We've recently finished this beautiful wall in our garden!

 
upload.jpg
 

One of the downsides to winning our legal battle is the increased level in tourism. It's not all bad - it's good that people can come and see how we live, see what we do - it's helps us and our lifestyle to become more acceptable within mainstream society.

But with that increased interest comes a lack of privacy. We don't have  boundaries in the traditional sense, no gates or fences, and our plots appear intermingled and organic. These factors lead people to not consider our privacy, because in many minds the lack of visible boundaries equates to everything being open and accessible.

And so we've been getting creative in ways to put that privacy back into place. One problem area for us is the path that runs from the top of the plot down to the bus door - it's a long straight line, visible from the public areas of the Yard - and people are constantly walking down it, seemingly oblivious to all the other indicators that this is a private area. 

 
upload.jpg
 

With my love of using old tyres and growing hardy succulent plants, we decided to build a tyre wall. A tyre wall would be in keeping with the plot, and wouldn't be as hard or aggressive as a more traditional wall or fence. It would let light through, and I could use the space as a vertical garden, as well as reuse and upcycle a while bunch of tyres destined for disposal.

 
upload.jpg
 

The best tyres for this job are small motorcycle or moped tyres - their inner circle is smaller, and less see-through. 

These kind of tyres take a bit of hunting, they're not as abundant as car tyres. Once found though, they'll make a much more interesting feature and useful wall than car tyres.

If you're working with tyres that are all the same size, slotting them together so that all the tyres touch and connect is pretty easy. You're more than likely however to have odd-sized tyres, and they take a bit of juggling to get right. I also think odd tyres looks better, too - they're more interesting, visually.

Structurally, those tyres all need to connect - they all have to be bolted together in as many places as possible to ensure the wall is stable - any gaps between tyres is going to cause problems.

Once you've got the layout just right, you'll want to screw them together temporarily to allow the rest of the structure to be built around them.

 
upload.jpg
 

Maintaining the circular pattern was important to us, and we didn't want to reinforce the structure with metal going right across the tyres. Instead, Tom used steel rods that could be bent around the tyres and connected, to help hold them all in place. Mig welding is required for this bit, but it's an easy project to manage.

The rods are curved so they sit around the tyres, with the structure appearing on both sides of the wall. The rods are then joined with bars to ensure a stronger skeletal structure. 

There are lots of different ways you could do this, and a frame built from scaff would also be a good choice, especially if the tyres are all similar in size. 

 
upload.jpg
 

Once this part is done and the metal skeleton is all in place, those temporary screws were then replaced with nuts and bolts and small flat pieces of aluminium within the tyres to make those connections rigid, and the tyres less likely to tear. 

From there, the next dilemma was triangulation - the wall is strong but flexible in and off itself, but it needs support vertically against the container it will be connected to. 

Again, this was managed discreetly with steel rods, and I don't think I managed to get a photo of this bit, sorry! Anyone building something like this should already know about triangulation but if they don't, Google is your friend.

In terms of metal choices - these steel rods are flexible and easy to bend, and they will also rust over time and blend in to the general environment. We're lovers of rusty metal; it ages and changes and tells a story all it's own - constantly shiny can get a bit boring ;)

And with the wall securely in place, the next task was planting! 

 
upload.jpg
 

When it comes to plants, I really wouldn't recommend anything other than succulents (including cacti). They have a very small root structure, store water in their leaves, and *love* the heat and sunshine. The tyres will get hot and most plants wouldn't handle a small, hot root space.

I grow a fair few winter hardy succulents on the plot, and they're something I've grown and collected for many, many years - I know pretty well how they behave.

For instance - quite a few of the moveable planters in our garden are old washing machine drums. Most plants suffer with the heat and dehydration in these metal containers, and die. However all of the cacti and succulents - whether they be the Opuntias, Aloes or Delospermas - thrive. The heat at their roots doesn't bother them. And the lack of root space really isn't a problem, either - the Opuntias in the washing machine drums are a good size!

