Monday, 24 October 2011

frugal life?

What do we realy need? What can we do without? If you think about the things we seem to see as indispensible to our modern lives the list is endless:
washing machine
central heating

I suppose thats not really a very long list compared to some buteven so I've discovered just how difficult it is to live for any length of time with these things.

When we first arrive at the house I feel quite positive;after all we have electricity even if it is only through one long cable with a socket on the end! We have cold water through a single tap at floor height (thanks to a very stupid plumber) and an old gas stove. Keeping everything running smoothly requirs lots of effort.With no sink it's most practical to take a bowl of water outside and wash up there, transfering all the clean stuff into another bowl and taking it back to the kitchen to be put away in lidded boxes to stop it getting covered in dust.

A solar shower that gets laid on the van roof all day to heat up is then fixed ,with a stretchy elastic cable, to the branch of an old olive tree.

Two clay roof tiles form a primative base and stop your feet getting muddy and an old seatless chair stands close by to hang towel and clothes on. At first this seems a brilliant solution to our lack of an indoor shower but as the days wear on it becomes more and more irritating;the floor tiles get invaded by ants that crawl up your legs and nip you. The soap slips out of my hand and falls into a pile of dry olive leaves(thank God for Lush shampoo bars) which then stick to it.And even more annoyingly a neighbour who normally choses the early morning to walk past along the lane changes their routine and now has to be accounted for when deciding on a time to set up the shower!

I end up showering in the dark with a wind-up torch giving off a weak ray of led light -illuminating the ants.And if I'm really unlucky the Hornets which always fly out to investigate a light.

In the end the effort of performing these everyday tasks under such circumstances starts to become almost unbearable and each day they seem to take up more and more time which I feel that I am wasting.Yet if I was living 100 years ago I would just accept them as part of my normal routine.The difference is that I have got used to having all of the things I think that I am entitled to and doing without them seems in some way unfair.Very childish I'm sure.It certainly makes you think about how we take things very much for granted.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

diy project: autumn leaf bouquet | Design*Sponge

diy project: autumn leaf bouquet | Design*Sponge

Quattro Volte -4 lives

Feeling withdrawl symptons from Italy last week I ordered this wonderful film from lovefilm on DVD.The title comes from Pythagoras,having four lives within us – the mineral, the vegetable, the animal and the human – "thus we must know ourselves four times".

The cycle of the four lives begin and end with images of charchol burning(once in a little stove top burner and later in a huge charchol furnace in the woods)and although it is a film that will make you feel very sad it also has moments of high comedy such as the incident when an ape van rolls back and crashes into the goat pen allowing the animals to rush out and create mayhem around the village - whose inhabitants are away re-enacting a Roman ceremony! The accident appears to have been triggered by Vuk the sheep dog - who won an award at Cannes for his part in the film.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

What I miss now I'm back in Cornwall

What I'm missing most now I'm back in Cornwall

Bread -there's nothing as good as the bread we buy in Italy
Amadaeus Pizzeria where we can have a huge pizza with fresh porcini mushrooms a bottle of superb Montepulcino wine and tiramasu with coffee for 30 euros!I could never bring myself to eat a Pizza Express pizza againg.
Sunshine - it's still summer there
9 olive trees - which are pretty old and gnarled but I can tie up my hammock and relax
Sunday market in Lettomanopplello

Billy and Shelia but not the 2 annoying puppies who stole my flipflops
Veg that has flavour - not what we get in the UK
Coffee that costs 1 euro and tastes wonderful

lime and clay workshops in 2012

I've found it very difficult getting the right help and information in Italy to help us make the best choices with our house restoration.

It's easy to read lots of books or look on websites but there's no substitute for actually doing it yourself!

So in 2012 I plan to run some one-day workshops in Abruzzo on using lime and clay to make plasters and paints.From basic stone work and repointing to appling a natural limewash paint I'd like to share my knowledge with you.

old cob from an earth building - still pretty strong

Making lime putty in buckets

If you are interested please email me and I'll be in touch in the New Year once I have sorted out some dates!

my email is

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Folksy :: Buy "Hand Printed Lino Print Christmas Tree Card Pack"

I know its some time off but I'm preparing for running some handmade Christmas workshops in Cornwall.

One of the projects will be to produce some printed cards and wrapping paper but these are so lovely It would be hard to produce anything better!I'll post my results later once I've found my lino!

Folksy :: Buy "Hand Printed Lino Print Christmas Tree Card Pack"

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Recipes for Lime Wash | The Earth Pigments Company

Recipes for Lime Wash | The Earth Pigments Company

Roman wall painting in The National Museum of Rome - using lime and natural pigments.

A wash has less texture than a liming coat, but still masks the surface. To obtain the best result, stir between every stroke.

•2 part water
•1 parts lime powder
•Additive binder at a ratio to the total volume of limewash mixture of 1-10%
•Pigment by weight (ratio to lime powder) of no more than 22% Ochers, 15% Oxides maximum

Work in Progress

Making Lime Putty

We got through about 12 tubs of lime putty - lucky for me they only cost 2 euros each when 1 make them myself!

Lime putty should look like Mozzarella.

New plastering with Pete Mold

Pete Mold and me plastering and straightening the walls in one of our upstairs rooms;this plaster has marble dust mixed into putty and sand.