What is happening where? Westacre, Harrow and the bungalow

When you are living in the middle of a huge life change, everything seems pretty straightforward. But I can imagine that, from the outside looking in, our madness can be a touch confusing. So here it is, for the sake of clarity.

1. Roger’s bungalow.This will be Roger’s new home. He bought it about a year ago and we started renovating it about 6 months ago.

Roger’s bungalow, aka ‘the bung’.

We could have given it a lick of paint and Roger could have moved in months ago, but Roger wanted some alterations, and once we started taking down partitions, we discovered that quite a lot of things could do with replacement and repairs.
So some walls have come down and new ones have gone in. Alex has completely replaced the water and central heating pipework. The front door and porch have been moved, and French windows added at the back. The place has been completely rewired and replastered by professionals.
Things have taken rather longer than we expected at the bungalow, but it has all been very useful experience. Now we are at the decoration stage at last. We are hoping to move Roger into his new home at the beginning of February.

2. Westacre.This is the house where Alex grew up. It has been Roger’s home for over 40 years. Alex and Hilde bought it about a year ago, and intend to make our home and our life here.


While ‘the bung’ is awaiting completion, Westacre is still Roger’s home. Alex and Hilde are staying here as his guests, and everything pretty much still looks like it always did. Once Roger and his belongings move out, Alex and Hilde can start thinking about making it their own.
The first stage will be to turn the big living room into a bedsit apartment, where we will live while we do the big Westacre eco-renovation project.

3. Harrow. This was Alex and Hilde’s home for 17 years. Once we have moved our belongings to Westacre and done some necessary maintenance, we will let this house, hopefully to some nice long term tenants.

Our house in Harrow

About 6 weeks ago, we replaced the original wooden windows with UPVC and double glazing so our tenants can keep their heating bills low.
When the winter weather clears, we will be taking frequent journeys with the TARDIS and its trailer to transport our belongings up the M40, saying our final goodbyes to Harrow.

Right now, we are working towards a 1st February deadline to complete work in the bungalow. We are making good progress, and are hopeful we will make it. We need to
– finish tiling in the shower room and en suite.
– install the last bits of bathroom furniture.
– put down wooden floors in the living room and hall area.
– paint most of the walls.
– lay carpets.

It’s all very satisfying work and we are still enjoying ourselves doing it all. Which is just as well, because once this is finished, we start all over again at Westacre.

No matter what, trust

Trust (geograph.org.uk)

Sometimes, the sorrows of this world overwhelm us. Sometimes, the future seems just too scary to contemplate.

But that very future is what we make. Each of us is a powerful and creative part of this world. Each of us creates the future, moment by moment.

So let us dream a new world, full of promise. Let’s trust that together we can turn the ship around. Let’s trust that life will endure. No matter what. Trust.

Listen. The land is speaking its beauty and its need.

Listen. You will hear Nature winding down to its deepest stillness. The whisper of the last falling leaves will carry you down to rest with the Earth. You will be lifted by the song of a lone bird.

Listen. You will also feel the plight of the Ash and the Blue Tit. You will hear the sorrow of many souls weeping.

Listen. What joy do you carry that meets the need of the land?

Do something – it’s less frustrating than waiting

I had a few days of frustration where I felt progress was slow, and where I felt trapped in my last few weeks at work. But I’ve discovered that doing something, anything, to help the project progress (from trips to the dump to scraping paint off walls) makes me feel better. In the same way, I can get frustrated that it’s hard to fit my spiritual practice into busy DIY days. But doing something, anything, even just a simple greeting to the Earth and the Sun, balances and grounds me as I wait for my new life to take shape.

That was a very satisfying day’s work

Andy the electrician and some of his satisfying wires

Westacre Day minus 41

Today some amazing progress was made in the bungalow. Andy the electrician brought two of his mates. They drilled holes in the walls, and all of them have satisfying wires hanging out of them now.

Hilde thought she was going to do a quick wall paper stripping job in preparation for some tiling, but ended up removing several layers of paint as well.

Alex finished the very last of the plumbing, ready for the man to come and install the boiler on Monday. He also spent ages drilling holes through porcelain floor tiles to fix the toilet in the shower room.

Roger started fixing some of the holes in his ceiling, but had a setback when the plasterboard started sagging dangerously. Hopefully this can be corrected without too much fuss in the morning.

Connecting to the soil brings balance and peace

After nearly a week of nervous jitters (life is after all quite stressful at the moment), I sat down with the Westacre soil. It is going to be our partner and ally in creating beauty for this place, so I need to build a good relationship with it. I felt its cool solidity, smelled its rich fertility, saw its dark life-giving texture and tasted its gritty strength. I listened deeply, with all of my being and allowed it to speak to the depth of me. Slowly, all tension crumbled. The feel of my body became as loose and open as the soil. I felt at home.

The Oak King in the lane wearing his golden crown

Let there be light!

Westacre Day minus 42

This morning, the electrician came to the bungalow and prepared it for complete re-wiring. In the afternoon, all three of us went out shopping for light fittings. We hit pay dirt in a friendly lighting shop and bought three lights for the living room ceiling, four for the walls; one light for each bedroom; a light for the porch; and a strip light for the store room. Success!

Hilde had a deep conversation with the soil of Westacre, and felt herself settle and rest at last. Only six weeks to go…

Why #climate change is not a topic in the US presidential #elections

“… the obvious can be very difficult for people to see. That is because people are self-corrective systems. They are self-corrective against disturbance, and if the obvious is not of a kind that they can easily assimilate without internal disturbance, their self-corrective mechanisms work to sidetrack it, to hide it, even to the extent of shutting the eyes if necessary, ro shutting off various parts of the process of perception.” – Gregory Bateson, 1968

The toilet saga

Alex has done heroic deeds in our Harrow toilet. This may sound like an exaggeration, but believe me, seldom has such valiant battle been done in so small a space.

For a long time, the flush hasn’t been working right. Over the last few weeks, Alex has been fiddling with the mechanism in the cistern, fixing it, only to find that, after a couple more days, the problem would return, or another problem would appear. We are now keeping our fingers crossed for the latest repair.

Again in that small room, the walls needed tidying up. So Alex has been working hard with filler and lining paper. But in order to get the lining paper on the wall, he stood on the toilet seat and… broke it. He spent ages in a traffic jam to get to B&Q to get a replacement.

Flush and seat being repaired, and lining paper attached, the toilet needed a lick of magnolia emulsion. Our friend Gerjan applied that in the afternoon. Hilde has written her next blog post and has been general support system for the battles in the toilet.