Author Archives: ydolling

Windows and Doors

The windows and doors were made by a carpenter in a nearby village who specialises in windows.  They are made out of local chestnut and are incredibly beautiful, as well as super-efficient. There are chestnut shutters on some of the windows, but not all of them, only where necessary.





The south-facing floor to ceiling doors will eventually open out onto a large terrace.  We had hoped to have louvres fitted in between the glass, so that we could block out the sun in the summer and so that we aren’t putting on a show fro A Ponte at night.  However, they are prohibitively expensive, so we have to find another solution.  At this stage of the game, every penny counts!





In Spain they love yellow expanding foam.  You see it all over the  place, even on traditional buildings. Expanding foam contains Isocyanates, such as MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate), which are chemicals that react with polyols to form polyurethane. They can also cause skin, eye, and lung irritation, asthma, and chemical sensitization when absorbed through the skin or inhaled.  They leach out over time into the building.  We have limited the use of hazardous materials as much as possible in our house, whilst having regard to all the other issues – like waterproofing for example. In this instance Mateu was very strict with Javier, the window man, to ensure that no ‘espuma’ was used.  The windows have been nailed and wedged into place and the gabs will be filled with cob.

Some of the windows had to be hand-cut into the chestnut pillars and Javier did a beautiful job on this too.  It has been a great pleasure to work with people who are masters of their craft and I think that they have enjoyed working on such a beautiful project too.  It is still quite rare to build a house like this in Spain. It is not that it is more expensive to build, but it takes a bit longer and people just don’t seem to bother about beauty.  Mateu told us that there were probably only about 50 natural homes in the whole of Spain!

The gap in between the two chestnut lintels has been filled with gypsum, to form a lovely curve that is in keeping with the organic style and theme.  We haven’t gone for the extraneous decoration that you see on many cob houses, it can be very beautiful, but I prefer the honesty and simplicity of beautiful, natural materials, unadorned and worked with skill.

The house is upside-down, by conventional standards.  We have designed it with the living room, dining room kitchen (and a bathroom) on the first floor, with views from every aspect.  On the ground floor are two guest bedrooms and a bathroom, plus and office and store room.  our bedroom as two sets of french doors looking to the north and the east.  There is a very special arched window in the living room, from which we can see the sunset crescent.





Chestnut pillars

Today was a big day, putting in one of the main supporting pillars of the house. They are local chestnut and Mateu selected the trees from the wood yard and debarked and sanded them here,then cut them to size with a chainsaw.  These trunks were selected do that they match each other and are easy on the eye when you look at the pillar from top to bottom.  We considered using a single tree, but it would have been a challenge to find one of the right size all the way up and the line of sight will be cut by the terrace anyway.  The first floor pillar is held in place by a metal spike in the bottom f the trunk into the beam below and a hidden wire buried in the cob.

This is an especially fine piece of work by Mateu and it gives me great pleasure to see such a craftsman at work.  There is no substitute for skill and experience on a project like this, which is completely organic and every joint is unique.  The house is growing more beautiful b the day and I can’t wait to live in it!



House Project One Year Milestone

We started work on the house last August, with clearing and preparation and yesterday we achieved a major milestone in getting the main roof beams in place.  Mateu has earned his holiday.

Putting in the roof beams:



And a quick summary of what the house looked like before we started renovating:








Drainage and Waterproofing

Drainage and waterproofing for the house was always going to be a challenge.  The house is 500M down an unpaved track which was a knee-deep river when we bought the place.  One of the first things we did was to dump 26 lorry loads of hardcore onto the track, just so we could drive down it.

To make matters worse, the house is situated right next to the track and is at a lower level!  The storeroom/bodega was a stinking swamp.  We had hoped to be able to knock the whole house down and rebuild it 10M or so away from the track where the land is a bit higher, but that seemed to be impossible according to the zoning laws. The house is considered to be on rustic land, which means there are more restrictions as to what we can and can’t do.

These pictures show the problem:

  • Looking down the track to the house on a sunny day


To make it more interesting, the architects, the structural engineer, Mateu the cob builder and George the German, all had different ideas about the best waterproofing system.  We are finding all the time here that no one actually knows what’s definitively the best; everyone has good ideas and good experience, but the uniqueness of our situation, and what we want to do, means that there is always going to be an element of trial and error.  It would be relatively easy to waterproof the house if we were willing to use a waterproof cement based system, but as we are making the house as ecological as possible we didn’t want to do this.

