Our first Winter in the yurt.

icicles on the yurt.

icicles on the yurt.

So, it looks like we actually made it.

According to locals, it was the harshest winter in years - and we decided to make a move onto a mountain at the very start of it. Why did we do it? Well we wanted to live in a yurt and winter be damned, we needed somewhere to live. 

Was Winter hard?

Yes, yes it was; but not the bits you'd expect. 

Moving in with no running water, toilet, drainage or idea what we were doing was the hardest bit - especially as our canvas was bedding in so our roof leaked in various places. Waking up with a drip in your face was annoying, but in all honesty we loved the challenge and totally rose to it. What they say is true; if you treat something as a game, it will be fun. 

Frozen tap.  

Frozen tap.  

The hardest bit was coming to terms with the fact that you needed to wear three pairs of socks each day and that the children would ALWAYS get muddy and wet and you'd be expected to find dry clothes every time. Even if you didn't actually have any. 

There was one time. our boiler burst for the second time and we couldn't get the yurt above 15 degrees, despite constantly stoking the fire. It was our sixth snow storm- but this time, along with the snow came 80 mile an hour swirling winds which worked itself into every crack. We decamped to our friends house for the first and only time to return in the morning to snowdrifts in our home. 

That fateful night we abandoned ship and came home to this.  

That fateful night we abandoned ship and came home to this.  

Now, I know there is no point being angry with nature - it's charm is that it is so completely unbendable and fierce in its disregard for what us humans want. Yet right then, I don't mind admitting that I told the snow through stifled sobs to FUCK RIGHT OFF. It didn't do any good, in case you were wondering. 

Despite our complex relationship with the elements, we did actually enjoy Winter. There were comedy moments of children falling through snowdrifts into the bog. Sledging and board games, cheese, hot chocolates and movie marathons in bed. We basically treated each snowstorm like a bonus Christmas. 

We learned a lot, though.

We learned to never let the fire go out and to always keep big stores of wood, kindling, coal and lighters.

We learned that mice want to take sanctuary in warm places that come with a source of food... and that three ultrasonic deterrents work really well. Peanut butter works on traps as a back up. 

Emergency wood delivery making its way to our yurt mid snow storm.  

Emergency wood delivery making its way to our yurt mid snow storm.  

We learned to keep a supply of water inside, so if the pipes freeze (again) you can fill up the hot water bottles and have a cup of tea. 

We learned that without the help of local farmers, ploughing the roads and selling us emergency firewood, we would have been stuffed.

We learned that as snowfall increases, so does wine and cheese consumption.

We learned to have a weeks supply of food on board at all times during the Winter. 

We learned to insulate the propane regulator with bubble wrap or no one will be getting that cup of tea. 

We learned that the shower tray becomes a mini ice rink and the curtains stiffen and freeze to the windows.

We learned that two wheel drive cars are useless in the snow.

Standard yurt breakfast of porridge and tea. 

Standard yurt breakfast of porridge and tea. 

We learned that it is better to go without a shower than have a cold one. If you wear enough layers no-one can smell you anyway, right? 

We learned that if you line the yurt crown with bubble wrap, condensation doesn't drip on your head quite so much.

We learned that if you have enough blankets the only part of you that will be cold is your nose.

We learned that our idea of 'warm' is flexible. Sometimes 16 degrees feels balmy. 

How have the children found it?

One disappointing feature of travelling was that we relied on the iPads for everything: books, documentaries, facetiming family, music, films, currency conversion, banking- you name it. We were tied to our iPads- so we wanted our new life to be different.

Yes, we still watch films on Netflix, but now the children have toys and honest to goodness, real life BOOKS, a mountain to roam and friends. They are outside and muddy all the time- in all weathers and it is just what we wanted for them.

Icicle light sabre.

Icicle light sabre.

Winter itself hasn't been hard for the children, as they rarely seem to feel the cold! When it is stormy, the festival ear defenders come in handy to drown out the sound- and they sleep under a pile of blankets to keep warm. As you would expect, dealing with logistics for the yurt has fallen to the adults, though they do know to tuck their trousers into their wellies and not to walk past the woodpile empty handed... 

The real change for the boys has been that they sleep in the same bed every night and are attending welsh stream school after nearly two years away from formal education. They are completely loving it. 

It hasn't been plain sailing, of course. The years they missed have meant that playground politics is completely bemusing to them.  

Finn under his mountain of blankets.  

Finn under his mountain of blankets.  

They travelled the world and found unending kindness - so why are people saying mean things at school? The boys felt as though no-one understood where they were coming from- after all, they'd just landed in a rural welsh speaking school after travelling. You couldn't get much more extreme, could you?  

Their dealing with these difficulties has been testimony to their resilience- and to the school in helping to reintegrate them. Thankfully our 'Worldschooling' approach (explained here) has worked and they aren't behind academically in their peer group- and they're catching up with playground etiquette nicely, too.

Despite my early worries on Worldschooling vs mainstream school, I concede that the boys completely love the structure that school has given them and are becoming the bilingual children that I hoped they might be.

I am asked if travelling has spoiled the children, and if they find the everyday boring now?

In fact I would say the opposite to be true.

After being transient for so long, the children can see the beauty in building friendships, planting seeds and putting down roots clearer than ever before. It's true, a day out at a local park might not hold their attention quite so well... but in every area that it matters, their awareness of what's important and their appreciation of the world has been heightened.  

Living in the yurt, we are so close to nature that watching the seasons change is fascinating. No matter what you have seen, how can hearing the first woodpecker be anything short of miraculous?

With Winter behind us and life springing up all around on our mountain, we are embracing the warmer months ahead. We're not being silly though. We are planning a few upgrades for the next cold snap.... but this time with the (intermittent) sun on our faces.

Our yurt in the snow.

Our yurt in the snow.


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