I never thought I'd leave Mud Mountain. I felt a deep connection with the earth and the wildlife of my space. Building my earthbag home was the single best thing I did. Living in it was exquisite. I’d assumed I’d be buried there.
So why did I leave? Those who’ve followed this blog a while now will have pieced together much of the story. Even so, some of it has slipped through net, usually due to a lack of time to write, and because so often we can only see the relevance of certain points on the path much further down the road.
Yes, in hindsight it all started with an eerie conversation with a tree I called the Wisdom carob, which told me to let go of it all. Though I remember quite clearly shaking my finger at the tree and saying, “Well it can all change, but I’m not letting go of my land. No way! Forget it!”
Two months later in February 2016 my neighbour bulldozed the plot directly next to me ready to build a small cabin in it. Not too bad by most people’s standards. But I was used to being lost in the wilds, out of sight from everyone. Mud Mountain was my secret world, and it felt like an invasion.
So that was the trigger. The initial shove. Yet that wasn’t all in truth, for there had been other issues welling up. They had collected silently below the surface over the years, like suppressed tears waiting for catharsis.
Though I loved my land and my area, there were issues I began to tire of coping with; dodging bullets from hapless hunters (some would be literally ten metres from my house and fire into my land unaware I was even there), hearing ancient pines being chain-sawed to the ground, seeing rare birds being shot and dogs being poisoned, and watching toxic pesticides being spread over every field in the name of controlling weeds or bugs. I wasn’t the only person around me who felt the same way, but we were an outgunned minority.
Then, just after the bulldozing in February, a friend of mine who was travelling around the Iberian Peninsula sent me a few adverts for plots of land for sale in Spain and Portugal. Beautiful, rolling plots with stone huts or cave houses. As I perused the internet, I noticed something inside me had changed. The Mediterranean was leaving me cold. Suddenly, without ever having interested me before, the entire Atlantic coast from Lagos to Orkney began to whisper to me. The ruggedness of the rocks. The waves. The pewter skies with their fiery sunsets...The Earth was speaking. I knew it.
It’s easy to talk of change. Exacting it is a little trickier. My home seemed to be embedded within me. How could I let it go? So I clung to it, procrastinated, until a few extraordinary events ripped my fingers from its earthy walls; a forest fire, a sick dog, an attempted coup. It seemed the land itself was ejecting me, throwing me out into the big wide world.
And the rest is history. I sold my mud home, and returned to England with my dog in tow.
Next I bought a van, and began travelling the Atlantic coast in search of a new space, a space where nature’s magic is felt and nurtured. And where mud homes can bloom. That quest for my new Eden - an 18 month odyssey that took me from the northern most tip of Scotland to the southern most toe of Portugal - was recorded in the On The Road series.
The road was far from straight of course. There were many ups and downs, twists and turns. My beautiful dog died. I am alone once more.
Yet after 18 months of van life (which I freely admit, I began to loathe), I finally found a new mud and stone world. It is beautiful. It is powerful. And I love it. You can follow my latest adventures as I single-handedly build a new off-grid world for myself, at the Earth Whispering Blog.
Atulya K Bingham
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