The corner of the house immediately next to the house was the most challenging.  Even though we are keeping that room as a storeroom that won’t be accessible from the rest of the house, we still don’t want it to fill with water when it rains.  There was no foundation in the original house, just a layer of stones below ground level for the walls.  So we put in a foundation that is about 50cm higher than the original floor at one end and about 20cm above ground level at the back.  The ground floor of the old house must have been quite slopey!

As the north side of the ground floor will be below ground level, as the house snuggles into the hill we went belt and braces on the waterproofing.  First we dug a trench around three sides of the house, all except the south-facing wall which is above ground. Then we rendered the old stone with a layer of lime plaster, then applied two layers of bitumen paint.  Next came a layer of fleece and delta panel.  The fleece was to protect the bitumen from being accidentally pierced by a stone.  French drains were put in the trenches and they were then filled with gravel.

  • Drainage ditch for waterproofing on the northeast corner


We also decided that, as an additional precaution, we would divert some rain off the track.  We hoped that this would make the track more passable in wet weather too – the Concello had already told us that there was no money to pave the track, even though it is a public road.  We weren’t worried about this.  The last thing we want is more tours down the track to see the ‘casa de madera’.  It suits us fine to have the road as it is, but it would be good to keep the area around the house a bit drier, if possible.

When we put the hardcore down we put in a french drain alongside the track.  This didn’t work for long because the track next to the drain got lowered very quickly by the cement and gravel trucks.  The track was lower than the drain before long.  We also found that we needed the rocks that we’d put on top of the drain to build the house.

In January 2015 we dug up the drain alongside the track – it didn’t even work for one winter!  We replaced it with a channel and grate system that crosses the track about 5M up from the house, so that it takes water from both sides of the road.  By this time we had already put in the natural pool so the rain water from the track now drains into the pool.  There is no farming or industry up the track, so the water is clean and it adds to the water flow through the pool.  (There is a an overflow pipe in the pool that drains out to the creek below.)

  • Grate and channel drainage system




Laying the Foundation for the Cob House

We have finally started on our house renovation and hoping to get enough done before the rain sets in.  We’ve done lots of clearing, laid foundations and dug a huge pile of clay for the cob.  It will be mixed with straw from our field and local sand.  Our neighbours can’t understand why we want to build a house out of mud!  Most of the houses around here are made from stone and part of our house will be stone too, but we want bigger windows for more light and we want the house to be reasonably warm in winter, as well as cool in summer.  We’ve spent weeks chipping off old cement mortar that covered the stone and didn’t allow the house to breathe and the smell of damp has finally gone – even with most of the walls and roof gone the old part of the house still smelled damp.  Eventually we dug out most of the clay floor and laid gravel to go under the limecrete floor.

The foundations are 60cm deep and there will be 50cm of stone on top before the cob starts.

The access to the house is down 500M of dirt track and not accessible for large lorries.  The first guy we ordered concrete from said he couldn’t get his truck down the track so we had to find some one else.  Dean and Kiki then had to go down the track and cut some of the branches off before he would come.

The track is also slightly higher than the house and that’s why it was so wet and damp.  We’ve put a lot of effort into drainage further up the track, opening up old and digging new ditches, as well as into waterproofing the vulnerable part of the house with lime cement and EDPM.  The whole house has been raised too.

Cold frames


Dean has remade bits of the greenhouse into a cold frame, so we can extend our growing season for a couple of months a year.  The greenhouse was really just a big cold frame anyway, as it didn’t have any heating.

This works very well, but we had a battle with the mice who ate all the peas that were just sprouting.  So Dean made a seedling box with a mesh bottom and a lid from another pane of the greenhouse that fits in the cold frame.  So far so good.

I think we’ll make another couple of these for the herb garden.

Can You Handle the Truth?

How often do you wonder what is true?  We are bombarded with information, disinformation, opinion pretending to be news and entertainment feigning real life, 24/7.  This plays on our feelings of insecurity and keeps us confused.

A brief search on three issues that came to mind, delivered completely different information:

Is a mini ice age on the way? Scientists warn the Sun has ‘gone to sleep’ and say it could cause temperatures to plunge 18 January 2014

Global warming continues and won’t be stopped by wishful thinking 30 January 2014


LA Times Sounds Alarm: West Coast Update – Stop Eating Pacific Ocean Seafood Now! Major Fukushima Radiation Warning!!!  January 6, 2014

DEC says Alaska fish are safe to eat  January 23, 2014


Dentists: Fluoride in water supply is safe February 10, 2014,

Harvard Professor: Fluoride Toxic to Children, Linked to Autism February 20, 2014


You could argue that the information you find is biased according to the political leanings of the source, but that just highlights the problem; in Mephisto’s hall of smoke and mirrors, how do you know what is true?  Where do you go to find the Truth?  What is Truth anyway?

