I spend most of the time looking like an extra from a Mad Max film and we've all become accustomed to drinking tea out of broken, brown tea stained mugs.
Did we make it?
Or are the in-laws currently huddled under a cheap B&Q gazebo in the garden like a pair of displaced lost souls.....
Does the attic still look like this?
Linda and Steve have a bedroom.
And a lounge.
Its in need of some soft furnishings and the fireplace needs finishing but its a darn good effort.
And we are back in the caravan and i'm so, so happy!
It was a little 'changing rooms' at times.
We had enough time to decorate until the paint just fell off the walls...
It took 4 coats and PVA in the end. About 40 litres of paint for a 15 litre job. Ridiculous.
With the carpet fitters booked in on Tuesday, Gary and I painted well into the night all weekend after Arthur had gone to sleep. Alison was here painting on her days off. On Monday the paint had flaked on to the floor we were sanding off all our hard work and painting at the same time in as there was no time. Linda teetered as far as she could (afraid of heights and the method to reach the top is scaffolding tower plus dodgy step ladder) and I filled in the gaps. We were still painting one room as the fitters arrived to lay the first carpet.
|Graham drove a 6 hour round trip to give us the power!|
This was SUCH a momentous day.
|I sanded the beams|
|Then Alison painted for the first time, and Linda for the second.|
|and I for the third...|
|Impossible to work out where to put the bed.|
The little chap helping me wasn't very strong either.
But we got there.
It feels so good to be home and thinking about the future. And I love the caravan and all its kitch. I secretly like the little compartments and how streamline you have to be. We've moved the bed around and its positively 'roomy!
Still tiny for Arthur, but we've now got a whole new floor for him to run around in. We've basically made a little flat for the in-laws - with a lounge and a bedroom (bathroom still not finished - but this is mainly due to me being indecisive on lighting). The slide that Linda and Steve bought him for Christmas, and Chuong's massive ride on tractor now have a home with a very happy little boy on them.
Leaving the cottage however, meant leaving the bath.
Arthur loves a bath. Its his most favourite thing (after gingerbread goodies and books)
So we had to be a little inventive. Please don't call social services but....
...a flexible plasterers' bucket does the job nicely!
Gary has also branched into carpentry. I was worried about this one. Especially as our fingerless window maker told me it was the sign of a good joiner to be missing a few digits.
It was also a good reason to buy a few more power tools and spend more time in B&Q.
|It didn't exactly look like an easy job...|
|Gary used the old floor boards and Steve plained them|
down and cut them to size.
The complete stairs means we can safely transport the bath up to the attic.
I had conveniently gone out and missed the photo opportunity of Gary dragging the 200kg bath up the drive on a flimsy pair of wheels. When I got home it had at least made it this far.
|The water will come up to my nose|
|but how do I tarnish these rather garish feet?!|
We also had a favorable article (finally!) written about us.
I was pestered by a local reporter who promised we didn't need to talk about our arrival on Mayhill. I never said I owned the Cheese shop either - but he was using shorthand...
In a previous blog I wrote about my inspirational Jimmy Choo wellies - that would eventually be part of a media campaign; a photograph of me, some mud, a dress and the Yurts.
Instead I opted for an anorak, frizzy hair and a ghastly scarf. I finish the look with an uncomfortable smile and a crazed looking husband. Nice one.
Meet Mr&Mrs Mills of Dursley Cross - Forest of Dean glamping pioneers
Nicola Mills’ son, 18-month-old Arthur, is asleep in a cot by the front door as we step into a caravan on a rainy, muddy February afternoon.
The family’s temporary , bought on Ebay after they moved to Gloucestershire from London, sits alongside their Grade II listed farmhouse where husband Gary works to renovate the stripped out interior.
And at the back of the on the old Dursley Cross Farm, sits a plot of land which Nicola hopes that, by August this year, will host three 16-foot tents – the start of the Mrs Mills Yurts “glamping” project.
To describe it as ‘ambitious’ barely does justice to the scope of Nicola’s vision for Dursley Cross Farm. Here’s the plan in a nutshell: a renovated farmhouse; a converted barn for the parents-in-law to live in; the yurt campsite; a bed and breakfast within the main house; a community marketplace for local artisan brewers, bakers and other producers to show their wares. Oh, and a smallholding with goats, pigs, ducks and chickens. All alongside raising a family.
“It’s a big risk,” she says. “We know that. And maybe we underestimated quite how massive this project is going to be. But we are in it now and we have got the experience and the enthusiasm, so we are just going to get on with it.”
The potential really is fabulous. On a clear day, views stretch across the Forest of Dean. An enormous, grassy trench runs alongside where the yurts will be – Nicola tells me it was the old road before the new A40 was built – and it’s a perfect adventure spot for children to play in. And with the main road offering easy access from the Gloucester direction and from Wales, the location’s certainly feasible for a .
So what gives Nicola and Gary such confidence that their grand vision will become reality? Aren’t they the classic, wealthy and overambitious Londoners who fancied a move to the country and have bitten off more than they can chew?
Not so, says Nicola, formerly a fine dining delicatessen and cheese shop owner from Battersea in south west London and also a tea and coffee expert. Gary’s a plumber by trade, either looking for a local sustainable energy firm to work for or considering setting up on his own.
