Cobbing my cottage

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Through All Seasons, The Trees Still Stand.

A half a year has passed and seasons have changed. Truly. Majestically. At the moment it feels like a half of life-time has been squeezed into these short months of my life and what has emerged reminds very little of what was there before. In April we packed up our flat, left London and moved up to West Yorkshire with my son, settled as an expanded family in a small arty Northern town and started a new life here, surrounded by hills and forests of green. I can already breathe better, even though my heart is still adjusting to all the changes, as is my son's.

My baby daughter, Pinja (Finnish for pine tree), was born three weeks ago - she emerged finally - after spending eight extra days in my womb - happily, still inside her watery home, into another one, that of the birthing pool and then - my loving arms. Pinja, the pine tree of my soul, was here with us.

I kept her placenta and part of the sac she entered this world in, to be taken to Finland next month. Just like when my son was born, I took his placenta to Finland, dug it into the ground at my parents house and planted a cherry tree there. So now I want to do the same with my daughter's membrane. But this placenta will go next to my cottage and a little pine seedling will be planted there, on the top of the membrane, which connected her to me, me to her and both of us to the great cycle of life. Feeding, nurturing, protecting. Just like Mother Nature does to us and has done to me, while I was building my cottage.

I saw my cottage in real life in February when I visited Finland for a short time. The house was frozen but beautiful, it hadn't suffered that much from the Winter winds, but of course it was hard to tell how gently the Spring thaw would treat the little elven house. This is what I was most worried about; possible frost heaving, cracking, bending. Luckily, there has been very little damage to the cottage so far and at least from the photos that my parents have taken, my Elaman Puu looks as lovable as when I left it in last September. I am so very happy about this, because it confirms my belief that work made with love is strong and durable and also that our relationship with nature is of the utmost importance; if I appreciate it and work with it, it will make all the difference. Seasons will come and go but hopefully my little cottage will stand the test of time and remain part of my life and the landscape it so easily blends into and was born from. If it bends, breaks, or survives, then it will do all these alongside the nature that surrounds it.

Here is a photo sequence of my cottage in all Finnish seasons:

Autumn 2012

Winter 2013

Spring 2013

Summer 2013

After my daughter's passport gets ordered and organised, I am hoping that in about a month's time, I will be standing there, looking at the view in the last photo and listening to the fluttering of the birch leaves (and my heart) near-by. Three weeks is all I have but I am hoping to achieve a lot in this time. Lime-plastering of external walls, earthen plastering and sculpting of internal walls, making an earthen floor, building a sleeping platform, trimming and finalising the green roof, filling in cracks, setting up a solar panel for electricity, firing the pizza oven. And - starting on a composting toilet behind the cottage with the left-over strawbales and some roundwood that my father has yet again kindly cut down from the forest and left to dry for me in the Spring time. It does sound like a lot to do, particularly with a 2-month old baby who grants me very little time and sleep, but then again, time is only a concept - and also, time constraints only exists through one's mindset, and my decision with this cottage is to work with love and natural time. That is the lesson I learnt from last Summer: you can't rush nature as it does what it pleases - and once you surrender to your work, it will take the time it needs to take. If necessary I will continue the work next year, and the next, and the next. This project, like my life, is an evolving one... :)

If you want, I will be happy to take you on another part of this journey with me next month, when I get my hands stuck in the mud (and maybe my baby's hands too). I will be there and you will be here, but hopefully as a little glimpse of inspiration, I can share a part of my love for the Nature and natural building through these pages and photos. Until then,

let the Summer winds carry you...... x


  1. This is so fantastic. Someday I hope to build something similar. You are an inspiration!

  2. Thank you Julie, I hope you make your dream come true :)

  3. Thank you for the update! Congratulation on the birth of Pinja. I'm looking forward to hearing about your journey in Finland this year.