For our tyre wall I wanted a mix of small bushy succulents and trailers. Most of these I had around the garden already and know their hardiness, but I did buy a couple of Delospermas at the local nursery, as their flowers are beautiful and I fancied some colour amongst that structural greenery.

 
upload.jpg
 

These plants (known as Ice Plants in their native South Africa) are slightly more tender then most of the Sedums, Echeverias or Crassulas I've planted in the wall - they tend to dislike too much frost or lack of sunshine in the winter. The positioning of the wall however should mean they get sun most of the day, even in winter, and they should be fine. The plants I bought were too big for the tyre space so I split them and have spares, just in case. 

And that's pretty much it, really! I haven't yet got full photos of the wall, as the sun is over exposing everything if I step back to fill the frame, and the shade Tom put up to work under is still up. Until then, here's a section of the wall, in its freshly planted glory. 

 
upload.jpg
 

I can't wait to see how this wall grows and develops! And before Tom had finished building the wall, it was already serving it's purpose - the line of sight is broken and it's given visitors to the Yard something much more interesting to look at than our garden path. 

Don't forget that if you're on Instagram, the #tyregardenofmutonia tag is the one to check to see more about our garden. Enjoy! 

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
2 CommentsPost a comment

It's a thunderstorm kinda day. And that also means it's a power cut kinda day. The lightening tripped the power 3 times within 40 mins or so of waking, and in no time at all the garden looked like this:

 

upload.jpg

 

Our plot is at the lower end of the Yard, and so all the water comes rushing down to us and we flood almost straight away. This is after an hour's worth of rain -  I'm not sure we'll still see the raised paths if it carries on as expected! (this is why we have raised paths...)

The storm, well the thunder, has been making the bus shake as the sound waves hit. Even with the lightning further away now, we can still feel as well as hear the thunder. 

Thankfully my studio trailer is the same side of the plot as the bus and I should be able to make those few yards without getting too wet. Not sure the power will stay on long enough to put on a few lights and power up the monitors, though. 

My studio trailer, when I had the vintage caravan, used to be the other side of the plot. Can you imagine the fun I had trying to get to work on those rainy days? 

And yeah, the bathroom is outside too. In fact it's a further walk than my studio but thankfully it's this side of that giant puddle. 

(why yes, that's our daft cat outside in the storm. She loves the storms themselves - all the wind and thunder - but hates the rain. Thankfully she came to her senses and followed me back into the bus) 

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
2 CommentsPost a comment

Indeed you can pop over and listen to myself and Nadia chatting about all sorts!

We recorded the interview in the magnificent ballroom that I taught in, which does give it a bit of an echo, but don't let that put you off. We had a good laugh whilst recording, and it really was a fun thing to do.

(shall I confess that we sat on the floor inside a large wardrobe unit within the ballroom to reduce the echo? We tried sitting in every part of the room, and it was really the only room available to us! It's certainly a day to remember ;)

I'm in need of one, for about 9 or 10 days.

Although I've not been blogging so much lately, I've tried to keep active online as I work through all the patterns and articles and projects that I have on the go. But in the run up to the EU referendum, I just don't think I'm going to have the capacity to keep up appearances.

To live as we do, we use the Freedom of Movement, a right all members of the EU have. Aran was so well looked after when he fell critically and acutely ill thanks to our EU health insurance cards. If the UK leave the EU come the 23rd June, we'll be faced with some very difficult choices. Residency in Italy (or any other EU country for that matter) isn't an option for us because there is no address, no bricks and mortar and neither of us have jobs there - my business remains very much UK based. And prejudice in the UK against our sort is a whole other ball game. Having just fought for 3 whole years (and won) against hate just to keep our community and spaces, I don't think I have the energy left to do it again. I will of course, but I'd rather not have to.

And reading so much hate and propaganda online is doing me no good. I'm sure it's not doing anyone any good, but right now I have to look after me, us.

Naturally, I'm voting to remain. Not just for ourselves, but because I don't want to see the UK cut itself off with nothing standing in the way of a hard right government. I dread to think how people who aren't as lucky as us will survive; trusting a Tory government with the state has never been wise. I'm voting to remain for all my immigrant friends, who are *not* the enemy, who work so hard, contribute to their local communities and have been denied their say about their futures. The EU has many, many faults, but if we want to change it, we have to be part of it. We are stronger together.