Truth is different to fact.  Facts are self-evident, perceivable by the senses impersonal and tend to be more permanent.  For example, snow is cold.  In contrast, truth is dynamic, subjective and tends to describe a relationship between the truth-holder and an aspect of the natural world.  For example, it is true that I am sitting here in my cabin in Galicia and it’s raining.  I might not be here tomorrow and the weather might change, but that does not diminish the truth of this moment.

Truth is experienced and it is participatory.   It is a state of sublime coherence between the individual and reality, totally ‘in the moment’ and without doubt or mental chatter. All humans have the innate ability to experience Truth.  So why do we find it so difficult?

First off, you cannot experience Truth by thinking about it.  Truth is felt, not thought.  Thought is the initiator; what Truth are you seeking?  But Truth is a full mind/body/spirit experience.  There are three steps to discovering the Truth:

1. The first step is preparation.  It is difficult to experience Truth if your body is toxic.  Truth is experienced in the body, before it is recognised by the brain, but many of us have forgotten what Truth feels like and we often ignore the signal.  If you are viewing reality through a dirty window, no matter how much Truth or Beauty there might be out there, you are only going to catch a glimpse of it through the grime. 

Confusion and difficulty in experiencing Truth are symptoms of stress, ill health and         toxicity.  However, as soon as you begin to clean up your internal environment, eat more healthily, exercise, drink enough water etc., your cognitive ability improves and your awareness grows.

Connection with Nature is also part of preparation.  Truth is an aspect of reality and you don’t find reality on TV, the internet or even in a book.  Walking barefoot has enormous health benefits and reconnects us to the Schumann Resonance, which recharges our cellular batteries and protects us from harmful EMFs while we are in contact.  Part of our difficulty in recognizing Truth is because our brains are too fogged up with unnatural electronic static to be able to decode the information being received.  Get outside and see the beauty of the real sunrise, sunset, new moon and full moon and your body will automatically begin to get back in sync with reality.

The body’s ability to recognise Truth, even Truth of which the subject is not consciously aware, has been validated by many studies using muscle testing.  The principle behind it is that the body tests strong when it aligns with Truth and weak for falsehood, enabling the process to be readily used for yes/no questions.  A pendulum is also a useful tool and easily mastered with practise, as is muscle testing.

2. Next, identify the issue and state your intent to know the Truth of that issue.  The syntax here is important.  It is not the Truth ‘about’ something.  We know the Truth of something, or even with something, but to want to know “about” something is inviting in the Trickster .

Intent is the mechanism for focusing attention, but merely thinking about intention is not sufficient.


Intent is not a thought, or an object, or a wish. Intent is what can make a man succeed when his thoughts tell him that he is defeated…… Intent is what sends a shaman through a wall, through space, to infinity.

Carlos Castaneda

In The Power of Silence Don Juan explains how “intent is beckoned with the eyes” by moving to the “place of no pity” which is characterised by a specific shine to the eyes.  The “place of no pity” is Don Juan’s way of describing the point where you get over your self-importance and are fully present, without mental chatter.  The power is in the silence.

The ‘shiny eyes’ is like being  ‘moved to tears’ in the presence of great love or beauty, humbled, fully present and self-less.  To bring yourself to that state and then focus the attention is to act with intent.

You need to be sufficiently connected to the issue in order to invoke this level of intent and to be clear and specific as to how you direct your intent.  For example, asking for the Truth about whether it is safe to eat Pacific fish is too abstract for the body to understand.  However, if you are standing at the fish counter with fish from the Pacific right there in front of you, you will be able to connect with intent and discover the Truth about the fish.  The Truth that it is safe would feel strong and certain, without any doubt. In this context, what is true for you might not be true for some one else.  If your body truly finds the fish safe, it will be for you – if you have any doubt, there is no Truth.

3.     Finally, having declared your intent, you forget about it and wait. The Truth of the issue will make itself known to you.  There is no asking, hoping, or praying involved.  The Truth will emerge as a realization that is absolutely clear and without any doubt, usually within a day or so.

This part of the process cannot be rushed.  It is analogous to trying to remember the name of a person or song and you just can’t remember it no matter how hard you try, but as soon as you forget about it and get on with something else, the name just pops into your head.

As you wait, you enforce the process by living the Truth in any moment; by keeping focus on what is real, being in Nature, recognising personal drama and all the attributes of the world of lies for what the are and keeping away from them as much as possible.  You communicate Truthfully, especially when it’s difficult. With practice, this process becomes seamless and you become unconsciously competent in recognising the Truth in any situation.

