Thursday, 23 December 2010

Festive Chestnuts

Our last visit before the holiday season - when we're not going to be able to do anything, as the Slough Council Nursery will be completely shut up and locked until after New Year.

But mission accomplished - to get rid of some more snow, to get the wood burning stove in there and warm the place up.

And, as a pre-Christmas treat, we managed to rustle up chestnuts to roast and some mince pies...

Happy New Year!


Monday, 20 December 2010

Safe at last...

  Here it is, this morning (Monday 20 Dec):

Lots of work from the Monday TC group today:
We brushed it all down and dried it, got the canvas sides and roof on, and shovelled out most of the snow from the floor.

 And we got the canvas (weatherproofing) layer on

And the nursery IS completely closed from 2pm on Friday until Tues 4 January - so there will not be any chance to do anything then. But at least we don't need to worry about the bad weather damaging the wooden frame any more, nor the canvas going mouldy - and all the other parts are safely stored in the dry.

On Thursday afternoon we're going to shovel out the rest of the snow, get the fire in there, light it, and warm it all through (1pm if anybody wants to come).

After the holidays, the canvas will need taking off, and the whole lot (cotton liner, felt walls and roof, then canvas walls and roof) putting back on in their final place - but we're getting the hang of it now, so it shouldn't take too long!

Happy Christmas, all

Sunday, 19 December 2010

A worrying exchange of emails


From: "Rex Haigh"
Date: Dec 18 2010, 10:09 am
Subject: Hello - from the snow
To: Exclusion Link

Hi Rob

Sadly, we didn't get the covers on before the bad weather came back with a vengeance - we had the cotton lining on, but had to take that off as there was going to be no time to do the felt & canvas. All the covers are dry and safe indoors now.

But I have a feeling the council garden centre will be shut over the holiday period (which is a shame, as I think we could get together and do it then).

So my quick question is: will the wood frame be OK in the cold and wet for another two weeks or so?  (I'd hate to have to take it down - but will just have to, if it is going to get damaged)


From: Rob Matthews []
Sent: 18 December 2010 20:20
To: 'Rex Haigh'
Cc: 'Ratna Matthews'
Subject: RE: Hello - from the snow
Importance: High

Dear Rex...just to stress this again the frame MUST NOT get wet.
The wood is not designed to get wet this is the very last thing that you must allow.
It's vital it is taken down, dried with a towel and left in an airy place to complete drying. If not there is no end of possible problems for you.
Do it tonight please!!!
Rob Matthews

Yurt Workshop
Yurts as beautiful and functional as a yurt should be

From: "Rex Haigh"
Date: Dec 19 2010, 6:21 pm
Subject: Hello - from the snow
To: Exclusion Link

Thanks Rob
I'm on the case. Too late and dark for tonight (and no rain or snow forecast).
But we're there tomorrow, and can probably get it down then.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Major snow

 No Yurting today, sadly weather too bad and possibly worse to come all day.
Sheena and David took the liner off on Monday, as it was getting very wed and quite muddy.
Which leaves me wondering when we might get it done at all...

But I will send emails round if there is 'a window'.
David - I very much doubt the group will want to come over on Monday in this  cold.
But as the covers may well not get put on till after the holiday, can we get the canvas covers into the metal container, along with the felt?
I'll keep the cotton liner at home till we're ready to go again. And I hope the wooden frame (and sticky door) don't suffer from another week or two without their covers.

Also, could you find out from Paul if they are open at all between Christmas and New Year - I might be able to persuade the family troops to go over there for a day if they are open. But I expect they'll be shut till the 4th - when I'm so bogglingly busy, for weeks, I doubt it'll be finished till NEXT Christmas!


Monday, 13 December 2010

Squatting in a polytunnel

With the weather interrupting progress, our hopes to be comfortably established in the yurt before Christmas were looking a bit forlorn.

And with increasing bad feeling about being ejected from the (temporary) hospital room we use for our community meetings and therapy groups, our members decided that the Monday lunch and afternoon activity groups would be much nicer over at the Slough Council Nursery - even though we were in the worst December weather for decades, Heathrow airport was shut, and the roof fell in:

Our group therapy circle

The cooker, sat on top of a propane cylinder

The hot drinks counter

Washing up area

Our 'dining room table'

But boy, was it cold! Here's the snow on the roof, the roof falling in, and why the washing-up wasn't done for a couple of weeks:

Our temporary polytunnel home fails to take the strain

Rips and icicles galore

Difficult to wash up...

