Category Archives: Our life

How to bake pancakes in the morning sun

Don’t you love to eat pancakes in the morning sun? Well, so do we. Our biggest project for this summer was to get this of our wish list. As always we used local and reclaimed materials and try to keep the expenses in control. As always it took us 2 months longer than expected, we learned so many new cool skills and are we proud and happy with the final result.

 

We used old telephone poles that were there to support a vine trellis. They will last a life time, but the challenge was they are not aligned. Abby did a great job measuring and drawing a design that can carry a square roof.

 

If you ever need skilled people to help you with your project, try initiatives like Work away or Wwoof. We were blessed with Sebastian and his carpentry skills to help us with the frame and roof trusses. In between he build us a storage cabinet so our guests can lock and charge their (electronic) belongings .

For the roof we used a simple tarp, to see how this works. Because of that the construction can stay light and still be strong. It has already survived strong winds as crazy as 90 km/h, so we are confident to say the construction works!

 

The side wall is made from waste material from the sawmill and old windows that came from a school that was torn down. We also made a sink with a grease trap (made from a disposed wine barrel and metal washing bowl we found). In a vessel we filter the water and as the flow of water is slowed down the fat floats and the grey water can go back to the garden.

Now AbbyVille is blessed with a humongous kitchen with 2 stoves and a table for 10 people. It has proved to be a great hang-out for our friends and guests who stay at the camping.  Of course we had to have a fridge to keep our beers and juices nice and fresh.

DINNER TIME!

 

Getting the garden ready

Grasses and weeds, herbs and flowers. Shiny details for the eye and meal, but so far not so many vegetables to be seen. At least the view is stunning, most of the beds are prepared, so we are getting ready for the spring.

Just some shots web-4In the front you see 2 Hugel Kultur beds we made last year. And it is a complete disaster. We buried a pile of wood and covered it earth, soil and compost. However, the rats find it a castle and build a massive bunker underneath the wood, so big wholes appear everywhere. We have already put a lot of effort in this experiment, but so far, it doesn’t win our hearts.

Finally we have finished the raised beds that we put on top of our ‘compost-E’ and filled it up with compost, manure and lots of carbon materials to help decomposing the cow dung.

In the meanwhile little plants are awaiting in the nursery to set root in their new homes.

With the next full moon we fill up this garden as much we can, so we can enjoy a long summer with fresh food.

Spring Vegetable Garden Web-5

Lucky Shower

This “winter” we started with the construction of the second bathroom, The Lucky Shower. Last year we finished the first bathroom in the old wine shed, complete with authentic bath. The second one will just have a cold water shower to cool you down in the hot summer.

 

This year we impart some local wisdom to the youngest helper. We hope he will build us a sauna next year.

 

We use the same sushi wood, the local cryptomeria, for the walls of the bathroom and the shower wall. The wood is sanded and treated with four layers. Let’s hope it stays as pretty as it is. All pipes and drains where already mounted when we completed the first bath.

And because this is our very first plumping project, the drain of the second shower ended up to be a good 20 cm above the floor level. With rocks and wood we gave shape to the shower which we filled up with a two wheelbarrows of cement.

 

Pretty satisfied with how straight the shower looks in combination with how non-straight the actual walls are, I can’t wait to start with the mosaic tiles for the floor, the wooden shower doors and of course all the finishing touches.

UPDATE AUGUST 2017:

And finally…. the work is done! With some rests of mosaic tiles, a mirror from the second hand shop and two wooden frames (including an old map of the world) found at the garbage, we are really happy with the result.

Camping shower made into mozaik art

It turned out to a cold summer splash shower, which is great in the warm Azorean summer. But honestly… I made a little mistake in the plumbing work, but I guess you can’t do it all perfect on your first time.

Want to see what else we have to offer?

New year, new beds, meet Sugi!

IMG_6547This winter we have decided to sacrifice our beloved zuchini circle for an extra camping field. It is a shame because the field gave us a lot (zuchinnis) and is nice and straight. But since the latter is quite rare in our garden, we found this place to be perfect for more friends to come over and sleep. When the cabbage and french garlics are done, we will start the transformation.

More reasons for us to start a new permaculture experiment. Behold our Hugelkultur in a raised bed with on the spot composting. Or is it a garden lasagna? So what did we do?

Construction of the raised bed

For the last year we have put our garden waste, leaves, grass and small branches, on a E shaped pile (yes we have seen this coming). As you can see it hasn’t decomposed completely, but inside you find already the fluffy sticky black gold we are looking for.

In one powerful day we constructed the outer fame, almost around the entire compost E. We used ceder wood (Cryptomeria) for the poles and planks. The Japanese Ceder (Sugi) grows very well in Terceira and is used for many purposes. The planks are the round sides that the sawmill can’t sell, so we get the for free when we order our wood. Perfect!

We levelled our the compost and put a sheet layer of bark. On top of that we layered leaves and old cow dung that we got from a farmer around the corner. The dung is not composted yet so we mixed in some bags of rough saw dust, that we picked up at the furniture work shop. The best  things in life are free!

Yeah but why?

The idea is that the manure will compose quickly with the help of the carbon rich leaves and sawdust. Some parts of the shitheap are already filled with worms, which is a good sign. Hopefully they will stay in their new Sugi Logde.

The lower layer of partly decomposed material and leftovers of twigs and branches will slowly but surely provide nutrients for a long period of time. We hope that this woody material will also stimulate a fungus web in the soil that connects all the dots.

What’s next?

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We still need to complete the wooden structure of one arm of the E, that’s first and already a big third of the bed is filled up. When this is finished the waiting game starts. To improve the process we will look for a cover up. Maybe straw that can function as mulch or just a black plastic sheet to boost the temperature a bit.

Keep you posted!

From storage to bathroom

It always was a fantasy of us to have a garden bathroom so we decided to convert an storage of old wine vessels and presses which once formed the production facilities of this winery, into a bathroom. With a good cleaning and a new floor we formed a solid base for the rest of the project in January.

 

April: Up to now we have done all the work ourselves, so if you need help with tour water system, we are PPR experts as we speak -seriously, it’s a brilliant and simple system, like lego. The summer is approaching so we really want to have our shower ready next month. The bath is one of the treasures we found in ‘the museum’  a storage of 4 generations where we can borrow nice old stuff from. Thanks landlords!

 

And the result:

Four seasons in one day

2016 Getting Started-5
January?

Of course there is high season and there is a low season. You will find stinky hot summer days and wet chilly days in winter. But what we love here is the fact that during the year, the whole year, you will find some beautiful spring like days to enjoy the outdoors.

In January, one day after we happily concluded that tornado Alex was a wet fart, we found ourselves having a picnic during our lunch break. O what a joy!

It is a bit of cliché statements that you will hear a lot of locals say, while they smile in the distance, but indeed the four seasons, at least in one week, you can meet while camping in the Azores.

Adding colour to our life

Living in a 40m2 house with a family of three is not bad. Not to be considered a ‘tiny house’, but über cosy; yes. It must be said that we are no handy(wo)men by nature nor nurture. But we do like to make things a bit nicer. Fix the roof? Replace the front door? Upgrade the kitchen? No, let’s make it cheerful and the rest will follow.

 

We drove around Terceira to find left over tiles and samples. We thankfully got some batches from friends, but we had to hawk around stores to buy their rests. Still an ecological and economic way to funk up your ballroom. Smash the pile in desirable sizes and glue them like regular tiles. They make a wonderful material to create any shape, as long as you have the patience and don’t mind to look puzzled.

Be warned, grouting is a terrible terrible job, especially when you have tiles that vary a millimetre or two.