Elm View, 1 Bishops Road, Cleeve, Bristol, BS49 4NQ

It started on one cold and cloudy day in January......

I recently completed some work for Andy and Suzanne and whilst doing so, I became very interested in the cabins that Andy builds and wondered what it would be like to live in one off-grid. So, Andy very kindly invited me and my family to visit him at his cabin in the woods, and this is my blog about our escape to the Cotswolds countryside. 

We met Andy at the location of his cabin which is deep in the heart of The Cotswolds, where Andy explained that the cabin was a short drive away. So we all bundled into his van, which may I saw, was much more suited to driving over fields than my Mazda! The fields were a little bit bumpy due to the recent weather, but my 8-year-old daughter loved it. “Mummy, this is fun”!

Wow was my first impression when we reached the secret location.  Tucked amongst scots pine and beech trees was the cabin, an outdoor kitchen area, oven pit and fire which were surrounded by stunning views of the beautiful Cotswold's countryside. The cabin itself is very impressive. The level of craftsmanship is brilliant and you can really tell that Andy put all his heart and soul into building it. Inside, I was surprised to find the cabin larger than expected. There is a double bed, bunk bed, a table and a log burner which was very inviting especially because it was so cold outside.

The cabin is ‘off-grid’ which means that there is no electrical hook up, so Andy has put a small solar panel in one of the windows of the cabin. This provides enough electricity to power a small light for up to 2 hours, that he uses for reading at night. 

If you wander into the woods you’ll find the lavvy, which is essentially a wooden box with a toilet seat and lid. It’s comfortable and functional.  There is a tin dustbin next to the toilet which is full of sawdust, for you to sprinkle over your tinkle and a washbasin complete with a hand towel. There is also an outdoor shower that Andy has built. The water is heated on the fire using a big kettle. Then a 50/50 mix with cold water is poured into a bucket and hoisted up. There is a hosepipe with a shower head attached to it, and a piece of string to lower the bucket. Andy said that there is something very liberating about standing in the middle of the woods, starkers, washing yourself and being at one with nature. He also said that it’s best to wash quickly, especially on a cold and windy day! 😊

One thing I did wonder was where Andy did his cooking and where he got his food from? Andy told me that depending on the season he will hunt for game and forage in the woods. Sometimes he brings food from home, but he mostly likes to live off the land when he can. And he does his cooking using the oven pit and fire of course! I also wondered whether this is where Andy and Suzanne hold their range of weekend courses, and I was right. The weekend courses consist of campfire cooking, game preparation, sausage and burger making, and butchery skills. So, if you fancy doing something a bit different with your weekend why not give it a try? I really wanted to try butchery, but my daughter put a stop to that! So, instead, we settled for some campfire cooking. Andy showed us how to prepare the fire to cook a simple, but very delicious, meal of chicken and vegetables in the oven pit. My daughter had spotted some hotdogs, so we cooked them on the open fire and boy did they taste good! Andy told me that they also have a purpose-built stainless steel kitchen where they hold the butchery classes. 

As we sat around the fire enjoying our lunch and cups of tea, what struck me most was how incredibly peaceful it is tucked away in the woods. There is an intermittent phone signal, so there is minimal risk of being disturbed by annoying ring tones or incoming messages 'pinging'. The only sound you’ll hear is from the crackling of the fire or beautiful bird song or the sound of the trees swaying in the wind. These sounds of nature made me feel calm, and for the first time in ages, I felt de-stressed (yes even with an 8-year old in tow!). I asked myself if it’s any wonder more people are deciding to ditch the stresses of the rat race for a simple way of living? And, is this something I would like to do in the future? I can certainly appreciate why people would want to, I’m just not sure that I would be able to leave the conveniences of the city behind. Perhaps I’ll settle for a garden studio instead where I can retreat to for some ‘me time’ or use as an office space to let my creative ideas flow. There is one slight issue that I need to address first though; talking my daughter into getting rid of her trampoline to make space!  

Hide and Reside are a family-run business who hand-craft bespoke cabins, Shepherds Huts, Garden Studios and Garden Saunas in Bristol, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, and the surrounding areas. For further information on what we can build for you if you'd simply like to know more about living off the grid, please contact Andy or Suzanne on 07711 938904.













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A M Pearce T/A Hide and Reside