Saturday, 19 March 2011
Due to popular demand we have kept the yurt available throughout this winter and I have been impressed / bemused by the willingness / foolhardiness of the folks who have chosen to spend their weekends there, the lowest recorded temperature being a barely survivable 22 degrees below. I have been asked a couple of times what it would be like and I had to say I hadn't tried it in the winter. It is, after all, a tent in the highlands.
So 2 nights back I gave it a shot. I am no hardcore outdoorsman, I don't own North Face pyjamas and there was a foot of snow all round with a frozen crust on top, thankfully it cant have dropped below minus 4.
Here are my recommendations.
Life revolves around the woodburner.
Get here early, chop lots of kindling and get the fire lit. Its not instant heat by any stretch and dealing with all that in the dark is more difficult (adding wine makes it easier). The smaller you get the wood the hotter the woodburner will be, therefore the easier it will be to cook on (you want it really roaring), also the faster it will burn out, you have to find a balance.
We went for the simple option - pasta, sauce, garlic bread (in the oven). There were 6 of us round to the yurt for dinner which was no problem but you should probably triple any recommended cooking times. It pays to leave the big kettle on all the time the fire is lit. I have just bought a dutch oven - a big cast iron pot on a chain for one pot meals over the bonfire - but haven't tried it yet.
Chuck two or three generous scoops of coal in before bed and open the little wheel just a crack. Also fill the oven with wood at night, it may catch fire if its up against the back of the oven but it will be tinder dry and speed up your morning coffee no end. If it does go out empty the fire and start again, I often go to change the yurt and find the firebox is totally choked.
Honestly what was it like? Really comfortable, not warm exactly but the two duvets and three rugs would keep anything out. It must have been baltic when it was minus 22 and super cold as soon as the burner went out. I could do a bit of draft proofing and perhaps turn the doors to open inwards. I'm tempted by a bigger stove but dont want to sacrifice the oven. If there weren't quite so many jobs to do round the farm and it wasn't a significant part of my income I would live down there for the summer, go back to nature, go fishing and read a lot. I have a couple of brilliant books I'm going to leave there.
The question on my mind now is who gets it for the Insider Festival... Suggestions, blank cheques and begging letters to the usual address.
Thursday, 17 March 2011
The first Inshriach wedding of the year took place a few weeks back. Sam and Anna chose a humanist celebration and decided, with it being February and the highlands, to have it outside without a tent. The two families spent a week decorating the house, preparing food and hanging hundreds of fairy lights and team Inshriach (Allan Heaney the chef, his girlfriend Ellie, Sophie and Nicole from the estate and Ali Caplin and Hazen Metro on fiddle and pipes respectively) swung in to help make it all happen.
Oddly on the same weekend we were featured in 'Best Scottish Weddings Magazine' on the back of some excellent photos taken at a wedding last year by Helen Abraham.
Wednesday, 9 March 2011
Last weeks ebay rambling brought to light a lovely little 1962 Bedford CA campervan in Glasgow. There was no way we (Inshriach Abstract Motoring inc.) could justify it in the petrol fumed wake of the Commer but for our friend Emma B it was love at first sight. We keep it on the road and use it as a spare room for the Beer Moth or for the yurt, Emma uses it during school holidays (she is a teacher) and everyone is happy.
In the meantime the 'Moth has been pressed into service to and from the builders merchant. It is insanely expensive to run - it's cheaper to get a taxi into town - but plasterboard doesn't fit in a taxi and we have a laundry to build before the rentals get super busy next week. Her new roof is under construction, complete with windows and an extra foot of headroom to accommodate holidaying double bass players. With luck everything will be back in service for the start of May.