So where has all the time gone?

Hi and welcome back me!

4 years have gone by since I was last here and as with life – the adventures continue.

I just updated my Once Upon a Time story and here is a bit of what’s been happening for me

And the adventure continued …

In 2008 the good witch Liz returned from her fab trip to see her family and friends in Oz and Singapore to find that a new adventure had begun.

It was called the Irish recession.

As you know dear readers, in every tale there is good and evil and in 2008 Evil had triumphed and the land was laid waste by avarice, arrogance and blind stupidity by men called bankers, politicians and property developers.

To this day they have not been punished but that’s a whole other story.

Our good witch had run a business for many years that worked with charities and arts organisations and as they found themselves with less and less gold – so too did Liz.

But she was a very resilient and resourceful woman and she saw this as a way to learn and create new things.

What did she do?

Liz knew that there wasn’t one solution – because life is never that simple – so she explored a number of avenues:

  • she learnt how to barter her skills and has been doing nicely for 4 years
  • she asked for help and was very moved by how many friends, family and neighbours gave her support in so many ways
  • she decided to earn small trickles of income using different skills and set up her 1 to 1 Site Design service
  • she defined herself as living in genteel financial poverty and also as a Time Billionaire – something many people don’t achieve until they retire
  • she used her Time to work on creating the Life Dreaming Expedition with her brother Marc and plans to launch it online later in 2012
  • in 2011 she moved back to Dublin and lived for a year with 2 very good friends
  • in 2012 she and her dog Coco [who wandered into her life after living on the streets for a few days as a puppy in July 2008] moved to a housesit in a fab cottage in a valley in West Wicklow.

In the 4 years of the recession she learnt a lot about being resilient and creative and living happily [ish] with very little money.

She decided that the recession and Irish summers had helped her make a decision to move back to Australia. She also wanted to spend more time with her family and friends.

And she still dreams.

She has many dreams and even when the plans go awry [as they always will because they are just plans – which are figments of our imagination] she enjoys being healthy and curious and dealing with another obstacle/challenge.

In 2013 she hopes/plans to be in Australia and there is a very long list of things to be done before she gets there.

It will cost €5000 to bring her magic dog Coco back to Oz but she is Liz’s faithful companion and much loved.

The story, as with all stories, has no real end so stay tuned ….

I’m going to spend time  [and I’m a Time Billionaire so I am RICH] over the next few months updating the sites and resources on this site.

In 4 years there have been remarkable developments in a whole range of areas related to building and living offgrid – not least the number of blogs that people are writing.

I’m also interested in contemporary small eco prefab buildings and have started researching them.

I’ll put everything I find into Pages.

I still have my dream of living off grid and it’ll happen somehow somewhen.


yup – still alive and kickin’

It’s been a few months since I wrote here last.

I was in Australia and Singapore for nearly 3 months enjoying the sun and family and wine and seafood.

I’ve been doing heaps of research on all aspects of cob building and when I get a second I’ll pull together all the cool sites I found and share them with you. I may post them as a permanent page at the top of my blog. I could also do them up in a pdf that I’d be happy to email to anyone that would find it useful. Let me know if you want it.

Some of the areas I have been researching include:

  • small house design
  • passive solar design
  • compost toilets
  • straw bale and hybrid building
  • designing a rainwater collection system
  • non concrete foundations
  • architectural salvage in Ireland
  • walls & windows
  • ceilings
  • roofs
  • energy technologies
  • earth floors
  • kitchens
  • natural finishes
  • gathering stories and photos of cob builds

Slowly, slowly I’m gathering information and good sites. They are all saved to favourites and to my files but I need to do some proper sorting and cataloguing. Give me a month or so. Nothing like a deadline to motivate!

I mentioned on another post that I had bought a lot of very interesting cob building books from Walnut Books through their online store. Nora is a dote and very helpful.

Well, it seems to me that there’s a section missing in all their books and a lot of the sites. This became clearer to me when I was talking with my friends that are sustainable renovating their cottage (see previous post for photos).

They borrowed the books and then said that there’s nothing about what materials to use to build the bathrooms. Obviously you can’t have exposed cob – as water and cob are a bit like vampires and sun – melting. And quite a few materials won’t adhere to cob or allow a proper airflow. My friends solved the problem and now have 2 gorgeous tiled bathrooms. Anyway – that’s a section for someone’s book.

Speaking of my friend and their cottage. It’s nearly finished and I’ll post photos in a few weeks. It will be available for rent and is the soul of peacefulness. You can sit on the decking and look out onto the curving stream (that legend has it – Charles Atlas used to swim in as a boy.) and the mountains. The downstairs has an open kitchen/living/dining and a HUGE det of french doors to the decking – as well as 2 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. One of the bedrooms and bathrooms is wheel chair accessible.There are stairs to a lovely mezzanine/ entertainment area plus another bedroom and toilet. It’s a clay, hemp & lime build with all sorts of sustainable materials.

I’m going to book myself in for a week and just retreat and write. The cottage has been in Frank’s family for 7 generations and will soon be part of the Greenbox sustainable holiday rent scheme. If you’re interested in renting after May this year let me know and I’ll link you to them. I’m going to help them develop a blog with photos and a small video tour of the cottage.

It’s not easy finding designs and photos of small house design. Some people’s idea of a small house is something just under 2000 sqft! And as our American friends would say – Hello!! Here in Ireland we are used to living in much smaller spaces.

If you want to see a really interesting small house have a look at Simon Dales self built home in a woodland. I call it the hobbit home and I love it. And – just for the fun do a Google of hobbit homes.

If you do a Google search on small house design some interesting sites do come up.

Check out the natural homes site. It has done a mashup of Google maps and you can see where natural builders have their sites (in real time and online) around the world. If you have a site – add it in.

The other thing I’ve found really interesting is going to You Tube and typing in ‘cob building’. There are a heap of short videos and slide shows with some of the cob innovators as well as tours of homes. Worth a wander.

Still looking for land around Ballinamore at a price I can afford. I have one of those feelings that something will come along around June or July. House and land prices in Ireland have dropped a fair amount in the last 6 months.

You know – part of sustaining a dream is to allow for the moments when you wonder whether it will happen – or should you change you dream.

I wonder if I’ll find the land for a reasonable price within 5 miles of Ballinamore. I wonder whether the bank will give me a loan to build a cob house. I wonder whether the Leitrim County Council will give me planning permission – if I get the land and the loan.

All fair wonderings. Right now I’ll just wait and see what comes up in the next few months.

Meanwhile I can still share with you the information I find from my research.

Take good care.