visit to a working permaculture farm and casa rural

here’s the best bits of my weekend, in strict chronological order


  • crossed the river ebro, it was massive! a burst bank had spilled out over a vineyard
  • three more firsts : saw the pyrenees completely white – they’re about 200km away from the road – then got glimpses of snow on els ports mountains and saw some snow covered rolling hills behind Calaceite, hills I didn’t even know existed before.
  • in my excitement about raging rivers i went across to the local swim spot and found crystal clear water. the river was high but not overflowing..

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here's some of you in the same spot in 2010. you might remember swimming into the underwater rock..
here’s some of you in the same spot in 2010. you might remember swimming into the underwater rock… it wasn’t as clear that day
  • Digging out the ditch behind my shed just seemed pointless without a wheel on my wheelbarrow. there’s nothing efficent at all about lugging earth in buckets from one place to another.
  • On the way to the permaculture farm where I was going to couchsurf, the efficient responded to my email within an hour. I pulled over under an olive tree to take the call telling me that the waterproof layer I proposed buying was completely wrong for the roof. The correct one is made of rubber, more expensive and this conversation will continue by email next week.
  • The first thing I did at Mas de Tapies was watch a lamb drinking milk from a goat. Joris and Monique are doing a favour for their neighbour because the lambs mother didn’t have enough milk for all her offspring. this is a real farm. there’s a horse as well, and chickens, and two dogs
  • The house and farm, which they have been working on for ten years, are absolutely stunning. A cottage with three guest rooms, an upstairs lounge with balcony and a massive kitchen of my dreams.

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  • After a delicious dinner, and feeling really happy to meet some foreigners near me who make a living within the local community (by running english courses, teaching and working in nearby hotels) I headed up to my rustic ensuite room (NOT a couch!)
  • My favourite story at dinner was about the time the King of Spain, Juan Carlos himself, spent a night at this local hotel. Noone except the cleaners knows which room he actually slept in – they prepare two and one is a dummy..
  • saturday i learnt how to make posts stand up straight. from digging the hole, through mixing concrete by hoe to putting a flat stone underneath the post before you fill in the hole.
  • the moving solar panels are on wheels and really are easy to move. the chimney has a vent to suck cold air without causing a draught, the dishwater is filtered with a straw filter and collected before being used for irrigation, the home made goat’s cheese was delicious, the beams had been heat treated against woodworm, these are just a few of the things i have only ever read theories about before. looking at a functioning system is seriously inspiring.
  • a conversation about where to put my stove turned out to be crucial. stoves need a hole as wide as the chimney to successfully suck cold air without causing a draft, and it should definitely be positioned the same side of the house as the windows

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  • Monique told me about four of her favourite places in the mountains, including two stunning but short hikes, and two swim spots i haven’t found myself yet – very excited about checking those out

woohooo is what i generally have to say about a totally inspiring experience. now i must get on with taking decisions about waterproofing materials.

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