Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Christmas

Well, looking back it's been a pretty fab year. Our trip to Australia in February, the numerous visits we've had from friends, family and all sorts of other interested people have been really great - keep coming to see us! And of course, Oscar's new album which is just out (here's the cover) and really fantastic. Of course, the house too has taken shape and it looks like we might even get it finished one day and we have been lucky enough to enjoy good health all three.

We wish you all the very best for 2007 and will be thinking of you all over these coming weeks of family shaped festivities.

love to you all
we three here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Glass in!

Hey! We got the glass in today - it's lovely super-glass and we are chuffed. Of course, there is always a glitch and this time it has been two of the windows not fitting (bad hand-writing I think to blame) so we will have to wait a little more to see the full effect but that's kind of normal for us.
I hope to have the opening windows in over the next week or so too - must call window people. where's my list...ahh-under the billion other lists of things to be done. Oh well, things are getting done at any rate. The first burial is now complete too, in fact a little too complete in some areas and will have to be peeled back a bit to attach plastic barrier to the tyres before the second burial. Poor Oscar had to watch and bite his tongue as the large and ferocious digger knocked bits out of his can parapet wall. argh.
Oscar's also started a great little stone wall at the front of the house where we will plant ground cover and use the dew collected in the down pipes to water it. The septic tyres (wait for the photo) have also been stuck into a hole in the ground and are being covered bit by bit - have to work out correct fall before finishing it off though and that means having some idea of where and how high the toilet is going to be. My head boggles.
Photos soon - only three or four left on the film.

Monday, December 04, 2006

front face painted and burial half done

just a quick photo before the glass goes in - more soon

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The wise man built his house upon the rock...

...and the rain came tumbling down. I will never, ever, ever complain about it not raining again. All our tanks are full to overflowing and are, in fact, overflowing and breaking tubes and going generally mad thanks to two days of HEAVY rain. Someone's been reading my blog...
The broken tube is my own jolly fault really. My marvellous measurements meant that we dug nice two-year-hardened earth away to put the tanks in at the east end and then realised that it was going to be too low. Instead of re-filling the space with rock or whatever it is in English (I know there's a work for it I just can't remember - the stuff you put down under concrete and all that) we just dumped the dirt back in and hoped it would harden up enough before the rains. Which of course it didn't. So the Eastern tanks have sunk slowly into their soft dirt as the water level rose - 8,500 kg is a lot of weight. The damage has really only been one T section of a pipe which cracked loudly this morning at about 6am but it's a bother to have to fix and the tanks are now about 10 cm lower than expected, thankfully that in itself won't affect anything too much. It has been a Lesson Learnt.

Apart from that, the photos here are scanned magazine pages from an article about Oscar and his (I quote) neo-hippy family. Neo-hippy? Neo-Hippy?? Journalists are so uncool.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006


And you thought that it was the English who obsess with the weather... let me tell you something, when it only rains two days in five months (see RAIN! below) then you can't help becoming a little loopy about it. We are seemingly surrounded by invisible plastic curtains which don't let any of the torrential rains plaguing the rest of the country fall here. It's just in THIS area. Our water tanks have still got the foot or so of water from the last rain (singular - it was so little that it doesn't warrant the more serious "rains") and the dew forming on the roof every morning probably means that we get a centimetre more every month or so but everything is so dry. Even the oranges are small this year and the irrigation fellow who usually stops coming in September is still hanging around as we come into November. Hmmm. At least our washing still dries quickly I suppose...

Back to work and school and everything means that work on the house has slowed down a bit. We have ordered to glass and windows to go in the front face but apart from that and the parapet (almost finished) little is happening. We have to get our heads around the plumbing and electricity now. I spend hours gazing into space, trying to draw mental grey water plans and electrical installations. Haven't a clue what I'm doing but I'm sure it'll come to something eventually...