Clarity on the difference between Truth and fact is essential to see through Mephisto’s game.  Mephisto is the Trickster within.  It is an aspect of our minds that is involved in the development of our personal narrative, or individual myth-making.  We love to validate our story with facts.  If we pay too much attention to the story we tell ourselves about our lives, we become disconnected from reality and then we are trapped in Mephisto’s game.  This game has no objective, no outcome, no purpose other than the playing of the game itself in more and more fantastic ways.  However, our potential to get trapped in the game prevents us from living our lives according to our highest desires and makes us vulnerable to anyone who understands its rules and wants to use it against us.

The ‘vibration’ of Truth is getting stronger.  We are beginning to hunger for it as what passes for normal is no longer satisfying (if ever it was). Ultimately, the practice of seeking the Truth is empowering.  To focus on the Truth with intent and commitment, lifts us out of the drama and polarity of our daily lives. It is a transcendent energy that guides us out of confusion and victimhood and enables us to take full responsibility for our lives and make better choices.  This leads to change and transformation. 

In the words of Schoepenhouer:

All truth goes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Then it is violently opposed. Finally it is accepted as self-evident.

So, can you handle the Truth?


Homemade Natural Toothpaste

I probably wouldn’t have bothered with homemade toothpaste if organic, fluoride-free natural toothpaste was easy to get here, but it isn’t and I just couldn’t bring myself to buy the commercial stuff.  So, I started to look for natural, easy options for which I could find all the ingredients.

We used plain baking soda for a while.  It’s certainly easy, reasonably effective and not unpleasant, but I thought we could do better.  I found a recipe for baking soda with coconut oil and it is fantastic.  Easily the best toothpaste we’ve ever used!  Within just a few weeks, virtually all my plaque has gone.  My teeth feel smooth and clean for much longer and I actually enjoy brushing my teeth now.  It makes you wonder what they put in that stuff doesn’t it?

The recipe:

  • find a small screw-top jar
  • half fill it with coconut oil
  • fill it with baking soda mixed in to a fairly stiff paste


  • add a few drops of peppermint oil
  • I didn’t have peppermint oil, so I used mint leaves steeped in olive oil for a couple of days – about a teaspoon and it turned the paste a light green and gave it a slight minty tang and a good creamy texture

Coconut oil is antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-microbial.  Baking soda removes stains and odours, helps neutralize acid and has a slightly abrasive texture that helps remove plaque.

No fluoride, no other chemicals, cleaner teeth, fresher breath and it’s cheaper.  Beat that!



Over before it’s begun

The day before yesterday I announced how much I loved our greenhouse.  Then yesterday in the space of five minutes it went from this:



To this:

Destroyed greenhouse


We had quite a storm, the usual rain along with not so usual blasting wind.  Just after Dean left to take Elaine to the airport I noticed that a panel had come loose in the top of the greenhouse.  I went in the cabin to work out what to do about it and it was all over.

I was a bit upset yesterday.  It’s not the end of the world, but all my little seedlings that were coming up have gone.  I managed to salvage some rocket, peas and four broccoli and two spinach out of hundreds of seedlings.  It’s still early in the year, so that’s not too much of a setback.

The greenhouse is history though; we won’t be getting another one.  We’ll salvage what we can to make cold frames this year and when we build the house and have a digger here, we’ll put in a walipini.  A walipini or pit greenhouse is like a big hole n the ground with a roof on it, which maintains its heat due to the thermal mass of the earth. Here’s the building manual.

Clearly, the construction of the greenhouse wasn’t good enough for our environment.  It was a nightmare to put up with even a slight breeze and even though it was supposedly guaranteed for five years – that didn’t cover ‘unusual weather’.  Think twice before you buy a Palram greenhouse!  We bought it instead of a poly-tunnel, because we thought it would last longer. Hah!

But what a metaphor for life.  It really can all be over before you’ve even lived it. That’s why I’m not upset anymore.  I’m still here and living to the full – I haven’t got time for misery!


Goodbye New Year 01-01-14

To my dear friends: Let’s celebrate this ‘New Year’ by ditching it altogether!

If New Year feels like such a pressure to go out and spend loads of money chasing a good time that ends up being such an anti-climax, when you would rather be holed up at home.  RELAX, it’s not really New Year anyway!  If you feel this way, honour it.  You are not a killjoy, unable to enjoy yourself or (Goddess forbid) getting old.  You are AWAKENING and feeling reality, as opposed to normality.  It doesn’t feel right to you because it isn’t and you are, in fact, connecting with something far older and deeper.

Here’s what my friend and mystic Dav Panesar has to say about it:

Ever wondered why YOU mindlessly celebrate “New Year” in the middle of winter?

