Caught by the River

YURTS: An Owner’s Manual

Sue Brooks | 3rd February 2024

Gill Baron’s guide to yurt living gives Sue Brooks respite from the winter darkness.

The temperature outside the window as I write is eleven degrees Celsius. Grass starts growing at ten degrees and small gnats/midges begin to dance in sheltered places. The first swallows will have set off on their epic journey from South Africa, and one day — soon — will be crossing the Mediterranean. SO much to look forward to…

But, before I get swept along by it all, I want to thank the author of a book that has sustained me through January 2024. Her name — Gill Barron. The title — YURTS: An Owner’s Manual. 

Come on Sue. Are you going to build your own yurt and live in the garden for the rest of your life..? At your age..?

Well, no. Of course not. But this is the real life story of a woman who has spent years in one yurt or another (the current one since 1995) and it’s a wonderful celebration of YES YOU CAN. It’s the enthusiasm I love the most — the chutzpah; the sheer bloody-mindedness; the determination and the indomitable good humour that has had me laughing all the way through, and cheering her on.

Fifty two pages, beautifully printed by Eggerslack Press with photographs and illustrations showing enormous attention to detail. The right woven tape, for example, and the right knot to prevent the roof rafters from corkscrewing. The best heavy duty waterproof cotton canvas for the covers, (Regentex 12 oz) and so on. Things go wrong, and Gill knows, from long experience, how to fix them. Simon Fairlie, co-editor with Gill at The Land magazine, has contributed two pages of invaluable advice about the labyrinthine structure of the Planning Regulations.

The final section covers the questions most people ask about living all the year around so close to Nature and The Weather — heating, cooking, water, lighting, rubbish accumulation, the Toilet. It’s all there, the highs and the lows, picked up and batted away with that wry grin. About mice — they seem to come in batches, and more in the Autumn. You will need TRAPS. Don’t mess about here. You do need traps. Look up the mouse’s breeding rate and be very afraid…peanut butter is an excellent bait.

The last page carries a splendid photo of the living area in Gill’s yurt and her wish for you to be, one day, as happy and comfortable in your yurt as I have been in mine.

YES INDEED. Thank you Gill. This story of stepping outside conventional living has been a wonderful antidote — for me. A respite from the winter darkness. I would like to press a little dose of Gill Barron on everyone I know.

Eggerslack Press can be contacted here. But communication is sometimes erratic. Payment can be in well-wrapped cash by post. (£15 including p.and p.). PayPal is possible. I feel confident that any Caught by the River fans of Dexter Petley will persevere, and what a joy to receive one day, a brown envelope with the book and a postcard with a unique snail mail stamp.