More another day.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Skylights and front face

Here you can see what we've been working on over the last month or so, in between teaching, recording and life at large. If you can't then click on the link to your right and the photos should appear - I seem to be having some technical difficulties at the moment. Anyway, the water catchment is complete with our groovy first flush pipes to catch the first flush (surprise surprise) of about 40 litres either end. We have put a tap at the bottom of each pipe and will attach drip irrigation from here to water the front face berm and grow green things to make it purty. This will work not only when it rains but every day with the dew - at the moment there are heavy dews and we catch about 20 litres either end every day!!

We've also been preparing the front face framing to receive the glass and windows, insulating the front tyre wall and building up the little berm at the front. Hopefully the glass will be installed over the next three or four weeks. We are waiting for a digger to come and dig a little trench first so that it won't disturb the glass plates later...does anybody know how to make a digger come when it's asked? They are impossible here.

THe skylights have been a disaster because our supplier neglected to open the package and check that they were in perfect condition as soon as he received them. now, three months later when we open them, they are cracked and not at all worth the 350 odd euros we paid for each of them. SO we only have one complete skylight and are waiting for the rest to be replaced. The one that is done is a beauty and once we have rigged up the weights and ropes to hold it closed will work a treat. Right now it is heavy enough to hold itself shut so no trouble with water or anything.

Finally, Oscar has been working hard on the parapet wall. It's been hard because the back hoe hasn't come to pile up any earth around the back of the house and he has to perch rather precariously on a ladder and beam type set up with buckets of cement and boxes of can. He's done a great job though and it is almost, almost finished. Now just another coat of render and then some paint...

And that's it for now!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


It poured...POURED yesterday. The countryside smells fantastic! I was sitting working down town having left Oscar Adam and Angela doing some parapet work when the sky came over as black as could be and lightening starting flashing, thunder crashing... I rang Oscar to tell him to get the washing in (as you do) and the rain had already arrived there. Apparently water was cascading out the downpipes which we haven't connected yet to the tanks due to dirty muddy roof with lots of little nibbler born metal bits from cutting the corrugated. When I got home there were craters, yes craters in the dirt where the water had been falling and the roof was clean clean clean. So now we can hook up the pipes and start collecting! Adam explained a great way to catch the first run off and any grotty stuff it may have in it so I popped off to buy a couple of T joints and screw on lids for a couple of modifications...I'll take a photo when it's finished.
Oh, and by the way - he'd already taken in the washing...

Monday, September 11, 2006


We had a very interesting visit last week from Lisa, a Swedish cinematographer who lives in Portugal and is making a film about houses - she filmed us talking about our project and even doing a bit of work on the new parapet wall which goes around the edge of the roof to finish it off neatly. Now Adam and Angela are here on their way back to Australia. Adam helped us with the small house so it was great for him to see how it looks now and of course, the progress we are making on the big house, we are hoping to rope them in to a bit of can laying - we can always pay it back when they start doing their own earthship in Victoria...

Carla went back to school today and we start work on the 18th so things will probably slow down house wise for a while. We are getting quotes for glass at the moment and will hopefully have it installed before it starts to rain. We still have had no rain - that's 3 months now. The water tanks are empty although we do get about two buckets full of runoff just from the dew every morning. We don't collect it yet because the roof is so dirty - waiting for that nice big rain to wash everything clean before we connect the tubes.

Photos this time are of the parapet starting, maintenance on the little house and a view of the big one as is now.

Monday, September 04, 2006

wide angle shot of the whole thing...

Well it's three stuck together so there are glitches but at least you can get an idea of the whole house and back half of our block!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Life apart from the house...

Yes, it does exist although you have to squint a bit to see it. Oscar has been recording his fourth solo album which hasn't really got a name yet but will have one day soon. It is shaping up to be a beauty and we are lucky to have two friends producing it - they work so hard and do some amazing stuff. This is them here, Tony and Josep. It should be coming out near Christmas, I'll keep you posted.

We've also taken a few days off each. Oscar went to Almeria to visit a friend on a tiny beach for a few days and then I went off to Madrid to see some paintings for a couple of days. I loved the city, I hadn't really seen it before - just passed through. It's a really beautiful place. No beach though. Boo.

