Mrs Mills' Yurts | May Hill Glamping

Truly indulgent glamping in extremely stylish Yurts

Please, Go ahead Mrs Mills...

Without a bush to beat around I'll get on and say that last week the good Councillors at The Forest of Dean voted 14 to 1 in favour of our little Glamping project! They mainly said it was exciting.  And any concerns they had we had already answered.

Mrs Mills' Yurts and Bed and Breakfast will (hopefully) be open next summer.  The fact that our land is how I imagine the Somme once looked, is the only thing that can stop us now.

On Wednesday the local newspaper rang me and asked me to comment on the stir I had caused in the community with this blog.  The article is below, but clearly the reporter didn't think it was all the bother our objectors were going to.  They also kindly called the B&B an upmarket one.  I guess any press is good press.

If Anne Charnock (left) had looked as livid in the photo as she did when the decision was read out, the article might have been a little more convincing. As it stands I reckon it's pretty good PR.

So we returned to Longhope under stormy clouds and celebrated with a quick half before picking up our little champ from Nursery.  When we returned we discovered the whole of May Hill was in a blackout.  I have never been so thankful of being in a caravan with a belting gas fire and the ability to cook our celebration dinner by candlelight!

Candlelight and a clay pizza oven.
So its been a long process getting to the meeting.  A revised and revised again Landscaping plan, the battle to convince the planners to let us have white canvas, the ins and outs of composting toilets, the exact location of the car park, the promise of more expense spent with a structural engineer.  We have a beautiful and knackered old barn that we want to have an outdoor clay oven & a fire pit - maybe even an eco hot tub.  So we have to make sure the barn won't get any more knackered.  We'll have to reinforce a ruin. And that will need planning as its listed (ahhhh................)
But its done and now I can get on and find my cast iron bath tub which is so much more fun.

It was rather less of a local event to also get all of our other planning permissions through.  Linda and Steve now have a windy old heap of stone that's full of bats. The perfect retirement property.  The planners are letting us put a freestanding bath in the attic (for the most amazing bathroom!) and insulate the whole house.  We can have our en-suite and disabled toilet downstairs.  We can make it a 5 bedroom house and knock down the old kitchen.  They have let us do everything we've asked.  I have heard horrendous stories about the planning department at the council but our experience has been laborious, but easy.  Its been pretty good going to have got planning on a Barn conversion, a change of use of land for the business, and 6 separate Listed Building Consents all in 3 months.  I think that's enough for now.

As I've been beavering away at my computer, the house has taken on leaps and bounds.  Once we got planning the boys got on with making Dursley Cross Farm warm with a selection of foam, fur and foil.  The caravan is getting colder and the race is to get us into the attic before the snow comes.

Gary's uncle Graham came for a whole week, and Arthur and I de-bunked to make room.  Gary slept on the floor of Arthur's room and his feet came out the door.  Graham is a sucker for punishment and the kindest uncle we could wish for.  He knew exactly what to do and led the troops.  He re-wired the house and made stuff out of wood.

Then Ben came to help for the weekend and seemed more than happy to get dusty and dirty.  Secretly I think he was harking back to the ol' days on the job, before his shoes got all pointy.  With four of them here it must have been snug, but they did so, so much and only ate Chips once.

Doughnuts were another matter though...

We ordered enough materials to insulate and lay the underfloor heating on the top two floors.  It took 4 men, a whole week of 10 hour days to get one room to plasterboard.  Our optimism should be commended, but how naive we were to long this will take.  It has then taken a further 3 weeks for Linda, Steve, me and Gary to do the other room.  Gary has been working in London Mon-Friday then all weekend on the house.  When Gary is in London; Steve is head Foreman and Linda and I have learnt how to use a saw properly (point the finger) and Steve has learnt (although he probably knew already) that women have their own ideas about how to do things!  I might just say here that Steve has been here working, every day since the break-in and kept me in company and curry.  The hard work everyone is putting in, is astounding and humbling.
And I know there is more to come.

