We no longer live as simply as we did when we started out on this community, as we had to make several diversions from this simple life to try out alternatives to living here. One was to rent an ecohouse in Matavenero. Defending the roundhouse has also taken up much time. We do, however, live here full time.
Life in the roundhouse is nearer life in an ordinary house than in, say a yurt or a bender. We have hot water, electricity, a bath, a kitchen, a bed on a raised platform, and space for tools, musical instruments, word processor, recording gear, and lots of wood. The layout is a central circular space formed by the inner circle of supports maybe 20ft/6.5 metres across, which has a wooden floor. The rest of the functions are in the outer circle which retains its original packed earth floor. We have a compost toilet (also with turf roof) approx. 20 metres from the back door. This is a twin chamber aerobic system which turns shit with sawdust and paper into good quality fertiliser after about two years.
We have, by 2005, established several vegetable beds and many fruit bushes and trees.
I make my living from work as a musician and from turning bowls and plates from wood that we coppice on the farm. Favourite woods are alder, silver birch, sycamore and ash.
We have no mains electricity and our water is piped from a mountain source. ( For more details of the community lifestyle visit the website).
The roundhouse has attracted hundreds of visitors - on average at least two groups per week at its height of public profile in 2003. Here is a group of people from Plouguin in Brittany, our local twinned town, on a visit.
Through living and working here Jane and I are able to live very cheaply, with no bills to speak of. Most of our food is grown locally. I make wine and wool rugs. Here are some pics of life around the roundhouse. It looks idyllic and mostly it is. Sometimes it's hard on the muscles dealing with heavy wood - we spend as much as a day per week coppicing or cutting, gathering,cutting and storing firewood; sometimes the need to wheelbarrow all consumables 400 metres down to the roundhouse is a little wearing; sometimes the rather wet Welsh climate makes me hanker for weather that other voluntary peasant friends enjoy who have left this country for Portugal, Spain or Greece. The most serious problem for us was that we were considered such an undesirable phenomenon by the planners that this house was condemned to be pulled down and this site be wiped clean as if we never had been here (See History). Now we have a year's grace from this hassle, we are again happy to show that it is possible to live a very low impact life in the countryside, without damaging the environment, maintaining healthy biodiversity around us and managing woodland in the old way in a dynamic community.
We were visited in Jan 2003 by Stuart Bond, one of the team from WWF who were commissioned by the Welsh Assembly, reporting in April 2002, to calculate the ecological footprint for Wales, (email here for details) and the average footprint for an inhabitant of Wales. The latter is 5.25 hectares per person; below the 6 of England, but well in excess of the average sustainable earthshare of 1.9 hectares per person. We manage, just, to achieve this figure.