A spaceship has landed in our garden

I saw my first yurt a few years ago in  Sam’s dads field in Suffolk. It arrived in a trailer and took two guys, two hours to erect. Seemed easy enough, no fuss, no shouting, easy.  So I helped by keeping well out of the way and worked hard at getting  relaxed by a gentle bonfire. The evening warmth had turned to a slight chill so I entered the yurt. My first impression was darkness, really dark. I had to stand still while my eyesight adapted. Faces came into vision and eventually I counted at least twelve people, or maybe it was six, I could have had double dark adapted vision. My second impression was the smell, a warm, hairy, horsey smell with a hint of goat.Not strong, but there in the ether. None of the inhabitants were actual goats or horses, so by a process of elmination I figured it was the yurt. I lay down and gently dozed while the crowd around me chatted and drank and drank and chatted. Fantastic evening.

A few years later and we are about to realise a long held dream, to have a yurt of our own. After much internet research, Lorna found the right yurt at the right price and ordered it. It only took five months to arrive, thanks to an administration slip up by the shipping company. It was too late in the year to put it up so it sat first in the shell of our partly renovated house, then in the back of the garage. There were many pieces to this mongolian jigsaw and they were all large and heavy. Skip forward seven months and we have the warmest spring in Burgundy since the last one and I begin the ground work. I dug a six metre diameter hole next to our mini orchard. Timbers recovered from the house renovation formed the octagonal / star shaped base. But first more digging and building thirteen concrete plinths. Everything was physically demanding and heavy and I thought back to the Telecoms project management job I had left in England and smiled. What would I rather be doing right now, the answer was simple, I was doing it. There were many design and logistical challenges, but all seemed to be solved instinctively. I have never been involved in proper building with grown up materials and tools, but the house renovation had given me the over-confidence to believe that I could do anything. Overall, it was an instinctive and relatively stress free exercise. Everything followed the right order. The sub frame was built, the ground was covered with plastic and then gravel. A minor head spin when I had to then try and fit the floor panels and I realised that two metre square rectangles do not mentally easily convert an octagonal star into a circle. But the arrangement came and the base finished. Bigger than many dance floors I have disgraced in my time, and ample for two small boys to race their remote control cars across for hours on end. I was a very proud man. I had built a big sturdy thing. A mental notch in the ‘life achievements’ belt.

Then after careful tracking the weather forecast, the day arrived. Lorna, myself and Yannick, who led our house build, moved the pieces down to the base and began construction aided only by a fifteen page printout from groovyurt.com (thanks guys, it worked). We quickly and methodically attached the trellis walls to the door frame and adjusted the height ready for the crown (tonnoo) and its two supporting posts (baggans), then reinforcements arived. My 22 year old nephew with his mates, still floating on a post exam, end of lycee high. Love was all around. The increased numbers were very handy as we now had 81 rafters (huns) to fit between the trellis and crown. Luckily we could all count to 81 and much hilarity ensued as each of the males in turn attempted to show how he knew how best to tackle the task. Who’d have thought ? It only took an hour or so, nothing got broken and only a few huns fell out. We stood back, drank cold beer in the hot sun and decided we were all doing very well. But it’s not over yet. Next came the cotton liner covering the yurt from crown to base of trellis. The yurts pettycoat. Then the large and heavy woollen roof segments and walls. This was looking very promising. Then the only western addition, a layer of waterproof, breathable building liner. The outer canvas was placed, much easier than I thought with Yannick in the middle of the yurt on stepladders his head and one arm poking out through the crown, guiding and tucking as we went. Finally the three exquisitely plaited horsehair ropes that go right round the yurt and attach to metal rings, each side of the door. The yurt was accessorised with openable top flap and decorative skirt. Stepping inside for the first time brought back that evening in Sam’s dads field again. The warm air, the faint smell animal hair, but light inside. Bloody hell, it looked and felt fantastic. With help from our friends we had built something beautiful that we could all be proud of. It is the most tranquil and calming space you can imagine. Perhaps it’s the first yurt in the Cote d’Or. We wondered about the people who had woven the ropes, stitched the fabrics and hand painted the exquisitely ornate woodwork pieces. Real craft, a thing of beauty. Walking the dogs on the hill today and looking down its as if  a bright white cotton spaceship has landed in the garden. An unusual felt-based object.

In a little while it will be furnished and ready. You can come and stay the night, or even a week, check the rest of the website for details.

Made in Mongolia, built in Burgundy with friends, a lot of laughs and a lot of love.

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