So anyway back to the house...August is over and shops are opening again so I should be able to buy hinges and stuff to get on with the skylights. We should have replacement skylights sent out for the three that arrived cracked (!) and then be able to completely waterproof the roof with them and a can parapet wall all the way around the perimeter. Have to find someone to do the glasswork and then the side walls and then...and's never ending.
more soon

Monday, August 28, 2006

insulation and waterproofing

So then we started laying down the insulation board, first on the greenhouse and later on the main body of the Us. The greenhouse has just 4cm of rigid insulation over the decking because we are putting rockwool in the gaps between the beams and then decking underthat (visible from the inside) while the Us have their beams on show from the inside and 12 cm of rigid insulation over the top. Then we put wooden strips to screw the corrugated metal into and filled the gaps with another 2cm of insulation. All of this got screwed into the inside beams with 26cm long screws - Oscar managed to get them all straight into the beams! We were working to a deadline here because the metal people were coming on the...can't remember which day they came but they were coming. Unfortunately in the mornings when it was cool enough to work, there was heavy dew and as everything was soaking wet we couldn't do anything. In the afternoons the wind sprang up and blew insulation all over the place so our only option was to work in the heat of the day between water and wind. It was SO hot.

decking and beams

OK, I know this is being posted very late but I didn't get the photos developed until just recently so I am going to do a few separate posts today in chronological order so it looks kind of like I'm keeping on top of this blog.
Here you can see that we finished the decking and the front beams - this was back in early July. Everything was ready for the insulation and waterproofing. More than a month later I still have the callous on my thumb from the six million screws that I drilled into place. Ouch. All the wood has been treated with stuff to stop woodworm and damp. Smelly and sticky but worth it I hope...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Water Tanks and more roof

The water tanks arrived on THE hottest day of the summer so far. The poor guy installing them came from Zamora and suffered terribly while working last Sunday. He also happened to be the SLOWEST hole driller in the world. It took him about 5 hours (plus he stopped for lunch and siesta at midday, so 10 hours all up) to drill eight holes and connect four tubes. Wow. Glad we weren't paying by the hour. Anyway we now have four enourmous blue tanks which look just like camping gas bottles to collect our rain water if it ever rains. Hopefully it won't for another few weeks yet.
Two Us are now completed with their ceilings and greenhouse beams and we should get the rest done over the next few days. We can only work from say 7 until 11 in the morning and then from 7pm till dark. It's just too hot.
Here you can see Carla's bedroom with ceiling, the guy from Zamora, the front face frames finished (say that five times fast), and the whole house from the fence of our block looking up north west.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Two weeks on...

We had a great group of hard working people from Holland and Belgium with us for about 10 days and got heaps done (as you can see!) We have still got a long way to go before the roof is finished but the end is in sight and doesn't seem quite so impossible now. So thank you so much to Theo, Berthus, Sylvia, Etienne, Ferdi, Tessel, Fief, Michele, Fred, Tanja, André, Pierre, Raghnild and Noach!! (I hope I got the spellings right...)

The water tanks never did arrive and we had to cancel the order to get them to pay attention to us. After some discussion they are now arriving on Saturday. We were going to go for concrete after all the bother but have finally decided to stick to sky blue plastic.

And I finally got the decking onto one whole U. Our bedroom now has a ceiling! Just three more to go...

More soon

Monday, June 12, 2006

Here we go...

The wood has arrived and the water tanks are coming tomorrow closely followed by a group of Dutch, Belgian and French volunteers who will spend a couple of weeks camping on site and helping us get the roof on. I love volunteers.
I was reading Kirsten's blog (pinkhammer) and she said something like "work out what you think it will cost, then double it and you'll be pretty close". I am now discovering the wisdom of her words as things like 26cm long screws and other little bits that we never even imagined existed start to come with 200+ euro bills attached (bills as in invoices - I wish they were banknotes) .
Anyway, from this week on I will try to keep you updated with photos and stuff and hopefully we will be weatherproofed for the big October/November rains. More soon!

Monday, May 29, 2006

29 May 2006

Well, there's plenty of backlog to put up on the site. I'll go working on it as I have time.
Right now we are in stressville waiting for things to happen. We have the water tanks ordered and tomorrow will order timber to put the roof on.