First tent goes up

First tent goes up

Definitely one of the scariest and most exciting moments of building the site was putting the first post in the ground. We had stood and contemplated these fields for hours, trying to work out where would be the best place for each of the tents while making sure we were as sensitive to the site as we could be – composters not too close to water courses, trying to make sure water from showers would drain the right way, thinking about the view from the bathrooms. In the end the three woodland camps went in the spots that the cows used to stand when the weather was bad – we thought they would be the best most sheltered spots! So when we finally got our planning permission granted in February 2019 and it was a big day when we finally put a spade in the ground.

The first camp we built was Northern Skies, it was the flattest and easiest site with it’s wide open field ahead of it, so being rookie tent builders we decided to start there. The very first post was for the composting toilet – we’d spent a lot of time researching and planning our composters and how they would be, so it was exciting to finally put theory into practice. The steps were made from some sturdy branches from an old oak tree that had come down in the woods and Ed had dragged up the hill. I love this picture of Ed sat on the composter for the first time – contemplating how it feels to sit there!

The bathroom frame was made almost entirely out of things that came out of a big wood skip, plus more tin sheets from round the farm and a couple more branches from the big oak. We really love building things with everything reused, recycled and made from things that have already been part of the farm – some of the tin sheets are already on their third or fourth use.

The next big scary day was the tents arriving – they’re the only thing we’ve really bought new and our biggest purchase by miles – so we had to get them right. They all turned up on the back of a wagon flat packed, poles, decking and all. We got the first one down the hill on the roof of our trusty little jeep and then had to put it all together like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle. It’s a good job Ed and I are good at cooperating without arguing because it’s definitely a two-man (or woman) job! We didn’t rush and putting this one up took us three days, making sure we got each section completely right, and of course stopping for some celebratory beers!

The last picture is Ed’s Dad John coming for an inspection of what we were up to with the tent actually in position where his beloved cows used to be. I’m sure over the years Ed’s Mum and Dad have thought we were a bit crackers, but it was nice to show him what we’d done. I’m not sure they really believed it was going to work though until our first customers arrived the following Spring!

Verity Bellamy
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