At least somebody has found a comfortable spot!

With Christmas on everybody's minds - in one way or another - the editor of the National PD website (Ann Grain) and I cooked up a biblical spin on our plight - and published it as a news item on the site: "No Room at the Inn: Ever Thought of a Yurt?".  It's a bit exaggerated, as we have got some space at the hospital - though it's not always available - and this greencare project is completely separate from the NHS programme. But it makes a heartwarming story for Christmas! Here's the link:


Friday, 10 December 2010

Felt Failure

Hello all
Here is a picture to inspire us:

Which is where we are as I write this. Currently 6ºC daytime, expected below zero (again) by early next week. Not much probability of rain currently predicted.

Unfortunately, this is only one layer of the three we need to cover the yurt with – the cotton lining. Next come the felt (for heat retention) and canvas (for weatherproofing).

We got quite a long way with the felt walls – which come in 3 sections with a clever interlocking system for stringing them to each other – before we realised we only had an hour left before we would be turfed out of the nursery, which has a strict regime of gate locking at 4pm (when it would be too dark to do anything anyway). We were also getting a bit dispirited with the fact that the slightly warmer weather today meant that all the ground round the yurt, outside our gravel drainage trench, had become as muddy as Glastonbury, and we didn't want to drop the felt (or anything else) into the 'fields of mud poo' that lie immediately outside our yurt space's gravel drainage trench.

So, with rather heavy hearts, the three of us took down the felt walls we had struggled with for an hour or so, and stored them away in a dry metal container (much drier than the polytunnel). As the weather forecast does not predict much rain, we didn't feel we also had to take the cotton liner off. If it gets wet with a bit of rain or snow – it should soon dry off (especially when we get it warmed up inside).

So the next two big jobs – putting the felt around the cotton lining, and covering the whole thing with the canvas layer – still need doing. And we are all busy people...

Then, to make it a bit more difficult still, David, Matthew and I think that amateurs like us need at least five people to do the next bit easily (though you can probably do it with less when you know the drill). The felt walls will need four people holding them up while one does all the strings, for example. It's even more critical in the middle of a winter mudbath as the felt must never sit in mud or puddles – because it will instantly
become soggy and useless, as capillary action sucks up all the water around it. And we want to avoid making all the covers muddy because there aren't enough of us to hold them up while we're tying them in place.

We don't yet know what delights might await us with the next stages, which are, in rough order:
  • Felt roof (the instructions suggest that as long as we lay it out the right way, it just rolls into place – one piece at the front and one for the back)
  • Canvas wall (we need Julia, Mary & John for this bit – but you won't get what that means till you see the instructions from Yurt Workshop)
  • Canvas roof (unrolls and unfolds into place, seems to need prodding with roof poles. Then lots of webbing to hold everything together)
  • Crown cover (and strap it down to secure the whole thing against stormy weather)
  • Chimney hole (with temporary flue borrowed from the Nursery till we get our own)
  • Installing stove (proper footings etc)

So here's our latest plan...
1.        This Saturday: day off. No action.
2.        On Monday:
  •  Clean up all the felt layer's attachment strings (some of which got a mud bath today) – as they will probably show through, or put their mud onto the cotton liner.
  • Assemble all the felt pieces 'ready to go' in the dry area of the polytunnel we are in. (But keep them in the dry metal container until we actually are ready to go).
  • Ditto for the canvas wall & roof
  • And talk through exactly what we need to do to get the felt and canvas covers finished.
 3.        Next weekend: recruit all community members, family and friends we can for the final push (as above)...
Hot soup, jacket potatoes, bread, nice cheese, interesting paté, hot and cold drinks, cake and chocolates provided.
Children welcome.
RSVP to David or Rex

4.       Start organising the long-awaited 'yurt-warming party' for Feb/Mar.

And Happy Christmas, everybody!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Today's triumphant topping out!

Although still a little thin on the ground with bad weather, we romped ahead with the building:

First the door and 5 panels expanded

Then tightly webbing the sections together 
...assemble all 72 roof poles ready to slot in

...raise the crown, and hold it there. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 poles in place
...then the other 68
  Next stage: lining, felt, then canvas.