“New” means a freshness, a birth, a rebirth, a beginning. Everything is existence works in cycles, a series of events that are regularly repeated in the same order which have their own NATURAL rhythms. These cycles and rhythms are the manifestation and interplay of energies. These energies operate within cycles which have a start, middle, end, restart, middle, end, restart and so on. The energies begin, increase in strength, reach their maximum/optimum levels and begin to recede to end and begin again. Think of the seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter, or day into night, night into day. Human beings are not separated from Existence,they are in it and of it too! and therefore subject to the same natural rules as everything else. Human beings are blessed with awareness to recognize what being alive means, to evolve from ego-eccentric beings, towards self actualized, self-realised and final self-sovereign beings.

However, many are prevented from achieving their potential by ensuring that they are not harmonized with the natural energetic cycles, but deliberately dis-harmonized through the ARTIFICIAL TIME CONSTRUCT introduced by Pope Gregory, your Gregorian Calendar. A chaotic calendar, with 30, 31, and 28 days in 12 months, but most importantly completely out of phase with the Universe and its energies.

To help illustrate the importance of being harmonized with natural cycles, as every Gardner know, a seed has its own season to be sown in order for it to GROW, mature and evolve. When planted in the “right” season, spring or autumn, the seed harmonizes with the conditions necessary for it to germinate and grow to maturity. Plant the same seed in winter and its unlikely to germinate let alone grow.

Those who understand these natural energy cycles, also understand that by “planting” seeds in the wrong season, ensures dis-harmonizing, mutation, dormancy and death. Individuals (seeds, likes of you and I) “plant” themselves in a number of ways, including investing emotional and intentional energies and reinforcing an artificial restart by engaging mindlessly in following the crowd consensual reality. This consequently embeds all participants within the receding, dying energetic cycles of winter. The New Year as recognized according to the Gregorian Calendar is an artificial time construct, out of syn with universal cycles and rhythms.

May 2014 awaken you to the dis harmonizing Illuminati ritual of “New year” held in the season of death, dormancy and lifelessness, and may you harmonise with the Universal cycles by recognizing and participating in the natural renewal of the year in Spring.

Your resolutions don’t work, because they are out of sync with the natural cycle of things.  However, this calendar year on January 1st,we have a very special opportunity to bring ourselves into harmony with existence because we have a supermoon at the same time.

A supermoon is a perigee moon, meaning that on its elliptical orbit it is closest to the earth at this time, so the effects are stronger than otherwise.  Just think about how the moon affects the tides and consider that we are 70-80% water.  The lunar cycle affects us as ‘human animals’ far more than the Gregorian calendar and, once we are aware of it, we can work with the energies offered.

In Gaian terms, the new moon is a time for clearing out and letting go of old ‘programmes’ as we prepare our new ‘intention’.  This is a matter of focus, as we bring the things that we want to let go of into awareness, whether they be ideas, practices, habits or relationships, the new is already forming in our unconscious minds.  We simply can’t expect new ideas (seeds) to take root at this time, because it is totally out of sync with the very real activities of Mother Earth.  (And if you are in the southern hemisphere, it’s not too different either – your resolutions will just fry as opposed to being frozen!) That’s why New Year’s resolutions are so often abandoned by February.

If you want to align yourself with the energies of the Earth and her Moon, try this approach.  It is effortless, once you get the hang of it, because you are working with Nature and all her energy is supporting you.  And the best bit about it is that you have 13 tries throughout the cycle of four seasons that make up the year!

CLEAR: days 1 – 4 to start the new cycle

ATTUNE: days 5 – 8, four days, inclusive

DEFINE: days 9 – 13, five days, inclusive

REFLECT and SELECT: days 14 – 21, eight days, inclusive

REFINE: days 22 -25, fours days, inclusive

COMPLETE: days 26 – 29/30, four days, inclusive,

Day 30 the final day of the cycle

And here’s what my friend and astrologer, Sharon Galliford ,has to say about this new moon:

 New Year’s day this time round is consumated by a new moon conjunct Pluto and Mercury, square Uranus and Mars with Uranus square Mars too. This gives us plenty of scope to disassemble our old paradigms and really go for a massive upheaval in order to put energy into what we really want in terms of our soul’s desires being made manifest. The old paradigms are going through the death throes and trying to take us with it. We need to be true to ourselves and the more ‘eccentric’ the better!!! However, remember this is all to be done in ‘relationship’ (Mars in Libra) so be kind to all around for they are less likely to know what on earth hit them!

So, let’s celebrate this ‘new year’ by throwing it on the slag heap of our so-called civilisation and returning to the lunar calendar of our ancestors.

See you at the real New Year, the Equinox March 2014!