“We are not rich Londoners who just want to have a bash at living in the countryside. I never wanted to bring Arthur up in the city and we had started looking to move long before I got pregnant.
“We knew that we wanted to move to Gloucestershire – then we found this place and fell in love with it. Then we did our market research and decided that glamping was a viable business for us. I’ve run a successful business before, I know a lot about food and produce, and we know this can work.
“And we’ve always liked the area. We holidayed here before and we’ve got friends in Stroud. Gary’s parents Linda and Steve have retired now so they’ve come over too and they’re renting a cottage in Mitcheldean while we get the house finished.”
Planners at Forest of Dean District Council gave the (almost) unanimous go-ahead to the Mills’ proposals late last year.
As you’d expect, there were several objections from residents in May Hill, the village next to the site. Accusations were levelled at the glamping proposal – glamping means “glamorous camping”, by the way – that it was going to cause extra noise and disturbance. One resident reported fears of “all nighters, with lots of champagne, caviar and chat”.
But Nicola rejects any notion that visitors to the site will be an incongruous blight on the area. “People see it as a campsite rather than a glamping site,” she says. “It’s a bit of a lack of understanding really. It’s supposed to be something a bit more upmarket than your regular campsite.
“We’ve got permission for a maximum of five yurts but we’re planning to start off with three and build it up if it’s successful.
“Each one only sleeps four so it’s not going to be a campsite on a big scale. We’re hoping to target couples and young families, like us. After all, it’s much easier to market to the demographic you are in.
“And we’d like people to come here all year round. There will be wood burners in the yurts and they’re surprisingly warm, so people can come here in winter as well.”
So where does the project stand at the moment and what’s the timescale? Well, Nicola admits there’s a lot of work still to do as the work on the house is dominating any prospects of the glamping vision being realised.
But she’s made enquiries with the manufacturers of the £4,000 yurts, even though some tall white sticks in the ground are the only indicator of where the tents will eventually be.
“I’d really like to get some up by the end of the summer but realistically it’s all going to start properly next year.
“I want it to look amazing, so it depends on the weather that we have in the spring and how much we can get done, planting trees and so on.
“But we’re looking forward to the weather getting better and getting started. We’re planning to raise our family here, to be sustainable and make this site a great feature of the community.”
Read more: http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/Meet-Mr-Mrs-Mills-Dursley-Cross-Forest-Dean/story-18199369-detail/story.html#ixzz2N3FGNffH
Follow us: @thisisglos on Twitter | thisisgloucestershire on Facebook
We've been running around outside in the sunshine too which is reassuring as I know the four walls of the caravan will close in soon. Who needs soft play when there is grass and trees mud and space. Arthur did slide down the drive on his nose though which bought a gravelly end to the idillic picture I'm painting.
Elsewhere... The barn project has started.
The roof is fixed and the slates are going on. Linda and Steve have to now Celotex the whole of the roof and its twice the size of ours. Then plasterboard. It is the most mind numbing of jobs and incredibly frustrating. I think the thought of it has made Steve seriously consider the water-tightness of gazebos.
There is a giant silver chimney and flue on the outside of the roof and the inside is covered in silver foil insulation. There is no electricity there so we are using really hot halogen lights on cables.
I expect we'll all be arrested for growing cannabis as soon as a police helicopter flies over.
I am now tiling the bathroom between the attic rooms. The floor has been reinforced and the biggest bath will somehow make it to the top of the house. Once the top bathroom is finished upstairs we'll go to the barn roof as it's the next race against time before their scaffolding budget runs out.
|The top bathroom is a little way off a room.|
The scaffolding has come down from the house and quite frankly it it looks more broken than when we started. Windows have been smashed and only half of the bricks have been repointed. We decided to just get the builders to do half and we can do the rest at leisure (because there is so much leisure)
In fairness, this represents a new roof, new chimneys, a fully insulated third floor and it's half way repointed and water proofed. There are no more cracks, the house is secure and it's not going anywhere for another 300 years. It's recovering from a big operation and it's been left a little fragile but the bones are strapped and its standing tall.
I've joined the toddler group in the village and am finding friends. Well, facebook ones - but its a start. Not sure what they'll think of my moustache profile picture (from the night of the burnt table linen) so I might have to find something slightly more Mummy friendly.
I also went on a WI cheese making course which was amazing. Linda, Gilly and I made Halloumi, Mascarpone and Mozzarella - and it tasted pretty darn good. The lovely lady (www.cuttingthecurd.co.uk) has said she'd be interested in doing mini courses for our guests when we are up and running. Which is pretty awesome. I'm trying to find other's too by contacting the local food producers and craft enthusiasts who might like to do the same. There is a great pair in the village that make potent country wines from delicious things like Elderflower and Strawberries and not so delicious things such as Marrows and carrots. Hopefully I can send guests down for a drunken tour and tasting. Bee stuff, Butchery stuff and sewing stuff also on the list.
Weight watchers is my only other frequent social event - and social being I get to talk to some people outside of the caravan of an evening. Although Linda, Alison and I went for an amazing afternoon tea at The Angel in Abergavnny which will no doubt ensure I'll be the centre of attention at the next weigh in as the only new member to have gone up a dress size in a week.
|Not your average afternoon cuppa|
|...followed by a very average cuppa in the supermarket.|