head, dislocating my arm in the process. It’s still hanging in the rafters now (the bale, I mean) – we tried poking it with a stick. In my embarrassment I pretended the bales were ideal and gave him a £200 deposit. The farmer supplies Waitrose with free range eggs. Did you know he has to write the date on 3000 eggs every day, and then paint a little tractor on them?
Linda and I are living off grid.
Now that I come to work out for how long we’ve lived off grid I feel quite proud: it’s not many people who can claim to have lived without electricity for fifteen percent of their lives. Well, ignoring two-thirds of the world’s population, I mean.
I’m going to be perfectly honest with you – I was hoping that all this greeny eco-living would be brought firmly to an end with our Straw Bale house and that we’d supply it with real electricity. But in order to get mains power – it turns out – we’d have to run a cable underground through a field belonging to the Bath & Wells Diocese (Crosses himself). B & W strenuously champion two causes: Enabling affordable housing; and Raising money to repair the crumbling fabric of their buildings. After battling with their emotions they decided that crumbling buildings were the things closest to their hearts and asked us for £5000 (plus costs) so they could repair some, in exchange for which they’d allow us to dig a trench and then fill it up again, thus ‘enabling’ our house. You can buy a lot of solar panels for five thousand quid.
We’re falling into a similar trap with our mains water – but let’s not go there. Let’s not go there isn’t really one of my expressions – but my Mum uses it a lot. So do two-thirds of the world’s population …but let’s not go there.
In a week or two’s time we’ll hear whether or not we have got our planning permission. Did I mention that we are building a straw-bale house? We were at the plot the other day and our nearest neighbour on the other side of the lane, who has lived in his house for 45 years, came over and introduced himself with the words “I’ve been in favour of this from the beginning, you know?”; forcing us to contrast him with our nearest neighbour on our side of the road who moved in last Tuesday and who has listed his objections in a letter to the planning authority which runs for eight pages.
Can I ask you to hold off buying presents for your family for about two weeks? In two weeks’ time I’ll be announcing a promotional price reduction from £48 to £39.95 (inc p+p) for my Limited-Edition Fine-Art Prints.
In my gallery you’ll find an image suitable for every member of your family …and if you can’t, why not surprise them by giving them an image you know they won’t like?
If you’d like to pre-order a piece of artwork today for delivery in about two weeks visit the gallery, fill out your delivery address on the order form, and insert the words justin tyers blog in the message field – you won’t be charged any money now, and we’ll know it is to be charged at the promotional price when we send it.
If your loved-one just isn’t into works of art – but owns a dog, or a cat – what about some straw?