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Four years ago I found myself living alone in a tent in the Turkish hills. There was no power or running water on my land. It was the beginning of an adventure that profoundly changed my beliefs about what is possible, or enjoyable. In this site I share a few of the things I learned along the way, such as:
This is one of the most popular posts I've ever written. If you embark on an off-grid adventure by yourself, don't you get lonely?
The Earthbag Adventure
‘Kerry! I keep telling you, but you just won’t listen. You need to build a house now! Winter is coming. A storm’s coming. It says so on the telly.’ My neighbour Dudu had appeared at my fence only the day before, wisps of hair darting out of her headscarf. ‘And don’t forget. You can always stay on my sofa...oh but you won’t. I know!’ She was wringing her hands. ‘You’re so stubborn. It’s English stubbornness, that’s what it is. God knows it’ll be the death of you!’ She huffed and puffed, popped her false teeth in and out, and shook her fist at me.
From the other side of the fence I looked down at her, not due to superciliousness but because she only reached my shoulder.
‘I’ll be fine, Dudu. The tent is raised off the ground now. Anyway I’m into storms, they’re exciting.’
Dudu screwed up her eyes and turned away in disgust. But she wasn’t the only one to fret over my houseless predicament. Celal, my wiry garden help, wandered up to the fence. He leaned on a large pickaxe and looked me up and down quizzically, his face a brown web of wrinkles.
‘Aye, you wanna be building yourself a hut to park your bum in before winter, look at mine – didn’t cost me a ha’penny but it does the job, eh?
Celal always spoke using little or no punctuation and I was left squinting as I tried to work out what he said. Once the meaning dawned on me, I swallowed a reply. Well, I could see quite clearly his house hadn’t cost a half-penny. It was something of a wonder that shack was still standing. My tent appeared by far the safer option.
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Mud Ball - Now available in print!
I couldn’t teach another lesson. Nor could I tolerate another day with a boss, a punch card and the indigestion I suffered from bolting my muesli. This was why I’d spent the past five months camping in a remote Turkish field . . .
Here's what really happens when you move off-grid in search of freedom.
“A joy from beginning to end – a brave, funny, moving account of building a new life and a new home out of mud in Turkey’s mountain wilderness.” Sara Crowe, author of Bone Jack (Nominated for the Carnegie Medal in 2015).
August's Mud Mountain Blog. The gate is locked. The garden is hidden. And here's why.
Atulya K Bingham is a natural building enthusiast living in Turkey, and author of the prize-winning novel Ayse's Trail, and of course the recently released Mud Ball.