• Week 5 – Cob camp hits the road to learn eco-building in the Pyrenees

    Cobbing The beginning of week 5 was all about mixing and building cob since the roof was up and stable. There is so much to learn about cob that you can only truly understand through tactile experience.  You need to feel the critical proportion of clay to sand to ensure a plastic, cohesive, workable mix that won’t shrink and crack too much.  Depending on the coarseness of the sand and quality of the clay (and other components in the soil) the final mix should be between 5% and 25% clay.  By observing the soil composition from a soil test (seeing it settle in a jar with water) you can estimate proportions. But,…

  • Week 4 at Cob Camp – Hard work and fun

    This week started with Marco and Linda departing camp and Anita and Martin making a real effort to progress the project positively and constructively. A real highlight of the week was when Laurence came to camp to give us an edible weeds tour of our area. She taught us how to identify what we could eat that was naturally growing around us and how we could eat it.  She pointed out blackberries, wild sage, Jerusalem artichoke, daisies, yarrow, hog weed and more… here are some pictures… Fitting in with this theme, Wayne decided to teach us all (in a humorous TV cooking show style!) how to make delicious elderflower cordial…

  • Week 3 at Cob Camp – Community Matters

    Most people want deeper links to a community as modern society is individualistic, insecure and fractured. Many don’t know where to start to lead different lives and those of us who do, seem to grapple with making ‘community’ work. How do we live co-operatively, thoughtfully and simply with each other whilst conserving natural resources, sharing responsibility for work and providing meaningful, dignified and safe work – including successful projects? All of us on this course are from Western societies where we’ve been encouraged to be highly individualistic. Given we need to learn new skills for living together with others (especially giving up personal space) this group has done remarkably well…

  • Week 2 at Cob Camp – Planting, rescuing, cooking and eating food. And making stuff out of leather…

    Week 2 of the cob building course was (nearly) all about FOOD!! Planting food, skip diving for food, cooking creatively, making a stove and oven, eating, discussing… it really seemed to be our focus all week! After our first skip dive at the local supermarket bin, we organised the camp kitchen and enthusiastically embraced communal cooking with our rescued food. We made scrambled eggs, with smoked salmon and goats cheese, frittata, salad nicoise, salsa, potato salad, creamy pesto pasta, coleslaw, ratatouille, couscous, nettle and goats cheese quiche, garlic pizza bread, chocolate brownies, spaghetti and more… but the best creation all week was Sunset Bin Crumble with Sam’s Special Sauce. This cob-camp…

  • Insecurity in Central America, a little heard story

    I just come back from Central America where I was doing a consultancy for a humanitarian organisation and, given that we don’t hear much about the region in the news, I thought you might be interested to know a bit about it. The organisation has been operating there for decades but has recently questioned its presence given the drastic deterioration of the security there in the last three years. Indeed, statistically, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador (now known as the “Northern Triangle of Death!”) are amongst the most dangerous countries on earth. While in each of these countries, the levels of insecurity vary from one area to another, this means…

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