Saturday 4th June
Chris has just left. I am here sitting in a deck chair with a cup of coffee and the creamiest pain au raisin I have ever tasted. The coffee is made with UHT milk and tastes genuinely delicious. Better than with real milk. I wasn’t expecting that. It seems that nothing can go wrong. I may have a cigarette to celebrate this fact.
Here is a snail…
Here it is again, with a tiny passenger…
To my left is the house, which definitely is made of asbestos – well, not exactly made of asbestos, but it has asbestos panels on a cedar frame. The carpenter who came to fix the door yesterday assured me that it would be perfectly safe just so long as I didn’t sand it down. Apparently a woman in Luton sanded down her asbestos walls and six months later she was dead. So there you have it. No matter how tempted I am, I will not sand down the walls. It would make a good murder though. In a story I mean.
Good god – this pipeto is super-delicious. I’ve moved on. Actually, I need another cup of coffee to wash it down. One moment.
So, to my left, leaning against the side of the house is six foot of rusted chimney flue from the old wood burner which was stolen some time over the last four years. Next to that is a four foot by two foot rusted metal panel which sits atop two columns of four breeze blocks. On top of that is my two-hob camping stove. In front of it is my Honda EC 2000 generator which we purchased off of eBay and which I reckon was almost certainly stolen from a building site by some wily Polish labourers. C’est la vie.
To my immediate left is the campfire, which I reckon I should move to the back of the house, an area which Chris and I spent most of two days clearing for my vegetable patch, but which is sadly far too rocky for vegetables. Instead it will be set aside for campfire and general carousal area.
Directly in front of me is the foldaway table which came from the back of my sister’s car and which we forgot to put back in my sister’s car before Chris set off for home. Oops. Sorry, sister. At the moment the table is covered in dirty dishes, bottles of motor oil and a baguette the size of Matt Damon’s right arm.
Beyond the table and in front of the house there is an unsightly pile of felled trees from yesterday’s chainsawing frenzy. I have to decide whether or not to cut them up for firewood today or at a later date.
The felled trees are at the top of a fifty-or-so-metre slope which was once lawn and vegetable patch and is now forest. Trees grow quickly. Much more quickly than I’d imagined. I keep imagining what the world will be like within fifty years of the death of the last human being. It will be beautiful. Shame there’ll be no one to see it, but probably just as well. We’d only rip it up and burn it again. As I will rip up and burn this little forest just as soon as I have a moment.
Practically speaking, I should really concentrate on putting the inside of the house in order today. At the moment everything is still dumped rather unceremoniously in the second room, the one with the horrible carpet that needs to be taken up. I should assemble my wardrobe for a start and fill it with my clothes that currently litter the floor in seven or eight plastic bags.
I also need to decide where I’m going to plant things. Wherever I decide, that area is going to need at least two or three days of clearing.
The other priority at the moment is putting the shed at the entrance to the land in order. I’ll talk about the shed a little more another time, but for now let me just say it’s one of my favourite features of this whole venture. ‘Shed’ doesn’t really do it justice. It’s actually a two-room shack made of wood and corrugated iron where someone used to live. There’s a knackered old hob, a bunch of rotting cabinets and boxes and boxes of firewood. I love it.
Oh, the other priority is to make a covered area on this side of the house. There hasn’t been a properly sunny day since I arrived, but I know that when it does come, I’m going to need outdoor shelter.
Everywhere I look at the moment, there are lots and lots of things that need doing, and all of them – except maybe for the washing-up – are things I’m excited about getting my head and body around.
I really couldn’t be happier. How long will it last? I do not know. But for now, I’d better get on.
Oh – one more thing I wanted to mention. I have a pretty unpleasant rash on the back of my neck which looks like it might be spreading down over my chest. It itches like buggery. Whether it’s from just not washing, or something altogether more sinister remains to be seen. Ah, the trials of a simple life.
Oh, bugger. I also have to do something about the internet and introduce myself to the mayor.
Right. I’d really best get on.
I was on my way to the shed with my wheelbarrow when the first boulders of thunder started rolling around the sky. When the rain started about ten minutes later I was still in the shed, filling up the wheelbarrow and marvelling over my latest exciting find, of which more to come. I stayed in the shed for a while and watched the rain from there. It’s probably not exactly torrential but it’s pretty vicious. After five minutes, I came back up the house under a piece of corrugated plastic. I’d already covered everything that was outside but shouldn’t get wet under a massive tarp, just in case, and I get Mears-points for that.
Now it’s been almost an hour and I’m sitting at the open doors of the house looking out at the wet woods. I put an empty bucket and a dish under the overflow from the roof to fill up on toilet-flush water. I may also have a little wash with it later. More Mears-points for that I feel.
Then I opened a bottle of wine and rolled a cigarette. I could of course be putting my wardrobe together, but the rain is nice to sit and watch. There’s a dog barking somewhere and a cock crowing, and the birds in the trees are welcoming the rain with a surprisingly raucous noise.
Unfortunately my computer has stopped telling me how much battery time I have left but I’m pretty sure it’s only around 20 minutes at the most. I’ll have to stick it on the generator just as soon as the rain stops. If it stops. I think it will. It’s already slowed down a little. I think I’ll put a little music on for the remaining time I have. Maybe listen to one of the 100 or so Desert Island Discs I downloaded before I came away. Yes. I’ll do that.
A plus tard.