Gary and Steve put the metal flues down the Chimneys.  We decided to have open fires in each room - so they'll be somewhere awesome to relax of an evening in the *upmarket B&B.  This means coils of weird metal tubes that got poked and pulled down the chimneys.  To make room for them - 300 years of birds nests had to come down.  With soot and dirt too, the boys went all Dick van Dyke for a day.

It took me a week of visiting salvage yards to find the pots I wanted at the price we could afford.  Note to all - don't bother going to the Cotswolds! anyway - found myself a keen little junk wizard to help on future ventures....

And the pots go on the top.  And we climb on the top.  For the moments when we know this place is wonderful and this mission will be worth it.

Linda retires in a couple of weeks (yeh!) and her and Casper the MASSIVE dog will be here full time.  The snow will come (although the rain is annoying enough) and the room they live in is damp to the touch.  The caravan is still keeping us warm and we are being inventive;
Linda and I made a path to the house so Steve will stop falling over,
Gary insulated the caravan bottom with foam and we stuck cling film over the windows.

This was all working perfectly until the rain came...

Unfortunately the path has turned into a mud slide.
The insulation has fallen out the bottom and absorbed the torrential rain like a huge yellow tampon and the cling film causes such condensation we can't see out of the windows.  Then the cat got a shock trying to get out of the window; major cat plastic panic occurred.
Finally some thieving toe rags broke into the yard and cracked into our storage unit and scared the living daylights out of me (I was on my own with Arthur - whose Ninja skills aren't quite there yet).  Can you believe 8 years in London and no danger - 4 months here and we get picked on.
So we are all looking for somewhere to rent.  Short term. with a dog.  Not the most prosperous of tenants - but we'll see what we can up with.

Living here, in a caravan, on a hill is, er... Peaceful.  I go to sleep at 9.30 most nights and would no longer have a clue what to wear if I did have any social event to go to.  I have adopted the country code of thinking its acceptable to team a dress with walking boots.  My winter wardrobe is 3 years old and even though we've moved here for The Good Life, all we can really afford to buy is clothes made in sweat shops.  An inconsistency somewhere along the line.  I am trying much harder in charity shops but have so far bought a fogey skirt that just about zips up under my armpits and a jumper with a hole; discovered only when returned to the caravan. humph.

I have also discovered most tourist attractions round here are run by children.  At The Cotswold Farm Park I was told by the teenage (head!) chef that they couldn't boil pasta to accompany the Kid's special of Spaghetti and Meatballs.
'We've got it, I just can't do it''

At the local softplay centre I had to police the bombardment of plastic balls directed at Arthur from a 6 year old as there were no parents to be seen.   The teenage staff were too busy making each other sniff the customers shoes in the shoe hold.

Arthur at the farm park.

Oi! Luca, I need help... can you see it?

No mate... nothing down here either.

Thankfully people are still coming to see us and there is no fear of the Caravan.  Katie and Matt are 100% decided they want one and waxed lyrical about the seating areas and space.  We tried to go for a walk, but the mud made us retreat to a great pub in the heart of the Forest of Dean.

Suzie and Nizzy visited and shimmied down the scaffolding Bridget Jones style. We walked over May Hill, under the thunderous applaud of horses hooves in a full out gallop.  Amazing.  Ate lunch in the Yew Tree and drank ale.  

Polly came in her walking boots and we sheltered from the rain.  Rustled up a quick dish that Ottolenghi would have been proud of - and one Steve wouldn't have recognised as food!  We drank beautiful dry wine from the local Three Choirs Vineyard and talked about boys and London 1980.

It has been a long month and a testing one.  But when I write this I can see how much we've achieved in and how determined we are.  We can hopefully forget about the planning difficulties and in time the neighbours will come to see change won't all be bad.  It might be a while in the making though as I should think we have a fair few glamping credits to pay back for everyone's hard work.