In the last few years I've spoken less and less about our lifestyle and travels, and that's understandable given the legal battle we've faced as a community. It's also understandable given the rise of the far right across Europe, and knowing how badly travellers and outsiders have been and still are treated. We faced eviction before, the threat of losing our vehicles, our spaces and lifestyle and animals, and we could face losing them again. I cannot begin to explain how much our world will be turned upside down should the worst happen... we fall between the cracks enough as it is, and we'll just fall deeper down. Aran could lose his life, his friends, his freedom, the things he knows as home, and the thought of putting him through that breaks my heart. And I can't bear to see people I know and care for actively voting for this.

I'll try and stay active in my Ravelry group - that is such a peaceful, friendly space and I'm incredibly grateful for all the support on offer. And I'll aim to keep up with Instagram, as that too feels like a safe place. But for the sake of my sanity, please know that anything that posts to Twitter or Facebook will be automated, and I'll not be engaging for a while.

In the meantime, meet Howler. He's been living on the Yard for a while as a stray and being cared for by a friend. But he needs a home, and our friend can only manage feeding so many cats. And seeing as the Princess tolerates him, we offered him a home.

 
 

He's younger than we first thought, and is the most docile thing. He's another Jimmy type, a wanderer, a vagabond who needs a human and a decent regular meal, but will always need his freedom. He couldn't be more opposite to Princess Fi, who really needs to live in a house with permanent residents and no other cats within a 2 mile radius. Howler is the perfect site cat. We've had him fixed at the vets, and we need to take him back this week for a Herpes jab, as there's some damage to his eyes from previous infections. Otherwise though, he seems to be in good health and has very quickly gotten used to this new adventure.

The Princess still gets a bit sulky if he's indoors too much, especially at night. But they've only clashed twice and even that didn't amount to much - this morning during their 'encounter' there were no claws or a hint of a hiss, it was more like 3 seconds of fisty-cuffs. This is progress for the Princess, believe me!

And now I'm going to have a glass of wine or 3, let out the tears that really need to fall, and hope that tomorrow I can pick up with my work and enjoy being creative again.

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
7 CommentsPost a comment

When my Nan died I received a little inheritance and as a family, we wanted to fly off to New Zealand for a while and explore. Yet the amount didn't cover the cost of the flights for the three of us, and although I put feelers out for workshops and trunk shows, the additional costs were beyond our budget and we sadly had to put an end to that plan.

And then this trailer came up for sale on the Yard. And with all the changes under the new contract, we were given a bit of extra space and we thought what the hell, let's buy this beast, restore it, and have somewhere for family and friends to stay when they visit us when we're there.

 

 

So my Nan bought us the trailer (thank you Nan!)

And yesterday saw it being towed and parked in our plot.

 

 

It's *huge*. I've always loved the idea of living in a railway carriage and this is as close as I'll likely ever get. It's not a railway carriage, and is infact two German army trailers joined together on a flatbed. The flatbed itself is 1.5m off the ground, and the combined length is 10m; overall height is 3.5m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It does need a lot of work and Tom's feeling a little daunted by that this morning! But it'll happen, and we've time until next spring to get it all done.

The current plan is to have a bedroom at each end, with the living eating/dining/seating area in the middle. The woodburner stove needs moving, and the kitchen is at one end so that's got to be shifted too. It also needs an external paint job (one side was painted with a mural for the Vertigo Truth project but otherwise it's a little rusty in places) and it needs a bit of damp work on the ceiling, which is nothing more than a treatment and sealing paint (the doors get left open over winter one day which created the damp; thankfully there are no leaks). A lot of what we need for the internal build is already in there, which will help our rather limited budget go further.

So yeah, this morning it was incredibly exciting to wake up and know the new trailer was there, and then in no time we both felt overwhelmed by the amount of work that lies ahead! That said, this is the beginning of the next chapter after the Yard's long legal battle and recognition, and I am very much looking forward to cracking on and having a new project to work on and share.

 

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
8 CommentsPost a comment