New Toilet, Part 1

An indoor composting toilet is finally on its way. We bought a fancy new separating seat, as well as a “Hot Bin” insulated compost bin, which will hopefully speed up the composting process significantly. With some helpful instructions, hints and tips from the excellent folks at, I have got about halfway to finishing the lovely indoor toilet.

First step was to take the bits off the nice pine toilet seat I found on ebay for cheap, so that it could be converted to a tight-fitting lid to reduce draft.


I carefully measured and cut for the lovely new british-made separating bowl to fit in the pine shelf donated by Rob and Nicola.


I built a box out of 1×2…


bowl fits…


Lid covers bowl…


It will be very fine indeed. Still need to cover the two sides with matchboard and finish oiling the whole thing. And to poke a hole in my straw wall for the wee to make its way out to a ditch behind the house, of course.


In other news, Alec and I are constructing a scale model of the roof area inside the big front window, to assist us in designing the ceiling painting, which is going to be spectacular.



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What A Lovely Day

Well, I had a most charming and delightful day, hosting the ladies from the Royal Exchange Theatre Costume Hire department (where I volunteer on Tuesdays) for lunch at my house, because I’ve been talking about it for years to them and they all wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So we closed the place and they all came up for a look.


Luda, the manager, and Joan


Jane (whose garden I visited while dropping her off, and it was amazing, I should have taken pictures) and Norma


Dave and Gill (and Joan again)


They were all perfectly delightful and said very nice things about my house. What a lovely bunch of people. I hope they can all come back. Maybe we can make it an annual thing.

Anyway, here’s a picture of me doing something inadvisable in the name of getting an accurate (ish) measurement. Hi, ma! I’m still alive!


And it was flying ant day the other day. Always a little creepy.


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More important than anything else is that we have made more fruit gin.


It was a decent year for plums, though it’s been wet so they are a bit watery. Still, nearly 2kg of them, some to be eaten and others to be drunk next year.

We decanted some of June’s strawberry gin to make room in the bit jars for the plums and lime, and it may well be the best strawberry gin ever.


We also put together some lime gin, which I hope I have made great strides in perfecting.



There you have it. The important stuff.

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Packing Lots of Windows

Small amount of progress made on the laying of a mains drain… Andy came round with his run surveying equipment so we could find the levels of all the bits of the drive, and it’s all good news. Well within recommended fall and only have to dig a meter or so into the highest bit of the drive. Wouldn’t that be nice, having running water AND a drain? I could have indoor showers this winter.


Meanwhile, more straw packing.


Lots and lots of straw packing.


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Walls and Windows and Gin

Before she went off on a 6-week sojourn to elsewhere, Nora was good enough to come and spend a few days doing *extremely useful stuff* here, including chainsawing a bunch of my walls flat. Amazing stuff. All the other tools I’ve ever used for that have SUCKED.


She did all the accessible walls that didn’t already have render on them. This should make it go a lot quicker with the render.


And with a view to getting Alec in his room even if the rest of the place is still a building site, we’ve started claying the walls.


Meanwhile, window installation has begun. Nora showed me how to do it on the first two, and I’ve been running with it ever since. We had to invent a bit, because Ben and I didn’t know how the posts within the straw walls were supposed to work and put them too close together, but our workarounds have been pretty successful. An extra bit of 2×4 moves the aperture toward the outside of the building a bit and makes it the right width for the window to fit with some wedges…


…which Nora was good enough to make me a massive batch of. The sills get fixed first, then the 2×4 extenders, then the window gets wedged in and fixed.


And then glazing! Which is a piece of cake on the small ones. I had to wait for Richard to be available to do the big ones though, and the giant one in Alec’s room was pretty nerve-wracking.


Superheroes that we are, though, we did it.


And now it’s back to lime. I love it and I hate it. It’s very interesting stuff, I’m proud to have made my own putty so successfully, but my skin is not pleased to be doing this again.

Whole lotta moisturiser.

Anyway, filling in around the windows requires a long straw and lime mixture, which is going to have to be applied in layers because some of the window cavities are really deep and I don’t reckon I’d like to go any deeper then 100mm with this mix, or I’m afraid it won’t carbonate in the middle.


I’ve just about got the hang of making it now. The putty wants to be pretty loose, like thin yogurt or even double cream. It’s amazing how much straw you put in and it just loses all its volume when it gets wet and sticky. Good thing I’ve got tons of it lying around.

The perimeter of the windows got a slip coat of lime on the straw bits and a bunch of galvanised nails in the wood bits as a key. Advice, as in so many cases, is split on the use of steel in contact with lime. I chose to believe it would be fine.


The sticky lime-coated straw stayed in place beautifully. I reckon each window will need a maximum of three goings-over with the stuff, with a week’s drying time between, before I can render over it and be done. But the word “done” is such a beautiful word, isn’t it?


And in the meantime, there’s gin to be made. A very great quantity of last year’s went at the recent party, so I’ll have to make double stock this year. Gooseberry is one of my new flavours, and I’ve just decanted a bit of black elder and lemon that I think might be my new favourite.


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