Sometime ago I remember you asking about how the yurts out towards the north meadow came to be. It’s an interesting story, as they were here a decade before I arrived here thirty years ago this year. It happened because The Steward at the time, Emma Holstrom, was keen on enhancing our revenues by hosting conferences here but our housing stock in the main building never really has room for more than a dozen or so guests at a time, unless they want to doss down outside which many willingly did. Oh we’ve got a few Estate cottages set aside for such purposes but that still limits us to perhaps thirty guests give or take a few.
Building standard housing was deemed to be too costly and environmentally insensitive to boot, so the project was shelved ’till a Several Annie from Russia suggested we use yurts, a wooden ribbed round dwelling structure traditionally used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia as their home. Now ours were going to intended as ongoing housing so some modifications had to be made such as all wood construction instead of fabric over wooden ribs.
First, we had to settle on a space and that space turned out to be in a meadow about a mile from the Estate Building. We had enough room there to space them twenty yards apart; we also decided to elevate them so has to allow the vegetation and wildlife to minimally affected. We also decided that a skylight and a Russian style stove system would make them cozy in the Winter. Each is fifteen feet across — big enough for up to three people to comfortably inhabit — and a good ten feet off the ground.
Building them made a good project for the carpenters among us and other than glass for the skylights, all the materials came from the Estate, including the bricks used in the Russian stoves. Half of each yurt is sleeping space with storage built in under the sleeping platform. All of them have shelves for yet more storage and there’s a ski rack outside each yurt. They’re painted forest green with a lighter green trim around the doors and windows. If you don’t know they’re there, it’s somewhat surprising to come upon them.
(Yes, doors. Though the yurt traditionally has one door, we deemed that they were safer having two doors if, Blodeuwedd forbid!, a fire happened.)
Over the decades, thirty-five of them would be built. They now comprise, if only on a temporary basis, a community unto themselves with some groups here never coming to the Estate Building as we added a forty foot across yurt for using as gathering space. It’s not uncommon for the Neverending Session to decamp to them to play for the residents there.
And they’ve turned out to be both quite popular and amazingly durable. When we do housing booking for festivals and conferences here, they’re always claimed first in housing preferences. And other than a bit of paint and caulking the windows each year, and sanding and resealing the floors, they’re care free.
We’ve even added booking them for folks interested in a skiing holiday here. Oh we’ve added amenities over the years — there’s now a Finnish style sauna and solar powered showers. And there’s plans for a kitchen yurt to be constructed soon.
You should have been here a decade ago back when we held the first annual Women In Black Cultural Festival here. It was an interesting experience with everything from a historically accurate performance of a reading of Aristophanes’ excruciatingly bawdy anti-war farce, ‘Lysistrata’ to Daughters of Bede doing ‘lost’ Celtic chants. They finished off that first of many such Festivals with the well-known Basque song, ‘Agur Xiberua!’ which ends with the refrain, ‘Not in Paris, nor anywhere else, will I find anything quite like my homeland.’ All of the participants stayed in the yurts so you could hear music, song, and laughter ’till very late in the night.
So that’s how the yurts came to be. And this year is the first year that they’ll be booked for a curling competition being held here!
- A Kinrowan Estate story: The Wood
- What’s New for the 19th of March: Rough Guides, Brian Vaughan’s The Escapist, Douglas Adams considered, Pamela Dean’s favourite ballad, Woodie Guthrie, Turkish Coffee, A big review of books about music, Red Molly Live
- A Travel Abroad story: Moonshine
- What’s New for the 5th of March: Books about Celtic music, some sff and mysteries too; some Celtic music reviews; Mouse Guard, Two Fat Ladies, ice cream, and more
- A Kinrowan Estate story: Mrs. Ware Prepares an Eventide Meal
- What’s New for the 19th of February: Pipes, pipes and more pipes; hot cocoa;r Baker’s favorite folk take; guides to Celtic music and sf; graphic adaptations of classic YA novels; a live-action Alice in Wonderland; new music from Spain and a box set from the ’90s
- A Kinrowan Estate story: Fireplaces in Kinrowan Hall
- What’s New for the 5th of February: Time travel stories, Fairport and related music, a desert island disc, graphic classics, an Alice in Wonderland adaptation, and lots of chocolate
- A Kinrowan Estate story: Our Rooms
- What’s New for the 22nd of January: Lots of mysteries; ambient music, jazz, Norwegian Americana, and lots of English folk rock; live yoiking; and comfort food
- A Kinrowan Estate story: Blizzard (A Letter to Tessa)
- What’s New for the 8th of January: Books about music – Sandy Denny, Fairport, Tommy James, Jethro Tull, Beatles and more; Festival Express; music about booze; Nordic music reviews old and new; and more
- A Kinrowan Estate story: A Gathering of Stitchers
- What’s New for 25th of December: DeLint, Irish folklore, firecrackers and sf; the Grinch, eggnog, and The Polar Express; holiday themed music, and Jennifer Stevenson’s ‘Solstice’
- A Kinrowan Estate Story: Nicholas
- What’s New for the 11th of December: DeLint and Yolen, some space opera and a lot of Peanuts; holiday music from Norway, Jethro Tull, and elsewhere; new music from Unthank:Smith, Melissa Carper, ambient country, new prog jazz, heavy Nordic folk rock; and a wee nibbling mousie
- A Kinrowan Estate story: Of Bloodied Kings
- What’s New for the 27th of November: sf, mysteries, and an sf mystery; Finnish light jazz and tango, plus music of a leftover nature; autumnal gardening, Oysters with June Tabor; and rhubarb wine?
- A Kinrowan Estate story: Of Puppets and Their Masters (A Letter to Anna)
- What’s New for the 13th of November: SF from G. Willow Wilson, R F Kuang, Emery Robin, Everina Maxwell, Larry Niven, and some detective fiction; Persepolis; Vonnegut-inspired jazz, English and Welsh folk music, Balkan music; truly bad candy; some Tolkieniana, and more
- A Kinrowan Estate story: Foxes
- What’s New for the 30th of October: Spooks galore! Stephen King, Ellen Datlow, William Gibson; Halloween on screen; bad Dracula; Singing Bones, Metallica on cellos, scary chocolates and more
- A Kinrowan Estate story: All Hallows’ Eve
- What’s New for the 16th of October: Fantasy maps, Bradbury mysteries, Middle Earth history; Cajun music on film; comfort foods; Daredevil; classical music reviews, and more
- A Kinrowan Estate story: Staging Shakespeare
- What’s New for the 2nd of October: Contradance music and Arabian fuzz, William Gipson redux, military SF and horror, soul cake, and more
- A Kinrowan Estate story: Chasing Fireflies
- What’s New for the 18th of September: Our Elizabeth Bear edition, plus some de Lint on film and in comics, contemporary raga, lots of traditional fiddle music and a Bert Jansch tribute, and of course dragons and chocolate.
- A Kinrowan Estate Story: Kedgeree, or Khichari You If Prefer
- What’s New for the 4th of September: A Rivers of London novella, a Piece of Pulp gets the Film Treatment,Ice Cream, Jethro Tull’s ‘The Hunting Girl’